Annica Sees- Chapter Five

Fiction By KatieSara // 3/14/2010

 
   Ariela pulled her pale hair back from her face once more as she eagerly opened Annica's letter. She read it repeatedly, and laughed every time she came to the part about the mirror. She sat down promptly to write a reply, and filled it with good-humored sympathy about Annica's dilemma and bits of news from home.
  
   Truth was, it was difficult for Ariela to keep the letter lighthearted. The general attitude in the city had been rather dark for the past couple of days. News had come from neighboring towns and cities. News of the plague. Annica, on her aunt's isolated country estate, probably had not heard of it yet, but the city where they both lived was depressed and frightened with the thought of it.
The plague. The most terrifying thing about it was that one could be infected with it for weeks before symptoms showed. The whole city could already be infected and no one would know. A few other cities had started to count bodies already...how soon before they did too? Also terrifying, what would their eccentric king, who the whole country knew was not in his right mind, do about the plague?
But Ariela, with characteristic tenderness, said nothing of it in the letter. Annica would know soon enough, she reasoned. Instead she told of her visit with Annica's large family, and how they had invited her family to come to dinner. She mentioned that she had seen Johnathan; he was back from his visit. He sent greetings and hopes to see Annica soon. She wrote about Annica's younger brother Henry on his twelfth birthday, and how pleased he had been by the gift Annica left for him. About little Georgie, losing his third tooth. All happy, pleasant things, sure to brighten Annica's day.
  
   Ariela sighed, smiled and sealed the letter. She left the house and went out, walking to the poorer part of town, the same way she did every week. And, also just like every week, she gave a basket of fruit and freshly made bread to the poorhouse. The lady in charge thanked her profusely, as she always did. Poor thing, looked like she could use some of those bright apples herself. A few men there, however, weren't so grateful.
   "Go on, you wispy pale thing. Go back to your white-faced friends!"
"Get out, girl! We don't want the likes of your kind 'round here!"
   Another thing not to mention in her letter. Annica often came here with her, of course, and honestly it wasn't just these people who treated her so. Many people in the city were like this, rude to her and other immigrants. The people of Ariela's country were much more fair, with pale skin and hair that sometimes seemed almost white. In this place, there were blondes but they were darker-haired, not so pale. People spent more time outdoors here, and were far more tan. Ariela had grown used to prejudice, though. And these men looked so hungry...
So she walked over to the rude fellows, handed one of them an apple, and left without a word.
 No, Annica with her aunt and her suitors, did not need to hear more of what she had heard so much of already.

****

   Annica soon fell into a routine at her aunt's. The morning she devoted to social life; this included recieving and going on visits, many of them having to do with her aunt's pressure to "make friends".
 The afternoons were more pleasantly spent. The manor's gardens were extensive and beautiful. Annica spent a great deal of time strolling through them, or reading on a pleasant bench in the shade. She normally was not a great walker, but she valued any quiet time away from her aunt and her "social responsibilities" immensely. She also spent time with Baron Alton during these afternoons. He had, in the days immediately following the party, begun to come over quite often. She knew he was under pressure from his family to marry, but she also knew that had nothing to do with her. They were friends, that was all. His conversation kept her sane, and the time they spent wandering through the gardens satisfied her aunt that a match would soon be made. As a result, Lady Eldira started to send away some of the fellows who came to see Annica. "She's with her friend, the baron," she'd say to them. "We wouldn't want to interrupt them, now would we?" The ones who'd only come because their mothers told them to went away indifferent. The ones who'd heard rumors of a large dowry, however, had disappointed looks on their faces as they turned to leave.
 
  All of which was just fine with Annica, of course.
  
   One particularly grey morning, Lady Eldira and Annica arrived in a splendid carriage at the home of none other than Lord Breyne. She hadn't seen him since a ball at his house a few days after her aunt's party. She wasn't exactly looking forward to seeing him again.
   He was his usual awful self, and the entire visit was torturous to Annica. Between segments of mindless small talk, he informed them that his mother was taken rather ill with a high fever. The doctor, he said, seemed worried, but Lord Breyne couldn't see why.
"He just doesn't know her," he said. "She has a splendid constitution. Why, this is nothing more to her than a minor inconvenience. She'll be out of bed right soon enough, he'll see."
 Optimistic fellow, thought Annica, as she nodded and smiled insincerely.
  Later that day she was walking through the orchards with Baron Alton. He picked a couple of oranges for them to munch on; he was at his most charming that day. The illness of Lady Breyne had brought questions to Annica's mind, and these questions were the topic for their discussion. She told him about Breyne's disregard for the doctor's opinion.

