. . .
Emily knows a cog has turned. For long periods we
tumble within some part of the mechanism, but then at a
certain moment a larger cog makes its move. That only
happens a few times in our life, but when it does existence
becomes completely different.
Lying upon the inn bed, she is sensing that moment. It
is not Annabell. It is not school. It is that which Michael
has been to her. That big cog is turning. Life forward from
here is the unknown.
“Mother Enid said she enjoyed this year’s Mayday speech
by uncle Ronald better than any.” Annabell just coming into the
room gazes out the open inn window, at the people waiting in front of the stage for the children’s play to begin. “Every year she insists on being here in time to hear
him. What did you think of the fool’s costume? He always does something I never expect.”
Emily listens. She cannot speak because there are no
thoughts. She cannot explain to Annie it is happening. All
an emptiness she has entered, waiting.
Annabell is tumbling with her in this mechanism that
she knows not. Annabell is plunging as she into something
new as the great cog turns. So is Edward. So Mrs. Coulter.
So also Lady Middleton. That which Michael has said is
here. This taking place is larger even... that for all of them
nothing will be the same.
“What is the matter my love?” Annabell grabs Emily,
falls on the soft strange bed beside her.
“Listening to your uncle by the stage, did you notice
as we came back a tent. Its pole had some markings.”
Emily laughs self-consciously. “It’s a foolishness, but I feel
I should visit the tent.”
She lets go of Annabell’s hand, gets up from the bed.
“Would you mind, Edward will be here soon. Edward and
his friend I don’t think always like to be together. I think
his friend likes to wager.”
Annabell shakes her head. “Bear is not a gambler. He
doesn’t like uncertainty. Too orderly in his mind. I think
you are right about his friend. Mother and he like to engage
at cards, Bear says. For Mother, cards are merely a game.
She bets but to her the amount is inconsequential. For Mr.
Morton I believe it is different. He risks perhaps all he has.
How long do you think you will be gone, my love?”
Emily standing kisses Annabell who has also risen. “I feel
as if I have to wander.” The cog is turning and she doesn’t know what to do. So she departs.
Walking from Maypole to the stream, then into the trees, then back to the tents, always avoiding the tent with the writing, ten times and more she this, her mind a whirl.
Emily eyes the young woman seated on a quilting.
A strange fascination: jet-black glossy hair, woollen, many-coloured blouse, her long cream skirt with bare feet sticking
out upon the quilting. Especially the large earrings she
wears with a peculiar rose tint. One side has a winding
coil that reaches almost to the neck. Dancing at the tip is
a snake’s head. Shimmering red gems gleam as eyes. Its
mouth, a very dark red, spits at you.
The young woman comments: “Azgar my serpent. A
serpent of luck is Azgar.”
“It startles me,” Emily responds.
“Would you like me to tell you your fortune, young
Miss?” The accent is not Devon, nor Cornish, not a place
Emily has any recognition.
“You are from a distant country?”
“I am Rom. Many centuries we are here, before, that
which is known as India.”
“Oh! My friend’s uncle has just come back from India. He is from Pune. I am staying with them. The Manor on
the road that leads to the moors.”
“I have been to that place,” says the girl.
“Yes! I was visiting the sacred stones. They have much
The comment overwhelms Emily. “You have been to
“You know about them?”
“Yes! But I do not know where they are.”
The young woman stares at her. “I feel now that you
do have the power of the stones.”
Emily blushes. “I have tried to find them. Please tell
me. I think sometimes they hide from me purposely.”
“A path leads to a bridge by the Manor. That is of the
“Stonebridge Manor is the name of the manor.”
“Yes! It is the old path. Do you have a horse?”
“A pony being lent to me.”
“The roadway is better. The road that leads to the
moors or to here to the village.
“If you follow the road, three thousand steps perhaps
before the road opens and becomes the moors, you will see
a turn to the left only a small cart might travel. That will
bring you to the stones.”
“Thank you so much,” cries Emily. “I will go tomorrow.
Are the stones still in a circle. I have knowledge you see.
I once was priestess of the stones. Yet, twice I have come
back and never can I find them.”
