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Obscurity, The Epilogue
In which a young man inherits the Estate St. Vincent.
Years later, a most beautiful man inherited a most beautiful estate. It was a large plantation home in the yawning sprawl of the deep south, and he the choicest caretaker of it.
A man of many curiosities, this young man had established for himself an antiquities shop wherein he sold every manner of ornamentation befitting the times. His mother was a clothier of some repute, so he knew well the finer things in life, and most treasured among his possessions was a white gown, dripping with diamonds, once rumored to have been covered with blood before it was so thoroughly cleaned and cared for.
So it was that as this young man toured this beautiful home, and wondered at the many eccentricities of it, marveling that he was the owner of it. A large glass window framed the comings and goings of the river, and within those wood heavy shutters was a house as cloaked and mysterious as the woman who once owned it.
A stairway in the library led to nowhere, neither did the books within it have any meaning—some were written in languages no one had ever heard of and others contained no words whatsoever. A door off the hallway led only into another wall and though there was a small graveyard plot near the swamp with several crypts installed, no one was there interred.
The walls were papered with black, the furniture awash with velvet. A grandfather clock no longer tolled the hour, and a mirror held no reflection. Letters at a bureau were written in a tilted hand and sealed with signets from far off lands. A black marble hearth framed a room most dramatically cut with ebony furniture sculpted to appear as exotic animals and carpets that were woven with peacocks and plumage.
None of it still, could have prepared him for the boudoir. Trunks were filled with every manner of finery, silks and satins and velvets and brocades. Hand-sewn lace collars were folded into silk handkerchiefs, rubies and emeralds and sapphires secreted among them. He could not keep himself from putting a black velvet turban atop his head and adorning it with a gold tasseled brooch that fell elegantly to his neck.
Tentatively, he tried on a cashmere dressing gown from one of the trousseaus and slipped his feet into a pair of Turkish slippers. He pulled a pair of gold gloves up to his elbows each fastened with twelve tiny buttons. He settled himself at a vanity beset with small treasures, small rosettes pinned with pearls for the hair and upon the mirror a comb of pure ivory.
Vials of glass and French porcelain contained the vestiges of Far Eastern perfumes and long forgotten poisons. Small golden pots harbored lipsticks and rouges and were hardly discernible from those containing Prussic acid or powdered white lead. Among them was a small box of trinkets that played a most haunting tune when opened and beside it a bottle of red wine, its label peeling away at the edges.
Among those personal affects was a cameo, the small ivory portrait of a woman embossed upon a rose quartz brooch. The image was worn and rounded but her face was beautiful and mysterious, as a statue carved from the finest white marble. He wondered if it was the woman of the manner, and where she had been laid to rest if she died.
The man sat on a velvet chaise, the black walls seeming to envelop him, wrapping him in its arms as though he would always come home to it. He turned the cameo over in his fingers and there discovered an inscription at the back of it. "Madame St. Vincent," he read, as he uncorked that bottle and poured it into a crystal coupe.
He put the glass to his lips and there discovered something rather unusual to the taste. The warmth of summer, he thought. The tang of iron. The sensation of blood.
This is the final chapter of our tale. My Novelle Collectors will receive a (very) first edition, signed hardcover copy of the book, and the Kindle version will be available to all subscribers on August 1st, 2022.