Author's Note: Please review and let me know what you think of this! More chapters will follow once I get some more time for writing! x
The cries were loud, loud enough to fill the small room when the boy wailed particularly hard. It was a horrific sound, cat-like, a cry that came from pure, raw, physical pain. However considering the exercise which was at hand, a through sawing of flesh, cartilage and bone, the cries were not nearly as fervent as they might have been. The primitive cocktail of anaesthesias had taken some effect.
There was little that could have been done to completely dull feeling in the boy, especially as the desperation with which the operation had been embarked upon had left little time for preparation. Adelaide had only been able to gather together what she could from within her home. It was fortunate, therefore, that she had possessed the presence of mind to stock necessities such as alcohol & laudanum.
She had needed to hold the boy down while she forced it down his throat though. He struggled and fought all the while, wriggling pathetically beneath her grasp. That was when the screaming had really been bad. She had needed to push him down onto the bed and attempt to smother the sound while she drugged him sloppily.
If only she had been able to restrain him more effectively then he might've been more securely numbed now. Perhaps, if she had been more careful and thorough, he would not still be crying so terribly. She wiped the sweat and tears from her own face; she was so tired and so very stressed from the sound of his cries as well as the exertion of her actions. Her head felt like it was ready to split and she felt like screaming herself but she knew she couldn't rest until it was done – she needed to finish. Once she was done everything would be fine. She would be able to sleep.
The china bowl was getting filled up with blood though and her spare, with hot water had also been used. The hot water and towels and bowls of blood and bandages always reminded her of when her son had first been born – she had been the one screaming then, until the baby came out and began to cry and cry and cry and she first started to suspect that something was wrong.
It was like she was giving birth still, she thought as she ran the saw back and forth through the raw flesh. She couldn't stop what she was doing until it was done.
She was close now and as the last bit of flesh gave way beneath the metal she felt the thrill that came near completion – when her desperation and need was alleviated.
"Almost there," she told her baby, while he tossed and wept and screamed.
Then it was done and the limb had been taken entirely from the boy – one solid, thick boys' leg freed from the mass of his body. She felt the relief at its successful purging. She would burn it tomorrow in the garden and then burry any remains. For now she put it to one side, the ugly toes and bent bones now limp and pale, and began to bandage the stump that ended just above the knee.
The boy's cries had lessened to a hollow whimpering. She leant down to embrace him. He turned from her at first – but he was so desperate for comfort that eventually he gave into his mother's affection. Now she could smooth his hair and kiss him and comfort him and he would forgive.
"It's over now," she whispered, "it's over."
"Please," he begged, his voice shuddering with emotion and pain, "please…"
"It's the last time, darling," she told him, "I swear, this is the last time now, everything will be better now…"
Nathaniel Smith stared up at the tall building with interest. It was an especially grand London house. It was strange for him to consider that today he would be taking residence in this building, it was such a dramatic change of scene. He had not dwelt on the prospect much since applying for the position. Currently his thoughts were consumed with speculation at what would be expected from him and what his charge would be like. He knew the boy was a cripple, and that he would be expected to care for him constantly, but he had been given very few other details about the role.
He would need to know the details of day-to-day routine of course, and what he was expected to do in addition to general care (it had been unclear whether he was expected to act as a tutor as well to the boy) and also what place he would be given within the household.
The details of the salary however had been very clear and Nathaniel felt that it was a very generous sum for a man entering into a position of this sort, the first position he had ever had. His education had been a great asset and his employers had clearly been impressed by his medical training – even if he had never been fully trained as a doctor.
A footman answered the door and shown him into the parlour where he was told, Miss Ellis, would be coming to meet him before escorting him to meet the master. Nathaniel wondered of what station Miss Ellis was and if she was the person to whom he should be reporting to, but her dress, when she arrived to greet him, suggested that she was in service too.
"Mr Smith," she said politely, smiling at him. She was quite a pretty young girl and Nathanial smiled back.
"Miss Ellis?" He returned uncertainly.
"Call me Anna," she told him, "If you like, and please take a seat again – I'll be wanting to talk to you for a bit before we go through." Nathaniel nodded and took a seat. Anna sat down too and spent a few moments thinking before she spoke again.
"I thought it would be best if we went over the details of the master's condition before you go through to meet him. Just in general, so that you won't be too taken aback when meeting him. He will want to talk things through more thoroughly himself but I think it is appropriate that I brief you."
