Luke, waking early the following morning, arose before anyone
else- this being his usual practice. The mornings were his favorite
time of the day, the time when the sun was struggling to make it over the
horizon. This was his time; a time when everything seemed quiet, still,
and peaceful, without a rambunctious mother or sisters or such a melancholy
father to impute his unwelcome thoughts.
Departing from the house, Luke strolled into the forest nearby,
still bright from summer, although autumn would be coming before long;
A bit of a chill and something in the wind could already be felt.
He walked along the paths he usually chose, the ones not many other
people enjoyed as he did, especially down the routes he particularly
liked. Really, they were nothing more than deer tracks and hardly paths
at all; still, this made them even better, letting him wander and
think, passing by streams and creeks where wildlife frequented.
Dear and rabbits were especially common, and they had gotten so
familiar to his presence that they scarcely even started at the sight
After an hour or two, when the sun had risen high enough to see more
easily, he returned, assuming correctly that someone would
be up by now. Usually it would be his father, or sometimes Saffron who
was a rather light sleeper. He and whoever else would dawdle and talk until
breakfast; however, today he was surprised upon entering the
parlor by another person, finding Hazel sitting and reading a book.
He wondered whether or not to interrupt her, and decided it would be worth the risk, "Good
morning, Miss Chandler." She started at the sound of his voice.
"Oh! good morning, Master Williams."
"I apologize. I didn't mean to startle you."
"No," she laughed, "the fault is entirely mine. I fear I was so
engrossed that I didn't notice your entrance."
"Do you mind if I ask-? What are you reading?" Luke entered the room
and sat across from Hazel.
"It's a collection of short stories and tales. To be perfectly honest,
I can derive enjoyment from reading most anything, but I love fairy
tales out of them all.” She paused a moment before adding, “Probably
you think I'm silly- for liking nonsensical stories such as these."
"Ah, you would be mistaken, madam. This is Grimm’s Fairy Tales, is it
not? This particular book," Luke explained, "I bought myself a year ago
when it was first dispensed for the public. When I originally heard of
it, I was thrilled, determining to do what I must- to buy it."
"Truly? So this is a book which you added to the Library yourself."
He smiled, "Indeed, my family thought I was ridiculous to spend as I
did on books, especially fairy tales, but I think you will agree with
me that it was entirely worth bit of it."
Hazel laughed, about to reply, when her mother appeared in the doorway
and interrupted, “Hazel! My dear, the cook is just about to ring for
breakfast. Are you going to sit and chatter all day?”
Hazel glanced at her mother when she said this, and there was
something in her eyes Luke couldn’t identify. Then it was gone, like it
was never there at all, and her crystal eyes returned to Luke. She smiled, "Well,
I suppose I ought to take this up to my room before breakfast. If you'll excuse me,
As Hazel left, her mother walked towards Luke, who stood, as was
proper, and offered her a seat and tea, if she would like him to get
some; although it would be an odd thing to have just before
breakfast. Still, Luke’s mother expected him to be beyond civil, and he
was fulfilling duties.
“No…, thank you my dear, but I would much prefer a bit of company, if
you wouldn’t mind offering it, before the cook rings the bell.”
“Oh!” Luke was surprised by this request, knowing she
hadn’t been particularly impressed by him the day before. “Of course,
Mrs. Chandler; it would be my pleasure.” She seated herself where Hazel
had been, and an awkward silence followed. After a moment more, he
couldn’t bare it further and tried small talk.
“The weather, I’m sure you will be pleased to hear, is beautiful today.
Perhaps you will like to make that visit to town this afternoon.”
Mrs. Chandlers nodded curtly and smiled such a fake smile. “Master
Williams, I do hope you understand that we’re here to get away from
“Yes, I- of course… I wasn’t meaning to insinuate anything. I apologize
if it came across-“
“Master Williams, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.”
Luke, wondering what he could have possibly done in so
short a time to upset Mrs. Chandler, tried to explain that he didn’t
understand at all what she meant, but the bell rang in the next room
before he could say two words. Mrs. Chandler stood, “If we must, we will speak of it
another time. If you will pardon me, Master Williams.”
He stood for her departure, utterly confused. Outwardly, however, he
remained calm, “Of course, madam.”
