The following is the rough of my short story, The Witch of Dixon Manor. I keep switching between Davis and Dixon, and I don’t know which one is in the story. So just keep in mind that they’re one in the same. And remember, this is a rough. It really sucks. I just…don’t know how to make it better. Well, here goes…
Dare you pick up these pages? Dare you flip through them, trying to deem them worthy of your interest or not? I would warn you against it. Within these pages lie the tale of The Witch of Davis Manor. It is not a tale of joy and gaiety. It has no “happily ever after.” No, it is an evil tale of a monster.
This is a cursed tale. The minute you turn this page it will not be safe for you to stop. You must keep going, keep reading through, and pass your judgement. Be it good or foul, you must complete this trek. I have warned you. Do as you wish.
“Mamá! Mamá!” The screams of the little girl rang through the whole house. “Quiero ir! Quiero ir! Mamá!” Her blond ringlets had fallen from their bun, leaving a mess for the governess to try and comb out later. Her clear blue eyes that matched the Seine in more ways than one were filled with frustrated tears. She banged her fists on her mother’s elegant chair in her purple boudoir.
Mrs. Davis kept her back to the child, stringing her earrings into place. She was the image of her daughter. Her blond hair was tied up in a perfect bun with her ringlets hanging by her face. Her blue eyes remained focused on her own image in the mirror. She didn’t even wince when the crystal elephant fell from the vanity and shattered by her feet. “Be sure to beat all the rugs,” she instructed the Spanish governess who was struggling to hold back little Delilah in the doorway. She nodded and pulled the girl out of the room. She half-dragged her to the nursery, mumbling in Spanish about how troublesome this child was.
“La niña es impossible,” she muttered to herself as she sat the girl down on the floor. “Niña mala!” she scolded. “Do not bother your mother like that! You leave her alone!”
“Quiero ir!” Delilah whined.
“No!” she continued to scold, trying to explain why she she couldn’t go. “No puedes ir. Tú estás pequeña. No puedes ir.”
Delilah cried and cried for another hour before settling down and sitting in the corner to plan her revenge.
The Davises were a very well-known family in Brittany, France in 1626. The house was grand, with wings on both the East and West. Gardens surrounded it, tended by a team of gardeners. Each room had a color scheme. Delilah’s bedroom was pink, with the nursery being yellow. The dining room was an elegant red, the entrance hall and living room keeping the elegance with two shades of royal blue. The house was perfect for a man as wealthy as Mr. Davis.
Mr. Davis’s older brother was the English ambassador to France at this time. However, several years before, he had grown too ill to travel. It was quickly decided that the English air was better for his constitution than the French air. Because of this, and despite his unwillingness, the younger brother was sent to live in France where he would keep up appearances, socialize, and exchange letters with his brother regularly all to keep peace between the two countries.
Although Mr. Davis did not enjoy being away from England, he was a very good ambassador’s brother. The Davis’s did nothing but socialize.
“The French are vulgar!” he’d say to his wife and daughter. “There is no pride in the French!” However, there was hardly a time that man and wife were found in their own home and not hosting a some sort of function in it. Over half their friends were French royalties and nobles. Needless to say, Mr. and Mrs. Davis were experts at keeping their opinions to themselves.
For all their popularity, though, few knew of their daughter, Delilah. Little Delilah, born in that French house, was not to go to any of the functions. Her governess was to keep her hidden and silent. It was a rare treat for the girl to spend time with her parents. One that came to fruition a couple months after their return from the function Delilah had begged her mother for permission to go to.
The Spanish governess had been let go after a mysterious incident involving Delilah’s china doll and a pair of scissors. This made way for a new, French one. She stood by the wall with the other servants as the Davises ate breakfast. Mr. Davis was quite content in his place at the head of the table, his wife at his right-hand side. Delilah sat at his left, tall and proud to be at the dining room table with her parents. Mr. Davis looked very different from his wife and daughter, with dark hair and green eyes. He kept his beard and moustache neatly trimmed. Mr. and Mrs. Davis shared a few words, but otherwise remained silent. It was when Delilah spotted a piece of toast that she could not reach that things turned for the worse.
“Je veux des toasts, s’il vous plait,” she said. Mr. Davis’s eyes grew wide as he turned and glared at his daughter.
“French?” he demanded. “French in my house? Absurd! We speak English in this house young lady! How dare you utter a single French word at this table? I don’t care that you were born in France! You are an Englishwoman and you will behave like one! To bed with you! Now!”
Delilah stared at her father in shock and confusion. Had she even spoken in French? She was not sure, but she must have. For her father was now yelling at her and commanding her to leave.
“Bed!” he said again. The governess sheepishly took hold of Delilah’s hand and pulled her off the chair, leading her back upstairs. It was there that Delilah broke from her shock and cried. Neither she nor her governess noticed the piece of buttered toast sitting on the table of the nursery.
