I have paused to show you Mary staring into the mirror because this is a story about monsters. All stories about monsters contain a scene in which the monster sees himself in a mirror. That is when he realizes his monstrousness. If Mrs.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter (Mary Jekyll, book 1) by Theodora Goss
Shelley were here, I would slap her for all the trouble she caused. Mary turned, startled. Walking back and forth in that room of hers, until she near wore a hole in the carpet. Talking to who knows what. Cook says lunch should be ready in half an hour. I found it pushed through the slot when we arrived. Well, hers now, although she did not think Mr. Guest would want to do business with her much longer. It had been different while her mother was alive.
The Alchemist's Daughter
Could you tell everyone to come into the parlor? Yes, even Alice. And could you bring—you know. Poole, visibly reluctant. But there was nothing else to be done. Unless this letter from Mr. Could it possibly be about a change in her circumstances? Mary went into the parlor, took the letter from the tea table, and tore open the envelope—neatly, but without searching for a letter opener. That was all. She sat down on the sofa, stretching her hands to the fire. They were pale and thin, with the blue veins visible. She wished she could lie down now, just for a moment. The funeral had been so.
But no, what had to be done should be done as soon as possible. There was no point in putting it off. Poole followed them in and stood by the door, with her hands folded and the expressionless face of a disapproving servant. Well, this was it. How she hated to do it, but there was no alternative. Jekyll had screamed and torn her hair, and refused to eat, and finally declined into her last illness. You see, I have to let you go, every one of you. Enid sniffed and started crying into a large handkerchief that Joseph handed her.
Alice looked like a scared rabbit. How horrible this was! More horrible even than she had imagined. But Mary continued. Guest, and he explained my financial position. My father was a wealthy man, but when he died fourteen years ago, we discovered that his fortune was gone. He had been selling his Bank of England securities and transferring the money to an account in Budapest. When Mr. Utterson, his solicitor at the time, contacted the Budapest bank, he was told that the account holder was not Dr.
Jekyll, the bank had never heard of a Dr. Jekyll, and it was unable to supply information on one of its customers without an order from the Austro-Hungarian government. Utterson attempted to get such an order, but it proved impossible.
The Austro-Hungarian government was not interested in a widowed mother and her child in faraway London. I was only seven at the time, so I remember little of this. But as I grew older and my mother grew increasingly. Utterson explained it to me. She had an income left to her by her father, which was enough to keep us all in modest comfort. No doubt they had noticed her economies, although she had tried to feed them well and keep them comfortable. To have meat on Sundays and coal in the cellar. But they must have noticed books disappearing from the library shelves, silver replaced with plate.
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Over the years, she had sold off china shepherdesses, and ormolu clocks, and all the silverware, including the epergne her mother had received as a wedding gift from the Archbishop of York. There were outlines on the walls where paintings had hung. When she died, it died with her. It does not come to me. What a way of putting it! And yet it was true enough. She was, if not ruined, then nearly so. Her grandfather had died years ago, never dreaming that the provisions of his will would leave his granddaughter impoverished.
He had been her last living relation—there was no one to whom she could turn. So that was it. Ruined was not, after all, such a bad choice of expression. Why should male heirs be left fortunes outright, while female heirs are left only an income for life? What if their husbands abandon them, as so many do? Or transfer their fortunes to accounts in Budapest? Who is to take care of their children? Poole, if you would bring me the envelopes? Poole pulled them out of an apron pocket and handed them to her.
You need not stay the fortnight. As soon as you find other, and I hope better, employment, you are free to go, with my blessing. I am so very sorry. I knew as soon as your mother started muttering about that face at the window. I always know these things! The last few weeks were difficult for you, I know. She and Mrs. Poole could not have held her mother down when she began screaming and crying about the face, the pale face.
Even in her final days, when she was too weak to leave her bed, Mrs. Jekyll had whimpered about it in her sleep.