Breakfast seemed to ebb along in the slowest possible fashion, and
Luke had to strain to appear patient. He really just wanted to be out
of the house and away from everybody. They were all acting strangely
for one reason or another, especially the Williamses who were either
doing everything to appear hospitable, friendly, and the perfect place for
lots of rich guests; or trying to impress one another. Luke, personally, didn’t
entirely understand the latter example, especially when it came from Saffron,
who was generally a companion with whom he could enjoy a reasonable conversation.
Today, however, she was focused on other things and seemed to be acting out of
character. Mrs. Chandler was probably the worst of the Chandlers, as
she kept looking at him oddly, somewhat snarky, and interrupting him
uncivilly. Even Hazel sat at the other end of the table and avoided his eye.
It did end, however, and that was a good moment. Luke immediately
made his apologies and left, escaping, and walking the two miles to
town. The walk was exceptionally relaxing, and he went slowly to draw
it out, letting his mind wander.
It was only the second day since the Chandlers had come, and yet,
things were already becoming awkward. Luke couldn’t explain either his
conversation with Mrs. Chandler that morning, or the way Hazel had
acted afterwards. Perhaps they thought he was too beneath them and
didn’t want to bother talking with him more than absolutely necessary.
Only- they- especially his and Hazel’s mother- seemed to get on
relatively well and each had much to talk about. Just that morning
Luke’s mother had expressed her joy at Mrs. Chandler’s recovered
health, and the conversation from yesterday went on practically
unceasingly. Also, from what he had seen of Hazel Chandler, she didn’t
seem the kind to be so petty or aloof. It was all completely baffling
and governed his mind until arriving in Hemmingsworth.
Luke’s excuse, when leaving home, had been that he had promised to
Go to town to see a friend of his that day. Well, he might not have
actually promised it, but it had been more than a fortnight since he
had seen Jack Cartright and assumed his presence would not be dismayed.
However, upon arriving, he found Jack had already left for the day to
visit his brother and sister-in-law in the next county over. They had
been married just over a year, but Jack still missed his brother and
Disheartened, Luke determined to browse the town until nightfall; a
ploy, as it was, to avoid as much communication with the Chandlers as possible
Browsing Hemmingsworth, in usual terms, would not have taken all
day; however, Luke stretched it out, and triumphed in delaying his return.
Part of which, must be attributed to having been invited to an
acquaintance’s for lunch, where he remained afterward for tea and
conversation. It was the house of the Adams who were particularly
fond of gossip.
“My, my, Master Williams! It seems so long since we last had the
pleasure of your company!” Mrs. Adams proclaimed. To which, Luke
replied that he would certainly visit more often.
“Yes, yes, you really must!” She paused only a minute before adding,
“And by the by, a little bird told me that an exceptionally elegant
chaise was seen arriving at your quaint little bed and breakfast! Dare
I ask- are we to have new acquaintances for the ball?”
Luke, smiling, explained that he was uncertain whether or not his
guests would be their guests at the ball when the time came, but would
be sure to inform them of its existence, in case they did, indeed, wish
to join. This reply, of course, hardly satisfied Mrs. Adams’ hunger for
gossip, and the afternoon passed in her attempt to casually gain more
information. Miss Adams, but fifteen, seemed particularly distracted in
trying to gain his attention until he left, exclaiming how excited she
was for the ball, especially, and wondering if he would be there.
All in all, the time slipped by sufficiently well, and when he did
get back, was addressed with exclamations of surprise at his being away
for so terribly long. However, dinner passed fairly the same as breakfast had;
only, Hazel didn’t entirely ignore him. Almost, to be certain, but not
completely, for she did ask him how his trip to town was. The
conversation between them ceased after this.
That night, he took to the library where he was least likely to be
interrupted. He thought Hazel might venture in, but contrariwise, it
remained quiet. Luke assumed this was because she still had books to read in her own
room and remembered her reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales that morning. These
thoughts, however, were trying to take his mind again, and he refused
to think on them further, delving, instead, into his books until late at
night when all the house was silent and serene. He slipped past the
doors , noticing a small light coming from Miss Chandler’s room, and
strove to be especially quiet until he found sanctuary in his own
room, where he swiftly drifted off after a long day of too much thinking