Wednesday, September 8, 2010
(London, 1855) The child becomes Enduring (Alessandra)
“Well, you have to feed her. Three times a day. In the morning, midday, and in the evening. And she'll probably request food between meals as well. And she'll need lots of liquids. Milk, juice, what-have-you. It's important to have a variety. I have seen many people take ill who do not have a wide enough variety in their diet. And sleep. You must make certain she gets an adequate amount of sleep. Nine or ten hours or so should do it. Perhaps more for one so young.” Carlisle looked at Bessie again. “You must keep her warm. That might be the most difficult to monitor, given our . . . indifference to temperature. Warm clothing, coats, blankets, a fire will all be necessary. And you must keep her clean. I have some lavender oil that will help keep her free of lice. She needs to bathe regularly, and there are other . . . sanitation issues to consider.” He turned to me, an innocent expression on his face. “I don't suppose your 'residence' in Whitechapel has the luxury of indoor plumbing?”
What a thing to ask! I thought giving Carlisle what I hoped was the best annoyed look I could muster up. Of course my so called ‘residence’ in Whitechapel did not have the luxury of indoor plumbing. The rent was very low, the lowest in fact that I could find. But it was highly unsuitable to raise a child in, even though I did not plan on staying in London long, still. I wasn’t going to subject Bessie to the life she had been living simply because it was convenient for me. No, I would rent a flat or a town house in a much better neighborhood.
“No. No it does not have indoor plumbing. But really, Carlsile, you cannot expect me to continue to live in Whitechapel with a small one on my hands. My things are already packed and in a hired carriage as we speak. I do intend on finding better logging of course.”
“Of course.” Carlisle nodded his head and turned back to Bessie. The child grinned up at him her face and hands a complete mess. I couldn’t help but giggle at the sparkle in her eyes and the way she looked. Oh this was going to be fun! I thought.
“But Alessandra, really what are you planning on doing with the child?” Carlisle asked again concern in his voice. I sighed.
“I couldn’t let her starve and I certainly couldn’t leave her in the streets alone, and hungry with no one to look after her. I intend to look after her. The way she should be. And when I need to return to Volterra, I’ll see she’s place in one of the best boarding schools in England.” I nodded my head. “She’ll be well taken care of, and educated.”
“On Aro’s money?” I nodded.” Won’t he ask questions?”
“And what are you going to tell him?”I shrugged. I had no idea what I was going to tell Aro to be truthful.
“The truth most likely.”I said watching as Bessie continued to stuff her face. It must have been a very long time since she had any type of decent food that she had not stolen.
“Carlisle, what would you have me do with her? Place her in one of those vile orphanages? No child deserves to be casted off like that, she’d be better off on the streets than in one of those terrible places. Besides, I already promised her that I would take care of her. I cannot very well go back on my word not even to a small little human like that. She can’t be more than seven or eight?” I said looking back at Bessie who sat back in the chair.
“Wew, I’s stuffed like a feathered, fat goose! I’ve never seen a feathered fat goose. But Mama always said they were fat and feathered. The one’s I’ve seen are skinny not fat. Can geese be fat?” Bessie asked looking at me and then over to Carlisle as if expecting us to answer. I laughed.
“She’s a rather enduring thing isn’t she?” I asked Carlisle in Latin. “Of course a goose can become fat. Animals are much like humans in that way.”I explained, still giggling.
“I aint probably ever gonna be fat.”Bessie proclaimed.
“Oh you never know. I knew of a thin as a rail priest once who told everyone he would never be fat. By the time he became an old man, he was very chubby indeed.”I said my eyes dancing, as I remembered the certain said priest. He had been a good friend of my father’s and when I was around Bessie’s age proclaimed that he would never be fat after seeing a chubby woman cross the streets. Ten years later, he was just as fat if not bigger.
“You knew a Priest? A real one? Was he evil? Mama said Priests are evil daemons waiting to rain down hell and fire on you.” The child shuddered and I glanced at Carlisle cautiously.
“This was a jolly priest.”I said smiling. “He liked his wine a little too much perhaps.”I couldn’t very well tell her that the man had been a priest of Jupiter who worshiped Bacchus a tad too much.
“A Jolly Priest? No such thing.” The child said crossing her sticky arms and getting the mess over her already filthy dress. I laughed softly. “My Mama wasn’t a liar. Priests aren’t good people. Hell and Fire.” She insisted shuddering again. Perhaps the priests of England were Hell and Fire. But the Priest of Rome certainly where not.