“I believe this is correct.” Miss Hooper after reciting the words on the gravesite becomes silent.
“Why does this have special meaning to you, Gladys?”
“Please excuse me, Lady Middleton. My mentioning
‘apparition.’ I would say definitely some apparitional light
came upon Shapanzi and myself at the gravestone. This
light seemed to focus around the name, Caroline Mary
Constance’s thoughts have become anything but settled.
A name she has kept buried for so many years and now
it is here again, just when she is speaking of Ronald.
“Gladys, that name is quite disturbing to me.”
Miss Hooper stares at the lady in the hip bath. “Then
I will speak of it no more, your Ladyship. Neither myself
nor Shapanzi.” Miss Hooper picks up the slab of mottled
soap. “Let me lather you, your Ladyship.”
“Gladys, this is most sacredly private. I need your word.”
“My word, your Ladyship?”
“That which I am about to tell you, give me your word
that you not speak of it to anyone!”
“My word is given, your Ladyship!”
“You have brought this matter to me and I cannot deny
it. I have denied it. Long have I staved off mention of
Caroline’s name. In all faith, my soul will not allow me to
do so now. Caroline Mary Keys born 1860.”
“That is the gravestone inscription, your Ladyship.”
“She was barely seventeen, Gladys, when I knew her. She was assisting as teacher for the Mandalmane estate. She also worked some evenings here at the manor.”
Miss Hooper is quite concerned at Constance’s blanched, frozen expression.
“A house on the moors, that is where she lived, Gladys. A house at the edge of the Mandalmane Estate land. A house built more than a hundred or so years past. Who
knows when. Nothing is beyond that house, only the heath.”
Constance begins to tremble. “She told me she had lived upon those moors before. I asked her what she meant. She had memories of some very ancient time, long past, Gladys. “A child had been taken from her. A priestess had crushed its skull so that it would not live. The child was from evil, the priestess had said.”
“Oh!” Miss Hooper puts her hands to her head. “I
“We met upon the moors. I was on my horse. She was sitting with her feet in a stream. Now she had another child just born. That was the
last time I saw her.
“I first noticed her at the manor during a weekend party
Ronald’s father gave. Ronald was seriously entertaining the idea of asking me to marry him, I knew that. The reason
I was spending so much of my time at the manor. Ronald major and Zona had already accepted me as their daughter.
“Ronald was working under his father at Biddiford but his
position was not fully secured and I believe that is what
held him off. George had come down from college as he was
doing most weekends. We never questioned his reasoning
for we had done the same just a few years earlier. Henrietta
and Arthur were here I remember. A pleasant visit that
were becoming rare for they were often overseas.”
Constance eerily begins to laugh. “They all came that
weekend, friends from college days: Phyllis Ashburton, Dick
“Caroline was sixteen. Her father was giving no further
payment for her continuing education; I don’t know why.
Ezekiel I understand was a stubborn man; once his mind
was set he couldn’t be persuaded.
“Caroline heard mention the Manor was seeking some
part-time employment at the weekend. She came to Zona
with her request to work. Zona agreed which allowed
Caroline to continue at the estate school.”
Constance looks beseechingly at her companion and
friend. “You do understand, Gladys. This cannot be told.”
Miss Hooper stares across at Shapanzi. “It is our secret,
your Ladyship, Shapanzi and I. It is locked with us.”
“George told me he was in love. I was the only person
to whom he could confide, he said. After Caroline had been
taken home, he would ride out to the moors and she would
join him. Caroline had a curiosity about life. A need for
answers. George also is that way. George told me he had
spoken to Caroline, that she knew he confided in me.”
“It is time to get you out of the bath, M’lady. The water
is getting cold.”
“Yes!” Holding Gladys’ hand Constance manages the
difficult task of getting out of the hip bath. Draping a
towel over her mistress, the two step across to the dressing
“Caroline’s father held a very strict interpretation of the
Old Testament.” Constance rubs herself with the towel.
“Ezekiel Keys’ faith is what drove him. He had become a
Christian, his way I suppose of running from a past, from a
family connection he did not agree with. Him and Rachel
lived where they did because of it.
