The Romantic Strangler V
The Romantic Strangler
Home at Last
“Maybe I’ll see you around the theatre tomorrow,” she stated her hopes aloud. After all, she thought, ‘Andrew may never come around. He could stay shy for the rest of his life and if he did come out of his shell there was no guarantee that he had any interest in her anyway.’ François was so fascinating he could possibly make her forget about Andrew in time. François took Cassandra’s hand and pressed a light kiss upon it then a gentle pat.
“Thank you my lady for allowing me such charming accompaniment. I shall look forward to seeing you again.” He turned away with a smile that could only be out-shined by the moon and stars. Cassandra could only stare as he strolled over to the street lamp where he filled and then lit his pipe. He stood there a while puffing on his pipe. Then noticing she still stood in her doorway he waved for her to enter her building. She decided she had better go in, she was certain he would not budge until he saw her safely inside.
Bright New Day
Bright rays of sunlight beamed in through the soft blue curtains of Cassandra’s window. She bounced out of bed and ran to the window flinging back the curtains allowing it to fill the room. She gazed speechless out the window as her mind reveled in all she could perceive. Oaks, walnut, and chestnut trees stood tall but nearly naked. Their leaves continually dropped in the wind and flitted to the ground where they lay until another gust would whoosh them off again to a new temporary location. Only a pale pink haze broke up the stark, nearly cloudless, autumn sky. It looked as though someone had taken a thick brush and dusted pink powder across the horizon. The sheer joy she felt at that moment radiated far brighter than that of the sunrays. She danced in the beam as if it was a limelight and she was on stage at the end of her best performance ever. She looked around and began to see the beauty of so many things she hadn’t even taken notice of before. The tall marble columns, the height and width of the tremendous walls, the rich, deep color of her cherry wood vanity, and even the coolness of the stone floor beneath her bare feet. Cassandra thought of spending the morning there enjoying the warmth of the sun on her face but there was much too much to do.
With everything seemingly so brand new she must investigate further. She wondered, ‘What else have I missed in my life before now?’ Cassandra rushed through her toilette and dressed swiftly. She donned a white chemise gown with pink flowers and a matching sash that wrapped about her waist and tied into a delicate bow. Quickly she slipped her feet into a pair of pink shoes and without thinking ran down the stairs and out the door. Cassandra could hear the birds twittering away at their song before she reached the door to the courtyard.
“Miss Cassie, you’se up mighty early and mighty cheerful too. What’s gotten inta ya’ chil’?” Netty mused at Cassandra as she cut fresh bright yellow French marigolds for the breakfast table. Cassandra just smiled at her. “Did sir Andrew finally ask to court?”
“No, but I met a wonderful man. His name is François Robiboux. He is very handsome and such a gentleman.” Cassandra cooed.
“Mus’ be ta git cha all in a tizzy, such as ya’ are. Ya’ forgotten yer senses, where’s yer wrap, Miss Cassie?” The slim woman shook her head and ambled about her work. Cassandra was too entranced to notice that Netty was moving a bit slower than usual. Netty had been with her family since Cassandra’s sister Elizabeth was a baby. She was always thin, not much more than bones but today her cheeks were hollowed out and her eyes seemed to sink into her head. The fact that the woman was going on 80 years was amazing enough, but she had fought off pneumonia twice in the past year. This autumn was bringing aches and pains to Netty’s poor stiff bones that were too intense to hide but she was never one to complain. Cassandra would have noticed Netty’s hobbling on any other day since she and Netty were so close but this day she was far too distracted. She didn’t even notice the chilled air on her bare arms or the goose bumps that were beginning to form there.
Netty shook her head as she re-entered the house with the flowers. When she returned with a wrap for Cassandra she found the girl kneeling on the ground in what appeared to be a trance. Cassandra was in awe of everything but was currently examining a tiny insect that was making its way along a path followed by several others. Noticing Netty only as she felt the wrap go about her shoulders, Cassandra finally spoke, “Isn’t it odd the way ants dig a hole in the earth and mound it up on the outside? It seems like it would make it harder for them since they have to climb a mountain every time they leave home and again each time they come back.”
“Sho is Miss Cassie. Sho is. But it be seemin’ a bit strange a way you actin’ as well. Don’t ya’ think ya’ should be in the house on such a chilly morn’? Come an’ have sum vittles chil’.” The two women walked together arms wrapped around one another ‘til they reached the door. Netty held the door for Cassandra.
At the table Cassandra played with her food. Somehow she just wasn’t hungry. Her mind wandered as she sat there twirling her fork.
“Cassandra! Where are you child?” Mrs. Falconer asked bewildered.
“What is wrong with her, Amanda?” Mr. Falconer questioned.
“Jules dear, I am not at all certain. She appears to be daydreaming.” Amanda Falconer, Cassandra’s mother was an attractive woman, though quite thin. Her clothing seemed to hang on her body as if they were on a hanger in a closet. She needed spectacles to read and for embroidering but her vision was perfectly fine at a distance. Though her loose clothing hung on her body she never had a hair out of place and was always tastefully dressed and prepared for company.
Jules Falconer, Cassandra’s father, was a tall, broad-shouldered man, with a belly to match his shoulder width. His clothing fit him well but was beginning to wear thin. Netty was not capable of handling all of the chores she used to perform. Her hands were crippling up some and tiny handiwork such as sewing was too difficult for her. The Falconer’s had not found a new tailor to take on the position .
“She be a moonin’ ova’ a bo’,” Netty piped in as she spooned a bit of grits onto Amanda’s plate.
“Is that so?” Amanda turned to her daughter, “What is his name?”
Cassandra still in her fantasy world didn’t notice all eyes were on her.
“Cassandra!” Jules bellowed, “Your mother is speaking to you, girl! Answer her.” Startled she looked up.
“I’m sorry father. What did you say?” They all laughed except Cassandra who was baffled at this explosion of merriment. She felt a little embarrassed and left out of the
joke. Her face flushed a little as she looked from her mother to her father then to Netty and back through the circle of faces. Finally, Amanda spoke,
“He must be pretty special to make you forget about Andrew.”
Back to Reality
“Who? What?” She noticed Netty’s twinkling eyes and realized what was going on. The discomfort she felt just then was as intense as the fear she had had the night before. It caused her to perspire and squirm but the heat in her cheeks caused her face to become as bright as the Red Delicious apples sitting in the bowl before her on the table. Finally she joined in knowing they must have been talking to her while she was miles away.
“His name is François Robiboux.” She smiled a tremendously large grin.
“You’ve just met him and you’re smitten already? Must be quite a man.” Jules interjected. He then looked toward Amanda and grinned a knowing grin. Amanda reached over and lightly slapped at his arm with the same knowing grin.
“Now behave yourself, Jules. They have just met. He hasn’t been here asking to court her yet.”
“Not yet, but I believe he will. How could he look at that beautiful face full of love and wonderment and not want to court her?” Jules defended himself.
“Oh, daddy! He is wonderful but Andrew is still special to me as well.” Cassandra snapped back to reality so fast the room spun.
“Have you asked the boy if he would like to earn some extra money tailoring for us?”
Amanda asked suddenly, looking down at her clothing dangling from her frame.
“Not yet, Momma. I didn’t see him much yesterday. He appeared to be ill when he came in and then later when I looked for him he was nowhere to be found. I think he may have gone home early."
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