As they become lost to Earth’s sight, as they explore a new unfathomable immensity, the two in their love do indeed find themselves as one.
Chapter Fourteen
Wedding Night
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I
t left her then, the demon.  Lawrence is no longer there.  Gone also the winged creature observing.
Alone now to raise herself, to seek Milly, to place her arms for warmth and comfort around a small pony.
Alone in a world changed — the cog has made its turn.
Milly trots her easy way back to the manor.  Emily slips through the back privy court-yard.  No-one sees.  She climbs one flight of stairs, then the second.
In her room folding back the silken cotton, she sinks into the weariness, pulls the sheet, the blanket around her. All she seeks now is oblivion.
The safety she craves is not here on Earth.  Nothingness is all, to forget.
She waits as the images of her mind slip, slip, slip away, for this time.
“Heart, Heart my dear, you are back from the moors. Here in bed!  We had a lovely time, but I did miss you.”
Not a stirring of the eyelids.
“Emily!”
A sense, some instinct had taken hold moments before telling of ill-omen, yet she would not entertain it.  Seeing Edward off on his horse Celandic, Fred had been waiting for Mr. Entwistle for they often walk home together.
“Has Miss Adams returned,” she asks.  “She was to take Milly out for a ride.”
“I’d ‘n speak with young Miss,” Fred answered.  “Pony b’n left to find t’own way to stables.  I rubb’d ‘er down, m’self.”
“Emily did not bring Milly to the stables?”
“No, Miss Annabell.  Most n’usual for t’young Miss.” Fred had given a glance towards Mr. Entwistle who had just arrived.  “Most n’usual, t’young Miss always had t’word, ‘n insists on rubb’n pony down ’erself, ‘er would.”
“Emily must have been tired from the outing.  Thank you!”
“Yes, Miss Annabell.”
Annabell touches the woollen blanket that Emily has covered herself within.
“Emily!” Annabell watches with dreadful foreboding the deepness of sleep.
Pushing the sense away, she lays down next to her love, reaches to place her hand under the blanket so tightly wrapped around, to stroke Heart’s face.
Forcing the blanket free, moving herself into its coldness Annabell places her body so that her hands, her legs, cover Emily.
“I’m here, my love,” she whispers, kissing Emily’s ear. “All is well.  I’m here now, my love.”
Waking to the dinner gong that someone has clanged on Emily’s floor, Annabell, sits up.  “Heart!  Dear Heart!”   Just a gentle breathing.
Slipping down the top stairs, Aunt Constance on the first floor landing is about to descend to the dining room. “Emily is resting in bed, Aunt.  She has tired herself out. Will you tell uncle we won’t be down for dinner.”
“I will.  Are you sure it is not some sickness?  Perhaps I should come up?”
“I think it is just weariness, Aunt Constance.  She is sleeping at the moment.  I am sure sleep is all she needs. It would be better not to disturb her.”
“Very well, my dear.  I will tell Ronald.”
“We will see you in the morning.  I am off to the kitchen. I am going to ask them to delay our dinner, bring it to us later.  They can bring up whatever they have suitable in about an hour.”
“Tell them you want some valerian and scullcap tea,” says Constance.  “It works wonders.”
“I will, Aunt.  I will.”
In the kitchen Mrs. Minton notices the look of Annabell.
“Do you think we should send for Dr.  Wheetle, Miss?  I can see you are worried.  His farm is this side of Weatherby. Not more than ten minutes.”
Annabell is torn with the suggestion.  But something tells her this is not what Heart needs and she asks just for the tea.  “It has been a long day and Miss Emily has tired herself.  That is all.”
The tea arrives a few minutes later.  Emily is still soundly sleeping. Meg doesn’t say anything, but when she gets back downstairs she tells the kitchen.  This message passed by McBride to the Squire, he informs Constance and also Arthur who inquires.
A little past an hour later dinner comes, brought by Meg and Lucy. Emily has her eyes open now.  This news is also given to the kitchen as they prepare for their meal upstairs.
“Heart!  Will you drink some tea.”   Emily nods and Annabell holds the cup while she drinks, then Emily closes her eyes.  She does not wish for any food. Annabell eats a little then returns to the bed.  Again she moves her body close to the young prostrate girl lying so quietly.
Through the night Annabell wakes, watches for long moments Heart in her fitful sleep, the fevered tossing of the head, some little understood murmurings.
As dawn begins to break, in the early summer daylight, Annabell gets up, paces about the room.
At last, kneeling by the bed, “Heart!  Heart,” in a soft pleading desperate desire to have her wake.  “I do not know what has happened.  Will you tell me.”  There is no answer.
Once more Annabell lies besides her love, this time she falling into a fitful sleep.
Morning arrives and then a firm knock.
Emily opens her eyes at the sound.
The door opens, Meg and Lucy carrying trays of tea, hot water and biscuits, which they place upon the dressing table.
