The Three Lives of Lady Bluebeard: Chapter 1 - Part I
My story begins with a grim prophecy that my mother told me when I was eight years old: that I would undergo much hardship. Years later when I recalled the prophecy, I asked her what that meant. She would tell me she had no recollection of telling me such a depressing thing – and so it was forgotten.
When I turned 20, I met a merchant who came to our village to trade with us. He was tall man, with rugged good looks. His hair was black and he had a beard that appeared blue in the light. We all called him “Bluebeard” for that was what his name was.
One day, Bluebeard approached me asking for my hand in marriage. Without discussing the matter with my family I immediately agreed, for I yearned to leave the village and see the outside world, and for the money (for my family owed a debt to a neighbouring lord that was passed down from my grandfather).
The first person I told, however, was Ling. Ling was mortified. She communicated to me in writing and pictures that Bluebeard was not the sort of man to marry.
“But I already agreed. I have even made a promise to wed to him by my next birthday. Besides, he is a rich man. Grandfather’s debts could even be cancelled.”
Still she would not agree.
I told Bluebeard that it was customary for the groom-to-be to meet with the family of his fiancée. A week after we engaged, he came to our home for supper and announced our engagement.
“I will take good care of your daughter.” Bluebeard promised. “I will even cancel the family debt. You may even come to my home in Atlantia. It is only a two day’s journey from Erdeenah.” Erdeenah was the kingdom we lived in. Our village was near the border dividing Erdeenah from Atlantia.
Even then, my parents refused.
That night, I snuck out of the house and waited for Bluebeard at his wagon. There we met, left for Alantia and eloped.
During our first few months together, everything was wonderful. In fact it was so wonderful that it was too good to be true. His home was a mansion filled with every luxury that a girl could dream of. Every room was decorated with fresh flowers; furnished with beautifully carved wooden furniture; porcelain, silver and crystal graced our tables at every meal; wardrobe filled with garments made of every silk, satin, linen, and lace that a man could find; a stable of the finest breed of horses; and servants at our beck and call. Truly it was heavenly. Yet as days pass, I felt unease. I could sense that something was not right, but I did not know what it was.
Feeling the need of something to do, I asked my husband if he would allow me the task of making cloth, for I saw on my way to our mansion that there were poorer neighbours nearby who could not afford clothing.
“We could cloth them with garments made of my cloth. It would keep them from the cold of winter and the harsh sun of summer.” I mentioned.
My husband looked at me strangely, “Why would you go through such measures for those strangers.”
“In my village it is expected that we help those in need by sharing with others what we have. This will be solely something I will provide from my hand and it won’t cost you anything.” I argued.
My husband slammed his fist on his desk and stood up. With one look he silenced me. I was so shocked. He had never given me such a look before. Yet, I felt that I have given my request at unreasonable timing that I decided not to mention it for some time.
The next day, my husband returned from his day of trade and called me to him.
“I have a surprise for you.” He led me to a room in the west wing. There in a nicely furnished room, sat a loom made of bright yellow wood.
“It is yours for your weaving. I have had the servants arrange this place for you as your workshop. You may weave to your hearts content.”
I threw my arms around him filled with joy.
“However, I have a request on my end. I would like you to give me your cloth so I could have them tailored into garments. And be sure to show me every piece of cloth you have woven.”
At this I agreed.
Since that day I wove cloths of every pattern, colour, and texture with my wings. Sometimes I would combine linen and weave some wool in to make warmer materials. There were times when I even went into the garden and took some herbs, wildflowers, or grasses to weave into the material to give it a unique fragrance and texture. When the cloth is done, I would take them to Bluebeard. He would examine them and compliment me in my skills and technique. He then would give the bolts of cloth I have woven to his private servants, who would send them to his private tailors.
One day I wandered too far from the land of our mansion and saw the people who lived in shacks. These were the same people whom I have seen on my way to the mansion who had only rags and no shoes. I noticed that they were still wearing their rags, and wondered why they were not clothes with the garments that Bluebeard promised.
That night I spoke to Bluebeard over supper, asking him what had happed to the bolts of materials I have given him.
“They are still at the tailors being made,” he explained. “You need not to worry, everything is taken care of.”
“But I saw those people are still wearing rags. Why is that?” I asked.
“Are you accusing me of stealing you cloth?” he asked, his tone dropping a few degrees.
“N-no,” I answered nervously. “You promised that those people would be clothed. I gave you materials for the past three weeks. Why is it that they are still not clothed?”
“These things take time, Mitsy,” he said, calling my by my pet name. “The tailors are doing the best they can. They want to make as many garments for those people so they won’t have to worry for days to come. Be patient.”
With that I did not question any further.
Three months pass as my husband underwent some subtle – no, sudden, changes. He was not as tender as he once was. He became a bit rough.
There was that one time when I decided to help the servants around the mansion by cleaning the house. As I dusted his study, I found a ring of keys on his desk. I just lifted them from their place to dust the area of his desk, and placed the keys back exactly as I found them. That evening, he came to us, the servants and I, and roared furiously who touched his things. He was about to strike a servant, when I intervened explaining to him that I only moved his keys to tidy his desk. Everything was as they were found.
He warned us all never to touch his things again and fired the accused servant. That same night, I had trouble sleeping for I began to fear my husband.