It took a year for her to stop crying. Two years to stop caring. By the age of twelve, Delilah had lost all hope of ever being a part of her parents’ lives. She began focusing on other things. Her music, her propriety, anything to distract her from her parents’ indifference. She never fully realized that deep down, she was working this hard just to please them.
One day, Mr. and Mrs. Davis were sitting in the green drawing room. Mrs. Davis was reading one of her novels while Mr. Davis was reading a letter from his brother. Delilah spotted them through the doorway and walked right on in. Both the older Davises pretended not to notice. Delilah waltzed right to the piano and sat down as gracefully and quietly as she could. She carefully placed her fingers on the keys and began to play.
She made a couple mistakes here and there; she was very unfamiliar with the piece of music sitting on the holder. But she recovered expertly each time. A few measures into the piece, however, Mr. and Mrs. Davis looked up at each other. Mrs. Davis closed her book, and Mr. Davis folded up the letter. The two stood and made their way out of the drawing room.
Delilah sighed, but didn’t stop playing. She told herself she didn’t care. She didn’t care. Right? Right. She didn’t skip a beat, playing the piece to the end before closing the music and leaving the drawing room, herself.
The year she turned twelve, however, Delilah discovered something about herself that took her mind completely off her parents.
It was Christmas day, 1630, and all Delilah had gotten were some new dresses. No new dolls, no new doll clothes, not even any books. She screamed and yelled at her governess.
“Go get me a new doll!” she demanded. “Go, now!”
“Darling, I cannot,” the new, English governess pleaded. “There is no way to get you a new doll today. All the doll-makers are with their families enjoying this Christmas day. Now settle down and look at your pretty new dresses.”
“No, no! I want a doll! Get me a new doll!”
It was hopeless. The girl could not be satisfied. She screamed again, throwing her hands in the air. Suddenly, the ceiling caught fire.
The two gazed at the fire in shock before they realized they had to get help. They ran through the house, screaming “Fire! Fire!”
Half the West wing burned down that day, with no certain cause for it besides the involvement of the governess.
But Delilah knew. She had done it. She has caused the fire with her own two hands. And so began her fascination with magic.
Delilah studied magic constantly. Book after book she read. Field journals, myths, anything with a mystical air.
She never found anyone like her, no matter how hard she looked. But she did find one thing that helped her master her magical abilities.
She was in her usual spot, curled up on the chair reading a book on dragons in the library in the East wing. For no reason she could discern, she decided to look up from her book. She spotted the dusty old corner she had yet to scour. One particular spine was prominent over the others. It was calling to her. She closed the book on dragons and dropped it on the ground. She slowly made her way across the room. The corner was dark and dusty. She casually wondered why the maids never cleaned over here.
She reached out, but hesitated. Why did she want that book? Why wasn’t she happy reading about dragons? But the book was suddenly in her hands and she turned it over. The cover was old and faded, but she managed to make out the title once she wiped away the dust: “The Spellcaster’s Companion.”
Well, it certainly seemed to be about magic. She opened the cover, the first page reading, “This grimmorie belongs to ___________.” As she watched, her name wrote itself on the line beneath the text in a cursive too elegant to have come from her own clumsy hand.
She grinned to herself, immediately recognizing the great importance this book was going to have in her life.
By the time she turned fourteen, Delilah had read each and every inch of the grimmorie. Of her grimmorie. But she still hadn’t mastered her spellcasting yet. There were words she couldn’t pronounce right. Motions and ingredients she still couldn’t figure out. Like the illness spell.
One time, Delilah had tried to make her father fall ill. She had gathered all the herbs from the gardens, the thyme and the sage, the bay leaves, rosemary, chives, and even the parsley. All that together with the rainwater she had collected and the milk she had snuck from the kitchen. All had been in her little pot. She had hovered over the pot, murmuring the words.
“Lirne corsi Donald Davis.”
But nothing had happened. She saw her father the next day, and the day after, bright and healthy as ever.
However, there were successful spells. The small ones that needed no ingredients. Like the summoning spell. Not one of those big ones that summoned demons and that kind, but a spell that brought items over to you.
Delilah was sitting in her nursery, seeing her doll across the room. It was an old doll, she wouldn’t care if the face shattered. She reached out, and said the words, “Mirte lorni orsi kaina.” The doll had gently floated through the air, landing carefully in Delilah’s outstretched hands. She grinned wide and held the doll close. She was a natural.
Delilah was quite proud of her small mastery over her magic. Whether her parents knew about it or not, she neither knew nor cared. But she did make certain to keep it secret from others. They would turn away from her. Hate her. Shun her just like her parents do. No, this she had to keep to herself; especially with the chatty maids and her big-eared governess. The only one she trusted was her new cat, Hamma. Hamma was a pure-white shorthair with the same eyes as Delilah. Ever since Delilah had found her on her doorstep, the two had been practically inseparable.
