pages 71 – 73 of The House by Sebastiana Randone
One day, not long after Percy had discovered the truth of his birth, he accidentally stumbled upon a journal that he had inherited following Lady Elizabeth’s death. It had been lying in wait somewhere forgotten, amongst many other objects. With its very existence having faded from his memory, it took him aback that this diary should suddenly appear, particularly during such a momentous period. So with the guilty fascination of a voyeur, he opened the aged book. Most of what was written offered Percy no significant insight, then with the fading of the afternoon light, and just when he was about to close the journal, he came upon the following passage:
Today having woken to another dark and foreboding morning. I found myself in a situation by day’s end that in all my too brief life never happened upon. We had a visitor. Uninvited, there she lay, fear stricken, wildly presented and most mysteriously, of a name that alarmed me, by its reference to darkness. By night’s entrance, I was inclined towards the belief that the devil himself had orchestrated provocation on a house already burdened by much dispiritedness.
Well there was the proof! All ambiguity had suddenly dissolved with this one passage.
Some days later Sammy had made good his word, and arrangements were made for a fortune teller to come to Alderry Place. The friends, who naturally, had invited themselves along, were irresistibly compelled to be audience to this most unprecedented happening.
Percy however, felt no such keenness, due mainly to a delicate mental state which rendered the poor man hesitant lest any further revelations should arise. To the collective however, this imminent occasion lent a theatrical flavour to their reality, the confounding and abstruse nature of Scura’s manifestation had certainly brought renewed animation to all.
It was on a moonless night when the fortune teller Luna Llena arrived, bringing with her an air of inscrutability, in the form of a solemn and shrouded figure clad in dark earthy shades. Of an indeterminable age, her sombreness was intensified by dark and ancient eyes, and with a bearing that exemplified the archetypal mystic, there was promise at the very least, of an eventful soiree.
Sammy had found her practicing her craft on the streets of London, and rapidly made arrangements for her to visit Alderry Place, where now, candles and incense added a mystical tone, while a table dressed in indigo velvet, was primed for the impending spiritual consultation.
Earlier that day, Scura had felt an extreme aversion to the thought of partaking in this paranormal scrutiny. In fact, it anguished her such that she remained in her room. Adeline now entered and upon seeing the downcast girl, sat beside her and said in an upbeat tone:
“Darling you are still here. Why don’t you join us? She has arrived.” She placed her arm around Scura, in the hope of drawing her out from introspection. Adeline who in contrast, was feeling loquacious declared; “You won’t believe her name.”
Scura looked up at her mirthful friend and shrugged her shoulders. “Luna Llena! Can you believe that? It is wonderfully befitting. Full moon! That’s what her name means.”
“Yes I know it is Spanish.” Scura replied nonchalantly.
“Oh sweetie, do come and join us.” Adeline goaded Scura while she sat on the bed, continuing to embrace her dispassionate friend.
“Why are you so concerned? I recall you telling me that you did not believe in spirituality.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that. But then again how can I believe anything anymore! With all that has happened, it is now highly illogical of me to hold on to these tenets.” Scura glumly stared at the floor. “I have felt more tranquil this month than I have for a long while, and I fear that something outrageous will be disclosed and anxiety will reign once more.”
It is true to say that since that astonishing revelation, Scura had managed to settle into a residence that was hospitable, beautiful and populated with affable people. This was especially the case with Adeline, with whom she had developed a warm and close amity, almost bordering on sisterhood.
Unfortunately, these amicable feelings were not felt towards Sammy however, an uncouth and ribald character who repelled Scura. It seemed incomprehensible that a refined and sophisticated individual such as Percy should be enamoured with such a coarse and devious scamp. It was patently obvious that Sammy was taking advantage of the poor man and was visibly detached from his affections.
Having noticed Sammy’s salacious attentions towards her, prompted Scura to speak to Adeline about this unwanted attention, only to be informed that he was here as an expedient only. That he had been witnessed flirting with wealthy older women, and it was common knowledge that he desired a more ‘conventional’ arrangement. Disinclined towards male partnering, Sammy was only planning on being at Alderry Place until such a time that he might entice a lonely and prosperous widow.
Not wishing heartbreak upon Percy, Scura felt extremely vexed by this knowledge.
“Why don’t you tell Percy of this?”
“He knows.” Adeline stated in a matter of fact tone.
“He knows? Then why doesn’t he send him away? It is obvious that Sammy does not share the same feelings.”
“It is a long story my dear girl, do you really wish to hear it?”
“I suppose I do, then again, perhaps not.”
“All in good time, sweetie, all in good time” She replied, while stroking Scura’s hair.
The two women had formed an emotional liaison. Adeline, a committed Sapphic, had by now fallen in love, while Scura, disinclined towards such an association, was nevertheless still comforted by her friend’s geniality and fondness.
The House is an adult fairy tale rich in mystery and intrigue.
Here is a tale of a woman so absorbed with historical novels that her own reality ceases to offer any hope of romance and beauty.
Until one day this dreamy idealist finds herself in a mysterious forest. How she arrived there is unknown. Soon she encounters a dilapidated house, within whose ancient walls magical rooms that transport to parallel worlds lie in wait. There she is transmigrated to 18th century England, where our heroine interacts with an odd mix of characters whose dysfunctional lives become immediately apparent.
Her first tribulation involves a nefarious lord, an archetype of the monstrous characters one encounters in fairy tales. The ramification from this confrontation sets the tone for the narrative.
A magic portal finally enables escape from the austere Georgian dwelling. She is then spirited back to the enigmatic house, and a journey to Regency London follows, where a large cast of eccentric identities present themselves.
Late one night, following a long stay in Florence, a young, heart-broken poet arrives. His introduction to the beautiful time traveller offers promise of restoration and love. But there are several more obstacles ahead before her destiny in this curious adventure is made apparent.
In the end an unexpected twist is revealed. But like all good fairy tales, this surprising conclusion is pleasing, even though the means of getting there are dark, and at times sinister.
Genre - Historical, Fantasy, Romance
Rating - PG-16
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