Nathanial nodded politely. He understood that this was a sensitive matter so what Anna was saying made perfect sense. However one thing she had said caught his attention.
"The master…" he repeated, "am I right in understanding that the boy has no guardian?"
"That is correct," Anna told him, "technically a great uncle of his is in charge of certain legalities until he turns eighteen but he is the master of this house." She sighed. "I have been his nurse and carer for three years now but if the position is suitable for you I will now be turning that role over to you."
Nathanial now understood why it was she who was speaking to him. He leant forward slightly in his chair, curiously.
"I will be continuing to work as a maid in this house, which was my position before the master's mother died, but he requires constant care from someone." She paused for a moment, thinking again how to address the subject of her master's care.
"You understand that he is crippled?" She addressed Nathanial. He nodded. "Well there is a severity to his physical disability which does means he requires assistance with dressing and so on…it can be quite a difficult role."
"Is he…" Nathanial asked cautiously for Anna seemed reluctant to discuss the details of the boy's disabilities, "Is he…mentally damaged?"
"Oh no," Anna said quickly, "he is perfectly intelligent. And he has learnt to manage many things by himself – however he does still require a great deal of help in simple tasks…" she sighed for a moment and said, "I do not think he would like me to discuss the particulars of his injuries to you, however I think you should prepare yourself."
She rose suddenly and motioned to lead Nathanial on through the house but her words had made him nervous and he had to ask, before they proceeded, "Is he…terribly disfigured?" She hesitated.
"In the face?" she asked
"Well…anywhere…in a way that is unusual and extreme disfigurement."
"His face and uninjured body is fine," she told him. Which was a strange thing to say. She seemed to think on it for a moment before adding, "he is not deformed – if…if that is what you mean. He has been injured, almost entirely in his limbs – there is no kind of burns or birth defect scars."
Perhaps she regretted her uneasy entering into this conversation, her informal briefing, because she did not seem fully prepared to give him any further information.
She lead him to a set of large doors, their style indicating that of a study room, and asked him to wait just one moment further while she went through to speak to the master. She shut the thick doors behind herself so Nathanial could not hear her speaking to him but it was only a few seconds before she reappeared and granted Nathanial admittance.
She held the door open for him and gave him what he took to be an encouraging little nod as stepped aside. Her smile was definitely a little forced however, her lips faltering just a little and her eyes flickering about anxiously. Once Nathaniel had taken just a few steps inside the room she carefully shut the door behind him.
The room was, as Nathaniel had suspected, a large study and he could see large bookshelves running around the walls along with a desk and several high-backed chairs. It was warm and comfortable but a little dark. There was a large set of windows to the back of the room but these were completely covered by a set of thick, cream blinds. Light still filtered through them but city light was too dull to form adequate illumination.
He blinked his eyes carefully, trying to adjust to the change in light, and looked around the room. He perceived, almost instantly, movement from the far corner and, at last, his eyes fell upon on the young boy whom he would be caring for.
He was sat in his chair, slightly hunched over and at an angle from Nathaniel. The top of his head was the just brightly picked out by some stray rays of light that fell from beneath the blinds. Soft brown hair and a curve of smooth, unscarred skin was what was most clearly visible to Nathaniel. As he stared the boy tilted his head up and more of the smooth, white flesh was exposed.
Anna had stated that facially the boy was not disfigured but Nathanial was still surprised by the unblemished nature of the skin on show. Some people could be very squeamish, he thought, staring with interest as the perfect arch of the boy's cheek and bright brown eye that was now visible.
It was true that the other eye, less clear from Nathanial's vantage point, was covered by a dark eye patch indicating that there was injury there but there didn't seem to be any extensive scarring beyond that. His body, at least what could be clearly seen, also seamed unmarred. Nathanial followed down his delicate neckline, regarding the narrow but well-formed adolescent shoulders and chest with interest. The young man was wearing an expensive and flattering outfit; a low collared white shirt and striped waistcoat with beautiful buttons. The one arm that was visible revealed that the sleeves ended in broad cuffs, held together by bright silver links, and the hand which extended was wrapped around a book.
As for the lower half of the master Nathanial couldn't form much of an opinion there. A thin sheet was wrapped over his legs, right over the edge of the wheelchair, as was common with most users. He had known that the boy was unable to walk though so this was no surprise to him. He assumed that perhaps his legs were very mutilated or underdeveloped and this was his biggest deformity. Nathanial did not consider it a harrowing sight at all, even when the boy move his chair forward slightly and Nathanial also realised that his right sleeve, with those pretty silver cufflinks, was folded and pinned up at his shoulder, revealing that in addition to his other injuries he had lost an arm.