Not long after Delilah’s fifteenth birthday, her coming out party was planned. Her dolls were put away, all her old toys stashed in the attic to make room for even more dresses, petticoats, ribbons, rogue, and jewelry. Finally, she was to be presented to the world. Finally, her parents seemed proud to show her off. And finally, no more governesses. She was certain this was going to change everything in her life. She and her parents were going to be one, perfect family unit. All because she had turned fifteen.
She wore her favorite dress, the white one with golden trim. She pulled her hair up with golden ribbon, and proudly patted some rogue on her cheeks. She placed a molé on a blemish by her lip and looked over her handy-work in the mirror. She grinned at herself, admiring how beautiful she was. Everyone was going to love her, she knew it. She gave Hamma a final pat before leaving the room.
She could already hear the commotion downstairs. Had watched the guests walk into the house. She couldn’t wait to go downstairs and mingle with all her parents’ friends.
She took one last look in the mirror and grinned, making her way out the door. As she descended the steps, the butler announced her entrance to the crowd below.
“The Davises would like to present their daughter, Miss Delilah Deborah Davis.”
Delilah held her head high and proud as the polite applause filled her ears. She gazed out at all the wonderfully-dressed people. All the colors! All the faces! It was wonderful!
She made the bottom of the stairs and was immediately introduced to the French and English nobles and dignitaries. Gavroche DePrez. Christine Carpenter. Peter and Paige and Agnes and Marius. The names swirled around her head as she tried to keep them straight. Each man took her elegantly-gloved hand and kissed it. Each woman shared a curtsey with her. It was a dream.
She danced with so many men, she ran out of room on her dance card. She longed to dance more, but both her feet and parents were opposed to the idea. She settled on a chair and learned all about how Paige was making eyes at Johnathan and Eleanor was wearing the same dress she wore to the Dillon’s Christmas party. How fascinating it all was to her! She couldn’t wait to see what more she was going to learn.
“Do you see that servant?” Elizabeth Connor whispered to Delilah, subtly nodding her head to the new French butler.
“Yes,” Delilah whispered back, excited to hear a bit more gossip.
“He couldn’t keep his eyes off of you when you danced.” She grinned knowingly. Delilah frowned. He couldn’t? What did that mean? Suddenly, this talk didn’t seem as much fun when the talk was about her.
“Couldn’t he?” she asked, guessing that her little giggle would suggest she knew what her new friend was talking about. She glanced again at the butler. The butler quickly looked away from her, as if he had been staring at her. Had he really been staring at her? Watching her dance? For the first time that night, she started to feel self-conscious and she smoothed down her skirt.
“He’s not too bad-looking,” Elizabeth said.
“He is French,” Delilah noted, trying to end the uncomfortable conversation.
“They’re the best ones.” Delilah blinked and looked at her. The best ones? But weren’t the French vulgar and shameless? Weren’t they dirty and dishonorable? What were they good at? What were they “best” at? This conversation was getting far too confusing. She had to change the topic.
“What did you say about Rebecca and that book again?”
The young women giggled and chatted the rest of the night, Delilah being sure to keep away from that particular servant.
But she saw him again the next morning. He woke her with a knock at her door. “Miss Davis?” he called. She opened it a crack, trying not to let him see her in her nightgown and with her hair down. “Your father requests your attendance at breakfast,” he said formally.
“OK,” Delilah said with a nod. The servant bowed his head and turned away. “Wait!” He paused and looked back at her curiously. She hesitated. “What was your name again?”
He grinned. “I don’t believe I ever told you, Miss” he said. “Pierre Labelle.”
“Pierre Labelle,” Delilah repeated. “Thank you. Have a nice day.”
“You, as well, Miss.” He bowed his head again and walked away.
Delilah dressed as quickly as she could. Even after all these years, it was still exciting to get to eat breakfast with her parents. She pinned her hair up until every single piece was in place and double checked everything in the mirror before heading out.
She walked into the dining room tall and proud, grinning graciously at her parents and sitting at her father’s left side.
“Good morning, Delilah,” Mrs. Davis said.
“Good morning, Mother. Good morning, Father,” she greeted, nodding to each in turn.
“Good morning, Dear,” Mr. Davis replied. “How did you sleep?”
“Well, thank you. And you?”
“Well, thank you. Did you enjoy last night?”
“Very much so, thank you. It was wonderful.”
“Good,” Mrs. Davis said. “We’re glad to hear that. We hope to have you join us more often. You were very well-behaved. I was quite pleasantly surprised.”
“Thank you, Mother,” Delilah said, reaching out to butter some toast.
“Don’t you agree, Darling?” Mrs. Davis asked Mr. Davis.
“Certainly,” he replied. “I was glad to see you enjoying and behaving yourself.”
