Illusions of the Heart
by Seraphine & Gentillefille
“A New Start”
For the first time in her life, Candy had
the jitters, and she was walking around her room which made Dorothy
-Come on Candy, stop being so agitated!
-I can’t help it, you know, in an hour, I will be introduced to the whole Andrew family. What if they don’t like me…
-Now, let me stop you right away! You’re charming, nice, polite and you’re becoming a real young lady of the world. Why wouldn’t they like you?
-I don’t know… and you’re right, I’m an idiot for worrying too much. They’ll have to take me the way I am!
And on that note, the two young girls started laughing out loud, until there was a knock at the door.
-Candy, it’s time, said a man’s voice
-I’m coming. See you later Dorothy, I will tell you how it went
-I hope so! Go on, you have to go now.
Candy got out of the room, to find herself escorted by her three cousins, her new family since Uncle William adopted her.
-Well Candy, I would’ve never thought that the Scottish kilt would suit you so well! You’re magnificent.
-Thank you Anthony, said Candy blushing lightly
The colour red highlighted her complexion indeed, it showed the lightness of her skin.
-Is it the first time you’re going to participate in a fox hunt? Asked Archibald
-Yes, and all your advice are welcome, I want to make a good impression
-Don’t worry, it’s going to be simple, continued Alistair, the fox hunting is about following a fox by sending dog after it. Then, all we have to do is let them guide us
While they were talking, they had reached the stairs, and Aunt Elroy, who was impatient to leave, was pacing the floor in the hallway.
-Well, it took you long enough to get ready! Candy, did you make everybody late? I would suggest you not make yourself beautiful in the future. It’s a fault you’ll have to correct fast, she said with a dry tone and the severe look Candy was learning to know only too well
-You’re mistaken Great Aunt, intervene Anthony, it’s not her fault, we started the conversation before…
-That’s enough, my nephew. Let’s rush, we’re going to be late.
And she walked to her car without apologise for her mistake.
Once they arrived in the forest in
a clearing area, Candy was impressed by the number of people present. She
already seen a glimpse when she started to learn the names of all the members of
the family, per Aunt Elroy wishes, but now, they were all reunited and they were
so many of them! All of a sudden, and despite Dorothy’s encouragements, Candy’s
jitters surfaced again.
-I’m going to have to talk in front of all these people! She said livid, but…
-But, you’re going to make it, answered the three cousins at the same time
-Just be yourself Candy and everything is going to be fine, said Anthony
-Be myself, answered Candy in echo, meditating on those words like a dervish in trance
They walked toward the crowd, the cousins greeting family members they knew closely of from afar.
-Aunt Mabell! How are you?
-Oh Alistair! It’s good to see you here. I thought you were in Saudi Arabia with your parents. And oh, but it’s Archibald, what a handsome young man you have become… and Anthony, my God, it’s so good to see all three of you!
Candy was in front of a lady the same age as Aunt Elroy, but she was her complete opposite. If the Great Aunt was paying attentions to good manners and a behaviour code for perfect lady, this woman seemed liberated from any constraint and she was even a little eccentric.
-And tell me who this charming young woman who is with you is? She said turning to Candy with a sparkling look full of tenderness
-That’s Candice, Aunt Mabell
-So, you’re the one the Great Uncle adopted?
-Yes, madam, and I’m very happy about it. I finally have a family and cousins with whom I get along very well. I couldn’t dream for anything more
-Are you sure? She said winking at her, what about that old hag? How do you find her? Are you getting along with her?
-Hag? I don’t understand, said Candy clueless
-Let me explain Candy, said Anthony to help her out, you see, everybody knows that Aunt Mabell and Aunt Elroy can’t stand each other
-It’s a question of incompatibility of personality, added the old lady with a stiffed dignity, mimicking the Great Aunt. And honey, if you want us to be friends, do like everybody and call me Aunt Mabell, otherwise I will get angry with you
-All right, on one condition, you call me Candy like all my friends!
-That’s fine with me Candy!
-Oh you came, Mabell. You manage to separate yourself from your sea and your Californian sun of Los Angeles, said the aunt who was walking around different little groups looking for Candy.
-Yes, my dear cousin, and I don’t regret it. It allowed me to meet this charming child
-Candy, follow me. The time has come to introduce you to the family. Come on.
-Yes, Aunt Elroy, I’m right behind you, she said, her skin whiter than usual
-Good luck Candy, said the three cousin in unison with Aunt Mabell
-Come on, have some nerve and show them what you’re worth and you don’t have whey in your veins! Added Mabell
When she heard about the “whey” running in her veins, Candy’s pride was spiked and all her jitters were gone. The old lady’s method had worked!