"Good morning, Mr Smith," he said softly, "I am glad to see that you managed the house , were there any problems travelling?" As the boy moved further forward still, shifting his wheels expertly, Nathanial observed that besides being marred, particularly facially, he was actually strikingly handsome. He felt almost a little irritated at the maid's sensitive, over-cautious behaviour but he had to remind himself that some people had very different ideas about perfection in the body.
"No, not at all," Nathanial said quickly, smiling politely, "I was actually situated not far from here, previously."
"Yes, and your luggage has already arrived and been settled," the young man told him, "I hope you will find it easy to settle in tonight."
"Oh, it's a lovely house," Nathanial quickly. Strangely the young master bit his lip slightly and raised his eyebrows at the comment.
"I'm glad you think so," he replied, calmly enough though. Nathanial decided, a little late to extend his left arm out to the boy. It was, of course, usually customary to shake with the right but that would not be appropriate in this case. The boy smiled and extended his arm to receive the gesture.
"I'm so sorry to say," Nathanial said as he and the boy parted, "but no one's actually given me your name yet, I mean I know the family name is Anderson, but I don't know your Christian name."
"My full name," said the young man carefully, "is Evelyn Antoine Anderson."
"Ah," said Nathanial, smiling uncertainly, "and…what would you like me to call you by?"
"When I was a child I went mostly by Antoine," Evelyn told him, "it was a family name my mother was very fond of, French, while Evelyn was after my father. Most of the household refers to me by Antoine, so that might be most convenient for you, however I would prefer Evelyn."
"Then I shall call you Evelyn," Nathaniel said firmly. Evelyn nodded.
"And there is someone else you will need to meet, since we are performing our introductions," he said.
"Yes?" Nathanial replied, curiously. Evelyn moved his chair again but, just as Nathanial began to shuffle his feet thinking that they would be leaving to meet a further member of the household staff, he realised Evelyn was moving back towards the wall again. He reached down awkwardly with his one arm and pulled up, to Nathanial's surprise, a worn teddy bear. He put aside the book he had been holding in order to tuck this soft toy beneath his arm and wheeled forward again so that Nathanial could regard the soft stitching at close quarters.
"This is Edward," Evelyn said, smoothly, his voice neither rising playfully or falling drolly. His mouth did perform a quirky smile though which was quite endearing as he held up the bear slightly. "I feel it is important that you make his acquaintance too as you will be serving the both of us. Edward is unfortunately handicapped himself, in fact far more severely than myself, he must have all his functions performed for him I'm afraid. Luckily he is very light so I am able to carry him around most of the time myself and attend to the majority of his needs however you might need to assist him with travelling at some point if, for example, my hand is full."
Evelyn smiled widely and Nathanial found himself smiling too, with amusement. Evelyn was of course far too old to have childish attachments such as this but the intelligent gleam in the young man's eyes signified that he understood this and seemed to enjoy the diversion both sincerely and subversively. The delicate patches of worn fur on the teddy bear, slight but noticeable, definitely indicated some real affection for the thing. Even as Nathanial watched Evelyn's index finger and thumb rubbed at an ear in a easy motion.
Nathanial leant down slightly to extend his arm out again, this time the right, and took the bear's paw in his fingers, moving it up and down carefully.
"I'm pleased to meet you too, Edward." The black little eyes stared at him in their fixed, permanent expression. The teddy bear had an almost stern look to his face which was quite comical.
"Edward is impressed by your manners," Evelyn told him, "you must excuse him for speaking only to me, by the way, the acute nature of his paralysis means that his voice is very quiet and distorted, I am the only one who can interpret." He settled the bear into the crook of his arm and then said, "we still have a lot to discuss regarding your position. Would you care to see the gardens while we talk?"
"Certainly," Nathanial replied, "shall I push your chair?"
"If you like," Evelyn said, "it would be easier." He pushed Evelyn through the house and outside, following his instructions. He walked out through a pair of immense, glittering French windows into a vast and indescribably beautiful garden, walled with high hedges and with flowers at every side and fountains and great trees set out in a neat arrangement across the lawns. Evelyn asked to be set down by the roses which were just in bloom and glistening with wetness from a recent shower.
"I find it nicest to be in a garden when talking or thinking about something unpleasant," Evelyn told him, "I love my garden, you know, and we have some rather difficult things to discuss. It makes everything far more easier to consider when you have beauty and sweetness about you."