And Cook? Having known you since you were a wee thing, and coming into my kitchen for jam tarts! They were all being so kind, when here she was, telling them they no longer had a home. At least Alice could return to her family in the country. When she had given them the envelopes and Mrs. Poole had ushered them downstairs to their lunch, all except Nurse Adams who asked for a tray in her room so she could start packing, Mary leaned back into the sofa and stared at the painting of her mother over the mantelpiece. Ernestine Jekyll, with her long, golden hair and eyes the color of cornflowers, smiled down at her in a way Mary could not remember her smiling while alive.
Almost as long as Mary could remember, her mother had stayed in the large bedroom she had slept in since marrying Dr. Jekyll and moving to London from her native Yorkshire—pacing around the room, talking to invisible companions. Sometimes she scratched herself until she bled. Sometimes she tore out chunks of her hair, so it lay in long strands on the floor. Once, Nurse Adams had suggested she be sent to an institution for her own safety.
Mary had refused, but in the last few weeks she had begun to wonder if she had been wrong. What had caused those violent spasms, those shrieks in the night? That final swift decline? Even as a little girl, Mary had not cried easily. She had learned long ago that life was difficult. One had to live it with courage and common sense; it did not reward sentimentality. At the memory of her mother lying on her pillow, looking more peaceful than she had looked for years, Mary put her head in her hands.
But she did not cry, as she had not cried at the funeral. She does not throw fits, unlike some as I could name. Guest had put it in his letter, did not occur until a week later. One afternoon, Mrs. She did all her morning work just as usual, without saying a word. After the way I took her in and trained her. I never expected ingratitude, not from Alice!
And no forwarding address. Barke House," she said. I could use me an errand girl. Ye might keep to yer muckraking if ye so like it. But ye'd have a place to stays. Jolyn perked to hear this. Here was a woman offering a step p in life. So, Jolyn visited the home for women and left satisfied that Mrs. Beldam did have a charitable heart. Jolyn moved in. She never regretted her decision and in fact, her life got even better because of it.
She cheerfully fetched goods from market and delivered sealed letters to London addresses. Even though her hands grew raw from washing laundry and scrubbing floors, she was content. Compared to muckraking, this was a life of easy meals and shelter from the cold. It didn't matter that Barke House was once a stew with a reputation as questionable as the king's taste in wives. All Jolyn cared about was that Mrs.
Beldam had saved her from scraping out a meager existence in the mudflats.
And for that kindness, she was eternally grateful. Once the layers of river clay were scrubbed from her skin and hair, Jolyn emerged something of a swan. The coat of grime had preserved her skin and left it pale, so that her blue eyes appeared a startling contrast. Beneath her crespin was a head of daffodil-colored hair.
At Barke House she caught the notice of a rich merchant. A man who doted on her. Beldam tried to discourage her from seeing him, but Jolyn believed that soon she'd step into an even better life. Another wave of nausea gripped Jolyn, and this time she couldn't control an urge to lose her stomach's contents behind a hedge off Bankside. No one stopped to ask if she needed help. She wiped her mouth discreetly on the inside of her cloak and hurried on.
This current dyspepsia was probably caused by her new lifestyle, to which she was still unaccustomed. Like so many other obstacles in her life, Jolyn figured this, too, was only temporary and once she had gotten a remedy from Bianca, she'd be as good as new. Did you learn anything about living in Tudor London that you did not know before? Disturbingly, this society views young girls as ideal experimental subjects because they are allegedly more malleable to transformation. Their stories — of women as monsters — are fraught with difficulty. Pain — whether physical, emotional, or both — is a hallmark of nearly all of them.
Yet, while the traumas are deep, they are not presented as insurmountable. Catherine Moreau is marked by physical scars from her transformation, but she is also one of the most intrepid and adventurous of the protagonists. Ultimately these heroines join together to form the Athena Club. We do not claim the wisdom of Athena, but we identify with her dubious parentage.
The housekeeper of Mary Jekyll, Mrs. Hudson are presented with their own backstories. The former reveals a number of hidden talents as the books progress: she not only provides support for the adventures of the Athena Club but also participates in the investigations. One is the theme of women and money or lack of it , which brings to mind the writings of Virginia Woolf.
Hyde, who is wanted for murder — thereby earning the reward for his capture. Far from a traditional bounty hunter, she needs the money to pay the butcher.