The young woman fondles her earring serpent. “I see
Azgar already has brought you luck. Azgar is a great
God-serpent, from my grandmother’s grandmother and her
grandmother before that. I am the seventh born of my
mother. Would you wish me to speak your fortune? My
wisdom should not be forfeited. To spurn a daughter that
is seventh is not wise.”
“I wish you to give my fortune, but please tell me more
where you found the stones.”
“There is a stream,” the young woman says softly. “And
the stones have been cut.”
“Cut! You mean they have been shaped into something
“The stones have been cut to build a house. Perhaps
many houses have fallen and been rebuilt. The stones hold
their power and some now have been burned so hot they
have melted upon those below.”
The young woman shivers at the thoughts that come to
her. “Stones do not burn. Great power, the power of the
stones themselves has been used for harm. You will cross
my palm with silver?”
Emily searches her purse, takes out four crowns, shows
them to the gypsy. “That is all I have brought with me.”
“We will do the reading inside, young Miss.” The young
woman in bare feet gets up from the quilt, pulls open the
flap of the tent for Emily to step inside.
Inside large brown and red velvet cushions on a rose
carpet. Pungent scent issuing from a lamp set upon a small
table. Around the lamp, flecked stones in many colours. Decks of cards beside the stones. A low carved ebony table placed between the cushions. A crystal as big as a skull upon the table.
The young woman seats herself near the lamp, points
to the cushion across from the low ebony table. “For you!”
As Emily becomes seated: “My name is Dara. Would
you care to give me your name.”
A hand is held out. “You can cross my palm now with
your silver, Emily.”
Clutching the four crowns, Emily presses them into the
young woman’s palm.
The young woman begins a soft chant, repeating and
adding words as she moves her hands over and around the
When she has finished, the crystal is moved, the ebony
table moved, a cushion placed between the two. “We will
ask the cards first.” Dara hands the deck across. “Please rearrange these. Then place one card upright upon the cushion.”
Emily, barely touches the card deck and is about to place a card upon the cushion when she is stopped. “Please
rearrange twice more. It will bring us better the wisdom.”
Emily shuffles the cards again, and then again.
“Now please take the card from the top and turn it so that it faces us.”
The card is turned. Dara stares at the image. “Strength
is in this card. This tells me you are a woman who has great
will. Please take the next card.”
As this card is turned upright, they both stare at a man
dressed in a robe.
“The High Priest tells me you are at a fork in your path.
Two ways you can go. Please take the next card.”
As Emily places the third card upright, Dara glances at
the two next to it. “The third card is Love. You must tell
me that which you have come to ask.”
Emily had not meant to be so intimate, though in her
heart perhaps there was a yearning. “My friend. My friend
is to be married. I wish to know if I will lose my friend.”
Dara takes a long time with the cards, then laughs, a
loud very fruity chuckle. “Ah! I can help you with this.”
She takes hold of Emily’s hand moves it to the light so she
can see the better the inset of the lines. “She will always
be with you.”
Emily clasps her hands together. “We are very much in
love,” she whispers.
Dara touches her coiled earpiece. “This serpent speaks
to me.” She smiles. “He is telling me that when the world
was young, he would churn the ocean in search of love. Then he met his love. Together in their love for each other
they achieved immortality.
“In Samudra, Azgar is saying there is a third who will
swim with you. The ocean is large. Allow each current and
the reward will be thousandfold. There is another question
you wish to ask.”
“Thank you, Dara,” Emily speaks slowly, deliberately.
“My purpose, the reason I came here I believe, is because
some change is upon myself and those at the Manor that is
more than my friend marrying. It has to do with my past,
a past that reaches to the future.”
The cushion with the cards are moved aside, the low
ebony table with the crystal placed before them.
“You have made a decision! You have agreed!” Dara
murmurs. “That is being shown to me. I see a woman... A
part of you.”
A troubled expression takes over. “A message I have.
Please, there is a powerful being. I must disconnect. I wish
to speak to my Grandmother.”
Dara straightens herself. “I will not be absent long.”
With that she closes her eyes, chants for some time then
Long moments pass until she suddenly begins singing.