Part Four of Bronte Country, In which Presents are opened.

 

In all the excitement, I had nearly forgotten about birthday presents. I had been given the clothes for the journey, but I generally get more presents than that. However, after the hubbub of arriving had subsided, Mum and Dad went down to the car to fetch the presents which we had carried with us from our house. I was more than a little amazed when they staggered through the doorway bearing a huge old chest of wood bound together with strips of rusty metal; a perfect Wuthering Heights chest – outdoing even the chest in which Catherine finds the folded napkins (which she though to be some ancient treasure) in Northanger Abbey. There was a large rusty keyhole, and a huge key, and they all stood round as I put the key to the lock and slowly, slowly, as though it was Pandora’s Box I lifted the lid. (Though it was not dread as with Pandora’s Box that made me open it slowly, but delight – I wanted to make that wonderful moment last as long as possible.) The lid was opened; but whatever was in it was covered with a thin layer of tissue paper. Lifting the tissue paper, I saw that each thing was wrapped round with the same material. The first thing I picked up was large, covering nearly half the opening of the chest, and the corner of the picture frame was showing. I lifted it up, and the tissue paper, falling away as I did so, revealed a black and white sketch, depicting a half ruined house, half way between Ponden Hall and a cottage, with a stone wall in front of it. In the distance was a far rolling view of fields and moors. The whole thing seemed slightly distorted, as though it was the reflection in a stream, and captured strangely the feeling of the moors. The picture was stirring to look at, and the very paper and ink seemed to cry out ‘Wuthering Heights!’ Thanking all in the room for the gift, with a bursting heart I drew out the next present. It was a real Victorian cap of lace and rose silk, to be worn either in the house or under a bonnet. Next was a pair of dainty white kid gloves, such as worn by all Victorian ladies, even in summer. But what small hands and what long fingers Victorian ladies must have had! I am only ten years old, and my hand are small for my age, and yet they would barely fit on, and when they did the fingers where twice as long as my own. I lifted out then a black fur ‘tippet’ a sort of neck-scarf worn by ladies in Victorian times (look it up on Google images). There came then a fur muff, with ribbon attached so I could hang it round my neck, and a black woolen cape with fur round the hood and pretty clasp, that would look wonderful billowing out behind me when we went for a walk on the Bronte moors (and Mum had promised we would). As well as these two things I received a lovely lacey cloth, to put around the shoulders of my recency dress. But even better was to come. After opening a few more, I pulled out a very large present, the larges yet except perhaps the picture, and on pulling off the paper I found a large round pink box, with a pink string for a handle. Lifting the lid I found more tissue paper inside. I lifted it off, and from underneath took out a brown felt bonnet, lined with pale pink silk, and with a pink ribbon tied around it. It fitted exactly. I was in raptures already; but I soon found that there was a second layer of tissue paper beneath the bonnet, with something else under it. It was another one; more of a poke bonnet this time, made of cotton with pink roses on it. It was bendy, and could be made into different styles of bonnet if you fiddled around with it. Both of these my loving Mum had made me. I remember the day when she made one of them (the brown felt one); I had actually already suspected it was a bonnet, but then Dad came in, looked at it very secretly, came out of the room and then said loudly ‘Nice bonnet!’ So that present was not quite a surprise, but I had never guessed it would be as wonderful as it was.

Before this entry ends, I will relate a couple more presents. For a brake from Victorian things (though who would ever need one? Victorian things are so lovely! That is, until you put them on, when they are very uncomfortable) I will talk about some of the more ordinary presents. Among other things, there were two lovely dresses my aunt gave me with roses on them, one blue and purple and one black and white, with shiny bits round the neck. There was also some little hair clips my aunt gave me, and a lovely old book about calligraphy (I have been trying to learn calligraphy, having always been obsessed with illuminated manuscripts) with lots of illustrations, that my Dad got me. I don’t know about you, but I think we can go back to Victorian things now, given it’s not the putting them on part that I’m writing about. So I’ll tell you about some gorgeous Victorian dresses I opened. There were three of them. The first had pink and red flowers on it, two stripes of red down the bodice, and a red bow. The second was an evening dress, a little shorter than the others, with off-the-shoulder sleeves, and a pattern of gold flowers on red. The third, my favourite, was peachy pink, and made of material like crepe silk, with a collar of beautiful lace, and a sash with a bow. Now there is only the last present left to be related, the most – what should I say? – the most ‘Golly!’ of them all. It was a crinoline, that huge stiff hoop petticoat that makes Victorian skirts poof out so far.

But wait, that is not the last – there is one present, the best present off all, that I have not yet told about. One of the best moments of my life must have been the moment when I drew out that wonderful present. It was a folding writing desk, made of dark shiny wood, inlaid with mother of pearl; and inside it was lined with yellow velvet, and a pattern in gold was etched round the edge. There was a special place for the ink and for the pen, and inclosed inside was a shiny wooden blotter, with flowers painted on it; some sheets of calligraphy paper in their own special compartment, and a beautiful little brooch in a jewel box. There was also a dip pen and a quill. The place where you put the ink unfolded to reveal secret little doors, wherein to hide private letters.

All the best presents have now been written about, and for now I leave you, until next-time, when I will be writing about my first look into Catherine Eearnshaw’s box bed.

 

 

In both pictures I am wearing the peach coloured dress, the brown felt bonnet, and the lace and pink silk cap, which peeps out from beneath my bonnet. If you click on picture 2 to make it bigger, and look closely, you will notice my expression is a bit stormy, just like Catherine Earshaw. It actually just happened to look like that!

 

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