“Rachel was also from the bloodline that both Ronald’s
grandparents came from, a very highly respected, inner core
family I understand. Ezekiel and Rachel had fallen in love
right at the time that Ezekiel was taking upon himself this
strict Christian interpretation. I do not know if I can make
you understand. Ezekiel believed the family bloodline from
which he came, the wickedness that he now interpreted as
their manipulations, he thought he would see the end times
because of it.”
Miss Hooper places the dressing-room’s folding screen
at the back of Lady Middleton to keep the heat of the fire
“I do believe something early in his childhood caused
his turning to Christianity. He had to make sense of it
as Ronald major and his father had to make sense of it.
But the faith he took upon himself was the most severe of
teachings. That came from George. Caroline had told of
this I gather to George. All of the Old Testament, little if
nothing from the teachings of Jesus.
“George should have taken Caroline and fled. When
his parents passed he was to inherit half the manor. It
was not money, I believe, for both Zona and Ronald major
would have given him support. There was some weakness
in George. George was flirtatious. When he met Caroline,
that I believe ended. But we all...we were all young. None
of use knew what we were doing.”
“I had occasion to see Ezekiel Keys coming in his trap to
pick up Caroline. Ronald and I were taking some evening
air at the back of the manor and I can see Ezekiel now
tearing down the tradesman’s driveway.
“He pulled up right outside the kitchen entrance. He did
not know we were observing him. He was in such a temper,
very harsh he was with Caroline.” Constance gasps. “My!
I did not want this to come up now.”
“Why now, Gladys? Why, when Ronald and I are just
getting together again.” Constance slips into the gown Miss
Hooper is holding, walks across to the dressing table, seats
herself before the mirror.
“Caroline even at seventeen was very childlike. It was
her nature to dream. I have to tell you this, Gladys. George
had truly fallen in love with Caroline.”
“We were at the manor when the news came. She was
still teaching at the estate and they asked if we had seen
her. She had not been at home for three nights. Then
a piece of clothing was found by Leatherleaf waters. The
clothing could not be identified as Caroline’s but those are
truly dangerous waters.
“The look of horror in George’s eyes. There was only
me he could speak with. He could not stop from crying.
“I wish I had not been riding on the moors that day.”
Distraught eyes stare at Miss Hooper through the dressing-table glass.
“It was as if fate had decreed I should meet the girl.
She was seated by the stream. Fingers playing in that moor
“When the tale came that Caroline had become trapped
and fallen to the mire waters, I like George thought she had
died. I believe he wondered if she might have committed
suicide. Then, there she was, seated by the stream. This
was after George had sailed, after he had arranged military
employment in India. I got off the horse. I could not believe
it was Caroline at first. She began to cry. She had heard
that George had departed. It was him that she had come
back to see, to tell him she now had a child.
“The baby had only been born three months previous.
I asked where the boy was being kept. It was being cared
for by a family who had taken her inside, finding her upon
its doorsteps. She dare not bring the child to her father’s
home. She would return to this family. She had no choice.
“I solicited her story in as greater detail as she could
supply. I intended to write to George. I had the notion
that we could send her to India to be with him. This was
just two days before the fire in which she and Ezekiel and
“Two months had gone by and she had seen no blood.
It was not only the fear of her father, but the shame of her
being exposed at the estate school that made her flee.
“She had thought to cross the moors, but she feared the
crossing. She had never journeyed more than a half a day
beyond the house. She had no knowledge of that which was
north of the Moors. She decided to take the road to the
Bay, and further if that is where she must go.”
Through the dressing-table glass, Constance studies
Miss Hooper. “A piece is stored in the jewellery box that
I wish to show you. The larger box in the trunk, Gladys,
if you would fetch it.” The trunk placed against the far
wall, Miss Hooper searches for the rosewood jewellery case
mixed among linen.
“Thank you my dear,” Constance takes the box, places
it upon the dressing table before her. “It began after her
day at school, the journey. Instead of going home, her walk
took her the opposite way. Not to attract attention she kept
always among the trees, and when occasioned through the
fields. It was early September and by the time she arrived
in Weatherby all was dark.
