Introducing Miss Debevec

O, I have bought the mansion of a love,
But not possess'd it, and, though I am sold,
Not yet enjoy'd: so tedious is this day
As is the night before some festival
To an impatient child that hath new robes
And may not wear them.

Juliet from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", Act 3, Scene 2

I stepped into the new New Toulouse Post Office, looked about, and then smiled. New Toulouse has a Post Office! Our little estate is now big enough to warrant a Post Office! I felt a warm rush of pride in my community, the resilient little place that knows how to throw one hell of a party.

I looked around, but the place appeared empty. "Hello?", I called.

"Bonjour Miz Gabi!", Miss Gardenia's reply startled me as her stylish hat, and then head, suddenly appeared from underneath the counter.

"Oh my goodness, I did not realize that you were here", I said.

"Oh yes", she replied cheerfully. "I am just sorting these sacks that recently arrived."

I smiled at New Toulouse's Post Mistress. "Anything good?", I asked.

"Not really", she replied. "I don't think many people know that we have a Post Office yet, so our amount of incoming mail is still rather slow." I nodded in response.

"I am sure the amount of mail will increase once people, both in New Toulouse and from elsewhere, know that it's here!", I said encouragingly, and then switching to French, "et bien, on a vient de commencer!"

"C'est vrai!", Miss Gardenia agreed. Then she smiled wickedly. "Hopefully we will see many letters that move through our Post Office...en particulier, les lettres d'amour!"

"Bien-sûr! This is New Toulouse! We need naughty mail!", I laughed, and Miss Gardenia joined me.

"Well", she said, "Someone knows that we're here, because I have a letter that arrived for you."

"Really? Well excellent!", I was pleased and surprised to hear that I had some mail. I most certainly had not expected it. Miss Gardenia handed me a thick, creamy envelope. I thanked her and left, heading for one of the benches by the fountain in Duchess Square. Sitting, I examined the envelope, and then I broke into a smile. I eagerly opened the letter and began to read:

Dear Lady Gabrielle... (click to follow to the full letter)

I folded the letter and placed it back into the envelope and sat for a moment, remembering the last time I had seen Juliet. It had been when I had seen her off from the docks in Port Caledon three years ago. The smiling rosy cheeked girl that I hugged goodbye had borne almost no resemblance to the thin, stricken shadow that I had welcomed into my home six months before that.

Miss Juliet Debevec was the daughter of my beloved French governess Juliet DuBois. I had been blessed with a young, witty, very pretty governess. Mademoiselle Juliet was so vivacious and she made learning a rollicking adventure. It was my time with her that lit the spark of my love of education and learning. We spent five wonderful years together at Coughton Court, until I was about twelve years of age, at which point Mademoiselle married a Caledonian gentleman named Martin Debevec, a professor of English Literature at Caledon Oxbridge. To my utmost sorrow, not long after the wedding, Dr. Debevec obtained a position at the Sorbonne in Paris and they soon left Caledon.

I remained in touch with my former governess over the years. I was thrilled when she had her daughter, although I was wildly frustrated that I was unable to play with the baby! I was able to make up for lost time, however, when I was eighteen and I spent my year in Paris at the Sorbonne. I visited the Debevec's almost every weekend and experienced the joy of playing with little Juliet, who was then about six. I came to love her like a surrogate niece.

She looked so much like her mother, with pale skin, auburn hair and green eyes, although her nature was more like that of her father, quiet and thoughtful. She often seemed lost in reverie, albeit a happy one. She had an astounding love of literature, especially the works of Shakespeare. I must have read "Romeo and Juliet" to her a dozen times, in spite of the fact that I felt it was a rather depressing piece to read to a little girl. But she loved it, most likely because her name was Juliet.

How was I to know that ten years later, that play would be a part of a series of events that would change her life forever? And that I would be one of the people to help her through the darkest time in her young life?

I stood, turned and marched right back towards the Post Office calling, "Miss Gardie? I need to send a telegraph to Paris. I have a visitor coming to stay with me!"