Nathanial was uncertain how to reply for a moment, although he understood that Evelyn would probably want to be talking about his injuries and the care he needed and this was the unpleasant subject matter in question. He nodded sweetly and said,
"These are some amazing gardens, especially for London," he feared his words appeared, given the context, terribly banal.
"I understand that you had training as a doctor," Evelyn said, looking up at Nathanial thoughtfully.
"Yes," Nathanial replied.
"But you never served in any kind of hospital or institution?"
"Have ever been in any comparable position, as a…care-giver I mean?"
"No," Nathanial said, "I'm afraid not." Evelyn looked away for a moment, his eyes on the roses as he thought.
"It's quite an awkward position to be in, I feel," he said, after a pause, "for both of us. It doesn't really fall into any accepted society norms of contact; people are expected to attend to their most private or intrinsic needs themselves and the thought of someone else needing to perform a function for them is… unsettling. It is an awkward intimacy…" Evelyn raised his eyes to look at Nathanial again and Nathaniel thought to himself, with surprise how the boy managed to appear simultaneously very mature and also very, very young.
"You are aware that until recently Anna has helping me," he said quietly. Nathanial nodded. "Well, she has been there to help me since I was quite young and…it was not so bad then when I needed assistance then because I was a little boy and most children might need help dressing or bathing or using the toilet but, well, obviously I'm much older now and…" Evelyn flushed slightly and looked down, "it's much more embarrassing, I might even say humiliating. Being seen naked or in any state of undress by a young woman, who's known me since infancy, is so very, very awkward. We've developed methods of course, and I can manage with most things by myself but still on the occasions where I do need assistance and she needs to touch or see me, in any small way, then it's horribly embarrassing, for the both of us. Still…" Evelyn chewed his lip slight, his brows lowered anxiously, "I prolonged the decision to employ someone else. I was just as uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger coming in." He looked up at Nathanial, a strange, intense expression consuming his features.
"How would you feel regarding this?" he asked, "how do you view this position and what it entails?" Nathanial licked his lips nervously, a little daunted by the scale of the question.
"I…wouldn't really find it a terrifying task if that's what you mean," he replied, "I can understand your discomfort with the maid. When I was your age I would have died rather than have one of the female servants in the house catch me undressed or relieving myself. But we're both gentlemen, there's little to embarrassed about beyond the initial awkwardness of any strangers. There's nothing about what I would be required to do for you which makes me really uncomfortable, or presents itself to my mind as a disgusting act at all. In many ways I view this position as a more attentive valet role, and feel similarly towards it." For a few moments Evelyn just looked into his eyes, as if searching for insincerity, he seemed to be satisfied for after a few moments he lowered his gaze and murmured,
"Yes, I hope we shall be comfortable with each other." He then asked to be moved further into the garden, by a tall bush especially favoured by butterflies. Nathanial sensed he had further things to discuss.
"I think," Evelyn began, very slowly, "it would be foolish for me to, well, omit any details relevant to your role…" he had fixed his eyes on some very pretty roses, a soft yellow with a hint of pink, a glorious blushed effect. Nathaniel followed Evelyn's gaze to admire the blooms but when he slid back he saw that Evelyn's face was quite as flushed as the flowers; a deep pink of blood and he was breathing heavily. Nathaniel was quite taken aback at the sudden transformation and he felt he had witnessed a glimpse of something he shouldn't have, something very private. He felt a cold shudder at the look at the young man's face although he couldn't place the expression that distorted his features. Was it misery, fear or anger? Something far more complicated perhaps, but powerful, vicious.
Nathaniel swallowed uncomfortably and murmured, hastily,
"would you like me to pick one for you?" his eyes trained themselves resolutely upon the roses. For a few moments Evelyn did not respond and Nathaniel was uncertain about whether he was silent because he was trying to compose himself or because he was irritated by Nathaniel's obvious interruption. Perhaps he was made uncertain and even more uncomfortable by the older man's reluctance to hear his confidence.
"Yes," he breathed quietly, his voice fairly calm and soft, after a beat or two, "if you wish." Nathaniel eagerly reached out to snap the stem of the nearest flower, avoiding the thorns with his finger tips then turning to present it to his master. Evelyn took it robotically, his eyes barely seeing it, and tucked it into his buttonhole. Nathaniel couldn't help but admire how the colour brought out the bright, golden stitching in the waistcoat. It somehow seemed to him, despite all the practicalities, impossible that someone who could own and wear such beautiful clothes and be himself, gifted with such genuine fairness could be unhappy. It was a fallacy that Nathaniel's mind found, without provocation. He had always had such a fascination with the sublime and with the riches of prosperity; like a child he still couldn't help but believe that a handsome house, a beautiful garden and a beautiful form equalled a natural happiness. Wasn't that what perfection was?