“She did take the road, once past Weatherby, for that
was all she knew. Ahead, a girl came into view, a girl who
also was walking.
“Lydaan, Caroline called her. The girl spoke with a
broad country accent that was not Devon, and Lydaan was
how she seemed to speak her name. She had been brought
out in a carriage from Biddiford that evening. This was
how she made her money. The gentleman had said it was
a fine evening for them both to take a drive. When they
had stopped and he tried his way he had been too rough.
Lydaan had clawed his face to get away.
“So there the two girls were. I can see them now as
Caroline had described them, walking in the moonlight,
Lydaan and her, on foot all the way into Biddiford.
“The girl took her to where she was staying with two
others. Oh, my, I see Caroline sobbing as she tells me
this. She had been at Biddiford almost two months sharing
the room with the three girls. She had taken up needlework,
for Lydaan had helped her with this, guarding her in some
sisterly fashion from that which she was doing.
“One night Caroline returning from her employment,
the door slightly ajar something made her hesitate to go
inside. She could hear the two girls who shared with Lydaan
and herself talking.
“One of the girls was saying a man named Sid had asked
about Caroline. He had a fancy for girls who were with
child, and would like to lie with her. Caroline heard one
girl laughing, ‘Sid will show ‘er the ropes.’ ‘Yes, but what
if she don’t want,’ the second girl asked. ‘Then ‘er b’tied.
Sid’ll give good money to ‘ave ’er tied.’
“Caroline fainted. Lydaan must have come in at that
moment finding her upon the stairs. Fated it seemed to be
that this one should help the second. Once the truth came
out, Lydaan said she knew of a Quaker woman who took in
girls with child. She took Caroline there that very night.
“Caroline remained in the Quaker woman’s home for
the rest of her time. She gave birth to a baby boy weighing
more than six one-pound bags of sugar when he came out,
Caroline said to me. I can see her smile now. George, she wanted to give name to him. George, for his father.”
Constance, now extremely agitated, gets up, walks to the
window. “Then the story takes another strange fork.” She
stares out at the driveway.
“Some dispute with a neighbour. A florin had been
stolen from their house and they came to the Quaker woman
accusing one of the girls she was keeping of doing it. The
girl denied taking the florin but they were going to have
their revenge. The Quaker woman’s house was attacked
during the night. Just three days after Caroline’s baby was
“It was with torches they came, Caroline told me. A
rabble of men and boys. The girls were all screaming. The house was burnt clear to the ground, Caroline was told afterwards, but she never saw what had happened. She remembers coming to a house where she had stopped on the doorstep so the baby could get to her breast. She had unfolded her clothing and it was then that the door had opened. Caroline said she did not remember anything that happened afterwards. She awoke three days later. A servant woman was feeding her baby.”
Constance walks back to the mirror, sits. Miss Hooper picks up a silver hand mirror, holds it so Constance can see the back of her hair.
“It has to be high today, Gladys. I don’t know if I can go out there for the croquet game, this has so disturbed
me. But I did want it high. A few ringlets at the nape. Don’t bother a lot with it.”
Then Constance continues:
“The house where she had been found sitting on their
step, the family took care of her, Caroline said. The mother
insisted they found her on their doorstep by an act of God
and she wasn’t to think she was beholden to them. But all her thoughts now were upon George. He should know he
was the father. Caroline believed he would take her away,
marry her, that they would live together the baby and the
two of them.”
Constance sits forward on the dressing table chair. “I do not know if I can tell you the rest.” Moments she stares through the glass.
“I buried the memory. I have covered the shame that I
attach to myself. It was there by the stream that Caroline
spoke of Ezekiel Keys. ‘He has said that God will punish
us all. He says that I have shamed God and that the family
must pay for my sin.’
“Caroline burst out sobbing. She was lost. George was
in India. All she had was the family who had her child.
“‘I do not think that I sinned. We did love,’ the girl said.
“Then she pressed the locket into my hand.”