“Thank you, Father,” Delilah said. The rest of the breakfast went on in silence. Mr. Davis left the table first, going to his office to write to his brother. Mrs. Davis left not long after, needing to get ready for a day with her friends. Delilah didn’t leave until she caught sight of Pierre Labelle. She bolted up as graciously as she could and strode out of the room. Elizabeth’s words from the night before still rang in her ear. “He couldn’t keep his eyes off of you.”
Delilah began noticing Pierre more often than ever. He was well-built, with dark hair and eyes. The way his lips curved up just a little on his left side made her knees weak. She watched from behind her book as he dusted, listened to him as he flirted with the maids. Soon enough, she realized that she was no longer going out of her way to avoid him. She was going out of her way to see him. He was gracious and kind. Funny and sweet. And he was very polite to her. She realized she rather liked how he looked. He was actually rather handsome. He was also strong, she knew from watching him lift the bags of horse feed. And most astonishing, although he flirted, he never laid a finger on any one of the women. He was going to be a great husband.
Delilah shook her head at the thought before it went any further. He was a servant. Besides, he had no interest in her whatsoever. He probably just thought her beautiful and liked to see her. He had no feelings. Though, there was a spell…She could make him have feelings.
She shook her head again. No. He was a servant. A French servant. Her parents would never approve.
Besides, she had too much else to worry about. She continued going to parties. One after another, she could barely rest before there was another one for her to dress up for and dance at. She decided she quite liked dancing. She decided she also quite liked men. A lot. And they liked her. Every night, her dance card would be far too full before eleven. The trouble was, she liked all the French men best. She knew her parents would never approve. But something about their demeanor and faces caught her attention. And they liked her just as much. Something about her demeanor or speech, she thought. English is the more proper language with the most beautiful accent. She imagined a proper, French wedding more often than she would ever care to admit.
“A toast!” Mr. Davis announced from the head of the table. It was another party hosted in her home, a dinner party during which was served the greatest delicacies of duck and turtle, bananas and hot chocolate. “To my daughter, Delilah. The most beautiful Englishwoman in all of France.” Everyone gave their agreements and toasted as Delilah watched, grinning her thanks. She glanced over at her most recent favorite man, Thomas. He was grinning wide at her, proud to have her attention. He was certain they would soon be wed, for they loved each other dearly and her parents quite liked him. When he returned his attention to his food, Delilah turned hers toward Alexander. He, too, was certain she was soon going to be his. He grinned at her as the thought about how he fed her more compliments than any woman could ever ask for. Even if he wasn’t the family favorite, he knew he was hers.
But her eyes always travelled back to Pierre. Her heart pounded whenever he was around. She couldn’t understand it. They never even spoke beyond the trivialities of the household. All she knew was that she was in love with him. And that he continued to watch her as she danced and giggled with her friends.
It was past midnight when Delilah finally made it to her bedroom. She collapsed on to the bed, Hamma mewing her complaint at the disturbance. Delilah reached over and stroked the soft fur. “I’m sorry, Hamma,” she said breathlessly. “I had a long night.” The cat purred at Delilah’s touch, not really caring about the young woman’s distress. But Delilah was her pet and she decided she might as well pretend to listen as she went on about the dinner.
“…And then Father did a toast! To me! It was enough to make me laugh. If he really thought me so wonderful, would he not spend more time smiling at me rather than scolding me for speaking in French, even when I’m alone with you?” Delilah sighed. “And naturally, my mother spent an hour telling me about how my hair was not laying right and must be fixed before dinner. Oh, Hamma, sometimes I just can’t stand it.”
“I know what you mean.” Delilah jumped at the voice, looking to her door to see Pierre, a tray with a glass of milk in his hand. His lips curled into a grin was enough to make Delilah faint. But she gathered her courage and sat up.
“You should not be here,” she said, trying to sound noble and assertive.
“Forgive me, Miss,” he said. “But I felt the need to bring you something soothing to drink before bed. It was a long night you had.”
“Oh, thank you,” she said, straightening herself up. The servant made his way into the room, placing the drink on her bedside table.
“I hope you have a good night,” he said before turning and leaving Delilah feeling somehow empty and lost. With a shake of her head, she took the drink and sipped from it. It tasted…unusual. She pulled the glass away to look at it. The liquid was thick and as white as Hamma’s paws. What, then, was that sweet taste that lingered on her tongue? After a few minutes, she decided to stop worrying about it. She changed and went to bed, taking another drink from the glass before leaving the rest.
No matter how hard she tried, she could not get her mind off Pierre. Day after day, she thought of him. What it would be like if he would court her. If he could court her. If he were one of the nobles that was so certain she was going to be his. What it would be like if they wed. Each day he was getting more and more wonderful. She became aware of the idea that she had, in fact, fallen in love with him.
However, she was glad to notice that Pierre wasn’t the only thing on her mind.
A few nights later, they were at Katherine Black’s home for another dance. Elizabeth and Delilah were sitting together chatting in the corner of the room.
“You’ll never believe this!” Elizabeth said.
“What?” Delilah asked, gazing at her.
