THE WARMTH IN BRIGHTNESS (main | CH. 2)
CH. 1— A RED ROOFED MANSION
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THE BANG RESIDENCE. JULY. 1939
INT. THE FRONT PARK
Son Mari—22, neck length black hair—stared at the house, nearly brushing her nose to the black gate that shields its front. A grand mansion, Georgian, with two rows of windows above one another, and a few more for the attic. It has two wings, hidden slightly amongst the trees at the side of the park. The roofs are stark, deep red clay against the ivory walls. Before it is a fountain, the trickling water adds to the solemnity of the estate. A cobblestone pathway circled it, wide enough for automobiles and carriages to swiftly enter.
MARI (nervously mutters)
She exhales, releasing the tension in her. With a hand full from holding her bag, she pushes the gates open, enters, and latches it with her back. She pauses there for a moment before standing up with a big inhale.
MARI (hushedly to herself)
I, am, confident.
She walks around the fountain, under the trees; the sight of the windows covered by the leaves.
(mutters on, like a prayer) I have confidence, in my confidence… Oh! A pebble… I can do this… I can do this! The Lord is with me, so I can... I can do anything! So you shall see everyone, that I do have confidence, in me!"
With a final bravado she raises her hand to knock, but abruptly halts herself. Mari looks about, finding an electric bell and fumblingly presses on it. She then sighs heavily, leaning to the wall next to it. The travel from the other side of the town had been fatiguing. Her eyes drifted back to the door, deep reddish wood. The knocker was the odd one. Greyish-blue silver, fashioned to a wolf’s head. Mari was admiring it, and suddenly a latch sounded; she startled, standing back upright.
The door opens slowly, showing a man in a neat suit and gloved hands, kindly and curiously raising his eyebrows at her.
(blurts out) Hello!
(gapes for a moment) I’m the new governess! How do you do… captain? (quickly) I’m Son Mari!
The man blinked, a pause as he regarded her. Mari was close to breaking down in embarrassment when he breaks into a warm smile.
How do you do? I am Kang Younghyun, the butler.
Mari chuckles, rubs her nose embarrassedly. Younghyun chuckles with her.
I beg your pardon.
A-a pleasure to meet you… Younghyun-ssi?
Yonghyun smiled, opening the door wider and gesturing her to enter.
Welcome, Son Mari-seonsaengnim. We have been waiting for you.
Mari stepped in, Younghyun closes the door. She lets him take her guitar case and follows him through the foyer into a grander hall inside.
INT. MAIN HALL
Younghyun sets her case by a settee, then turns back to her.
If you will wait here, please. Captain will see you presently.
(nods) Of course.
Younghyun gave her a curt bow, walks through one of the doors and out of sight. Mari sat down, but stretches about to look around the hall, giving occasional sounds of awe.
A grand chandelier hangs from the middle of the ceiling, glittering in the daylight sun that comes through the sheerly stained window across it. There’s a stair hall under the window—right before her, at the end of this great hall—connecting the flight of stairs on the left and right side of the wall, wallpapered in red with gold patterns. The staircases, panels, and landings are white ivory, with bannisters of polished redwood. There are doors on the higher floor. Two on each side of the wall, also on the lower ground, yet in doubles.
Mari walks to the one at her right—carefully, no one has come for her yet. She admires the twin handles; beautiful, brass and crafted in swirls of leaves. There was a gap between the doors, darkness showing through. Her curiosity piques. Slowly she nudged the door open, just a sliver to see. Heavily it moved, but steady without squeak or scratch.
It seemed to be an even bigger hall, swallowing darkness if not for an inch of curtain open at the left end, parallel to the stained glass. Daylight streamed through, showing just a little of the wall next to it. They are not wallpaper—paintings, burst of colours framed in golden frames, at least as wide as her height.
(almost inaudible) A gallery?
In the hall, a person approaches behind her.
CAPT. BANG (O. S.)
(cold and sternly) If you’ll step back and shut the door as it were.
Mari’s shoulder jerked up in surprise, turning back to the speaker. A man stood in the middle of the hall, hands by his side, his face the kind which brooks no excuse. Mari felt like a scolded schoolgirl all over, caught in mischief. In a way, she is. So she latched the door back in place, stepping away.