Opening the blue, velvet-lined jewellery casket, sifting
through the box, Constance finds the piece given to her
twenty-two years past. Sighing, she holds up the thin silver
necklace and locket for Miss Hooper to see. “George had
made a present of it to her. I imagine it was without writing
so that her father would not question it.
“Caroline even smiled at me when she gave it to me.
She asked that I keep the locket until such time George
would come back from India.”
Miss Hooper opens the small locket. Inside was empty.
“I do believe now that Caroline never expected to see
George again. I should have taken her into my care. I
thought of Ronald and his parents. I could not imagine
what they would say. I thought if I wrote to George, that
would be time enough to take her from the family that was
keeping her child.”
Miss Hooper places the locket back in the jewellery box.
“It is a simple thing, m’lady. Will you wear the tartan for
Constance takes the locket out of the box, clutches it in
her hand. “After the deaths I became hysterical, Gladys.
“How could I know that two days on Caroline with her
parents would be dead. Ronald said it was the Tempest
woman. When Ronald put Abby Tempest away as a mad
woman, somehow I knew it was not her. Could it have
been Ezekiel in his madness, punishing the three of them
for Caroline’s sin? Could it have been Caroline herself that
caused the fire?
“‘Take it,’ Caroline shouted. ‘Take it, and leave me.’
She picked up her shoes, wandered off along the edge of the
“I hear her. I hear her voice from the water still now.
“‘He says that I have shamed the family. That I have shamed
God. That all must pay.’ ”
. . .
Bella as she looks from the window of her room has a
bird’s eye view. There is only one gable at the back of the
house. When you stare up from below it is an ornamental
feature for the only servant’s room on the second floor.
No one knows why the triangle gable would be placed
as such, for it is more to the north than the south of the
building, nor why, as Bella has decided, her room is placed
partly over the servant’s living room and partly over the
The back second floor stairs going only to her room, its
entrance is also somewhat mysterious. The bottom door is more to the south, tucked between large walk-in cupboards, servant’s storage closets used for sheets and
varied linen and everything else those who live at the back
chose to bundle onto the many deep shelves.
The second floor wooden stairs are quite steep to climb. There’s a space between the steps greater than usual. With no carpet, more than once Bella has tripped. Some of her shoes are all right but others slide off the wood. With the view and the privacy she wouldn’t trade the room. She likes being up here with the door shut and away from it all.
A few more days, Bella comforts herself, then wedding
will be over. They will be back to their little cottage in St.
Pancras and he will get over it. She hasn’t found anything. It’s an impossible task anyway, he should have known that.
The house is so big, so many rooms. Some of the draws in
his father’s private study are locked and she doesn’t know
how to force the drawers. That’s where if anything letters or a document might be.
She doesn’t deceive herself, he will sulk, he will be angry
with her. But with the newly married couple going away,
Lawrence will not be staying on. He will be glad to be gone
from here. Get back to his London gambling.
She has never had illusions over the money. He would
be playing with the toffs. A few hands and it would be all
She’s checked through what she can. She’s had duty
cleaning his father’s legal room and the library, which she
was fortunate in having. Nothing in his study room. In the
library boxes, bills and receipts that went back thirty years,
older than Lawrence. She checked through those carefully
taking a lot of time.
She’s curious herself and she’d like to give him what he
wants. She’d watched him last night at the do and he’d
barely glanced at her.
She shudders, a hint of alarm coming over her. You get
these stirrings, these hopes, and then when little if anything
comes of it, life is taken out of you. When they do get back
will it be the same? She does love him. If he chooses to
leave her she would not stay in London. She’d go back be
with her father on the farm. Her father would welcome her
help and her company.
But she pushes these thoughts away. An emptiness
comes over her and she cannot handle it. Bella closes the
door to the small room at the top of stairs. It’s time to get
back to the kitchen and all that’s going on.
Taking a few steps down the curving steep stairs, the prong on her shoe buckle not secured in its eyelet, has her shoe slipping away from her.
One hand clutching at the wall, nothing to hold onto, she leans back, presses the full weight of herself against the wall.
