Hold Fast to Dreams - an entry from the journal of Marguerite
written by Jenneurite
Translated from the original French
posted with permission


11th August, 1792

It is very early now, and I am tired... I ought to go back to bed, but I wanted to write this first. I woke up and could not fall back asleep, and I am hoping, foolishly no doubt, that if I take a few moments to make an entry in this book, I will be able to sink back into the pillows and sleep again. Perhaps I woke up because my mind was in a tumult, I don't know... I wish I had not. My dreams were not frightening last night, at last, for all the time that I slept... it is odd that it should be so, is it not? But surely, surely it is only because...

My thoughts are drifting again, which I suppose is well, for I have no clear idea of how to set down what I had wanted to write. Truly, I only want to go back to sleep... The sun is just rising now, I can barely see his first golden rays stretching up behind the tree line. Is it six o'clock already? No matter... There is some little animal playing in the yard, I can see him running about but cannot tell very well what it might be. A fox, perhaps... do they awaken this early to scrounge for food? I thought they hunted during the night... if I remember, I'll ask someone, or see if there are any books in the library that would tell me...

But now I am dawdling, and my mind is scolding itself. I have not yet figured out how best to put this down, for I feel that I ought to have some decided opinion on the whole matter, some impressive conclusion that I might attach to it... but I am too tired to think of it in any way other than a dreamy memory, so I shall just write. Later I will add a note to this entry, or perhaps scribble over the whole of it if my other senses strike up an objection.

Percy arrived home very late, I don't know when exactly... certainly it was after one, for I heard the clock chime. But I lost track of time after that, so it might have been much later... I can page through this journal and see what I have written... it is strange, how a copybook can become a person's sole companion. Wouldn't they laugh, all of that London society I try to fit into, if they knew their feted Lady Blakeney scrawls in simple little books like a lonely child?

I tried to laugh when I wrote that, and now I've dropped a tear on the page. Why am I crying? Is it because I wrote of London society or because I called myself by that name? That's all he calls me... A person should never write in her journal when she is tired, I have decided. I can't think well at all, and I'm shivering now...

I tried to close the book and go back to bed, but I didn't even make it across the room. I wonder what it would be like if I had a sister, someone I could completely confide in... Armand is a dear, but he is far away, and I couldn't tell him... and then, I doubt I could tell anyone else if I cannot even tell mon cher Armand... This is preposterous. How can I have filled so many lines and not even written what is truly on my mind ­­ though i'faith, my mind keeps wandering. Do I generally write this way? Sometime I should read this book, instead of only writing in it... I have so many, and like a silly little thing I keep the stack of them hidden, as though making sure no one would pry into them. There is no one here who would even care.

Last night I was scared to go to bed. I was tired, because I had not slept well the night before ­­ I mentioned so yesterday ­­ but the prospect of sleep held nothing enchanting. To have such horrid nightmares two nights in a row, and to awaken in a sweat, all alone... I can still see them now, though they have faded a good deal, and I do not want to try and recall them; but still shivers are tingling my back, and I'm cold and uncomfortable again. Even waking up was horrible, because it was so dark and quiet. I could hear the quiet footsteps of every imaginary creature coming closer and closer... and I huddled on the bed, my nightdress damp with sweat... it was like when I was very little ­­ no, it was worse, because then at least I had Armand to run to. I did not have nightmares very often, that I can remember, but when I did he would hold me and rock me back to sleep, and I would not be scared because Armand would protect me... I am older now, but it is more frightening, because when I wake up and still feel the nightmare gripping me closer, there is no one to hold me...

I went into his room last night. The house was silent and dark... I slipped off my bed and tiptoed into the hall. He had not come home yet, and I was growing more and more anxious. I filled several pages of this book yesterday and the day before, so I will not try to explain that any further... only I was upset, I went to the door so often to look toward the gates... I had nothing to do yesterday but wander the house imagining all the fearful things that might have struck him ­­ foolish images, made up of an idle and frantic mind... Frantic. Could I have been frantic? No. He had only gone to Bath, anything could have delayed him... why would I worry so much over such a little thing?...And yet I know I was. Why else would I have seen him thrown from his horse, lying hurt and helpless in a ditch, why would I have heard his voice, choked, weak, murmuring...? And each time I ran to the door to look for him, each time I thought I heard the clatter of hooves in the drive, why would I have felt such a painful disappointment when I discovered it was only my imagination? Everything is so confusing...

And why did I pretend that, when he was lying there, without strength enough to pull himself up, his arms reached out for me and he called my name?

