The next morning Rose awoke to a faint tapping on her window. She slipped out of bed, threw a shawl over her shoulders and walked over towards the window; pulling back the curtains and revealing the source of the noise. Standing outside on the ledge was a raven: its feathers were black as a moonless night and its eyes seemed almost lifeless. Rose looked closely and noticed a scroll tied to its leg. She opened the window and motioned for the bird to come inside; it did, and then proceeded to remove the scroll, giving it to her. She graciously took it and then quietly went downstairs for a moment; returning with a handfull of almonds, which she offered to the raven as payment for the delivery.
Rose then opened the scroll and found that it was a letter from James. She then sat down at her desk and began reading his letter:
November 1, 1889
Dear Miss VenDel,
I wish to thank you for the pleasant conversation you shared with me last night. I was delighted at the fact that you were not frightened of my appearance; not to mention that you were willing to actually exchange words with me. Your lack of fear and superstition baffles me, as I have never seen that quality among the living; however, you are unlike any living being I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. In fact, you are the only living person I've ever known in all my centuries of death or "undeath" as you might see it.
Now that I have offered my thanks, I wish to ask how you fared after our conversation last night. I sensed that you were reflecting on earlier events as I escorted you home from the cemetery. Just as a reminder, if there is anything that troubles you please don't hesitate to ask for help; I'd be more than happy to assist.
Sincerely, James Skellington
After reading the letter Rose took out a piece of parchment and began writing a reply to James. Once finished she then looked at the raven, "Would you please deliver this message to Mr. Skellington for me"? The bird looked up at her and then extended out its leg so that the parchment could be tied onto it. Rose then watched as the raven flew out of her room and disappeared into the mist.
Later that morning, Rose headed downstairs towards the library. Upon entering the room she discovered her father sitting in his chair and smoking his pipe: "Goodmorning Father. Did you sleep well"?
He looked up at her and sighed,"No I did not...I've been awake all evening pondering over what you said to me last night. I want to believe that what you say it true, however; I have known the Ormans' all my life and for me to accuse Henry of such behaviour would be very disrespectful to his family and our relationship we have with them, therefore; I shall not make any accusations until I hear his side of the story".
Rose stood in the doorway with a puzzled look on her face, "But Father, what I told you last night was the truth! I have no reason to lie to you and yet you want to hear his lies"?
"Now Rose, there is no need to be irrational".
"I'm not being irrational, I'm being realistic! You would rather take his side than your own daughter's"!?
"I'm not taking sides, I simply want to hear the whole story before I go about pointing fingers".
"Very well Father, I can see that there is no changing your mind. I will let you hear what Henry has to say...I just hope you listen to reason in the end", Rose then left the library and headed into the parlour room where she sat down and began to play her harp. About an hour later she got up and decided to go out for a walk; however, when she opened the door to leave Rose noticed the Ormans approaching the house: "Oh, goodmorning Mr. and Mrs. Orman...and Henry. What brings you by on this lovely day"?
Mr. Orman stepped down from his carriage: "Ah, Miss VenDel a good day to you. I recieved a message from your father earlier, he requested that I should speak with him at my earliest convenience. He also wanted to speak to Henry for some reason".
Rose gave a slight smile, "Oh is that so? Well it's best not to keep him waiting then; go right on inside, he should still be in the library".
"Ah, jolly good! We'll be heading inside then".
"Alright, I won't keep you any longer. Good day to you", Rose watched as they entered the house and walked towards the library. She then stepped back inside and headed upstairs into her room: "Oh I can't wait to hear the results of their conversation; I bet Father is giving Henry a piece of his mind right now...I can only hope that Mr. and Mrs. Orman will listen to reason and call off the engagement". Rose paced around her room for what seemed like an hour until she heard the distinct voices of her parents and the Ormans': they all walked out of the library and over to the stairway, their voices were distant but sounded clam and civil. Rose sat at her desk until there came a knock at her door: "Who is it"?
"Rose darling, it's your Mother. Will you come downstairs and join us all for tea? Also, your Father and I have something to discuss with you".
"Very well, if you insist", Rose got up and walked downstairs with her Mother. They both then entered the parlour room and joined her Father and the Ormans' for tea. Rose sat quietly in her chair while her parents exchanged conversations with their guests. She stared into teacup: the amber-colored liquid swirled around in a constant spiral as it followed her teaspoon. She then took a sip and in doing so, she accidentally glanced up into the shady grey eyes of Henry Orman: "Why Rose, you've been awfully quiet this entire time; are you feeling ill"?
"Oh no I feel perfectly fine. Why do you ask"?
He gave her a slight grin, "Well you haven't said a word to me this entire time and I know how much you love to speak your mind".
She sat upright and looked him straight in the eye, "You know what Henry, you are absolutely right I do love to speak my mind; however, I do not wish to be rude in the presence of our parents".
"Now now my lovely Rose, let us not act like children".
"I'm not trying to act childish...I'd rather not speak to you right now".
"Come now is this any way to talk to your fiance"?
Rose felt her body tense up: "Excuse me Henry, but I believe you are mistaken...we are not engaged"!
"Oh? Well your Father should be able to provide an explanation for you".
She glanced over towards her parents, "Father, is there something you'd care to explain"?
Mr. VenDel got up from his seat and lit his pipe: "Yes Rose, I've been meaning to discuss this with you earlier...After our conversation last night I decided to take matters into my own hands. I invited the Ormans' over so that I could confront Henry about his irrational behaviour towards you...I then had a talk with George and Victoria Orman; they have agreed to postpone the engagement, at least until Henry has proven to me that he is an honorable man worthy of your hand".
Henry looked towards Mr. VenDel: "Oh believe me sir, I intend to do whatever I can to earn your trust and respect".
He glanced over at the young man from across the room: "See that you do, Henry".
Rose turned her attention over to Henry: "Well I guess you're not my fiance after all".
He gave a slight grin: "No, I guess not...at least not at the moment, but that will change soon enough".
She didn't respond to his comment; instead, she avoided talking to him for the rest of the afternoon.
Later that evening after the Ormans' left, Rose headed upstairs to turn in for the night. As she slept, all the events from earlier played through her mind: she tossed and turned, desperately trying to banish the nightmares within her. Rose dreamed that she was with Henry: his hands softly brushing upon her skin while his lips interlocked with hers. He then set her upon the bed and proceeded to seduce her; feeling her body tremble as he began to rob her of her virtue and innocence. Rose opened her eyes and sat up in bed: her body was cold with sweat and her chest felt heavy with shame. She started to cry when there came a familiar tapping noise at her window: it was the same raven from earlier that morning; it had come to deliver another message from James. Rose smiled as she read his letter; she responded by writing another one to him and sending it with the raven. She then drifted back to sleep, holding his letter in her hands and feeling comforted by the words he had written.