4 Jan 1941
I can scarcely believe all that has
happened in the past few weeks.
I do not know what I would have done
without my cousin, George Gracey, by my side during the funeral, and the difficult days that followed.
I want to go back to school, to the
Academy. I want Mama and Papa alive again.
Cousin George says that I must remain
at home this term. He says that there are many things for him to do, to sort out my family's finances. Oh, but there are so
many papers to sign, and the words on them make no sense to me. I am so very grateful for Cousin George's help with these
matters, but none of this is fair.
7 Jan 1941
This is happening far too quickly. Cousin
George has brought me to his home, Gracey Mansion.
When we arrived late tonight, the gate
looked ominous and I felt faint, as if all the life was being drained from me...
Cousin George said that it is simply
the stress of travel, and all that has happened in recent weeks.
He says that in the morning, the fog
will have lifted, and the sun will shine, making everything right again.
I hope he is right, but this sense of
foreboding has gripped me in the very worst way.
I cannot sleep now, and cannot figure
what to do.
14 Jan 1941
Cousin George says that he has found
Mama's notes confirming a discussion he had with her, right before the accident.
Cousin George says that my dear parents
had suggested a marriage. To him! What shall I do? He is too old. He must be at least 50, and I am just 16. I am sure he is
handsome enough, if you don't mind that his skin crinkles when he smiles. Fortunately, he rarely smiles. He is too old for
me. I will ask to see Mama's notes.
But why would George lie to me?
I want to leave this horrid place. I
want to go back to my school in Switzerland.
7 February 1941
Cousin George still won't show me Mama's
papers. He says that I am too upset right now. He is right that I am not well. My stomach is tense and I cannot sleep at night.
George's friend and houseguest, Madame
Leota, is most concerned about my health.
I will call him "George", rather than
"Cousin", but I will not marry him.
The engagement announcement and party
is in a week. What shall I do?
This is an awful old house, and I wish
I had never come here.
1 May 1941
Today was the first day of warm, almost
sunny weather. It seems as if I have been kept a prisoner within these walls, ever since dear Mama and Papa died. I thought
the dismal weather would never cease.
I went exploring the grounds here at
The property is a bit wild and overgrown,
but intriguing. It would be far better for hide-and-seek than my boarding school in Switzerland ever was.
But who to play with here?
I found the oddest little family cemetery
in the thorny and wooded area behind the house. One stone belongs to a Captain Stevens, a previous owner of the Mansion, who'd
distinguished himself in the War Between the States.
He seems to have died rather young,
and his stone is outside the perimeter of the small cemetery. Perhaps he was a sinner. There is no other reason for his stone
to be removed beyond the cemetery walls.
There are a few other stones, too covered
with weeds to read. I will investigate them another day.
Almost everyone else in the cemetery
has the surname of Blood. It's a common enough name, but nevertheless, rather disturbing.
I inquired of my brother Augustus' friend,
Ezra, about this. He has it on good authority that the Blood family once owned this estate, before the Stevens family did.
He said that a former groom at the Mansion, an elderly gentleman, recalled seeing a few members of the Blood family in town,
before each met a tragic end.
Ezra was not surprised that I feel drawn
to the headstone of Abel Blood in particular. According to local legend, Abel Blood haunts the cemetery. He was from another
branch of the Blood family.
No one seems certain if he ever actually
lived in the Mansion. He died about four years before the Stevens family took up residence here, and apparently his life's
mission was incomplete.
On dark nights when his spirit roams, they say that the index finger
on Abel Blood's gravestone points down, indicating the way back to his home, in Hell.
I mentioned this to George, who seemed quite agitated but not entirely surprised by my discovery. It was as
if something else was troubling him. I could see a muscle twitching in his cheek, though he turned away from me quickly.
He says that he will not forbid me to visit the Blood Family Cemetery again, but he would prefer that I find
more cheerful pursuits.
Madame Leota, who seems quite brusque with me most of the time, responded in a curious manner. She urged me
to visit the grave more often, and to tell her if I observe anything odd.
With Madame's unhealthy preoccupation with Spiritualist matters, I cannot claim to be surprised. However, this
is the first genuine interest she has expressed towards me.
I hope this may bridge the gap between us, for I cannot fathom why she has taken me in such dislike, apparently
from the start.