“You know Marius?”
“Of course I know Marius. You know very well how much I adore him.”
“Well, you wouldn’t believe what Meredith told me.”
“Elizabeth, just tell me!”
“She said she quite adores Marius, as well. She has plans for a big wedding in the winter with snow falling on them as they kiss! Isn’t that romantic? Oh, but I still couldn’t believe it. She knows very well your feelings for him, doesn’t she?”
Delilah furrowed her brow just a little bit. “Of course she does.” She shook her head. She could not let her troubles show. That was improper. “Well, I wish her the best of luck,” she said. “Because Marius shall be mine.”
A few days later,, Delilah caught her parents in the drawing room again. She hesitated, but thought it was worth another try. She waltzed inside and right up to the piano. Neither parent had lifted a single eyelid, but that didn’t deter Delilah. She sat down on the piano, back straight as a rimrod. She placed her fingers on the keys and began to play. She didn’t miss a single note. When she finished the piece, she looked over to see her parents gazing at her, the smallest of grins on their faces.
“I just love hearing you play,” Mrs. Davis said. “It’s so relaxing. Play another, Delilah.”
“Yes, Mother,” Delilah said, resisting the urge to give a big, goofy grin. She continued to play for the rest of the afternoon, thoroughly enjoying her parents’ attention.
It was another party, another night. Again, Elizabeth and Delilah were whispering together at the edge of the dance floor.
“Jennifer really knows how to dance,” Delilah commented.
“Yes. Do you know where she learned it?” asked Elizabeth.
“In England. Where she met Peter Davis, your cousin.”
“Yes. I wouldn’t trust her, Delilah. You see, she told me all about her plans to marry your cousin and convince him to take away your allowance.”
Delilah gasped. “Why would she do that?”
“Because she’s jealous. She’s very jealous of you and your wealth, Delilah. She would do anything to have what you have. And she’s not the only one. Katherine has prepared plenty of lies to spread around about you. From using your mother’s old dresses to sleeping with the butcher! I thought you should know, Delilah. These girls are tricky.”
Delilah frowned, but quickly regained her composure. “I’m so glad I have you as a real friend, Elizabeth,” she said, grinning at her. Elizabeth grinned back before two men came over and asked them to dance.
Things were going wonderfully. From parties to down time, she and her parents were finally a proper family unit. On top of that, she had a real friend, as well. But that all changed the night of Elizabeth’s Christmas Ball. She was standing at the side of the dance floor with Jennifer, Katherine, and Meredith. Delilah glanced over at Elizabeth dancing with an English man and winked at her. Elizabeth had a little crush on that man, and Delilah was the only one that knew that. She quite liked being best friends with Elizabeth.
“Do you know what Elizabeth said, Delilah?” Katherine asked.
“What?” Delilah replied, nervous that her friend had told others about her feelings for the English man.
“She said that you are secretly seeing a servant!” Katherine whispered. Delilah couldn’t help but gasp. She gazed at her friend with wide eyes before glancing back at Elizabeth. She didn’t! She couldn’t have! Why would she even think such a thing? Just because Jacob had had eyes for her? “Yes! She said you two are always winking at each other at parties at your house. And that you two secretly meet up in the stables at night. How romantic! You must be so happy!”
“Th-that’s not true!” Delilah said. Her brow furrowed and she closed her fan with a harsh “click.” “I am not having a secret affair with a servant! How disgusting to even think that! How could you!?”
“But Delilah,” Jennifer said, “it must be true. Elizabeth does not lie.”
“Of course she does!” Delilah said, realizing just how exaggerated all those stories she had told her about the other girls must have been. “She told me that you, Meredith, had plans to run off with Marius! And that you, Jennifer, were eying my cousin to get a hold of my allowance. And Katherine, she told me you were plotting to spread more horrible rumors than one about me! With rumors and lies. You girls, all you do is exaggerate and gossip! I will not be part of this anymore! None of you can spread lies about me anymore!”
Delilah turned with a huff and stormed out of the room. She made her way to the carriage, where none of the servants could be found. She searched around the front of the house, finally finding a crowd of people circled around something. The minute the crowd saw her, they stopped their cheering and stared at her. She gazed at them curiously and stepped closer. They reluctantly made way for her. She finally reached the center, where two people had not noticed her entrance. They were two shirtless men, too busy punching and kicking each other to hear the silence. Delilah gasped when she noticed one of the men was Pierre. Pierre heard the gasp and looked over, making room for his opponent to slam his fist into his eye. Pierre fell back, holding his eye as his opponent stood triumphant until he realized the silence and the stares. He looked over and stared at Delilah.
“We’re so sorry you had to see this, ma’am,” one of the servants said. “Please, do not say anything about this. We mean no harm.”
Delilah shook her head. “No, uhm…Please. I just want to go home.”
