Winter was exceptionally harsh, even for the rugged townsfolk, and proved to be entirely too much for Stephen's fragile constitution. Miss Genevieve's visitations remained a source of comfort for the young man, but also became a necessity as his health deteriorated. The first floor drawing room was converted into a sick bed and daily the librarian sat by his side taking the role of nurse as well as friend. Twice she offered to stay the night, but even at his most acute he was adamant she not remain in the house too long after sunset. He offered no explanation and would accept no refusal. Although she did not speak of it, the shadow princess remained in the forefront of her mind. When the fever was upon him, Stephen screamed in terror, desperately attempting to escape a malevolent shrouded figure hovering in the periphery of his consciousness. When he rested between feverish fits, Genevieve took to wandering, exploring the crumbling structure despite Stephen's repeated warnings not to stray past the front rooms. Dark, dusty hallways led to countless locked doors keeping prying eyes out and the ghosts in. One of the few unlocked entries was Miss Matilda's private study. The drawers of the carved writing desk were brimming with papers and correspondence, a lifetime of letters, ledgers and lists. Buried under a stack of neatly folded newspapers sat a bound leather journal, M.W. stamped into the cover in gilded script. By lamplight, Miss Genevieve began to translate the hurried scrawl of the sprightly adolescent incarnation of Miss Matilda Westerfell captured on the yellowing pages in fading ink.
June 7, I saw the woman again today as I played by the pond. As I stared into the water, she suddenly appeared next to me, her face concealed by a heavy veil. When I turned to look, there was no one beside me. Mother refuses to talk about it, telling me to put it out of my mind. She is worried, I can tell. I did a terrible thing and fibbed when she asked if I had only seen her twice. I do not think I shall tell her about the other times I have seen the shadow princess. I would not want her worry her further. Roderick is ill again and she has enough on her mind.
June 22, After a hushed discussion with father, mother covered every glass in the house. I tried to take the covering off to brush my hair this morning, but she slapped my hand away. Father warned me not to disobey mother in this regard, but he will not tell me why. In the meantime, I made a boat for Roderick to play with since he's too weak to come to the pond anymore. I floated it in a bowl of water in his room until mother found out. Roderick could keep the boat, but mother made me dump out the water. I do not understand what terrifies her so.
July 13, My heart is breaking. Early this morning my sweet, innocent little brother went to God. I miss Roderick terribly. Mother locked herself in her room, but I can hear her sobbing. The house feels oppressively sad. I took his little boat to the pond today, letting it sail the glassy water as we always intended to do together. That was when I saw her, but this was time different. Her reflection appeared as it always has before, but she lifted her hand and waved before disappeared into the gloom of the pond. I never felt so alone and afraid as in that moment. I have the odd sensation my ghostly playmate is not as benign as I imagined her to be. I am convinced she is somehow connected to the death of my brother. My family is hiding a dreadful secret, one which I am determined to discover.