It all happens so suddenly. As her body slides down the
wall, the wall behind her has moved a little. The chamber stick in her far hand, still alight but sputtering, she places the stick upon the steps. An opening!
She can feel cold air.
First she needs to buckle her shoe properly. That done, she feels around the opening. Then she pushes against it. It moves.
Astonished, Bella crosses herself. She’s read in penny
magazines big old houses have such places. Some are made
for priests to hide, but also secret passageways to rooms.
She picks up the stick still flickering, placing her hand around so it doesn’t flicker too much. Whatever this is looks very large.
Placing the stick again on the steps, climbing inside, it frightens the life out of her because she falls inwards. But there is a floor a bit down from where the door
is situated. It’s as dark as death inside.
Leaning back out the hole, she reaches for the candle.
Dust everywhere. Everything she touches covered in dust.
What to do, she thinks as she brings the stick inside. There are boxes stacked one on top of the other by the far wall. Moving the stick around as she walks, an iron contraption, some kind of iron stairs, winds upwards. Perplexed at whether to come back later, coughing with the dust, she decides to go see what is in the boxes.
One box has its lid taken off, then another. All the
boxes are now around her on the floor. She takes out old
servant’s clothing, nothing like anyone today would wear.
Moving her hands, feeling into the deepest part of the boxes,
nothing but soft cloth. Disappointed she decides to leave it
for now. She can come back to them later. The iron steps
perhaps has more interest.
The steps creaking uneasily, she climbs to a door at the
top. She turns the knob, pushes it open. Holding the stick
up, all around the room moons and half-moons, clusters of
celestial bodies painted on the walls. Lines are drawn from
one body to another.
The whole room appears as a map of the firmament.
Bella is now fixed in shock for off to the side, watching
her is a sheen. So many times on the wharfs along London
has she seen these. London is filled with them. Like wax
figures they appear sometimes, but wax statues that move. Many look like ordinary people. This one does. It is a girl.
Backing towards the door, she has forgotten about the
iron casket. As she falls, her head knocks against the metal edge. Bella groans. A thin trickle of blood runs down her face. In horror she hears words being spoken, words she hears
but doesn’t hear, words in her head.
. . .
“Knocking wooden balls through iron rings with wooden
mallets!” A little past two on a lazy Monday afternoon, the
four are ready for Croquet, a game for them that had begun
twenty some odd years past.
“Henrietta was not very good, like me,” Arthur smiles.
“It was always one or the other. One of us would sit out,
reading our latest digest from work.”
“Were they interesting,’ asks Constance.
“Depends upon who was composing the digest. Some
came with quite bright asides.
“Still do. Assassinations all kinds of duplicity you have to have some comments that cause a chuckle. Couldn’t get through the day without.”
Arguing around the drinks table, four chairs inside the bandstand, for viewing and shade and sustenance, to be decided now is the bisque.
Ronald gets two, agreed by the other three. Constance
gets zero, the best player by far. George asks for nine, which
causes some consternation, he gets four. Arthur they take
pity upon, giving him six, if he should choose to take that
many extra turns.
George is laughing, stating his handicap has ranged anywhere from nine to his best play at, he cannot remember.
“You were getting better I distinctly remember when
we last played.”
“George be a sport. Please your brother.”
The Squire wins the toss. “Which colour!’
“Blue of course, darling.”
The Squire has black, Arthur gets yellow, George, red.
George who has the option of first ball defers.
On the court, the Squire taps, taps, in the air with the
mallet. A slight tap, the ball slowly, slowly, stops. Ugh!
“Just the beginning, darling,” Conny calls out to him.
“Just the beginning.”
The play passing to George, they all call, “Back George!”
before he even gets to the ball.
Ronald yells, “It’s not a mallet’s length from the first
George aims his stroke through the first hoop, succeeds. A collective groan.
As is usual in George’s play the unexpected occurs. Across the court Shapanzi runs, scoops up George’s ball
in his mouth, or at least attempts to scoop up the ball.
Slightly too large, the young one yelps, scampers back
to Miss Hooper making hysterical gestures.
“Well deserved performance,” the Squire shouts.
