Master of the Estate, cont.
Eleanor’s gaze swept from side to side, taking in the furnishings of the immense mansion. She was well-read, and enjoyed history. Unless she was
mistaken, the slightly curved swords above the door to the left were called scimitars. There was a medieval suit of armor standing next to the door,
and she thought she saw more weapons inside. So, an armory, and perhaps featuring items from the Crusades? Off to the right another chamber opened
up to a room lined with bookshelves. She felt a twinge of longing to peruse the shelves and sit in one of the leather chairs with a blanket, a book,
and a glass of wine.
Mr. Walker led them through the central doors into a well-lit hallway. Lining the passage were tapestries and paintings, cubbies with pedestals
bearing the busts of Greek and Roman gods, or depictions of angels, cherubim and seraphim, or other sculpture. They passed another room with the
heads of dozens of creatures mounted on the walls or on stands. Eleanor gasped at an immense standing bear at the back of the room.
“Ah yes, Fraulein Harrington,” Herr von Graeff said from a within a shadow cast by a nearby pillar, “the beast was quite ferocious. The Inuit
call them taqukaq
. I am many years removed from such adventures as I had in my youth.”
“Did you kill that gigantic bear, Herr von Graeff?”
“Yes, dear. I was not always a white-haired doddering old man, as I am now,” he teased, chuckling. “Once, I was young and full of lust for
life. Once, I was beautiful like you young ones are.” His gaze passed from Jonathan to Eleanor, then back into the room. His eyes seemed to
glitter at the memory, and it seemed to Eleanor that they caught the light and shined, almost like a cat.
They arrived in a brightly lit dining hall, furnished all around with different types of glass and crystal vessels. On the fireplace mantel stood
ornate bottles; wine glasses in various shapes stood in a display off to one side; vases filled with sheaves of wheat, dried ears of corn, or branches
with red and yellow leaves still clinging to them dotted the room.
After they were seated and wine was poured, Herr von Graeff turned to Jonathan.
“Now then, Herr Rockport, it was not clear to me if you are departing, or on your return trip?” He took a long draft from his wine glass.
“We are returning, Herr von Graeff. We are both from Fall River, and it is there we will be wed.” It had been weeks, but Eleanor still got a
thrill thinking about it.
“We have been away for several months, actually. It all started back in May, when my father invited us to the American premiere of Ludwig von
Beethoven’s latest symphony – the ninth, I believe – in Manhattan. Such an odd piece – it has a full chorus that does nothing until the final
movement. And all those trumpets and drums. It was almost unsettling in its noise,” Eleanor added. It had been fascinating, but quite loud,
especially at the end.
“Ah yes, Beethoven. Fascinating man, he is. Very driven, very intense. His music is not for everyone, that is true, Fraulein,” he said before
drinking deeply again from his wine.
Herr von Graeff proved to be an attentive and skilled conversationalist, listening carefully and prompting them with insightful questions. The wine
was delicious, but Eleanor knew the warmth of it in her belly and only occasionally sipped from her glass. Strangely, Herr von Graeff – despite
having his glass refilled by the footmen twice at dinner – seemed as sharp as ever when he invited them to his sitting room. Jonathan had begun to
relax a bit – he could be so stiff – and Herr von Graeff offered him a cigar or pipe. Jonathan gratefully accepted the cigar, and Herr von Graeff
lit a pipe for himself.
As the evening wore on, the little wine she had consumed began to make her drowsy.
“Ah, Jonathan,” said Herr von Graeff – they had moved to first names a couple glasses of brandy ago – “I believe your fiancée has endured
enough of our banter.” He rang for the servants, and promptly Mr. Walker entered the room.
“Mister Walker, please see the lovely Fraulein to her sleeping chamber. It has been a pleasure, my dear. I have taken the liberty of having your
luggage brought up from the coach. You and Jonathan have adjoining rooms, to maintain propriety. I fear there are no secret passages between the
two,” he teased warmly.
“You have been so kind to us, Hans. Thank you for your hospitality.”
“Ah, it is my pleasure. I so rarely have company these days. All so busy, moving this way and that, scurrying about on business. No time to sit
and savor a decent meal, yes? Well, I will not keep you. Rest well, Fraulein. I shall instruct Markus make a delicious breakfast for you both
before you depart!”
edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: part 2
edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no
edit on 10-26-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)