Darkness Rather Blacker, A Sequel
#1
The breeze was calm for the moment, her hat kept firmly in place, though the pins did pinch awfully. Father said this hat was far too old for her, but it was far too complimentary to the riding outfit to ignore. He did not understand things like matching, or nuance of the soul. Too often it was so easy to go along and disobey him. Half the time he didn't know a thing about it.

She had patience for the younger division, so she'd volunteered gladly to be a chaperone for the picnic. She'd even heard that some of the Madswitte children might attend. How very queer that they'd find such humble interest in local children. What ever would they think of her knickers?

But for now she sat on a blanket atop at most, an uncomfortable rocky heath, at best, a death sentence for the nether regions should one sit on something particular and sharp. She attempted to remedy it by stuffing her coat under herself and hoping for the best. It was also the worst place possible for one to bring a tray of tea. This was the time for those bladder satchels that travellers put water in, but nay, it was china and silverware because we must show how Uncommon we are to the Madswittes.

The air was crisp, crisp with a touch of the new winds of fall slowly ambling over the cliffs and shrubs, occasionally rolling through the tilled land of the farms nearby. Not the most out of the way place to begin with, which settled her nerves a touch. But there beyond lay a steep valley, with a clutch of thicket at the bottom. It loomed ominously if one were to peek over the edge. She would mind that place should the younger ones think it a game to teeter on it by their toes...
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#2
Chaperoning a group of schoolchildren on a picnic was not exactly what Claudia had expected so far as courting was concerned, yet she had to admit that it was preferable to some old biddy spying on her and René to be certain she remained ‘pure.’ Such an antiquated custom. As if René would be anything but a gentleman. True, Claudia had not had much opportunity to speak to him since her recent arrival at Madswitte, but she was certain he could be nothing but a gentleman. And if he was not, well, she was more than capable of looking after herself.

As it was, her greatest concern was how to dress appropriately for a picnic in the Yorkshire moors which was also something of a romantic outing. She finally determined her riding habit to be the most suitable and eventually Claudia was finally out on the moors, wondering what she was supposed to do. She was hardly a Governess or School Mistress, and her dealings with children were limited to her own engagements with other girls her age whenever her parents were having a party. Leaving René to deal with his sister, Claudia approached a young woman who looked to be closer her own age than that of the young children. “Good afternoon, Miss,” Claudia said, prim. What in Heaven was the other girl wearing? “I am Miss Claudia Gillingham. I wondered if you knew what we’re supposed to be doing?”
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#3
How wretched.

The wind made his hair toss about most unbecomingly.

The air was nippy and his nose turned red with the cold.

He hated children. Even those only one or two years his junior.

René sat on a rock and folded his arms, watching the drab little village wastrels bandy about, and in the muck like animals, no less. He'd brought his velvet blue coat. If any one of them touched him with their dirty little hands....
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#4
Julienne had been looking forward to the picnic. A chance to finally explore the Moors that Maman would not allow her to go alone. And a chance to meet other children, even if they were villagers, was not to be passed up.

However. René was still being a pill and Julienne was not sure if it was because he was always that way now or if it was because of Miss Gillingham's presence. Either way, Julienne was determined to enjoy herself as much as she could. Which meant that as soon as they arrived on the moors, she strolled ladylike away from her brother, before darting off to climb what she hoped was an ancient burial mound. Several of the village children had already had the same idea and Julienne bobbed her head at them as she searched for a suitable place to start. "Bonjour! My name is Julienne Chastain, from the manor."
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#5
Harriet watched the delicate faced girl approach, her attire seemed suggestive of riding, but horses more likely. Perhaps this was a sign of kinship? For how practical would the bicycling knickers be for a horse as well?

She smiled, getting to her feet, "A pleasure, Miss Gillingham." Bending knee in a sort of chimera of a curtsy and a bow, "I am Harriet Kempa. We're supposed to watch the children until the teachers arrive. Mine is Miss Hakim." A fond smile at her name, "I don't suppose you've come with the Madswitte children? We were told they wanted to join this little picnic of ours. But I said how very quaint and boring they must think us! Nothing to show but the skinned knees and dirty finger nails of the little girls and boys." Shaking her head, hoping she didn't look too improper, but also a bit excited to be as well. A strange feeling.
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#6
Claudia had a rather bemused smile at the village girl's attempt at a curtsy. Perhaps no one had ever taught her properly? It was terribly difficult to learn these things out of books, after all. The smile remained at Miss Kempa's rather oddly endearing behavior. As the wind picked up again, Claudia reached up to adjust her hair and make sure her hat was still attached.

"We have only one child with us at present." A moment's looking and she saw no sign of Julienne Chastain. Claudia frowned slightly at having already failed as a chaperone. It was really René's responsibility. "Though certain young gentleman can certainly behave quite childishly!" Claudia cast the remark in Rene's general direction, hoping he heard and amended his behavior, before turning back to Miss Kempa. "I am sorry about that - young men do tend to behave immaturely, don't you think?"
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#7
René was rather too involved in the scrutiny with which he was holding the general vicinity to even notice that he was being spoken about. Though he did reach up and flatten his hair as the breeze gusted by again.
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#8
She squinted at the Chastain boy, who looked rather like a china doll who smelled something particularly foul and his face had stuck that way like mothers would always warn about. "Quite, and sometimes it is old men too." Thinking of Father, "But you mustn't tell anyone I said that." Smiling weakly, almost apologetically, forgetting to hold her tongue around this kind of company. "Would you like some tea? We have biscuits too, er, somewhere..." She knelt to look for the tin, had someone made off with it??
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#9
The air was doing the children well, it seemed. Irving had propped himself on a crest of dry earth at the bottom of a tree, where he piled his books that had been tucked under an arm. He felt quite at peace where he was, being in a familiar scene as he was rather acquainted with the wilds the enveloped the small town.

And though it was a time for all to relax, plenty eyes were on the youths. He knew many would want to wander farther than they were allowed for the sake of curiosity, adventure, mischief, all as the young were wont to do. Over the years, he had grown accustomed to watching and reading at once, an ability that had once perplexed him when he was a child, about the same age as the younger of his students. It was not long before his books were set aside and forgotten. A small number had come over with their questions.
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#10
“Tea would be lovely, thank you very much Miss Kempa.” Claudia was trying not to be too disappointed in René, but it really was difficult when all he did was fuss and moan. She had hoped he would be a little more attentive – it wasn’t as though she had been a pariah during her Coming Out Season. “At least you’ve been hospitable. Which is more than I can say for some people. But I hope you won’t repeat that? And with all these young children around, is it really a surprise that the biscuits have wandered off? Children always do seem to be covered in sweets at any chance, don’t they?”
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#11
She giggled, kneeling to assemble the tea, despite the haphazard location. She held the tray up with three cups filled upon it, and offered them to the nearest. "I shan't tell a soul. Would your friend like some also?" She eyed René, who seemed to be disconnected from the conversation entirely, then craned her neck to see Mr. Milton not far off, "Would you like some also, Teacher?"
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