Where the moved-by-dog-ball should be placed becomes
a contention, but the game proceeds.
As George continues his playing, Constance reaches for
the back of the Squire’s neck to massage. “What did you
think of the Vicar’s sermon, Arthur?”
“I think one every vicar in the country should give.”
“The miracle part. Saint Walburga’s night tonight, fairy
class stepping forth: Feeorin is it, Banshee, Sprite, ghosts,
who know who else, Will o’ wisps, Elven, Mound sidhe,
Arthur laughs. “Ireland tiny Leprechauns with hats
they must have upon them, don’t forget those.”
“Jack’s lantern to bring the light, remember George?”
the Squire calls out to his brother. “Mater always put food
out: Chocolate vinegar cake, baked hard. Biscuits made
with mushroom, sponges filled with lavender.”
“Don’t forget the touch of scraped silver,” yells George
from the court.
“Yes, but do any of you believe there are such things?”
“Helping my local preacher with exorcisms. I’ll believe
anything,” answer Arthur.
“Have you been helping with exorcisms?” asks Ronald.
“Yes! Henrietta and I became involved when the diocese
exorcist refused doing them. He could no longer take the
demons, he said, and I don’t blame him. The Bishop took
in a Roman priest and we began to assist him. It frightens
me. I now know what demons can do.”
“There really are demons?”
“Yes! They penetrate our Earth existence, especially
if we call them. Bel’s Fire is one such time they consider
being called. Tonight!”
“From where,” asks Constance.
“They call it ‘The Kingdom.’
“Is it a kingdom?”
“I suppose it might be. I do not know. I am not a
“What do you do in these exorcisms?” asks the Squire.
“One thing we were doing, which I had no idea we would
be doing, is move towards the demon’s domain. A half-way
between their world and ours.
“What was Henrietta’s contribution to the exorcism,”
“She believes in the trained mind. Her family teaches
that. Demons seek people who through incantations, or
simply imbibing, becoming intoxicated with no restraint.
Alcohol or opium or some other substance causes
weakening of the mind, places us under a demon’s control
should we be susceptible. It is important not to engage
them with play.
“Henrietta used a sound. She would chant this silently.
In the fields she would sing the sound. I have heard her.
It was a daily occurrence for her. She tried to get me to
practice it, but I never have.”
“The sound,” asks Ronald.
“A very ancient sound. In some way Henrietta thought
our English word Human came from the use of the sound.
Human has both Latin and Greek ancestry, ‘man’ in Latin,
‘same’ in early Greek. Henrietta said the origin was much
earlier, a far golden age. Hu is the word she used. She
would extend the word so it would sound like ‘Huuuuuuu’
or ‘Huuuuuuuuuuuuu’ When she did it silently it would be
almost without breaking, a continuation that was repeated
and repeated. Singing, it would only end when she ran out
of breath. The Chinese use Hu in their names, but they
have forgotten the meaning.
“It is great protection, she said. All in her family use it.
They believe how they have managed to protect themselves.
Places a shield around one. But far more than protection,
it builds the inner bodies, the inner frequency bodies, it
strengthens them. She said using this word repeatedly over
a long period of time, years, would bring great spiritual
advancement. She even said it improved the mind. Some
Sufi use the word.”
“A sect of the Mahometan faith, the Sufi having many sects
inside their own umbrella. Persian mystics, Rumi, Shams
and others have preserved the word HU, brought it to our
ears. Henrietta’s family have also kept it in their history. I
suppose because it works.”
“But you don’t use it, Arthur.”
“I never have to any extent.”
Arthur laughs. “Perhaps now Henrietta can no longer
protect me, I should begin.”
“Eight hoops, George” Constance calls.
“Next he’ll be telling us is he’s in training for the Paris
“They’re including women this year at croquet,” says
Constance. “Shall we stop by after Annabell’s wedding,
The Squire laughs, leans over and kisses her. “Do you
think they will be having them! The whole of Paris in an
uproar, I hear. Not enough space inside the Glass Palace!