“Right away, Miss Davis,” Pierre said, gathering himself and standing. She tried not to stare at his muscles as he pulled on his shirt. He led her back to the carriage, helped her inside, and climbed up to the driver’s spot. Delilah didn’t even look out the window as she rode. Her mind was too mixed up with the rumor Katherine had told her about and the image of Pierre without his shirt on.
She didn’t speak to her parents for days. She knew they knew of her explosion at the girls. She knew they knew they were angry at her. They did not invite her to breakfast. She spent most of her days in bed. She no longer had any friends. She should be used to this. She never had friends as a child. But for some reason, it really hurt her now. To have no one to chat with. No one to rely on. She couldn’t go back to how she used to be. So alone.
She looked up from her pillow as she heard a knock on the door. “Miss Davis?” Pierre called. She shook her head and placed her face back into the pillow.
“Go away!” she called. But she heard the latch on her door give and footsteps walking towards her as the door shut again. She peeked up at him.
“What’s wrong, Miss?” he asked, standing a few feet away.
Delilah hesitated. Why should she confide in this servant? He was a servant. He had no business in hers. But the look on his face was so sincere, so full of concern. She burst into tears, bawling for the third time that day.
“Elizabeth told the most horrendous rumor about me,” she said through her tears. “I can’t believe she betrayed me so. I have no real friends! And now my parents hate me again!” She buried her head into her pillow once again. The next thing she knew, there were arms surrounding her and pulling her up into a sitting position. Her face was in his chest, and he rubbed her back.
“I know about how hard your parents are to please,” he said. “I’m so sorry, Delilah.”
She gasped as she realized it was Pierre, and she looked up at him. She pulled away from him. “W-what are you doing!?”
“Forgive me, Miss,” Pierre said, ducking his head. “You just…look so helpless. I thought you needed that.”
“Well I do not!” she insisted. “You are a servant! You have forgotten your place! Go!” Jacob sighed but did as he was told, leaving the room. She fell back into her pillow, now more confused than ever. Did he really have feelings for her, then? He seemed to care so much. He must feel for her. But he was a servant! And she focused on trying not to admit that she had quite liked the feeling of being in his arms.
It only took a couple months for her to decide. Never again did he dare try to hold her in his arms again. But she caught him staring at her more often than ever. He always grinned and winked at her when she spotted him, and she couldn’t help but grin a little before looking away. They were meant to be, she decided. But she couldn’t be sure he felt exactly the same, for she found him continuing to flirt with the maids. She couldn’t handle that. She needed him. She needed him all to herself. She had no one else. Her parents had ignored her and kept her away from all their parties since that night. She had ignored all calling cards from her “friends.” She had refused to write a single soul. He was all she had.
It was a rainy April night. Perfect for spells, for the water is a great conductor for magic. Delilah had gathered all the ingredients the day before: roses, rosemary, forget-me-nots, sage, and apples. She stood in the kitchen at midnight, being as quiet as she could so as not to wake the servants that slept beneath the floor. She chopped the apples as quietly as she could and added them to the boiling water. She threw in the rose petals, the rosemary, the forget-me-nots and the sage. She stirred them all together, relishing in the scent. She let the scent fill the room, let the air saturate with it. Finally, the surroundings were perfect. She whispered the words of the spell. “Mirsen lourni mey Pierre Labelle.” She could almost see the spell slipping from her mouth, through the floorboards, into Pierre’s mouth. She knew when it was done. When it was time to clean up. She didn’t leave a single trace of her work, leaving the remains of her flower soup in the horse feed.
It took a couple days for the spell to take effect, Delilah decided. For it took a couple days for him to show up in her bedroom in the middle of the night. He didn’t even knock. The door opening woke her up, although he was being as quiet as he could. She heard his soft footsteps on the floor, felt him climb into the bed. She felt his arms around him, his breath on the back of her neck. It was wonderful. “I love you,” he whispered, kissing her jawbone. She grinned and turned around to see his widened, surprised eyes. “You’re awake?”
“I love you, too,” she whispered back and pulled him into a deep kiss. The kiss that decided their fate.
“Your parents will never allow this,” he whispered.
“I know,” she said.
“We’ll have to run away.”
“I have a plan.”
Pierre knew of a small plot of land on the other side of the country that he could buy. He saved up his wages for months. Each day was longer and longer as Delilah waited and pretended that she was not in love with a servant and, instead, planned on marrying some English noble soon.
Delilah was sitting in the living room reading when her father walked in. She looked up at him in surprise; neither of her parents had been in the same room with her since the night she had seen Pierre without his shirt.
“Hello, Delilah,” he said formally.
“So, you are getting older.”
“Yes, Father. My sixteenth birthday was last week.”
“Right. It’s about time you start thinking about your future. A husband, children. A family.”
“Yes, Father.” She was actually very excited about this prospect. With Pierre as her intended. Of course, though, she could not say that aloud.
“Have you met any young men you like?”
“Yes, Father. Thomas Akalaide is a good man. Honest and gentle. I also quite like Darren Chandler.”
