Chapter 3: The Grandmother's House
My dad's funeral is tomorrow. I've got my own VC Andrews world going on, with lots of family secrets coming out. No one has been locked into an attic and poisoned with arsenic donuts though. And, instead of a 200 year old house with a name, I'm in the armpit of the midwest in a 100 year old farm house that may or may not burn down at any moment due to bad wiring and 50 years of DIY "upgrades." Think antique tractors in the yard, chickens, several barns full of "stuff" (i think people just move items out there for "storage" and forget about them. lots of rusty metal.) Me and Cathy, we are basically the same. I mean, she has a narcissistic mother, and I have a mother who keeps telling me she loves me. She has several siblings and I once imagined I had a sibling. She's heir to a fortune and I'm allowed to keep my dad's military flag. Alas, on to the recap!
We find out from Cathy that Cory and Christopher have curly hair. Seriously, the first page is a description of their hair and the room. Cathy also claims that her brother Christopher is "all boy" which is a phrase that makes my eye twitch. The room is cluttered and dark, with four lamps and an "Oriental red rug."
There were three paintings on the walls. Golly-lolly, they did steal your breath away.
Cathy is talking about a picture of hell, by the way.
Ten to one, our angel grandmother hung those reproduction herself just to let us know what we're in for if we dare to disobey. Looks like Goya's work to me.
Because preteen boys know Spanish romantic painters.
We get a little bit of character development for the twins. Carrie is opinionated. She talks a lot. Cory is a listener.
Grandmother shows up with a tray of food. She decides that in the future she'll use a picnic basket. She tells the children to make the food last all day. The breakfast food is, surprisingly, for breakfast. The sandwiches and soup are for lunch, and the dinner is for dinner. It's fried chicken, potato salad, and string beans, if you cared. I'm concerned about a mayonnaise based "salad" sitting around all day. Unless they make it differently in Virginia.
Actually, my mom makes a hot potato salad that she called "german potato salad" that has no mayo and is actually really good. I think it has vinegar and mustard? I have no idea. I'll look for a recipe later.
The children are told the fruit is for dessert and if they are silent and good the grandmother might bring ice cream and cake or cookies. "No candy, ever."
Grandmother gives them a list of rules. Before she pulls a literal list out of a "dress pocket," (Which, whaaaaaaaaaaaat??? I have, like, two dresses with pockets. Was this common and then in the 90s the male fashion designers who hate women decided to kill the dress pocket? Assholes.) she reminds them to "be modest in the bathroom."
Several paragraphs about getting dressed and Cory peeing into a vase later, Christopher says:
I admit, in verbosity you females are blessed, just as we males are gifted with the perfect instrument for picnic bathrooming.
Carrie complains about the food. She wants cold cereal with raisins, not "no hot, lumpy, bumpy food that's greasy." She did not meet the grandmother the night before, obviously.
Chris reads the rules. They are typed in all caps, according to Cathy. As follows (paraphrased)
- FULLY DRESSED AT ALL TIMES
- DO NOT TAKE THE LORDS NAME IN VAIN, ALWAYS SAY GRACE. HE IS WATCHING
- NEVER OPEN THE DRAPERIES
- NEVER SPEAK TO ME UNLESS I SPEAK FIRST
- YOU WILL KEEP THIS ROOM NEAT AND ORDERLY, ALWAYS WITH THE BEDS MADE
- NEVER TO BE IDLE. DEVOTE 5 HOURS EACH DAY TO STUDYING AND USE THE REMAINDER OF YOUR TIME TO DEVELOP YOUR ABILITIES IN SOME MEANINGFUL WAY. IF YOU HAVE ANY SKILLS YOU WILL SEEK TO IMPROVE THEM, IF YOU HAVE NO ABILITIES OR TALENTS OR SKILLS YOU WILL READ THE BIBLE. IF YOU CAN NOT READ YOU WILL SIT AND STARE AT THE BIBLE AND TRY TO ABSORB THROUGH THE PURITY OF YOUR THOUGHTS THE MEANING OF THE LORD AND HIS WAYS.
- YOU WILL CLEAN YOUR TEETH AFTER BREAKFAST EACH DAY AND BEFORE RETIRING EACH NIGHT
- IF I CATCH BOYS AND GIRLS USING THE BATHROOM AT THE SAME TIME I WILL, QUITE RELENTLESSLY PEEL THE SKINS FROM YOUR BACKS
- YOU WILL BE MODEST AND DISCREET AT ALL TIMES
- YOU WILL NOT HANDLE OR PLAY WITH THE PRIVATE PARTS OF YOUR BODIES NOR LOOK AT THEM OR THINK ABOUT THEM
- YOU WILL NOT ALLOW WICKED THOUGHTS IN YOUR MID
- YOU WILL NOT LOOK AT MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX UNLESS IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY
- THOSE OF YOU WHO CAN READ WILL TAKE TURNS READING ALOUD FROM THE BIBLE DAILY
- BATHE DAILY, CLEAN THE TUB
- LEARN ONE QUOTE FROM THE BIBLE A DAY
- YOU WILL EAT ALL OF THE FOOD
- YOU WILL NOT STRIDE ABOUT IN THE BEDROOM WEARING ONLY NIGHTCLOTHES. AT ALL TIMESS WEAR A ROBE OVER NIGHTCLOTHES
- STAND AT ATTENTION WHEN I ENTER YOUR ROOM
- DO NOT LOOK AT ME OR THINK OF ME WITH DISRESPECT
- YOU WILL NOT JUMP, YELL, SHOUT, OR SPEAK IN LOUD VOICES. NEVER WEAR HARD SOLED SHOES
- YOU WILL NOT WASTE TOILET TISSUE OR SOAP. IF YOU OVERFLOW THE TOILET YOU WILL CLEAN IT. IF YOU BREAK IT, YOU'LL USE THE CHAMBERPOTS AND YOUR MOM WILL EMPTY THEM
- THE BOYS WILL WASH THEIR OWN CLOTHES IN THE BATHTUB, AS WILL THE GIRLS. MOTHER WILL TAKE CARE OF THE BED LINENS AND TOWELS. IF YOU SOIL THE BED, YOU WILL BE THRASHED.
Through out the reading of the rules, the children comfort each other and Cathy sighs and has melodramatic thoughts. At the end, Grandmother gives yet another warning about not deceiving her, mocking her, joking about her, etc. Also they are never to mention their father's name or refer to him. Which seems kind of difficult, considering that Christopher is named after Christopher, but whatever. I really wish VC Andrews had chosen names that weren't so similar.
They wonder if they will be locked up for a long, long time. If only they knew.
So this chapter was shorter and more interesting than the previous one, though Cathy is overly dramatic, and the prose is ... not great. I'd forgotten about all the religion, somehow. I mean, I remember the horrible things that were done, because of greed, and fear of incest, but I'd forgotten about the religious motivation. The children are still full of hope - or at least Cathy is. Talking about being free, and their grandfather's love, and how it's going to be better.
Christopher reminds them that they still have their mother. And then the chapter is over.
Yes, of course, he was right. Momma was the one to believe in and trust, not that stern old crazy woman with her idiot idea, and her gunshot eyes, and her crooked, knife-slashed mouth.