“Americans threatening to withdraw. Dexter, my clerk says
they are now calling it the Jeux Olympiques Olympic
Games! This Baron de Coubertin running around with his International Committee. Everybody wants a new Olympics, nobody is prepared to pay for it. The Zappas in Greece should be left with it, I say. That’s where it began,
that’s where it should be.”
Shouting and moans erupts from George who has finally
failed with his roqueting.
Constance gets up, walks towards the court.
Ronald takes a sip of his drink, pats the chair for George
to sit down.
“I have heard Arthur that China is going to erupt again.
They say Empress Myeongseong’s assassination was just
the beginning by the families. They want Japan to control
all Asia: Korea, China. All that is except Annam and the
rest of their Empire out there. They do have a stronghold.
With Japan in the East under their control, and Europe
merged, which they hope to do in the next decade, they
will have the world. Pater always said they wanted world
dominance. They have no compunction in doing what they
do, the stakes are too great.”
“Sometimes they don’t get it right,” Ronald continues softly. “That new Yerkes Observatory with its 40 inch achromatic is showing some interesting stuff, George. The 49 inch is being shown at the Paris Universal. My reason for stopping by this summer. Don’t inform Conny, please.”
“Merrily, merrily let us all sing, and make the old telescope rattle and ring.” George and Arthur laugh.
“Arthur, inform George about the Americans and these
. . .
A scream! A long scream! Bella has separated from her
body. ‘Your baby?’ Bella’s thoughts sound so hollow. ‘Are you Polly?’
What it does then makes Bella, who she is in this body,
shake with involuntary excitement. For slowly this being
glides to her. Its fingers touch her.
Then the young, delicate girl and all that is around, fade
. . .
As I write this in the stream of existence following, I
have to declare that I, Henry Arthur Longfellow am the
person who in this book is called Hews.
Lying on the bed, that Monday late evening, I reach for
the quilt, pull it around me. Sleep when it had come had
not been easy, dreams of morbidity pervading my thoughts.
Where has she gone, my Henrietta, is all that I can think
of in my dream now. Where is she! Then the doubts come: Is all that she told me, truth? Is anything that she told me,
The brass lamp on the side table sputtering, I reach to the
bedstand, turn the wick lower, then lower. I think of her
as so often doing the same. She hated to deal with the wick.
For the want, I shove the bedclothes from me, step
across to the window, push the lower frame upwards. The
descending darkness, how it slips around me.
It will not be long now, the wedding. I will soon be
back with my memories. I do not wish to go home. I do
not have a desire to be anywhere.
As the cooling night air sweeps across me, I know I am
lost. Inside I have no reason to continue.
Then I hear something.
I swing back. ‘Henny! Henny!’
As I stare, everything in the room is as it should be.
‘I am trying to speak with you my love. I do so want to
speak with you.’
Then if truth be told, I do hear: ‘Arthur! Arthur! You
are such a Silly-Billy!’
‘I am a Silly-Billy?’ I answer.
‘I am so pleased you agree.’
I have to laugh. Tears are pouring from me. ‘I am
making this up! My mind is making you up, Henny. Where
have you been!’
‘Henny, be serious with me!’
‘Yes, my dearest!’
‘No, I mean it, Henny, don’t fool with me!’
‘At my writing desk, my love. So angry you are with
me. You start to leave the room. Then you come back.
You remember the ardent kiss you gave me?’
‘I knew we would be together with that kiss.’
‘Henny! Is this really you. Is it my imagination?’
‘Henny! I love you!’
‘You kiss me. I run madly through the open door into
the garden, you chase. We run and run until we are out
of breath. Quite demurely we cease, by the roses, as if
nothing has happened. “The roses are doing well,” you say. “They should,” I remind you, “the effort I have taken.” You laugh!’
‘Are you here to rescue me, Henny?’
‘I do not want to be here, not without you.’
‘Ah! Such a foolish Silly-Billy.’
‘But I’m afraid, Henny!’
‘Will you run away with me?’
‘We will go everywhere! And we will learn much.’
‘Learn! Will we always be learning?’
‘Do you wish to stop!”
‘You must close the window now. You will be getting
‘Henny, come back to me!’