Pater Notorious immediately took it upon himself to educate his young charge. Giselle did not object to this new arrangement. One day at school had convinced both of them that it was no place for her. From the outside, it might seem that Giselle was indulged as she seemed to spend more time playing make-believe than studying. But Pater recognized the child had a vivid imagination and he encouraged it. He knew it was going to be difficult for her virtually alone in the rambling house they shared.
But the truth be told, Giselle reveled in her solitude and her games of pretend. It was not all silliness and play. As an astronaut, she discovered much about the universe.
The hours she spent wrangling bandits and crossing the Western desert was excellent exercise.
Her enthusiasm as a race car driver gave her the confidence she would need as a teenager when it came to driving an actual car.
Her imaginary submarine adventures meant no fussing or dragging her heels at bathtime.
All seasons led to outdoor activity that encouraged her to become one with nature and respect the environment.
So what would have seemed to be a lonely childhood for others was an endless source of delight for Giselle.
Pater always saw to it that she had whatever toys and goodies that would not only keep her occupied but also provide a sense of wonder. It was an idyllic childhood and Giselle could not have asked for more for she was very happy.
Until one night very late she witnessed something so strange and macabre, it changed her life forever. Giselle had woken in the middle of the night feeling very hungry and started to leave her room to sneak downstairs to get a snack. But she was stopped dead in her tracks by an entrancing vision. Mr. Raff and Mrs. Danvers were standing on the second-story landing across from her room dressed in formal clothes and in Mrs. Danvers hand was what appeared to be a cross between a wand and a rattle. It was the face of a skull and quite disturbing, as were the words Mrs. Danvers was chanting.
Giselle stayed out of sight at the edge of the doorway to her bedroom, watching with anticipation and a little fear. What could possibly be going on? Then she heard a creaky rustling and what she saw next made her heart pound and her skin crawl and yet, at the same time, generated a sense of excitement she had never felt before.
Through the slats of the railing surrounding the staircase, Giselle saw something she could have hardly put into words no matter how hard-pressed she might be. It was the form of a skeleton wearing the outfit of a maid and it was ascending the stairs towards her. And though she was frightened out of her wits, she felt an odd sense of familiarity about this bony figure, something she surely could not put her finger on.
The creature reached the top of the stairs as Giselle shrank back farther into her room but still peeping at what was taking place. Mrs. Danvers approached the bony figure with Mr. Raff at her back and in hissing whispers gave it some kind of instruction. As Giselle watched in wonder, the skeleton went about doing mundane tasks. When it passed in front of the door to her bedroom, Giselle ran to her bed and jumped beneath the covers, trembling and confused.
Each night thereafter, Giselle would awake at precisely the same time and stand vigil in her bedroom doorway, hiding in the shadows. Each night Mrs. Danvers and Mr. Raff would repeat the same ritual. Giselle longed to know how to summon the skeletal being herself because it intrigued her and she thought it would be fun to have someone, or in this case something do her bidding. Plus, she could not shake the nagging feeling that she was somehow deeply connected to the lonely, boney figure. One evening, upon chance, she witnessed Mrs. Danvers opening a box in the kitchen, a box Giselle has looked at many times but never really noticed or thought about it. Lo and behold, from the box, Mrs. Danvers produced the scepter-like object she used to summon her silent servant.
One day after school, Giselle found herself alone in the huge house. It was unusual and she decided to take advantage of the moment. She stealthily approached the kitchen and there on the counter was the magical box. Giselle knew what she was about to do was terribly wrong but she could not help herself.
Giselle stood before the box, nearly paralyzed with fear. What was she about to unleash? Could she in fact control it as Mrs. Danvers and Mr. Raff did? She thought for a few minutes and then without any further hesitation, she opened the box and snatched out the device by which she could have the skeleton creature all to herself.
Each time Giselle had watched Pater’s domestic servants summon the creature, they had been in fancy dress. She did not know if this was a requirement but she decided not to take a chance and put on her most elegant costume. Then she carefully repeated the strange chanting she had heard Mrs. Danvers mumble time and again. Giselle waited but she was unsure anything was happening.
But much like the mythological Pandora, Giselle had opened a box that would issue forth temptations into her world that she could neither control nor resist.