"It suits you," he murmured, absent-mindedly, thinking longingly about what it would be like to dress in such fine fabric and have one's hair so smooth and bright. Evelyn looked up at him with surprise, taken back enough by the comment to forget his trepidation and quirk an eyebrow. He gave a little laugh, barely more than a breath.
There was a short silence in which Evelyn glanced down at himself, fingering the petals of the flower, then looked up, his face now assuming a determined expression.
"I think if you are going to be in my employment, especially in a position so close to me," he told Nathaniel, "then you deserve to know the way in which I became disabled – the rest of my household is aware of this, after all, and it would be ridiculous to keep you ignorant."
Nathaniel had no idea why this should be quite so important, devastating even to judge by the young man's attitude. He could assume that there had been some sort of horrific accident, or illness, or indeed both, and doubtless the circumstances were complex and harrowing but he could not see why the details should matter so much at this stage.
"You may do as you wish," he said, courteously, "I would not mind either way if you were to let me into your confidences – it is your business to keep." Evelyn smiled widely at him, that wide, strange smile that made Nathaniel so uncomfortable.
"Oh you might not say that," he said smoothly, "if you understood that there was criminality involved – that must be disclosed, must it not?"
Nathaniel was more than a little taken aback by this. Had the young man been attacked and disfigured purposefully? He shifted uneasily but made his face respectable and impassive to answer,
"It is within your judgement." Evelyn's smile played across his lips some more but there was a forlorn brightness to his eyes.
"My mother," he began, slowly, "was very…ill." He shifted his eyes away, his brow creasing, as he spoke seemingly uncertain how to phrase some truth, some terrible truth, which was rarely discussed. Nathaniel could feel his heart thudding in alarm and discomfort, he felt unexpectedly protective over the young man in front of him, as if he spoke of an imminent danger Nathaniel could seek to shield him from.
"Mentally, you understand," Evelyn's voice had become blunter and he had assumed a resolute, formal tone, "she was, I suppose there can be no other way to express it – insane."
"She had a particular fixation, in the years of my birth and existence, although I understand there had been similar issues before. From the moment I was born she was seized with the conviction that there was something physically wrong with me, something that had to be altered, something that must be…cut away." Nathaniel stifled his swallow, the deep noise of horror that threatened to escape the back of his throat. Evelyn continued, uninterrupted.
"She believed this entirely, you must understand, with a fear and a fanaticism – beyond what I think most people could ever comprehend. She became desperate about it, feeling that she must act and so – she did – using her own experience as a nurse she tried to cure the fever in her mind and the deformity she saw. She took my right arm." Nathaniel stared, dumbfounded at the elegant sleeved pinned up upon the young man's right side. Evelyn looked at it too, mournfully.
"That was when I was still just a baby, a few months after I was born," Evelyn told him, "I do not remember it. That time she lied, said that there had been a terrible infection and that she had needed to amputate my arm. There were no doctor's called though."
"Surely – your father-" Nathaniel protested, before he could stop himself. He feared that Evelyn would be unhappy at his interruption but the boy only raised his eyes to met Nathaniel's steadily.
"My father was away, for most of the time, in the colonies…" he considered for a moment, then added without great emotion, "he was not, the most perfect man either, I think, in regards to character and…mentality…he certainly never really contemplated treating my mother…well…" Evelyn trailed away very uncertainly, his eyes were narrowed again, not by anger or bitterness but merely contemplation. It was clear that he considered his father with an indifferent interest, unclear about what had motivated the man.
"He had pretty much abandoned my mother, from what I understand," he told Nathaniel, "from when I was a young child. He had mistresses abroad, if perhaps, you could even call them that. After he died – and he died abroad, incidentally – my mother was forced to recognize that he wasn't coming back. She became more maddened then, more neurotic – she terrorized the household. Then, in those years, she took my right eye and my left leg."
"How could she?" Nathaniel demanded, "wasn't there anyone who objected? It must have been plain that there was no purpose to what she was doing!" Evelyn simply shook his head.
