Annabelle stopped then pulled the curling envelope out of the jewelry box. She turned it over and looked for anything written on it or a seal, but there was nothing. She placed the rest of the jewelry back in and opened the envelope, her heart fluttered as she did so, but before she could stop her moving hands, the piece of paper was out and before her eyes.
She read it slowly and the words began to weigh heavy in her mind. It was strange, but even before she saw the name at the end, she knew her mother had written it. She re-read the letter and though it was not addressed to anyone, perhaps her mother had wrote it for her.
A noise and voices outside in the corridor drew her attention and Annabelle folded the letter back up, tucked it in the envelope then placed it up her long sleeve. She blew out all the candles but the one she had brought with her then slipped through the hidden door and blew out the candles in the library. Going into the bedchamber, she paused because the door into the hallway was half open.
She backed up, shielding the light of her candle away.
‘What were you doing in there, girl?’ a sharp man’s voice that Annabelle recognised as the butler’s asked.
‘Nothing, sir,’ Annabelle’s maid squeaked back, ‘There was a cat, you see and I was chasing it away and then I saw the door was open and thought it had gone in, but it had not. I am sorry, sir.’
‘The door was open?’ the butler mutter before raising his voice again, ‘that’ll be all. Get yourself back in the kitchen, girl! And I never want to see you in this part of the house again or I’ll have you removed. Do you understand?’
‘Yes, sir, right away, sir.’
Annabelle heard the running of feet then the door banging too and the clicking of a lock. She held her breath and kept pressed against the door frame. Her body was shaking and heart was beating so loud she was sure someone would hear it. After a few moments, she heard heavier footsteps walking away and she let her breath out. Still though she did not move and she counted a minute before entering carefully into the bedchamber.
She had removed all the candles before, so only the one in her hands offered any light. Annabelle found her way to the door and tried the handle. She pulled the door, but it would not moved. Panicking, she tugged the handle harder, but the door was clearly locked and not moving.
She opened her mouth and cried out then shouted for help. Annabelle listened but heard nothing. She paced before the door, her skirts swishing around her and she tried stay calm. Finally, she decided to relight the other candles and place them around her.
With more light, she could see the bedchamber better. The bed clothes and hangings were musty and she avoided touching them so there was no further rising of dust. She went back to the desk and sat down at the chair. She took the envelope from her sleeve and rubbed it against her fingers.
Opening it again, she took out the letter and re-read it. Annabelle let out a little gasp as the words on the paper sunk in. Her hand rested on her heart and she read like that till the end. Trembling, she put the letter down and looked at it. The words blurred before her and she realised she was crying.
Wiping her eyes, Annabelle tried to figure things out. She had always known her mother was half French, that was were she had gotten her name, but she had not known her mother had lived here. Her mother had died when Annabelle was young and her father had given Annabelle over to the care of her other aunt and she had been brought up with her three cousins.
Annabelle had never given any real thought to the mother she did not know, but now so many questions were coming into her mind. Sliding the letter away, she picked up the sealed envelope that she had avoid opening before and tore into it.
To Be Continued…