“Good, good.” Mr. Davis nodded. “Perhaps you should get to know them some more. But that is something I will have to think about. I think Roger Dean would be a good match for you.” Delilah hid her grimace. Roger Dean was dirty and vulgar. But he was very wealthy, and she knew that was what her father liked about him. “Have a good day.” Delilah nodded her good-bye and returned to her book as her father walked out. But she wasn’t reading. She was praying. Praying that Pierre would take her away before her father made up his mind.
Finally, in June 1635, Pierre did.
Delilah watched for the signal beneath her window like she did every night. Suddenly, she saw movement. Pierre stood there, waving to her. That was it! They were going to wed! She waved back before rushing from the window, covering herself in an old, brown cloak. She gently placed Hamma a her bag she had had prepared for months—she could not leave her only friend of so many years behind. She quietly cracked open the door. No one. Thank goodness. She squeezed out of the door and quietly latched it closed. She rushed down the hallway as quietly as she could. She snuck through the kitchen, not noticing the half-full glass of water on the table and the maid hiding behind the cabinet.
She finally joined Pierre in the stables. Man and woman shared a kiss before he lifted her on to the horse. Hamma mewed in complaint of all the movement, but both humans ignored her. He jumped on after her, and they rode off. They rode and rode, not daring to look back. Not daring to think of what would happen if they were caught.
But they never were. In a few weeks’ time, they’d made it to the house. It was in the middle of a field, where no one could bother them. It was old with holes in the roof and panels falling off. It was small enough to have been an abandoned stable, which, Delilah discovered upon walking inside, it really was.
“We’ll fix it up,” Pierre said. “It will be beautiful. You’ll love it.”
Delilah offered him a brilliant grin, hiding her great and sudden distaste at this idea.
But that distaste did not last long. Pierre had a way of making everything wonderful no matter what. When Hamma began scratching on the legs of the new chairs, Pierre said they were now decorated just to her taste. When the roof caved in, he explained how refreshing it was to sleep under the stars.
Of course, Delilah had never worked a day in her life. Pierre had done most of the work. But he had talked her into helping, showing her how there was nothing else to do, anyway.
Their wondrous life together was shortly interrupted by a letter. The Davises had found them. Delilah gazed in horror at the letter in her hands, addressed to her, with her father’s emblem on the wax seal. She imagined the people in town she had seen. Who had been genuine in their polite chats about her? Who had been her father’s investigator?
“Darling?” Pierre called. Delilah couldn’t speak. She couldn’t move. She just stood in the doorway as the dead leaves blew in. “Delilah?” He spotted her in the doorway, and walked over to her. “What is that?”
“A letter,” Delilah whispered.
“From whom?” He took the letter from her hands, looking at the emblem. “Oh. How’d they find us?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter.” Pierre threw the letter out the door, allowing the wind to catch it and blow it away. “They’re not worth our time anymore.” He wrapped her in her arms, and she relaxed into him. He was right. They could disown her for all she cared. She had Pierre. That was all that mattered.
Delilah began to grow excited about the project. She had plans to paint each room its own color. She imagined elegant couches and chairs, tables with lion’s feet, and a chandelier right in the entryway. It was going to be marvellous.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as marvellous as she had planned. That fall, she gazed up at the rickety house. It didn’t look much different from before. There were cracks in the paneling, filled in with leaves by her own hands. It was crooked, too.
But Pierre loved it. “Our house!” he announced. “It’s done! And it’s all our own!” He wrapped her in his arms and kissed her before he spun her around. Delilah giggled and placed her hands on his chest to settle her dizziness.
“All ours,” she agreed.
A few months after the house was finished, they went to the neighborhood chapel and spoke to the priest.
“We wish to wed,” Pierre said.
“Do you, now? How wonderful! Are you planning a nice, big wedding with all your friends and family?”
“No, in fact, we wish it to only be you and us. Right now.”
“Right now? I have so much I must prepare. Come back tonight. I will be ready for you by then.”
So the couple turned and left the chapel, slowly trudging their way through the snow to the house. A few feet before they reached the house, Pierre gave a mischievous grin and lifted her into his arms. He carried her bridal-style across the threshold.
“Welcome home, Mrs. Labelle,” he told her with a kiss.
Delilah giggled and kissed him back before he set her down. “Thank you, Darling,” she said, holding him close. It wasn’t until they broke away a few minutes later that she spoke again. “It’s so cold in here,” she commented.
“I know, Darling,” Pierre said. “I’ll make some friends in town, they’ll teach me how to make the house warm.”
“Please do so soon. I think I will catch another cold soon enough.”
He wrapped her in his arms and shut the door with his foot. “I’ll keep you warm,” he said with a snicker. “Tonight, in bed.”
Delilah’s eyes widened. She forgot about the biggest thing that happened once you were married. She still didn’t even know much beyond the fact that they were going to see each other naked.