-Whey? Now you’re going to see! Said the young blond
She followed Aunt Elroy with a determined step, to the stage built for the occasion. The Great aunt went on it first, and she started talking:
-Dearest family members of the Andrew family, hello to all of you. We are gathered here today to greet a new member of our family, the adoptive daughter of the Great Uncle William, the head of our family, Candice
At that precise moment, and like Aunt Elroy had instructed her a little while earlier, Candy went on stage. Mabell’s word were still resonating in her ears, piercing her eardrums. Her jitters were definitely forgotten. She turned to all the Andrew’s family members and she did what aunt Elroy had taught her, with strength a charming little curtsy with the most beautiful smile (those she usually reserved for Anthony).
-Hello to you all. I am very pleased to meet all of you. It’s the first time in my life I have a real family and for me it’s pure bliss. I will do my best to be worthy of your family, and I beg you to tell me when I’ll make a mistake or a mishap, so I won’t make them anymore and become a real lady. There, I’m done, she added with another one of her smiles.
And she did a little curtsy, before turning to Aunt Elroy, a little puzzled for a moment by this surprising ending, but she was back to her strict face to declare with dignity:
-Well, after that presentation let the hunt begin!
Candy was finally able to come down the stage, relieved that the awful moment was finally over! Now, she was free to stay with Anthony for the rest of the day.
-Good job Candy, you did a good job, he told her when she arrived near him
-It was a nice speech as a mater of fact, added Archibald
-Congratulations Candy, said Alistair, and for that, I will offer you a fox fur-lined coat!
-Oh no, sorry, but, I’m the one who is going to offer it to Candy, said Anthony with a malicious smile
Candy was in seventh heaven.
-I hope you know how to ride a horse better than you make speech, interrupted Eliza angry that Anthony was interested in Candy and didn’t propose to offer her the fox fur-lined coat
-Don’t worry about me Eliza, at the Pony Home, I learned how to ride a horse, and I didn’t lose the habit when I took care of the horses in your family
That reply told off Eliza who let right away, upset that “the stable girl” had stepped on her head.
-Great answer, said Mabell, who didn’t miss a word. I never could stand them in that family, they are unbearable, except for the father, but he’s often absent. It’s a pity those kids are spoiled, they’re going to end up bad… she said looking at Eliza who was walking away followed by her brother, with the experience she had acquired through out the years, and what the youngsters called the elderly, but which really was wisdom.
-I hope you’re wrong, said Candy
-I hope so, said Mabell, I hope, and she looked at them one last time. And on that note, she said taking a more cheerful tone, why don’t you show me how you ride a horse. What you said was not just to show off, I hope? She said amused looking at the young girl.
-Oh no Mabell, said Candy blushing, you’ll see! Follow us and you’ll see
-Follow you! Great God! No! Even if the heart is there, I don’t have the strength anymore! I’m just going to ride for a little while and wait for the hunt to be over
-That’s too bad…
-“Too bad” she whispered in her ear, with 3 dates… come on! Have fun, it’s your day!
And Candy got on the horse, to follow her 3 cousins who were waiting for her a little further.
-It’s the truth, you ride quite well! Said Mabell
-Thank you, said Candy, waving at her, while she joined them
Candy and Anthony managed to escape and be alone; Alistair and Archibald understood that they wanted a little privacy.
-If you only knew how happy I am you got adopted Candy. To see you mistreated by the Reagans was unbearable. You’re the sweetest and the nicest girl I’ve ever met.
-Thank you Anthony
It was summer, the sun was shining, the wind was moving the leaves on the trees, and Candy’s heart was beating fast!!! Candy and Anthony were riding side by side, at the same rhythm. Anthony turned around and said:
-Candy, the other day, when you were adopted by Uncle William, you told me you loved me…But I didn’t get the time to tell you what I was feeling. I love you too, Candy… He leaned softly towards her and he put a chaste kiss on her forehead. Candy was blown away; Anthony had just told her that he loved her. She was so happy; she wanted to scream her joy to the whole world.
-I’m so happy, Anthony, she finally said, worlds blocked by emotions
-Me too Candy… at the moment, a fox was running in the horses feet to hide in the bushes close by, frightened without a doubt by all those hunter after it’s fur
-By the way, Candy, he added, about the boy who looked like me, he said with thinking eyes, I think I know him. I used to see him near mom, I think it’s…
But at that moment, everything went fast… Anthony saw the fox running to the bushes…
-Ah Candy, I think you’ll get your fox fur-lined coat…
-Be careful Anthony!!!
Candy had a bad feeling thinking about the dead roses.
-Don’t worry Candy!
