My last Duchess
Late, late, late. Why are professionals always late? “The piano tuner is going to be an hour late, the doctor might be slightly late.” Now the artist is late. I got out of bed half an hour early to get ready for him and he is late. Nothing ever goes to plan in this wretched house. When the artist did arrive this morning (two and a half hours late), he turned out to be one of the biggest slime balls I have ever met. “Yes darling, No darling.” Not even my husband calls me darling. He then proceeded to sit me down on a low stall so t\at h could stare down at me, and probably down my dress.
After about ten minutes I had an itch on my ear and couldn’t help but scratch vigorously. As soon as I moved my hand there was a, ” Darling please keep still,” from behind the canvas. How could he expect me too keep still, its was baking in the living room and I was having to wear my best dress. It was a cherry red ball gown with little frills at the bottom. I also had my gold crucifix on It was already beginning too stick to my legs at this point. I didn’t know how long I would be sitting on this uncomfortable wooden stall. I decided to ignore the artist and scratch my ear any way. Who was he to tell me, the duchess, not to scratch my ear?
I sat and looked at him as he dynamically applied paint to his brush and then onto the canvas. He looked completely at home working away like a little rat building a nest. Then a thought came into my head; why did my husband want this picture of me all of a sudden? Did he want me to have a child, and require a picture of me before I lose my figure? Was he going to send me away and wanted something to remember me by?
These thoughts were still flowing through my head when the artist informed me he was done. I walked over to view my portrait but was stopped by my husband. He told me that I would get to see it at the right time. Of course I obliged and retired to my room to change out of my best dress and have a lie down. I entered my room and rang for Gina to bring me warm milk and buns. She happily did and also helped me get out of the by now very sticky dress. She is a godsend; I would have been stuck in it for hours if it hadn’t been for her.
Winter is such a depressing time of year. I am stuck indoors and have nothing to do. Earlier this afternoon I decided to explore the house some more. In the six months I have been living here, I have only been in the waiting room, the drawing room, and my bedroom. At the back of the house I found a staircase. It was very poorly lit and seemed to wind up to the top of one of the towers. I was about to climb it when my husband appeared. He had a stern face on. He abruptly told me I was never to go up these stairs. He seemed to have a frightened look about him. He was carrying what looked to be a painting under his arm. He disappeared up the stairs. Defeated I returned to my room and lay down. Curiosity got the best of me and I decided to go that night.
At about eleven o’clock I left my room and headed to the back of the house. I found the staircase and proceeded to climb it. As my bare foot touched the first stone step, I flinched with shock. It was freezing cold. At about the tenth step I stopped and wondered if I was doing the right thing. My curiosity was too strong. I had too find out what my husband was hiding at the top of the stairs. I quickly ascended the rest of the stairs and then entered a round room. At the entrance too the room there was a bronze statue of Neptune holding a sea horse. As I moved further into the room I saw four pictures of young women.
All of a sudden my husband appeared. He looked furious. ” I thought I could trust you. I thought you were different, but oh no you’re just like all the others. They all had to disobey me and come up here. Do you know what happened to them? DO YOU?”
I replied, ” No, No I don’t.”
He pointed at the paintings, in a gesture for me to have a look. I started with the one he was pointing at. It was of a blonde girl, aged about twenty. She was wearing the strangest ball gown I had ever seen. At the bottom of the picture, there was an inscription. It said ” My First duchess 1782-1791″. I then moved to the next of the paintings. It was of a red haired girl, of about the same age as the girl in the previous painting. She was wearing a strange yet totally different style of dress to the girl in the first painting. Hers was a tight black dinner dress. Underneath the inscription was ” Number 2 1791-1801″ The third painting was of a black haired girl the same age as the others. She was wearing much more normal style clothes. She had a ball gown very similar to the ones I own on. The inscription stated ” Number 3 1801-1806″
Finally I moved onto the one remaining painting. Fear deep inside me had already told me what I was going to see. The picture was of me. It had the inscription “My Last Duchess 1806”. There was no second date.
My husband came up behind me. I saw the shining glint of what must have been a knife. I felt a prick in my back. Then something was penetrating deep inside of me. I started falling faster and faster wondering if I was ever going to hit the ground. Then as quickly as the falling had started it was over. I didn’t hit the bottom but I couldn’t feel anything below my shoulders. I woke up staring round the room. There were faces staring back at me. I was trapped in some kind of box. I could not move, I don’t think I was even breathing. I looked down,there was an inscription on a gold plate below me. It read “My Last Duchess 1806-1812”