“I…don’t think I’m ready for that, Pierre.”
“What do you mean, Dear?”
“I don’t think…I think it will take some time for me to get used to the idea.”
“Of course it won’t.” His voice grew hard suddenly. “You and I are going to have the time of our lives tonight. Trust me.”
“Shush! We’ll be wed! You’ll be my wife and you’ll do as I say!”
Delilah let out a whimper and bit her lip. But he was right. She was to be his wife. And a loving wife must do as she is told. “You’re right, Dear,” she said, despite her uncertainties. She buried her head in his chest, but found no comfort there.
The ceremony was simple and short. Both wore the best clothes they had brought. The priest led the two in a short mass, then led them in taking their vows. The two were officially wed, and so happy to be so.
The next morning, Pierre woke early to go mingle in town and find a job. Delilah hadn’t slept for a moment. She was still in shock. What had that been? Was that supposed to feel good? All she had felt was pain as he groaned in delight. He never once reacted to her pain. Never asked her how she was doing. Did that mean he didn’t care? Of course he cared. Why wouldn’t he? He must have been too overwhelmed with pleasure. That was it. He couldn’t see reason, because he was enjoying himself far too much.
Once that was decided, Delilah stood and stretched. She shook her head, trying not to act as overtired as she was. Hamma mewed at her and jumped on to the bed. She rubbed up against Delilah’s unresponsive hand until she finally looked down and pet her.
thday cleaning and cooking. She decided she rather disliked the tiring work that came with this life. But she didn’t dislike it here.
She missed the dances and flirting and giggling. She missed the grand dinners with duck and turtle soup. But she didn’t dislike it here.
It was August when the second letter from Brittany arrived. Pierre was out with his friends that night, the ones that had helped him insulate the house just after Christmas. She didn’t know what they were doing, but that didn’t matter to her. She knew he was all right. What had her attention, now, was the letter in her hand.
Why would they write again? Why would they bother with her? Had they not disowned her by now?
Should she open it? What would Pierre say? He would say they’re not worth her time again. He wouldn’t let her open it. But to be honest, she rather missed her parents. She missed her old life. She decided she needed some sort of connection to that old life. So, she broke the wax seal.
Dear Mrs. Delilah Labelle,
I regret to inform you that your parents, David and Danielle Davis, passed away this December due to a cruel spell of influenza. None of your cousins or uncles will take Davis Manor, so the house and all it contains is yours. It is requested that you come to claim your home by October the Fourth, 1636. I wish you happiness in your new life.
The letter was straight and to the point, just like Johnathan, her father’s assistant, always had been. Not really the way to tell someone their parents were dead.
But Delilah only felt a little sadness for her loss. She had gained back the house! What wonderful news! Pierre will be so happy to hear it! She suddenly couldn’t wait for him to get home.
He didn’t return until late that night. He was acting strange, storming into the house and breathing hard.
“Hello, Darling,” Delilah called, going to greet him. “I have wonderful news!” When she came close, she noticed his eyes were bloodshot and his breath stank.
“You!” he raged, grabbing her and throwing her against the wall. “You unfaithful whore!”
Delilah gazed up at him in fear and alarm. “What?” she asked, trying to inch away from him.
“You’re unfaithful, aren’t you!? You little whore! You and that nasty butcher! He told me all about it!”
“Darling, I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.”
“Of course you do!” He caught her again and balled his hand into a fist, slamming it against the side of her face. All night, this went on. He could not be stopped. Delilah was left a mess on the floor, bleeding and covered in bruises. Pierre passed out in the bedroom, and Hamma came over to Delilah, licking her wounds. She decided she could not spend another day with Pierre. No, Pierre had to be punished.
But how to do it? How to destroy the man that destroyed her? There was no doubt of his game. There was never any real love there. He only wanted her to beat around. Worse, he probably wanted her fathers–no, her–wealth, as well. He was as useless as her old friends had bee. She turned her gaze to the mewing Hamma. They shared the same thought. Make him burn.
He was still lost in his alcohol-induced coma in the middle of the night. The rain outside pelted against the glass. Delilah stood in the kitchen, preparing the spell. Hamma paced the counter, watching the woman closely.
“Sir timen maisi arsol.”
Both witches smirked as the droplets of rain turned into embers. Relished the heat as the flames enveloped the house. They grew taller and taller as Delilah and Hamma traversed the house. They licked at the witches’ heels, but they didn’t feel a thing. They were far too focused on their victim.
Delilah’s eyes were shrouded in flame by the time she reached the bedroom. His screams rang through her ears. He called her name. She just stared at his suffering form, watching him burn.
After a while, Delilah decided she had had enough. She and Hamma walked out of the room, down the stairs, and out of the house. They kept their backs to the flames. Neither looked back as the wind blew Delilah’s yellow hair around her. Her bare feet traipsed through the dewy grass without a single care. Never again, they promised each other.