And he went after the fox. Unfortunately, he didn’t see that behind the bushes, there was a trap. His horse got trapped, reared up, unseated its rider violently, who fell with a thud on the ground. His right arm made an angle, and he wasn’t moving. She got off the horse, shaking, and frightened. She approached Anthony, and she leaned to see his face:
-Anthony, Anthony, wake up!
She shook him without any results…
-Answer me, Anthony. ANTHONYYYYY!!!!
The breeze repeated, Anthony, Anthony, Anthony over and over again… While Candy was fainting and fell into despair… Anthony was not getting up…
Even in her sleep, Candy continued calling him. The morning sun was caressing her cheek, and brought her out of her dream, without, however calming her grief. She jumped out of he blankets and she found Dorothy and Mabell at her bed side, watching after her.
-Candy my child, you gave us one of those fears, said Mabell honestly taking her in his arms
-Anthony, he’s unconscious, we have to help him
-Calm down, calm down, you’re a little late Candy! That was yesterday! And yes, don’t look at me with those sleepy eyes! We spent the day looking after you. And Anthony is fine, except for his right arm at the moment.
-At the moment? Said Candy worried
-Well, when he fell, he broke his right arm… the doctor put a cast on it so the bones should be back in place normally, he said. He added that it was a small fracture, without any complication
-I’m going to see him, said Candy getting out of bed, while repeating in her mind, over and over again, like magic words, “He’s alive”
-In that dress? Are you sure? Said Mabell with a little smile
-In this dress?
Candy looked at herself in the mirror, and understood her aunt’s reaction. She was wearing a simple night gown and her hair was a mess
-As a matter of fact, I might scare Anthony if get there with this dress!
All three of them were laughing when Candy was finally ready to find her unlucky partner
-By the way, I have to warn you, Mabell said; aunt Elroy and that little vixen are holding you responsible for his accident. They are not going to let you get in his room that easily
-Really?! Said Candy, they haven’t changed much since!
Candy went to the young man’s bedroom, and she knocked on the door. Aunt Elroy opened the door. At the sight of the young girl, her heart skipped a beat.
-How dare you! After what you did to Anthony? Because of you he broke his arms!!! Leave, you have nothing to do here!
-Aunt Elroy is right Candy, said Eliza, don’t worry, she added with a little smug smile, I’m going to be the perfect nurse. Right, Aunt Elroy?
-Of course Eliza, and you don’t come near my nephew, you only brought shame to this family!
Candy went back running to her bedroom.
“I was unable to see him, she thought, I don’t even know how he is.”
When she got there, she ran into Aunt Mabell’s arms.
-I promised I wouldn’t cry, but she was too cruel. She didn’t tell me how he was doing.
-She’s an old owl… I’m going to steal her feather, said Mabell standing up, I’m going to tell her what I think, don’t worry, you’ll be able to see him!
-Thank You Mabell
She left, leaving Candy alone in her bedroom. The young girl’s eyes were wondering around the room looking at objects, like she was seeing them for the first time. Her eyes got to under her bed, where she had hidden one or two empty bottles… Albert! How could she have not thought about him earlier?! She had kept the bottles in case she needed to send a message by the postal river, to Albert, her new friend. She wrote a letter explaining the situation, laying all her grief and frustration on paper. Once the letter was done, she put it in the bottle and she sealed it with wax on the cap, to be sure the water wouldn’t go in. She snuck out of the room and went out by the back door, the one only the employees used. She didn’t meet any body on her way. She went to the wood to get to the river, and she threw the bottle in, which was immediately taken by the current. Candy looked at in going for a while, but she had to stop watching. Eliza, who had followed her, ( she can really be annoying that girl, always spying on me, said Candy to herself), was getting ready to pour her usual diatribe on her.
-If I were you, said Eliza with a mocking tone, I would do it
-Do what Eliza?
-Drown yourself in the river, of course!
-But, I never thought about downing myself in the river!
-Well, you should! Said Eliza, after what you did to Anthony, you dare stay in the house. That’s intolerable! You should leave immediately, or die. Because of you, Anthony broke his right arm!
Candy was upset by Eliza’s words. She knew very well that Anthony’s fall was an unfortunate accident, that it could’ve happened to anyone, but what saddened her the most, it’s that she had just understood that Eliza hated her so much, that she wished she’d disappeared for good, to the point to wish her death. Even if her feelings for Eliza were the same as the love this last one had for her, she thought the situation was… sad … simply sad… and she was sorry. She looked at Eliza’s determined face and she answered:
-I’m sorry for you Eliza, but I don’t want to die. My eyes haven’t got enough of looking at Anthony
And on those words, she left Eliza who was speechless and she went back home.
