W is for Westerleigh

Hello, I’m Westerleigh. Is this a new part of Hartford Hall? Ah, no, I’m simply taking my turn at the Cauldron. ‘W is for Westerleigh’. Got it. You’ll excuse my confusion. When I decided to dress up as a gothic heroine and visit my cousin, Fiona Hartford as the ‘heiress’, it was more than a lark. I’d dreamed ever since I was a little boy of visiting Hartford Hall, of walking through the rooms and breathing the same air she once did. My ancestress, Elizabeth Hartford. I’ve read every book, paper, scrap of a letter, or poem I could about her. When Fiona wrote to me, asking me to visit, I could barely contain my excitement. There was just one complication. She thought I was a girl. My friend, Yuri, came up with the idea of dressing me up as one. I do look the part if I do say so myself. However, I’ve gotten myself into a bit more than mistaken identity. You can read that for yourself in this fragment from this WIP, ’A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words’.

It’s her, Elizabeth Hartford, captured in paint and bound in canvas. I can feel the force of her will, staring out at me from her painted green eyes. Those eyes, that form, they’re alive! Only they cannot move. She’s trapped in the painting, unable to move or get out. Ah, what am I saying? I’ve always been fanciful. I’ve always loved tales like the one I appear to be spinning now. In truth, as frightened and fixated as I am by Elizabeth’s portrait, I’m also thrilled!

Perhaps I should gather my thoughts. Perhaps I should start at the beginning. Yes, this would be a good idea. Now that I’ve expelled my fantasies into my journal, I should write you a proper letter, Yuri. Yes, I’ll do that.

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