"She had excuses of course and…well, she had built up a mythology about me being plagued with sickness too, kept me shut away for most of the time. Few of the servants ever saw me and…for me…it was beyond difficult." Evelyn looked up into Nathaniel's eyes with a piteous expression.
"Every time, you see, she promised it would be the last time and I think…in those moments after she always believed, and hoped, it would be. In time though, her fixation returned, always stronger." Evelyn smiled, a sad eerie smile and his eyes fluttered forlornly as he allowed himself to remember his abusive mother. He composed himself severely again, though, before concluding.
"Eventually Anna saw and understood what was happening and reached the point where she was in fear for my life. She reported my mother to the authorities. She was, once it was proved what she had done, hung for her crimes. She was considered to have done such despicable evil to merit capital punishment – in fact the public called for her death – it was fairly notorious in the papers, although names were somewhat altered." He gave a desolate shrug as if trying to shake off all of those despicable events.
"That is why I think you should now," he finished, simply and sternly. Then he returned his eyes to flowers close at hand, hiding his face. Nathaniel stood quietly for a few moment, feeling too hot in the sun, wishing he could work out what the blood pulsing in his body meant.
"Do you…miss her?" he asked Evelyn, then immediately, fearing that this was an abominable thing to say and that Evelyn might be angered by it, "I just mean – were you sad when she died, even though she did what she did to you – or – do you still feel anger – which, of course you should, you should!" Evelyn, to Nathaniel's relief did not react much to the question, but considered it silently, his eyes lowered.
"I don't hate her," he said gently, "she was my mother – she was nice to me sometimes, she was important to me…but it is good that she is dead." He nodded gently, decisively, apparently content with this assessment of the situation. Nathaniel could only stare at him, silently, taking in every inch of the young man and what made him what he was.
Without really considering what he was doing, making the decision in barely a moment, he knelt down on the grass before Evelyn and reached forward to put his arms upon his shoulders, pressing the palms close, almost against the neck, and exerting the barest of movement in the intent of comfort. It was not an embrace as such, but it was a startlingly intimate action to take and Nathaniel was shocked at himself, ashamed that his fingertips brushed bare skin under which a hot pulse beat erratically. Evelyn looked up at him with wide eyes, surprise written across his young face.
"You don't need to pity me," he said quietly, firmly, "that's not necessary. I am quite capable and have come to terms with my past."
"I know," Nathaniel responded, quickly, feeling foolish, thinking that he was treating Evelyn far too much like a child when a young man stared out of his eyes, perhaps humiliated at his new employee's actions. He slid his hands away, unable to stop himself trailing the young-man's neck a little, finding a thrill in it which was quite alien to him – the skin was just so smooth and beautiful – he could not help but be fascinated by it as he would any remarkable work of art.
"I just wanted you to know," he said, briskly, swallowing slightly and trying to resume his composure, "that I understand that things must have been difficult and I would be strong companion to you if you wish it – I hope – a good friend."
"Because I have had no true friends, yet?" Evelyn put to him, his voice low and a little tainted and sardonic, "because I have had no brothers, no father…?" Nathaniel gave an embarrassed and uncertain smile and breathy laugh, showing he understood his foolish and simplistic reactions.
"I didn't mean to make assumptions," he said, "please believe that." Evelyn was staring at him very curiously and Nathaniel had the suspicion that he was more than surprised with him – the quality of his gaze suggested he was intrigued – attracted to Nathaniel in the same way in which Nathaniel was with him. Nathaniel wondered whether this was possible – he seemed to what to look at him for a long time, to try and understand him.
Nathaniel smiled gently, a friendly smile meant to strengthen and relax. Evelyn returned the smile, politely, and sincerely, and then tossed his head back towards the rosebush.
"Why don't you pick yourself one?" He suggested, "before we go back inside, brighten up your clothes." Nathaniel felt a little pleased and a little staggered at the comment, as if Evelyn saw too deeply inside of him. He tucked a flower into a pocket where it made his own jacket look all the more dull and unappealing.
"I will order you some more clothes, a uniform if you will," Evelyn told him, "if you have no objections. I like all my staff to wear attractive uniforms of the same style and the principle, although very different for you, still stands. I desire only handsome, beautiful things around me, you see – so you must be well-dressed." Nathaniel felt himself quiver, uncertain what to feel at this comment, but said nothing at all, only smiling at the young man in his care.
A moment later, his long eyelashes flickering over his brown eyes, Evelyn requested that they return to the house and Nathaniel swiftly directed his chair out of the garden.