In the future you will remember, that some rooms are to be strictly undisturbed.
Mari watches him. Ah, so this is the captain, she thought.
(slowly nods) Yes, sir.
They regard each other: she in curiosity, him in mild-vexation well-hidden confusion.
Why such stare?
Mari blinked, then leans back, suddenly conscious of her staring.
(hesitant) I've… I confess, when they said you are a naval captain… (clasping her hands)—well, you’re not what I expected. Sir.
Mari has never met a sailor, or a naval officer either; who is she to compare and think Captain Bang looks more like a gentleman. He looks younger than what she thought—no more than forty, surely. His jaw is firm, large nose with dark brown hair. Of average height, upright and prideful stance. Cold, like he has overcome both the worst and greatest things in life, and it had thoroughly refined him. His apparel is dark in shades, suit clasped with brass buttons.
(coolly) You're not what I expected when I asked for a governess either.
Untie your hat, please.
(nods at her headdress) Your hat, put it off.
Mari complied, loosening the scarf off her wide brim straw hat, placing it on her front and smoothing her hair. Captain Bang gave her an overlook, then raises his hand, gesturing. Mari tilts her head confusedly.
Mari frowns. Stiffly, she steps in place, like a ballerina figure of a rusty music box. Then waits for the Captain’s response.
Put on something else—something more suitable before you meet the children.
She chuckles dryly. Her hand brushed over the skirt of her long woollen dress.
That wouldn’t make a difference, sir. My clothes are all of similar cut and shade.
(frowning) How could that be…?
You see… When we entered the abbey, our worldly clothes were relinquished to the poor. Since I am to come here—I cannot wear my robes of course, and well… Only these are immediately available. What the poor didn't want.
Captain Bang thought it over, hums.
We have a seamstress, so I’ll send materials for your new clothes. Today, if possible.
Mari brushes her hand behind her head, nods.
Thank you, sir. I would’ve made my own, but there wasn’t time…
Captain Bang waves a hand dismissively.
CAPT. BANG (CONT’D)
Very well, I'll see about it. Now then…
He holds his hands behind him and began to walk about her.
CAPT. BANG (CONT’D)
(directs a hand her way) Your name again?
Son Mari, sir.
Mari-ssi, I have no idea how much experience you've had in this profession, or how much Mother Abbess had described to you…
(mumbles) Just the minimum, sir…
(speaks louder over her) You are the sixteenth from the long line of governesses I've invited—hired, to attend to my children. I hope, you will last longer than your recent predecessor—she lasted two hours, at the least.
(frowned)Why is that, sir?
(musing) Acute fright, to which I cannot persuade over…
(continued more firmly) Ten of them failed my request to maintain discipline, which this house cannot be held without. I want a productive, steady summer. There are scheduled lessons, for after breakfast until midday, followed by an hour of exercise after lunch—walk them around the grounds. Then the younger ones are to nap, while the older ones attend supplementary lessons. Between tea and dinner they are released but for a Bible reading, and bedtime is to be strictly observed.
Mari’s eyes grew wider with each word.
(horrified) The entire summer..?
(brushes her off again) I shall hand you a guidebook tomorrow to help you with it. Pay attention to the subjects—they have to keep up in school.
Captain Bang stops, turns to her, gaze stern.
That is the first of your briefing. Is all clear?
Mari blinks. ‘Packed schedule’ is what her mind wraps the assault of information in. She stood more upright anyway.
(exclaiming, hands saluting) Yes, sir!
The captain looks unamused (much she tried to indulge him). Mari puts down her hand, smiling good-naturedly. Captain Bang looks away with a sigh. He pulled out the silver whistle chained to his breast pocket, placing it before his mouth.
The shrill voice coming out of it got Mari jerking again. Captain Bang blew it again, another long note. A door sounded in the distance, followed by another, and another, overlapped by running footsteps. Mari looks up, seeing boys running out to stand straight behind the bannister. Seven of them, three on the right side and four on the other.
