May 16th, 1821

The end of a very pleasant day. Aunt Emeline had a visit from a friend of hers who is named Mary-Ann and who is the wife of a renowned doctor. They live outside Charlottesville.

She spent the afternoon at the manor and brought her children with her. She has a boy named Jean who reminds me of dolls Father used to bring me back from his travels with his dark hair and pink cheeks. The other boy, Abby, has long lashes and often calls out an invisible dog which makes me smile and look around. Jean is 10 years of age and Abby 7.

The memory of my brother William was very present today as he passed away when he was only 8 years young. The souvenir of his face is becoming blurrier as time passes and I feel some guilt because I am not certain anyone else has a better memory of him than I do. Father never talks about William anymore and as I believe words help images stay alive within ourselves, I doubt Father has a clear image of William’s face in his mind and nor does my older brother John who seems to be a different man each time he comes visit me. I therefore feel as if I am the keeper of William’s memory. I remember very distinctly the sound of his breathing at night as he was sleeping in my bed since Mother died. There was something peaceful about William’s sleep, as if it was a place where Mother still was. I miss taking care of him, of someone really. I do not mind experiencing the world alone but I sometimes wish my reveries and thoughts were interrupted by a voice or a little hand that needs me.

This morning, before Mary-Ann and her sons arrived, Emeline has asked one of the maids to prepare some games for the boys. She was afraid they might have broken things out of boredom I suppose. Because Emeline does not have any children, there are no toys nor games in the house apart from a sad miniature house upstairs that no one is allowed to touch. I had some ideas so I went to the kitchen to ask a maid if I could take care of preparing games for the boys. She looked relieved and started peeling potatoes.

I went into my room and took pencils and notebooks from my drawer. I wanted to draw animals so that Jean and Abby could color them. But I am not as good at drawing as I thought. It does not matter if I try to draw a horse or a cow, all the animals I draw look like different breeds of dogs. I remember Mother told me once that when she was closing her eyes, she was seeing many lovely images. But when I close mine, I see darkness, and if I try to see a horse, it never remains a horse long enough, it transforms itself into another animal or gets hurt and I can not choose what happens to it. However I can draw what I see around me but it takes time. I finally decided to draw Hector sitting, sleeping, walking, eating. He is a patient cat, probably because of his age which makes it less of a virtue. It is merely resignation I believe.

Abby and Jean did enjoy coloring my drawings even though their politeness masked their children’s soul for a while. I do believe children should be polite but these boys’ education makes all their manners and words so… adult. When they sat at the table, they looked at my drawings as if we were going to discuss finance and picked color pencils like their life depended on it. It made me smile. I started coloring using an orange pencil. Abby noticed it and told me I was wrong because Hector is gray. His lack of imagination startled me. I did not know there were rules! To see his reaction I colored the tail in green. He looked at me and smiled like a child who still sees magic in the world he lives in, a world where cats can be green, invisible dogs have to be scolded sometimes and toy trains go to India in no time.

When they left, Jean gave me one of the drawings he colored. On it, Hector was blue and was wearing glasses. Jean had also added a book near Hector titled “Mice Soup”.

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