In Disgrace

"Go to your room." Despite his promise not to stop me from dancing, Alexander still seemed pretty angry and I decided not to push my luck: I went to my room, and immediately sank down into the carpet, going through my stretching exercises without even thinking about it. Indeed, I didn't need to, for it was something I did for more than half an hour every day.

But they couldn't occupy me forever, so after about forty minutes I went of something to do, a quest which bore little fruit until I chanced upon a bolt of cloth and embroidery materials, no doubt placed there by a hopeful Grace. So I began to embroider a picture that would take me three weeks to complete, embroidering when my thumbs were red and sore and bleeding from pricking myself over and over again.

"Elizabeth?" Maria was at the door, her little hands knocking gently and her small voice only just making it through the wood. I opened it and let her in; she ran over to me and hugged me. "Why is Mother so angry at you? She wouldn't tell me." Laughing, I looked into my adoptive sister's eyes, though I quickly became serious.

"Is she really cross?" I asked. "I don't know what I can do that will make it up to her: I never meant to make her angry and disobey, and now I feel awful." We were sitting on the green rug in front of the fire and I became aware that there was somebody behind us. I turned. Grace was standing there, framed by the light from the hallway.

"There's one thing you can do," she said. "Tell me the truth. You said you would, and now it's the time. Elizabeth, we adopted you in trust--now tell me what I want to know." I stared at the floor.

"You wouldn't believe me anyway," I told her. "But as you're not going to let it go, I'll tell you." I got up, took the sheets from the dresser, and settled down to read the story as I had written it.


"You can't be telling the truth, and yet I believe you." Grace seemed puzzled. "I don't see how it would be possible for you to make something up like that, and those strange things of which you spoke ... and it certainly would explain a lot: the way you talk and act, for a start. But it's just so fantastical. It's impossible."

"Will you tell me more stories?" asked Maria. We had forgotten that she was there.

"Oh, child," said Grace, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes. She hugged her daughter. "Go back to your room, you're not supposed to be here ... Elizabeth and I have lots to talk about." Maria got up obediently, hugged me and went towards the door.

"You tell good stories," she said. "Will you tell me more some time?" Because I had not replied to her question, I knew she would just ask over and over again until I did. I agreed and she ran down the carpeted corridor to her little playroom, where the nursemaid in her blue dress would be waiting.

"I believe you," repeated Grace. "I don't know how this is possible, and I cannot believe that there is anyway of getting you home again, yet I am willing to try. But you have to tell your father. He will want to know."

"Father would not believe me," I remarked. "He would think I was lying." But I said I would tell him nonetheless, and that evening at dinner I did exactly that. Sitting straight-backed in my place at the long dining room table I told my story, this time with no aid from my carefully written notes. Then I left the room, and waited for the changes that would no doubt take place.

The End

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