Gertrude: Part Two (2/4)

Gertrude: Part Two (2/4)

A Story by Mel
"

A continuation of the origin story. Wedding arrangements are being made.

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In a month, the manor was unrecognizable in the layers of wedding decor that covered every surface.

“Is it so necessary for all this?” Jo complained to her mother one morning before breakfast, holding up two different-styled wedding vases in either hand. The table between them was covered in empty glass vessels of every size, shape and color.  “You said the wedding wasn’t until next year.”

“Of course!” Mama boasted, snatching the vases from her daughter’s hand and placing them down on the table. “The king is going to be there! Everything has to be perfect!”

Her father walked into the dining room a moment later, sitting himself between them.

“Where’s the food?” he said, looking woman to woman. “It’s nearly midmorning!”

“Well the cooks are helping preparing the frosting for the tasting this afternoon--”

“What for?” Jo grumbled, sitting next to her father and looking down at an empty plate. “It’s not until next year!” she repeated.

“--And I sent some aids to inspect the kitchen’s at your mother’s estate,” Clara continued, ignoring her child.

“Why would they do that?” Jo asked.She circled her finger along the lines of the foodless plate in front of her.

“It’s going to be the Wallhauser Estate as soon as they’re married,” Clara said as if everyone in the room already knew this. She picked up one of the vases again, got a sudden idea, and marched out of the room. Jo stood and followed her out.

“It’s going to be Gertie and Bernard’s house then?” She asked, moving quickly to keep up with her mother.

“Well, yes,” Clara said over her shoulder as she carried the vase in both hands out in front of her as if it were a screaming child. “Now where did I put those roses?” She entered the kitchens, empty of staff, but full of flowers of many species. She set the vase on the countertop and stuffed purple roses in it.

“There,” she said with a satisfied smile. “Doesn’t that look so pretty?”

Jo didn’t glance down from her mother.

“Gran said it would be shared between us,” Jo reminded her. “The summer Gert was in finishing school, she said that.”

“I know she did.” Clara sighed, setting down the vase and looking at her daughter. “But it was an important part of the marriage deal with the Wallhausers. I know how much she meant to you. How much that house meant to you. But we need this marriage. Besides, I don’t see how you won’t be a regular at the house anyhow.”

“And what will I get when I get married?”

“What about a beautiful manor with a sprawling garden,” Clara said excitedly, linking her daughter’s arm to her own and guiding her out the kitchen. “Or a castle! In a Cumulonimbus, even!”

“Nothing will be worth as much as Gran’s though,” Jo mumbled.

“No,” her mother agreed. “Firstborn children do always get the pricier homes and the larger allowances. My eldest brother was rolling quite a bit higher than your father and I before the Shershil Mountain agreement, I’ll admit. Still. We’ll keep you happy and well too, my little baby.”

She parted hair away from Jo’s forehead and planted a wet kiss upon it.

“As long as my girls remain true, pure and honest, I will continue to build them marvelous lives.”

Eventually, the cooks and the aids returned to the kitchens and prepared a lovely meal of duck just in time for lunch. Jo and Gertrude sat side-by-side, as Clara and their father chatted amicably about all the new exciting plans for the newest trade ships and Gertie’s wedding. After the family had their fill, the sisters set out for their afternoon stroll, a ritual they had faithfully carried out since they were first able to leave from behind the manor walls at the age of fourteen.

Arm in arm, they walked through the streets, matching each other’s stride. As always, the mist weighed down upon every surface, making it impossible to see more than a few steps ahead. The sisters walked slowly, following the path and the fuzzy street lights above. Every so often, someone would pass them on the street, and they’d mumble polite “hellos” to each other. If the mist were to ever lift up, the sisters might marvel at their neighbor’s clean gardens through the gate bars, or crane their heads up to look at the majesty of architecture people of their class could enjoy. But then again, maybe the best part of being surrounded by permanent mist was one could talk intimately and without distraction. Especially as the streets this time of day were almost always deserted.

So they did. Gertrude spoke excitedly about her interactions with her fiance. How handsome he is. How sweet. How thoughtful and generous. But also her fears of marriage and motherhood.

“I’ve always longed for motherhood,” she sighed dreamily, resting her head on her sister’s shoulder. “I’ve had names saved in my head forever. But it’s now within reach, and I’m afraid I’ve spent too much time wanting to be a mother but not enough time learning what it takes to be one.”

“Hush!” Jo said, patting down her sister’s hair. “You’re going to be a wonderful mother someday. After all, you were raised by Mama and Papa. The best.”

Gertie nodded in agreement.

As they continued to discuss their looming futures, a man appeared in their path. He was bearded and gray, wearing multiple layers of patch, holed clothes. In a hand, he held out a tin cup.

“A nickel, ladies?” He asked softly, shaking the cup. Something metal bounced around in it.

“No, I think not,” Gertie said tartly, gathering her skirts close to her. She pulled Jo past him.

“You could spare it, I know!” The man yelled after them, but continued on his way.

“I thought his type weren’t really allowed on these streets here,” Jo said with a frown. “Did he smell sour to you?”

Gertie nodded.

“Might do with a nice bath after this,” she said. They laughed together.

“Anyways,” she turned to Jo. “We’ve been talking so much about me. Please. Tell me something new. How is Stewart?”

“He’s ok, I think,” said Jo uncomfortably. “You know how he is.”

“Yes. Him and his sister do tend to be a bit… rough sometimes.”

“They  threw quite a scene the other night, I heard,” Jo said. Gertie turned to look at her.

“Yeah? What happened?” she asked.

“Stewart caught Marge with her secret beau in the gardens after dark. He ran the fellow off, and gave Marge quite a lick. Did you notice her right eye looked a bit dark under all that makeup last night?”

“Oh yes,” Gertie said, biting her lip. “But it seems a bit ridiculous he would be so harsh on her when he is doing the same with you.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Jo said defensively. “From what he told me, she deserved it. Being so blatant in the garden like that!”

Gertie nodded, hesitated, and then decided not to remind her sister that the manor gardens is where Jo herself often met her beau in the night.

“He is going to meet me tomorrow night on the balcony,” Jo said as if she had read Gertrude’s thoughts.

“Do you think Papa would ever try to marry you to him after I’m good and wifed?” Gertie wondered out loud.

Jo thought for moment.

“I hope so. After all, he comes from a fabulous family,” she concluded.

“I hope he tones down that temper of his if marriage ever is on the table,” said Gertie with concern. “Only the very best for my sister.”

“Almost.” Jo said quietly.



© 2017 Mel



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Added on November 8, 2017
Last Updated on November 8, 2017
Tags: fantasy, story, sisters

Author

Mel
Mel

Mammoth Hot Springs, WY



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Wa$$up Wa$$up! call me Mel. If I read too much, then I start getting a big head and thinking that that must mean I can write too. Plz put me in my place and slash apart everything I write. Construct.. more..

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