The map that Jasper made me was much like its maker. It was whimsical and complex, but most of all it was charming. Unfortunately, the map did not get much use after it was made. After the sunny day of my arrival, it rained buckets day and night for two weeks. Since I did not have to compete with a fine summer day, the pattern of Jasper’s lessons were easily established. Mornings were spent on the subjects we both detested. Then after luncheon, it was composition to finish out the day.
Honestly, I had little to complain about. Jasper, if not enthusiastic, was diligent and did his lessons without complaint. I did sometimes wonder what the plans were for his future. He did not study Latin and seemed unfamiliar with the Classics that my stepfather had felt so necessary for my brother’s education if he were to attend Oxford or Cambridge. I had no one to ask such questions due to Mr. A’s rules and Mrs. Kerr’s disapproval of gossip. So over time the questions faded from my mind,
It was during one of these endless rainy afternoons that I was awakened from my stupor by loud snoring. Jasper had fallen asleep while reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I found this to be amazing, since Ettie and I had had several sleepless nights after we were foolish enough to read it. I had not the heart to wake him, so I tided up the schoolroom while he slept. It was clear from the second copies of textbooks, as well as the extra desk, that the room had once been used by more than my solitary pupil, another question to which there would be no answer.
In order to distract myself from all my unanswerable questions I decided to try and find something to read. I found something on a shelf beyond my reach. I balanced on a stool, but I lost my footing and grabbed the bookcase to keep from falling. The end panel gave way and I clutched desperately at the shelf to keep myself upright. I got down quickly and caught my breath.
Then I decided to survey the damage. I was not looking forward to that conversation with Mrs. Kerr. As I looked at the panel that had been jarred out of place, I became convinced that it had been designed to do just that. I reached inside and pulled out a slim, dust covered volume. I opened it carefully and read.
I hope that this will never be read. If it is it means that I am not the last governess in this horrid place. It is too late for me, I hope it is not to late for you. You must leave here,
Before I could read further, Jasper began to stir. I tucked the small volume into the pocket of my skirt and eased the panel closed. I would have to continue my reading later, in private.