I know that George visits Madame frequently, after the rest of the household is in bed. He denies it, but perhaps
he thinks it unmanly to have a friendship with a woman - and a very odd woman, at that.
Ezra has hinted that there was once a romantic involvement between George and Madame.
However, I am certain George would never dally with someone so unsuitable. Sometimes, Ezra is like an old woman
with his tales.
After all, George and I are engaged, and that bears great importance among people of our social standing. George
would never jeopardize his reputation by trifling with that woman, I am certain.
Ezra is a dreadful gossip, and I fear he will lead my brother Augustus to misfortune. Already, Augustus insists
that his name is "Gus", at Ezra's urging. "Gus" sounds so common to me, when Augustus is such a grand name. I cannot imagine
what that is about, but humor Augustus by playing along with this.
Madame Leota has asked to accompany me to the Blood Family Cemetery tomorrow. I hope it is another fine day,
and that Madame is a cheerful companion.
14 Aug 1941
I can still recall how beautiful Gracey Mansion appeared, the first time I saw it. Even then it was sadly overgrown
with rosebushes and weeds, but it seemed to capture my soul nevertheless.
Yes, at first I thought I hated it, but I've become so much more sensible since then. And now I realize that
it truly is my home. Perhaps it always has been. It's as if the house wants me.
But, oh, the garden! George will not hire a gardener since the death of his cousin, Huet Gilbert. Huet was the
gardener until he was accused of Lillian's murder. Then Huet died and I'm not certain what to think of that.
Despite the well-stocked potting shed at the farthest corner of the property, George says he will not have me
tending the garden, not even to pick a few flowers for the table. He says that flowers remind him of the funeral of his late
The house seems rather cheerless, as if nothing could grow within its walls. Such a magnificent house should
be cheerful. A few flowers could make such a difference, but I dare not cross George on anything right now. When I mentioned
that I'd visited the potting shed, George flew into a rage and seemed to pound upon the ballroom organ all night, playing
Bach fugues somewhat out-of-key. He would not explain the inordinate amount of poison in the shed. I know that arsenic is
useful to control rats, but I have seen no evidence of pests.
George's uncle, my cousin Asa Gilbert, works as a handyman here at the Mansion. Cousin Asa says that there have
never been rodents at Gracey Mansion for the twenty years that he's been here. Though
his son, Huet, was the gardener, Cousin Asa also cannot explain the jars and jars of arsenic. Asa mentioned something about
another gardener, Eddy, but no one seems willing to talk about him.
I am troubled by George's apparent fits of temper, and the many inexplicable things that I have found at Gracey
Mansion. I doubt that my dearest Mama and Papa knew that Cousin George had these dark moods, when they suggested this marriage.
I can hardly believe his fits of temper, myself. I hope that life turns cheerier soon.
31 Aug 1941
I felt much better when I awoke this morning.
In fact, I felt so much better that I went for a stroll through the wooded area behind the Mansion. George has
forbidden me to go there now, but something draws me to the Blood Family Cemetery. It is as if someone there is trying to
tell me something, perhaps a warning. It is such an odd sensation; I dare not mention it to anyone.
Since I became ill, George watches me with great concern. It becomes more and more difficult to slip out of
the house, to visit the cemetery. However,
George had gone into town today, to meet Madame Leota's train.
With Augustus, Phineas, and Ezra riding the rails like hobos this week, and Cousin Asa driving George's carriage
to the train station, I was free to explore at will.
It taxed my strength greatly, to cut back the thorn bushes around one particular stone, and I am sorry that I did
so, for several reasons.
Of course, I am still rather an invalid, so my endurance is
brief. However, what disturbs me more is the image I discovered when the brambles and thorns were cleared away. It is a strange
old headstone, apparently representing Mary Magdalene.
Perhaps in another setting, the statue might be charming.
It measures barely three feet tall, and the figure of Mary resembles a miniature person.
What chilled me the most, was the face on the statue. Although
this is another Blood family headstone, it could be an exact portrait of Madame's daughter, Little Leota. Of course, the statue
is too old to be a portrait of her. And Little Leota could not possibly sit still for a sculptor.