At least half a dozen times I must have turned to send someone along the road looking for him... But I turned away each time, for it was madness... I had no idea where he might be, and then perhaps he was not even hurt! And each time I ended convincing myself that he had only been slightly delayed in Bath and had been unable to send me word. And then, why should he trouble himself anyway? One or two nights extra, what would it matter? Why should he think I cared?

I broke the stub of my pen. I should not try to write when I am tired. My eyes are so bleary now I can't see the page very clearly.

He had not come home by the time I at last retired, and I was in no mood for sleep, though I changed and sent the maid away. I would have written, but I was in no mood for that either and simply lay on the bed, staring out the window or up at the ceiling. Such thoughts I had then! But I shall not write them now; either I will remember them to write later, or they were not worth writing at all. Eventually the house was very quiet, and I still had not fallen asleep ­­ nor did I try, for I knew with a dread certainty that I should only toss and turn with those awful pictures flashing past my eyes. And Percy... Percy was not home, so... As I could not sleep, and since I was still waiting for him, I slid off the bed ­­ it's such a high bed, I hope I never fall out of it ­­ and tiptoed down the hall. Of course if any of the servants had seen me, they couldn't have sent me to bed the way Armand used to, but I did not want to awaken anyone, and I did feel like such a little girl again, small and insignificant in such a large house... His rooms were dark, naturally, but somehow it was easier to go there than to stay in my own room alone. There are no monsters under his bed, I feel sure...

His apartments were black and cold when I crept in last night. Objects loomed from the shadows, and it all held such fearful wonder... I didn't dare touch anything, more, I believe, for fear of the furniture itself than that of Percy's displeasure at discovering my intrusion. There is a window that looks out over the road to Bath, and I was drawn straight there, to look out over the dark landscape. Few clouds were in the sky last night, and the moon bathed the lane in strips of pale silver... I sank down onto the cushion there at the window, and drew my feet up under me, eyes locked on the road; it held such a fascination, suddenly... He might appear there any moment, galloping along on his horse, rushing home to the gates, hurrying up the stairs to his room, to a fire, to his bed, to me ­­

No. He did not rush to me. Not anymore.

And yet I sat there, watching the road, watching the changing pattern of the cloud shadows on the dirt, waiting for him... And he did not come; the clock chimed and he did not show, and I did not move from my seat. My thoughts traveled very far while I was waiting, struggling to stay awake, not wanting to sleep until I saw him coming down that lane, safe and tall and handsome... he is so handsome... I remembered his face, his eyes, when he used to look at me, when we were in Paris... I could look up then and he would always be looking down at me, and if I smiled, he would kiss me... I drifted off into a dream world, a heavenly remembrance of Percy when I could call him mine, and my fancies even had him, once again, rushing to my arms when he came home now. He would run up the steps and come find me, and then he would spread open his strong arms and I would run to him, the way I had used to run to him, and he would hold me...

I turned suddenly, for I felt all at once that I was not alone, and in a flood my nightmares came back ­­ and he was standing there, by the doorway, a huge, dark form that the moonlight barely reached. My heart stopped and began pounding all in the breath of a second, and for that second I was frozen, eyes searching the blackness for his face... Here it was, the moment I had dreamt, he had returned home, returned to me... In every fantasy, he had opened his arms for me, and I had flung myself into his embrace... and yet now he was so dark and cold, and his form was so immense ­­ he nearly seemed to be growing before my eyes, towering ever higher, and I shrank against the window, fear and shame washing over me at once. He seemed almost unreal, it was so dark, and he said not a word... I was sure, then, that if I flung myself into his arms, as I so desperately wanted to, needed to, his shape would change into some grotesque phantom, and he would carry me away... And I knew that was absurd and was ashamed for imagining such a thing. But the fear and chimera held me, and I sank against the window, eyes dropping to the floor, for I could not look at him any longer ­­ if not for fear that he would vanish or change before my gaze, then because I did not know if... if he might not be angry at me for trespassing into his private rooms, if he would want not to be bothered with me now... and I would have crept out, silently, a little mouse, if he had not already seen me.

"You are late," I said brokenly, preparing to receive his usual cold tones. My eyes stung; I must have been more tired than I realized... and now that he was home, even though it had not been the way my childish, longing fancies had conjured it, still I knew that he was safe and here, and I could sleep...

His voice was not so harsh when he spoke, though I saw his stiff bow. "I'faith, I beg your ladyship's pardon... the roads were intolerable, it took me twice as long both there and back..."