Captain Bang whistled again, two quick notes. The boys turn, facing towards the stairway. The whistle blew again, a more rhythmic, steady note, and the boys—head tall and chest held high, lifted their legs to pace in place. Steadily they marched, in step to the whistle, heading down the stairs until they reached the ground floor. Their form didn't break, faces serious, soldier-like. They align themselves before the stairway), stepping in place until everyone's in place before Captain Bang blew a long, wavy note. With a final stamp, they stopped. Another two short notes, and they turned to face their left, arms side to side.
Captain Bang stepped forward, approaching Seungmin. His hand extended, and the child hands him the demanded book he had held by his side since the march. Captain Bang gently took it and returned to his earlier position with a slow gait.
(loud and clear)
This is your new governess, Son Mari.
The boys made no response, staring straight ahead.
At your notes, step out and introduce yourselves. Mari-ssi, listen carefully and memorize their notes so you can call them.
Captain Bang began, blowing three quick notes. The first boy steps out, stamping a step ahead of him before stepping back in form. Each boy did the same.
A long note, two quick ones.
Half a note and a quarter, followed by a longer one.
Mari lost notice of the next whistle. They sound like birds chirping next to her.
A nearly similar shrill note.
Another pitch of notes.
(slower and calmer) Seungmin.
A note for the last boy. The youngest didn't step out, but at his note turned to stare at his father. His left hand held a rag doll close. At a demanding note blown twice, he finally steps out and back in. Not mentioning his name, yet persisting to stare at his father.
(softly to Mari) Jeongin.
The boys kept still. Captain Bang reached into his pockets, producing a similar whistle with red ribbons attached to it.
New, for your utilisation.
Mari stared at the brass object, then raised her hand.
I wouldn't need a whistle, sir. I'd call their names—why they have such lovely names—
One of the boys turns to look at her.
CAPT. BANG (CONT'D)
(cuts her off) This is an extensive ground, Mari-ssi. I would have no one shouting about—it is ineffective.
(urging the whistle at her again)
Take it, the children will help you with their notes.
Mari reluctantly takes it.
Now, when I want you, this is your note.
Captain Bang started, but Mari cut him hastily.
Hea—I'm sorry, sir!
(her voice lowers, shifting uncomfortably) I beg your pardon—I'd never answer to a whistle. It's for dogs, and herds and—not for people, definitely. Not the children, nor me, indeed. Don't you find it humiliating…? I do.
Yet you are under my employment, Mari-ssi—
Then only for this one… I cannot comply with your request.
Surely I can have but one condition.
Captain Bang pursed his lips, pocketing back his whistle.
(mumbles) It has barely been an hour.
(leans back to look at Mari) Were you always this much trouble in the abbey?
Mari cannot help smiling sadly, recollecting many nuns' horror at the practical, free conduct she does instead of their preferred demureness.
There were much more than this, sir.
The captain scrutinized her more. Some of the children had unabashedly turned to stare at them.
I’m only cannot comply with what I don’t believe, sir.
(relents) Very well then.
Your duty begins from now, Mari-ssi. May your name lives up to your current responsibility.*
He walked away, heading out through one of the four doors. A sudden thought came to Mari, and she nearly called out hadn’t it been for the object in her hand. She placed the brass pipe to her lips, whistling out a sharp note as she stepped forward with a playful gait. The Captain halted, slowly turning back to her stilled form. Jeongin grins at his expressions.
And how am I to call you, sir?
It’s Bang Chan daeryeong-nim. Captain will do.
A pause, then Mari nods. Captain Bang walks away, leaving her and the children alone in the hall. Slowly Mari walked to stand before the boys, regarding each of them. Seven strapping boys, if yet but to grow out the baby fats. The eldest cannot be older than fifteen. All returned her gaze. Some with curiosity, some with narrowed eyes scaling her entire figure. Forms still upright, hands by their side. They wore knee-length pants and jackets) of dark blue colour, with white shirts underneath it, completed with white socks and shoes.
As she expected, the boys rested their hands back, spreading out their right leg wider.
(smiling softly) Well then. How about you tell me your name again, and age. Also... something about yourself. (she looks at Minho) From you?
The eldest stepped forward firmly. Mari takes in his features, rounder and more delicately pointed than his father's squared jaw—albeit the similar way he pursed his lips.