Lately, Little Leota seems worse. She wanders the halls
of the mansion, singing ditties rather like some mad Ophelia. I fear she may come to a similar end.
I have not missed Madame and Little Leota while they have
been in New Orleans, visiting their relatives. Nevertheless, I know the cooking will improve when Madame is back in the kitchen,
putting the finishing touches on each dish, particularly mine. With the amount of food Madame insists on feeding me, one would
think I'd have put on considerable weight. It is this odd illness, I'm certain, which prevents that.
I would agree with Madame, that it is only her cooking
which prevents me from wasting away altogether. However, even George has noticed how much more robust I have been since Madame
has been on holiday. Perhaps there is some seasoning that Madame uses, which aggravates my health?
She has been so attentive to me in recent weeks, I dare
not suggest that. She has a delicate temper and I have been grateful for her recent interest in my welfare. But I keep thinking
about that rather frightening statue in the cemetery, and my thoughts turn morose.
Only to you, dear diary, will I admit that the figure seems
to be mourning for me. No doubt, my thoughts are still clouded from my recent illness.
4 September 1941
Everyone is out of sorts since Madame’s return. Madame
and Cook had an enormous fight. George ordered Madame to stay out of the kitchen, and Madame stormed off, shrieking that Cook
would pay dearly.
Cook replied that Madame would no longer have an opportunity
to poison us. Cook is being melodramatic, of course. Madame’s efforts in the kitchen may have been misguided, but the
thought of poison is preposterous.
George has been short tempered with me since Madame’s
return. I feel as if I am a disappointment to him, and I do not know what to do.
16 September 1941
My health has greatly improved since Madame stopped preparing
my meals. Yet I retain the hope that my illness was nothing sinister on her part, but rather, as I speculated previously,
that it was nothing more than some spice or other that was disagreeable to my stomach. Perhaps it is an allergy I was unaware
With my new strength, George agreed that I had no further
need for round-the-clock assistance from the domestics, and I have been able to move about the mansion with less effort.
And while everyone seems glad that I am doing better, nevertheless
I still find it curious that no one would fetch a doctor even during the hardest times of my illness.
25 September 1941
I have not at all been fond of dwelling in the same house
with George, now that we are engaged. It seems to me most unchristian, since we are not yet married.
I have expressed to George that I have no desire to be
the subject of small talk and gossip at tea time among the upper class – of which our family is a part. But he believes
that the immense size of this house, and the great distances between our two chambers, dissolves any apparent inappropriateness.
I protested this, but George says that I am being silly
and that I am yet too young to fully understand the differences between the European etiquette I’d grown accustomed
to and the etiquette practiced in America.
I suppose I will have to trust his wisdom and experience
in these matters. Nevertheless I remain uncomfortable, and I wonder how sweet Mama and Papa would have felt about this.
10 October 1941
Though I have mixed feelings about Madame’s character,
yet am I very aware of her high pedigree, and to that I have respect. Which is why I cannot abide the devilish behavior of
her daughter who, though only a few years older than I, behaves at once like an undisciplined child and a common strumpet
of the street.
She entertains gentlemen at all hours while adorned in
the most shameful attire, and her unlady-like peals of laughter and revelries shake the rafters! I marvel that Madame tolerates
such behavior, and I marvel the more that George tolerates it, seeing that he is rather strict with me. I am even the more
intrigued by George’s own behavior around Little Leota (as everyone calls Madame’s brat of a daughter). He seem
captivated by her, though that does not seem to be of a lascivious nature. Rather, it is though he were under some hypnotic
spell when in her presence; a veritable King Herod and Salome act, to the extent that I very nearly expect him to offer “up
to the half of my kingdom” if she would but dance for him.
And I have told him so; though I should have known by now
that any biblical references would be totally lost on him. When I pushed him further, he became furious and ordered me to
be silent, “never to speak of such nonsense again”. This hard-heartedness that George often displays toward me,
together with the pent up sorrows and fears that I have endured since my parent’s death, finally drove me to tears.
To my surprise (and to his as well, I think), George put his arm around me, apologized, and for the first time spoke words
of comfort to me concerning my parents.
It was then, when I had regained my composure, that he
told me of the attic and of what great adventures I might have while looking through all of the old things up there. But I
grow weary, dear Diary, so I shall tell you of the attic another day.