The roads. How silly I had been... it had been nothing, nothing to worry over. Anyone would have assumed that it was simply a natural delay, due to inclement weather, due to any number of harmless causes. Why had I been so concerned?

He was waiting for an answer, was watching me... but not coldly. I knew, somehow, that his eyes were not hard, were not distant, that he was not watching me impatiently... I fingered the lace of my color, feeling my cheeks grow warmer. But I answered him honestly, if hesitantly. "I feared... there had been an accident... that you were hurt... " Did he think me foolish, could he not believe that I would truly think such a thing? Or did he not care, did he listen with only a polite, restless interest, more anxious for me to simply leave? I looked up, looked into his eyes... he had stepped forward some, or the moon had escaped a cloud, and I could see his eyes now ­­ and he did care. He was looking at me, not with disgust, but with concern; or at least, my tired, wishful mind imagined it that way, and gave me courage enough to whisper, "I wish you had sent a message somehow. I was anxious."

I watched him with blurry eyes as he stepped closer, drawing near enough to for me to reach out and touch him... and my hand did, all at once, try to reach for his, for suddenly I needed to feel flesh and blood after so many nights of only ghosts ­­ but I barely moved, I hadn't the strength. It took all my energy to keep my eyes from closing...I did not want to close them; I wanted to watch him... I heard his voice through the mist that was gathering about me, heard his tones low and kind. "I never meant to worry you. I will not forgive myself if you take ill, up this late, and it so unseasonably cold..."

The warmth from his body was slowly prickling my skin nearest him, and I shivered. "I'm not cold," I answered softly, feeling my eyes drift closed again. And I wasn't, not really; suddenly I was very comfortable ­­ not quite warm, but the cold did not reach me...

I must have been nearly asleep then, for the next words I heard were very tender, flowing, melting over me... "Let me help you to bed." Help me to bed? When was the last time... and then he had stooped; I felt his arms gathering me up... How good it felt! and I was so tired... I leaned my head against his chest and he held me close... he is so strong, I know... I reached up and wrapped my arm around his neck as he lifted me, clung to him as he carried me down the hall... It was so comfortable, it felt so safe... if only I could feel like that when I wake up from a nightmare...

I must have dozed off while he was carrying me, for the next thing I remember was his wincing sharply when he gently laid me on the bed. He did not make any sound that I heard, but I felt his muscles tense, felt his fingers suddenly tighten rigidly as he still held me, and sleepy though I was, I dragged my eyes open and half pushed myself up. "What is it...?" I asked anxiously, my voice trembling slightly as I tried to see his face in the darkness, tried to know what was wrong. "You're hurt...!"

He backed away from me, retreating further into the darkness, and my tired eyes could not see him well at all anymore... my arm weakened on me, and I dropped slightly into the pillow, but still I watched him, trying to make out his face from that dark silhouette. "'Tis nothing, only a slight scratch," I heard him mutter... his horse had thrown him... a fencing accident... nothing to be concerned about. What? I couldn't quite think then, didn't quite wonder at how odd that was... he could not even tell me what it was? He thought that ­­ well, no matter. But then I did not think of any of that, I only knew that he was hurt, terribly hurt, for he had flinched so abruptly, and at once all my fears, which I had pushed aside with giddy relief and shamefacedness when I had first seen him, came rushing back. Something dreadful had happened, I knew it, I was so sure... and there he was, telling me that it was nothing, only a scratch... well, perhaps it was only something small, but still...

"But someone should..." I started, trying to prop myself up again, wanting him to come closer so that I could see for myself that nothing had happened, that it was only a small scrape... but he cut me off, sharply, decidedly.

"It's nothing."

I sank further into the pillow, watching him, wondering if... but then he stepped closer, so that the moonlight just brushed his face, and he smiled... a small, awkward smile, but a smile... not his inane, almost bitter smile that is so hard to see, but a kind smile, a true smile... and then I smiled, almost timidly, for I was nearly asleep and it was all so much a dream that I did not want to shatter...

And it must have been a dream... I must have fallen asleep into blissful fantasy, because then, as I lay there, he stepped forward and leaned over, and suddenly his lips were pressed to mine... in a true, perfect, maddening kiss, that I have missed for so long...

And it is maddening, this is madness, to hope and dream that he will come now and find me and be the way he was before, the way he was last night... I will go to bed again. I am tired, and I think I might sleep now... and I can dream, dream of his kiss, dream of him, dream of him holding me, carrying me, twirling me around so easily and laughing, as if I were but a small child, the way he once did... the way that... that he must do again, that my heart will never stop hoping he will do again... this is madness...

Percy. Percy Percy Percy...


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