I'm Minho, twelve years old. I don't like governesses.
(retreats back in-line)
Understandable, Mari thought. He’s had fifteen—but how it came to be that much, that needs explanation.
(smiles and nods) Thank you, Minho. I hope we might be good friends, at least.
The boy’s eyes narrowed at her, but Minho said nothing more. Mari allows the next brother to step out, whose dark eyes and hair was sharply noticeable.
I'm Changbin. I'm… ten. (adds softly) I listen well.
Really? Who said so?
Yeonhee-ssi, four governesses before you.
And mum. (steps back)
Mari brushed the thought for later, nodding at the third boy to start. He walks out with his chin titled up.
(steps back in-line)
Jisung snorted, while Minho rolled his eyes and Changbin's mouth pulled to hide his smile. Mari amusedly looks at the blond.
You didn't tell me your age, Hyunjin.
Hyunjin stared straight ahead at the painted glass behind her. As if unconcerned, yet unable to stop the clench of his jaw hiding his glee. From Mari’s right, Seungmin steps out.
He's nine! (grins) You listen well. I'm Seungmin, I'll be seven in September!
(matching his eagerness) Is that so?
Seungmin, you can’t just walk out like that!
The second youngest easily steps back while leaning forward, to make an impish retort to the eldest.
It’s not like Hyunjin-hyung’s going say it himself!
Yongbok cackles beside him. Minho’s face turned indignant, while Hyunjin covered his mouth to whisper threateningly at Seungmin behind the other two. When he turned back to Mari, his eyes got lost in his smile. The second youngest only grins.
(to Seungmin) I was scolding you first!
(grinning) Bang Seungmin, that’s sharp, kid!
(bland) Don’t encourage him.
Mari chuckles, then raise her voice.
All right, all right!
The clamours settle down.
Much as I enjoy the excitement… (looks to Jisung and Yongbok) If you please?
Yongbok holds Jisung’s hand, smiling when the other looks at him worriedly. He looks up to Mari.
I’m Yongbok! I like cookies.
His hair is blonder than Hyunjin, almost white. It already gave him an angelic look, but then he smiled and Mari felt as if her blood cells splutter. Mrs Bang must have been a fairy; Minho, Hyunjin and this young fellow possessed a look so delicate, different from the captain’s appearance.
Yongbok nods, still smiling. Mari is miserably taken in his charm.
I like them too, very much. They make everything better, don't they?
Yongbok nods again, enthusiastically. Mari chuckles, turning to the brother he brought along. The boy shyly looks up at her, honey-blond hair and round eyes.
(quietly) It's Jisung. I… I like stories.
He looks away, hand fiddling at a thread on his pants. Mari hums softly, taking in the boy’s shyness—he was chirpy just five minutes ago.
I'd like to hear your favourites, if you’d share them.
Jisung looked up at her, hesitantly smiling.
We're eight in September.
(mumbles) Not exactly...
They were born right at midnight, twelve minutes apart, which makes it different days.
(still perplexed) I see.
They weren't identical, she realized—but their features complement one another, and their attachment itself would have been a sure giveaway.
I hope we’ll enjoy our time together.
Yongbok nods, then let Jisung pull him back in line.
Mari turned to the last one in line. The youngest.
He seemed to deserve a space of his own, the way his brothers turn with her to watch him with such rapt attention. He ignores it, stares back at Mari with a childish, daring glint. Mari waits, willing herself to not burst a coo at this—adorable pudding. Jeongin stamped suddenly, a sharp, decisive noise.
The youngest moves his doll (a reddish-brown fox with wide ears) closer to his chest as he extends the other arm, showing her an open palm. It took Mari a second to make sense of his gesture.
Ah, you are five years old?
Jeongin folded back his arm to hold his doll close under his chin, nodding.
Mari stares at him for a moment, then shakes her head in fond despair.
(conspiratorially) You have your father's stare.
Jeongin blinks, before giggling and breaking into a smile, showing his little teeth and pushing his cheeks upward. Mari grinned in return, then turned back to the other boys.