Candy was waiting for the answer for three days, while
she was forbidden to see Anthony, despite Aunt Mabell’s demands, whose fights
with Aunt Elroy, had made the house foundation move. She knew about Anthony’s
state through Aunt Mabell, Archibald and Alistair, but it was not the same. She
wanted to see him, he too was missing her. Aunt Elroy was inflexible; the young
girl wasn’t allowed to appear in his room. Fortunately, the third night,
something surprising happened. Anthony, aside from his arm was completely back
in shape, like his cousins assured Candy, came out of his room during the night
to go see her, right under Aunt Elroy’s and Eliza’s nose. It took him a while to
wake Candy up, she was deeply asleep.
-Well, what a log! I break all the rules to come and see you and reassure you, and you’re sleeping!
-I’m sorry Anthony, said Candy still asleep, but you should’ve given a message to Archibald and Alistair, I would’ve stayed up
-Impossible! If you had known, it would’ve been written on your faces and Eliza would’ve been suspicious (and he said to himself, that his cousins might not have agreed to know him alone, in the middle of the night with Candy!)
-Anthony, I’m very sorry, if I hadn’t distracted you…
-I’m stopping you right now, he said, putting a finger on her lips. What happened was an accident. It could happen to anybody
-But, you’re not anybody! Yelled Candy before realising that her words were too revealing of her feelings for her cousin
-Really? Anthony was looking at her with eyes full of love. Who am I then? He approached his face to Candy’s (“Her eyes are so magnificent…”)
Candy looked down, so Anthony wouldn’t see her blush.
“You’re … the person I care about the most…”
All of a sudden, Anthony felt his soul was out of his body, and floating in the clouds… He softly took Candy’s face in both his hands, lift it up, and put a kiss on her forehead.
-Good night Candy and I’m sorry I woke you up.
And he left before she could answer him.
The next day, when Candy was studying in the living room
with Archibald and Alistair, since it’s going to be back to school very soon, a
storm happen in the hallway. Its name: Aunt Elroy. The three friends looked at
each other surprised, asking themselves what the cause of the noise was. They
were sure of one thing, it’s that they hadn’t done anything, but the great aunt
was thinking that way since she barged in a few moments later opening the door
like an hurricane, followed by Eliza and Neil (who didn’t want to miss the
opportunity to see Candy getting yelled at again) and Aunt Mabell was trying to
calm her down. The answer to all that noise was quickly known to them, and they
knew they really hadn’t done anything. However, Aunt Elroy’s was on hot coals,
when she looked at Candy. Anthony arrived at that moment, attracted by the
-It’s good that you’re here, this letter from Uncle William concerns all six of you. He thinks you’re big enough to go to the Royal College of Saint Paul in Los Angeles to continue your studies.
-What?! Eliza seemed out of rage, why aren’t we going the establishment in London, like all of our family members?
Aunt Elroy didn’t like being interrupted when she talked, gave the young girl an icy look which froze her to the spot, and stopped her from continuing her diatribe.
-Uncle William would rather have you go to this new establishment in L.A, because he thinks, first of all, that you would be less far from home, it will be easier to see each other again, secondly, he thinks that you’d be in a safer environment, and thirdly, you wont have to live under the awful influence of the British nobility.
-Well, I will be there to look after you , said Mabell
That was exactly what seemed to bother Aunt Elroy the most, her nostrils were shaking at that evocation.
-The bottom line, be ready to take the train on August 29th, back to school is on September. Anthony, Candy, you’ll go later, the end of September, to give Anthony for his arm to heal, Candy is going to help him, according to Uncle William wishes.
That last sentence drained all the energy from her, while Eliza seemed to have swallowed vinegar.
-Enough Eliza, it’s Uncle William wishes
When she left, Eliza looked at Candy with disgust, but she didn’t pay attention to it, she was at the height of happiness… She was now in charge of taking care and helping Anthony, and the great aunt couldn’t do anything.
The last week of vacation in August went by in an
intense effervescence, everybody was rushing to pack their suitcases, and making
sure they didn’t forget anything.
The day of their departure, Eliza seemed to be in mourning; she thought that leaving Anthony alone with Candy, without any supervision, was a very big danger for the young man’s health and for the hypothetic link they could develop, that last part was also what Archibald and Alistair thought. They were, they had to admit, a little jealous of their cousin.
-Come on, said Mabell, who was serving them as a chaperon, everybody in the car! The train is not going to wait for us. I hope you’re going to come to my place when you get to L.A., to have a cup of tea!
-I’d be delighted Aunt Mabell! Said Candy with a radiant smile on her face. See you in a month!
And on those words, Candy left Mabell to get in the car, to go back near Anthony and Aunt Elroy. In a month, they’re going to go, both of them in a new school, far away from their home, and Great Aunt!