"Do you think he should trust the doctor more?" she asked.
"I believe so," he replied. "The Breynes' family physcian is mine as well. Though most doctors nowadays know more about sickness than about cures, he is usually correct in both his diagnosis and his treatment. I have a great respect for him."

"But why doesn't Lord Breyne share your respect?" she wondered, pulling out her handkerchief to wipe some orange juice from her chin.

"Because he's an empty-headed fool, that's why." 
A twinge of conscience led Annica to the other man's defense. "Oh, well, I'm sure there's a better reason than that. He does know his mother better, I suppose."

"But he has no medical experience. He can speak only for the results of past illnesses."
"That's true." She still wasn't entirely comfortable with the ready way in which Alton had spoken so meanly of Lord Breyne. Truly, she herself had often thought of him in such terms, but was it really gentlemanly to speak that way? She brushed these thoughts aside, however, and moved to shift the conversation onto a slightly different course.

  "Why do you think people do that? Hire a trusted professional to do or say something, and disregard their expertise nonetheless?" 
The baron picked up an acorn (they had by now wandered out of the orchards and onto a small meadow where a few oak trees grew) and bounced it up and down in his hand.
"Perhaps it makes them feel smarter," he said. He threw the acorn into a nearby puddle. Annica didn't think his idea made much sense, but she kept that to herself. They walked back to the house, talking of other things. She curtsied, he bowed (all under the approving eye of her aunt), and she went upstairs to write another letter to Ariela.

  
   The next morning Lady Eldira came to Annica's room with news. She was wearing a black ribbon around her throat; the sign of mourning for a friend. "We will not be visiting with anybody today. Lady Breyne has died."

Comments

Oh, I'm glad you posted more.

Oh, I'm glad you posted more. I like this--your writing style is so vivacious. Unfortunately, I can't think of any good names as replacements for Daryn, but I'll be thinking about it. And I love the book cover--did you make it yourself?

Annabel | Sun, 03/14/2010

I really am enjoying your

I really am enjoying your story, KatieSara! :) A few names came to mind for the Baron: Karl, Harold, Conrad, Darden, Elliot.  I'll be thinking of more names. :) Keep on writing!

Teal | Sun, 03/14/2010

Oh, thank you! :-D The cover

Oh, thank you! :-D
The cover was done by a friend of mine, much better at that sort of thing than I.

KatieSara | Mon, 03/15/2010

Katie:-)

"Are all humans like this? So much bigger on the inside?"
-Idris/TARDIS

You rock, Katie dear! *hugs*

You rock, Katie dear! *hugs*

Clare | Mon, 03/15/2010

I love this story!!! It's

I love this story!!! It's completely my sort of thing ;-)

Although I haven't met Jonathan yet, I get the feeling that they'll fall in love and get married :-D haha.

As for the Baron's name, I have a few suggestions:

James

Damien

Grant (my personal favorite-besides James and Angus-which happens to be my favorite name anyway!)

Mitchel

Amos

Quinten

Gerald

Gregory

Yosef

William

Angus

If you want any more ideas, I'd happily oblige :-)

Erin | Tue, 03/16/2010

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

This is a cute story! It

This is a cute story! It reminds me of a Jane Austen. Keep up the good work!

Heather | Wed, 03/17/2010

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Heyy, found another name for

Heyy, found another name for our charming baron! More chapters coming up soon-ish, hopefully. Thanks for reading, y'all! Brace yourselves...the story is going to take a sharp turn in the next few chapters. ;-) Clare, don't say anything!

KatieSara | Wed, 04/28/2010

Katie:-)

"Are all humans like this? So much bigger on the inside?"
-Idris/TARDIS

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