Herr Weiss escorted Tianna to her room. Much to her surprise
he had furnished her with a rather spacious room with a private
"Oh how beautiful!" Tianna exclaimed as she entered her
quarters, "This is so kind of you."
"I hope it will suit your every need," Alder replied bowing
slightly at the waist, "I had Terrence bring your belongings up.
Ah! I see your things are all here. Well I am off to conduct some
business. If you need anything else please let Terrence know. I
will see you at dinner."
"Thank you again," Tianna gushed as she walked around the room
taking in the furnishings, "This is quite wonderful."
Tianna was unaware that Alder had taken his leave. She was
totally absorbed in taking in her new surroundings. The room most
definitely had been put together for a woman. The bed linens,
curtains, floor coverings, and even the paintings in the room
were delicate and flowery. Tianna was not prepared to be lavished
with such a generous place to stay. During her employment period
with the Schmidt family she resided in a small cramped room which
could have been a coat closet.
After taking in the room's essence Tianna began to unpack her
meager belongings. Not too long after opening her cases, she had
several dresses, another pair of shoes, toiletries, her books,
some photographs of her family, and undergarments strewn across
Deftly she carried her dresses to the closet and opened it.
She was surprised to find the closet contained all manner of
women's clothing. There were gowns, dresses, shoes and hats
"How very strange," she said scratching her head, "I wonder
who's clothing this is? I shall have to ask Terrence or Alder to
whom they belong."
After hanging her dresses in the closet, she busied herself
with tidying up her undergarments and toiletries. Just as Tianna
had found the items in the closet as she opened each dresser
drawer items of ladies apparel were found. Tianna came to the
conclusion that this room had either been Alder's dead wife's
room or perhaps he had a lady friend. Tianna's mind was going in
a dozen different directions, but soon the long journey and the
day's adventures took their toll.
It was not long after reclining on her bed that she fell
asleep. Strange dreams came as she slept. Tianna dreamed of the
dark forest which surrounded the mansion and the ravens she had
seen. In the dream Tianna was running through the dense woodland
and she could hear the hoof beats behind her. As Tianna looked
back she spied the horse and rider. The horse was jet black and
what appeared to be smoke floated from the animal's nostrils.
Atop the stallion Tianna could just make out the rider. His face
was hideous and a grayish color. There was little or no flesh
beneath the man or creature's skin. For all purposes it seemed a
demon or ghoul dredged from the pits of hell was chasing her.
"Madam!" the voice called from beyond her bedroom door,
"Madam, is all well? I was instructed to fetch you for
Tianna woke with a start. She was covered in a thin film of
sweat and was shivering. The nightmare seemed so real. As
Tianna's hand came up to wipe the perspiration from her forehead
she felt something prick her hand. A pine needle had pierced her
palm. She quickly pulled it out and turned it slowly in her
"How odd," she said, "Where did this come from?"
"Madam!" the voice was more insistent this time, "Is all well
Tianna dropped the pine needle in the floor and quickly
climbed from the bed straightening her clothing and hair.
"I'm fine Terrence," Tianna called out, "I will be there in a
moment. I just need to freshen up a bit."
She could hear Terrence as he walked away and down the hall.
Still dazed and shaken from her nightmare Tianna went into the
bathroom to wash her face and arms with cool water. Tianna felt
less disoriented and more like herself after a brisk scrubbing of
her hands and arms with a cold washcloth. She smoothed and
straightened her auburn hair which she had pulled up and back
into a bun. Satisfied she looked presentable Tianna made her way
out of her room and down the stairs to where Her Weiss and
Terrence were waiting for her.
As they made their way to the dining room Tianna heard the
laughter of the children coming from what appeared to be a study.
She could see Anna and Alfred playing on the floor next to the
massive fireplace. Someone, perhaps Terrence had built a huge
roaring fire and the logs crackled and popped. Anna was reciting
a poem in a sing song manner. Tianna paused for a moment to
"Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind? Es ist der Vater mit
seinem Kind Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm Er faßt ihn sicher,
er hält ihn warm, Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein
Gesicht? Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht?
Den Erlenkönig mit Kron und Schweif? Mein Sohn, es ist ein
Nebelstreif, " Anna sang to her brother.
Tianna could feel Alder's arm pulling her onward. He seemed to
have a harried look on his face and Tianna wondered what had
"That poem Anna is reciting," Tianna ventured, "My German is
not very good, can you tell me what it is?"
Alder stopped in his tracks and turned to face Tianna. His
face had become as unpleasant as a storm cloud at a picnic.
Tianna was not sure if he would answer the question or not. It
appeared Alder did not like the poem.
"The sonnet Anna is reciting is Der Erlkönig," he
answered shaking his head, "Have you heard it before?"
Tianna shook her head no and replied, "I have never heard it
before. What is it about?"
"The literal translation is," Alder answered with contempt in
his voice, "Who rides, so late, through night and wind? It is the
father with his child. He has the boy well in his arm. He holds
him safely, he keeps him warm. My son, why do you hide your face
so anxiously? Father, do you not see the Alder king, the Alder
king with crown and tail? My son, it's a wisp of fog."
"A different sort of thing isn't it?" Tianna asked not certain
of what Alder's reaction would be.
"It's a wretched story of a child dying," Alder almost spat
the words, "I have told the children to stop reciting it. I shall
have to remind them once again."
"Is there more to the poem?" Tianna queried without thinking
and regretted she had spoken the words as she asked her
"Yes," Alder replied wiping sweat from his furrowed forehead,
"I think we should speak of other more pleasant things. Come
Terrence has prepared a sumptuous dinner for us."
"Are the children not joining us for dinner?" Tianna
questioned looking back at the study as the three of them walked
toward the dining hall.
"Anna and Alfred ate earlier with Terrence," Alder replied
smiling at Tianna as he propelled her to the dining table, "I am
afraid it will be just us two."
Alder was the perfect gentlemen and pulled the chair out for
Tianna to take her place at the table.
"Thank you," she said returning his smile, "I am not
accustomed to such special treatment. It's so very kind of you to
treat me in this manner."
"Believe me, my dear Tianna, the pleasure is all mine," Alder
replied as he took his place next to her.
Tianna could imagine lavish parties taking place in this the
grand dining hall. Terrence had set the table with fine porcelain
dishes, exquisite crystal goblets, and the most beautiful silver
cutlery she had ever seen. Fresh flowers adorned the center of
the table and Tianna wanted to pinch herself to make sure it was
not all a dream.
"Shall I serve dinner now?" Terrence asked.
"Yes, that would be nice," Alder answered motioning for
Terrence to bring the food and drink.
Tianna wondered at how strange it was that Alder was treating
her more like a house guest or old friend rather than a
governess. She was not sure what Alder had in mind, but she most
certainly was enjoying the trip so far.