I do hope we might be great friends at least. (fidgets with her hat) I've never been a governess before—I did learn to teach, but with more practise in church classes.
(doubtful) And they sent you?
(smiles anyway) We have a lot to learn together. For nine months, I am to share the knowledge you need. That is the duty I hope to fulfil to you.
The boys peer up at her. Somehow she is unlike the governesses they have ever encountered. She doesn’t cower under father nor bent to appease him. A bit to easy, perhaps.
Mari steps back, bowing slightly.
Let’s look out for each other.
The younger ones smile at her; Minho's gaze remains sceptical. From one of the doors, a person walks in, brisk in her steps and claps. The housekeeper, with red hair pulled into a neat low bun, dressed in matching greyish-green frock and jacket over a white blouse.
All right boys, back to your playroom and naps. I've left snacks and tea on the table, run along now.
The boys immediately break form, rushing quickly up the stairs.
(to Mari) Son Mari, was it?
(wide-eyed, bows slightly) Yes.
(extending a hand) I'm Minatozaki Sana, the housekeeper.
Yes. A pleasure, Minatozaki-san.
The elder woman smiled. Her age seems closer to the Captain than Mr Kang, although more alike to the latter.
Sana-san would do. My name and that of my late husband's are a mouthful. Come now…
She ushers Mari to the stairs, and together they climb up.
… I'll show you to your room, it is by the children's bedroom. How do you like the house so far, Mari-seonsaengnim?
(flusters with her cases) Oh, it is beautiful! Very grand—that is, I have never entered a house so large, and… (looks around) the red makes it look courageous.
This place was named the Red Crown then, for its roofs. The late Madame thought it fits her husband’s subtle passion.
(chuckles) Must have been delightful for the boys to have such big spaces to run about.
(rather regretfully) I'm afraid they have little lenience to do so.
INT. UPPER FLOOR CORRIDOR
Sana opens a door at the left, gesturing Mari to enter.
Your room, Miss Son.
The young governess stood still as she looked inside.
(in awe) What room—Sana-san, it is an apartment!
Her bed could have fit two people, with pillows for more than that. Beside it is an open space, with a desk and chairs and a small ottoman. The window behind it is wide, with the late sun illuminating the ivory room. In the corner is her wardrobe, too big for her meagre amount of clothes. Beside it is a door.
A personal bathroom is there.
I hope you will like it here.
Oh, it is more than I deserve!
(smiles) Make yourself comfortable, I'll leave you to rest and settle down. You'll be called for dinner time. If you need anything, there's a bell by your bed, and a maid will attend to you.
(nods) Oh yes.
Thank you. Sana-san.
The housekeeper waved it off.
I'll leave you now. Good day, Mari-seonsaengnim.
(with a slight bow) Good day.
When the older woman left, Mari settled her things by the bed, then closed the door. She walked up to the window, mulling over what she had known of her new situation as she regards the garden and park beyond her.
(to herself) That went well. Though not two hours yet. (chuckles)
We can’t have that now. I’ve just a step into settling in.
She withdraws to the bed sat down, almost losing her balance in the plush bed cover as her fatigue takes over. Mari giggles, adjusting herself to lay down more comfortably.
I'll be spoiled through living here. Think of it: good air, new clothes, such fine room… a soft bed that can swallow me whole.
(pauses) On second thought, handling the boys will compare to it.
They don’t look capable of throwing sixteen people out of the house in the span of three years. But Mari knows better than to underestimate children—just because she’s a grown-up now, she can’t dismiss the wilfulness she had as a nine-year-old. And the family situation might play an effect…
I wonder why Mother Abbess sent me. Even just standing, I’m such a distressed fish on drylands.
Resolutely Mari sat up, hair tumbled out and eyes mulling. But then she nods, certain to make the best of what she has.
But I am here, after all—Lord, I beseech your strength.
She rose, making up a tune as she began to settle her things.
And here I am, at the beginning...
(A/N : I was very careful with this chapter...
"May your name lives up to your current responsibility.*" = Mari is a name I found at Wikipedia (duh)(I'm sorry, but I hope it's... okay if it's not, tell me so) because the meaning is... rather fitting.
Thank you for reading! Hope you've enjoyed your day.)