The Girl and the Doll, Part 3

Why did she think that?

It couldn’t be explained as anything other than an instinct she’d had upon seeing the visitor.

The “thing” was a frighteningly beautiful doll.

Her hair was like sparkling gold thread that looked to have been born of moonlight. Her blue irises sparkled like jewels. Her full-bodied lips were painted with crimson rouge. Her Persian blue jacket covered a snow-white one-piece dress tied at the waist, and the brooch affixed to its front was an emerald green that did not at all match the blue of her eyes. Her cocoa brown, lace-up boots trod gracefully over the earth.

She placed onto the ground the bag and frilled umbrella of sky blue and white stripes she had been holding and proffered mother and daughter a bow several times more elegant than the one she’d just received from Anne.

“I am pleased to make your acquaintance. Please inform me of any assistance you might require, and I will be happy to oblige. Auto Memories Doll Violet Evergarden, at your service.”

Her voice rang in the ears, a note of clear beauty akin to her appearance.

For a moment, Anne stood dumbfounded by the “thing’s” beauty. Then, with a start, she darted her eyes to check her mother’s reaction.

Her mother was as a maiden in love: cheeks flushed, heart overcome with emotion, eyes glittering with stars.

Just like I thought. Not good at all.

Anne was filled with the premonition that their beautiful visitor would be the one to steal her mother away from her.

Violet Evergarden was a woman whom others employed as a scribe. Recently, such scribes had come to be called “Auto Memories Dolls.”

Anne asked her mother why she had sent for such help.

“There’s someone to whom I’d like to write a letter. I’m afraid it will run on quite long, so I’d like to have someone write it for me,” her mother answered.

It was true, Anne reflected, that her mother relied on others’ help to do everything as of late. Even in taking a bath, she needed the help of their visiting housekeeper. A long spell of writing would certainly be difficult for her.

“But… why does it have to be that person?”

“She’s very beautiful, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, she’s beautiful, but…”

“She’s the most famous in all the industry, you know. She’s as beautiful as a doll, and of course, the beauty is part of her reputation, but they also say she does the most splendid work! Oh, I feel as though I’ll be happy just to have this belle sit next to me! But on top of that, we’ll write a letter, just the two of us alone, and she’ll read it back to me… Oh, look at me! I’m trembling like a girl before a suitor!”

Anne understood well why this scribe, in particular, had been chosen. Her mother was of the type to prize anything and everything beautiful.

“But if it’s just a letter, I could write it for you.”

Her mother received this offer with a pained smile.

“Anne, darling, I’m afraid some of the words will be too difficult for you. And anyway… there’s a reason I can’t have you write it for me.”

So that’s it. She must be planning to write to Dad.

Anne’s father was, in a word, a shirker. He hardly ever came home, and what work he did manage certainly constituted no pillar fit to support a family. Instead, he spent his days indulging in debauchery. Anne had heard that her parents married for love, but she could not believe that in the slightest. After all, her father paid no visits to her ailing mother. When he did come home, it was only long enough to tuck a vase or a painting under his arm—anything he could sell. Of course, he took without asking. The man was a worthless creature who strayed to drink and bets.

Apparently, he was of some pedigree and had long ago been thought to have a promising future. But a few years after marrying, his own estate had fallen into arrears through some small venture gone terribly wrong. Thereafter, the husband’s livelihood was completely dependent on the Magnolias. As Anne had heard tell, it turned out that the individual at the center of that “small venture” was none other than her father himself.

After swallowing all the details, Anne had determined that her father was a scoundrel. Even if he had been set back by a business failure, shouldn’t he have kept on trying? Yet her father did no such thing. He paid no attention to his wife’s needs- or even to her condition at all. Instead, he simply kept running away. Thus Anne had come to make a sour face when the word “father” so much as slipped from her mother’s lips.

“Anne, there’s that tasteless expression again… such a waste of a face as cute as yours.”