There is no Easy way to tell this Story, Dear Readers, so let me warn you at the beginning that you might need a handkerchief, and there might be parts Not suited to a young audience. I know this is not what you expect to hear when you come to visit, but I have wracked my brains to try and find an easier way, and have concluded that there isn't one! I hope you can find Forgiveness and be easy with your Judgements of the characters in this Tale.
The Weather was too hot for sleeping anyway, and Daphne had awakened Again from that Dream. Only this time when she saw the little girl, she was holding the little doll that Daphne had bought only a few weeks ago.... on an impulse.... on a wish.... the doll was just so sweet and it made her wish.... well it made her wish for too many impossible things, but she had bought the doll anyway. And how the child ended up with the doll she had no idea. But this time when she saw the child approach the fountain, she gasped in horror as she watched the child throw the doll into the fountain!
She wanted to call out.... but it was a Dream....
She wanted to reach in and rescue the doll....
But she was paralyzed... and could do nothing....
And that was when she woke from the Dream... and remembered it was only a Dream.
She got up and came downstairs to sit outside on the porch in the sultry night air. Fireflies were dancing in the hedgerows and in the distance lightning lit the sky, warning of an approaching storm. Daphne held the little doll in her lap and thought about the dream. Suddenly her tears overcame her and ran slowly down her cheeks. She thought she had given up crying a long time ago.
At that Daphne cried even harder and said "Oh Will, don't say that! You don't understand! I'm not what you think I am. I can't marry you! I can't love you like that! I don't think I can ever love like that again!"
"I was so young. So in love. He was charming and funny and so smart and so passionate. We met when I was away at the University in France, studying for my degree. Everything he did was somehow bigger than life. He made everything seem so exciting.
Will felt a nasty spurt of jealousy at this description and couldn't keep his words from betraying him. "Well, where is this guy now....this paragon?" he said, trying but not succeeding in keeping the sneer from his voice.
"He died" she said at last.
Will recoiled as if she had struck him. That was the last thing he had imagined she would say! He didn't know what to say but blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "Just like that?..... How?"
Will felt another stab of jealousy. He might not be the son of a Count, but the Otts were a very respectable family with connections.... good connections in all the best families of Europe.... but it was true, he never thought to say such poetic things to Daphne.
"We were going to get married" she said quietly."
He took me to meet his parents. They were at their chateau."
"I was terrified.
They were so happy to see him."
"They were very polite to me, but I could tell that they didn't want him to marry me.... I was just a foreign nobody. We didn't stay for long. He brought me back to the University that night." She paused and took a deep breath. "That was the last I saw of him. Two days later he was dead. Something went wrong with his race car and there was a terrible crash. I wasn't even invited to the funeral. It was as if I didn't exist" she said, her voice trailing off to a whisper.
Will was silent. Then he cleared his throat.
"I'm sorry" he said.
Then quietly "So you think you will never love again...?"
"No. You don't understand" said Daphne. "That's not all." She looked away, down at her feet, anywhere but at Will. She took a deep breath. "You don't understand at all. I was pregnant" she said.
"What?" blurted Will, not at all sure he had heard her correctly. "What did you say?"
"I was pregnant with his baby" she repeated."Did he know?" asked Will, staring in shock, not at all sure why that would make any difference.
Daphne just nodded. "That was why we were getting married" she said. "I was so young and so stupid. One day I thought I had everything... and the next day I had nothing. I was so alone. I was so confused. So frightened.
"Do your friends know? Does Pollyanna know?" asked Will.
"No!" said Daphne sharply, turning to look at him. "I told nobody!"
"Not even your Mother?" said Will, already knowing the answer.
"No. Not even my Mother" whispered Daphne. "She's always so.... judgmental. She's always so sure I am going to mess up my life. She'd given up so much so I could go to the University... I just kept putting off telling her. I was so confused.... and I was trying to complete my studies...."
"And the baby....?" asked Will, not daring to put his suspicions into words.
Daphne was silent for so long Will thought she wasn't going to answer. But at last she spoke, her voice drained of all emotion. "Several months after Andre died, his Mother came to visit me at the University. By then it was obvious that I was pregnant. She told me that since Andre had been her only child, she would take his child and raise him as her own. She said she could give him all the advantages of wealth and position and family, things it was obvious I could never provide. She told me I would be a fool not to accept her offer. When I asked her what if the baby is a girl... she replied that the de Montaignes always have sons." Daphne paused, "I didn't tell her the O'Mallys always have daughters, but I did tell her I would never accept her very kind offer."
"She replied that she was sure I would change my mind when I had time to think it over... and that her Lawyers would have the adoption papers ready. All I had to do was contact them. And she left their card."
Will could think of nothing to say. Daphne said nothing for the longest time. The crickets were chirping and the lightning still teased the distant sky.
Eventually, Daphne spoke again. "She was born at the end of Summer, just three weeks before my classes were starting for the new term. I tried to talk myself into keeping her... but I knew in my heart that Andre's Mother was right. I had nothing to give her. It would be unbearably selfish to keep her and try to raise her while continuing my studies.... if I could even manage to do either.... so I called the Lawyers and packed her bag....
"I will never forget the way they looked at me..." whispered Daphne.
"Especially the younger one...
as if I was committing some horrible crime.....
by signing over my child......"
"I couldn't do it" she said at last.
"I couldn't bring myself to sign the papers."
"I ran." she said "I got up and I Ran away"
"But I left my child" she cried.
"I left my darling little girl."
He scooted over and put an arm around Daphne's shoulder, pulling her closer. But it explained a lot, he thought. She had held this secret inside for so long... and it had slowly eroded her faith in her own ability to love another. He thought it wasn't that she couldn't love again, it was that she still loved too much and with too little hope.
He looked up at the sky. The storm seemed to have moved off and the lightning was barely noticeable. The crickets sang and the fireflies danced as though there were no cares in the World worth heeding.
So, do not Despair, Dear Readers! This Story does not end here....
although it may well pause here for a while.
The solutions are not simple nor accomplished in a single chapter.
But I hope I can promise you that when we get there,
it will be a Happy Ending
to this Tale of Sorrow!