“Is Miss Emily better,” asks Meg.
Annabell looks at Heart who once again has closed her eyes. “There is a slight sickness.  I will remain here.  We do not wish any breakfast.  Please tell Uncle and Aunt Constance nothing is wrong, but Miss Emily still does not want company.  Will you inform Mr. McBride for me.”
Annabell pours some tea into a cup.  She waits while Lucy picks up Emily’s uneaten dinner tray, Meg carrying what is left of her half-eaten dinner.
“In a couple of hours, some more valerian and scullcap, I think, please.  Just knock and place the tray outside the door.”
“Will you have some, my love?”
“Tea!”
“Yes.”
The pillows are raised, Emily propped up. The tea is handed.  “You have had me most worried.”
Heart’s eyes are looking at her.  “I am going to have a baby.”
“You are going to have a baby?”
“He entered me!”
“He entered you?”
“Yes!”
“Who?”
“Edward’s friend, Lawrence.”
Trying not to appear completely hysterical, Annabell digs her fingers into her palms.  “We must go and tell Aunt Constance! She will speak with Uncle Ronald.  Biddiford police must be told.”
“No!”
“No?”
“No!”
“Why?”
“I cannot answer now.”
Making their way to the privy courtyard, grateful no one is about, they return.  More time goes by.
“It was not him.”
“Not him!”
“There was one behind him which has power.”
“I do not understand, my love.”
“It was not Lawrence that lay upon me.”
“You are saying things...”  Then Annabell stops.  Morning passes, nine turns to ten, then to eleven.  A knock.  More tea is brought.
A long pitiful sound is made by Emily as the cup comes to her throat.
“Oh my love,” Annabell keeps repeating, as she fondles Emily in her arm.
Noon arrives.  A quiet knock.  “No thank you!  Some more tea, that is all.”
The clock makes a single chime.
“We have to tell uncle.”  Annabell cries, hysteria mounting.  “We have to tell uncle, my love.”
“No!”
Then again peace.
Two chimes now, then three, then four.
Tea and cake arrive.  “We are awake Meg, as you see. Miss Emily is feeling a little better.  Please tell them downstairs.”
The door closed, the tea drunk, the cake is eaten.
“When I awoke, he left.”
“You were asleep?”
“I knew when he came his purpose.  He did it by the stones.”
“The stones!”
“The sacred stones.  They are cut now.  They used to form a circle.”
More rest, more dreaming as both lie together on the bed, the blanket pulled over them.
Then the sound of the gong!
Annabell goes to the door, peeks out.
McBride is standing by the entrance to the stairs.  He looks most worried.
. . .
Annabell weary, somewhat sallow in face, closes the drawing room door, stands near the entrance.
“We are going into dinner.  We were hoping to see Emily and yourself in the dining room,” Constance says. “Come and talk to us.”
“Yes, do my dear,” the Squire with his piercing eyes adds. “We have been waiting for some word.”
“We have been tranquil.  Emily is getting better, but she is not yet ready to come down.  I came to ask you to excuse us for dinner.”
“You yourself look somewhat pale.”  Constance says. “Are you sure we should not send for Dr. Wheetle?”
Annabell forces a smile to her face.  “I have asked Mrs. Minton for some bread soup.  Emily requested it herself, so that must mean something.  She said she probably could not get much else down this evening.  To tell the truth I’ve been having some stomach trouble myself.”
The Magistrate, an old practitioner at observing people, asks gently, “Annabell!  Has there been a disturbance?”
His niece bows her head, squeezes his hand.  “Leave it for now, uncle.”
“If you say so.  I have to take your word there is nothing to be done.”
Annabell mumbles what appears to sound like, “All is done now.” But she is there, then she is not.  She has fled.
Constance searches for the reason of it, a dread that she momentarily catches that she cannot handle.  “Perhaps we should not interfere, Ronny.  Let them come to us. Young people, they have their own ways.  Tomorrow they will speak to us.”
. . .
Seated beside Heart prone on the bed, Emily stares into nothing. Annabell kisses her.  “I have told them we are not coming down to dinner.”
She lies besides Emily, snuggles close to her.  Sometime later there is a tap on the door.
“Your bread soup, Miss Annabell, Miss Emily.  Cook has sent up a pot of that valerian and scullcap you’ve been drinking.  She said it wouldn’t do no harm to have more, and perhaps a lot of good.”
“Thank you, Meg, Lucy.”
“Is everything all right, Miss?  In the kitchen...”
“I cannot speak now.  You will know when Miss Emily wishes.”
Lucy looks at Meg.  “Is there anything we can do? More we can bring?”
“There is something I have been thinking about!”
“Yes Miss!”
“It is an idea I have to take Miss Emily out of her thoughts.  An amusement.  I think it will help us both.”
“Yes, Miss.  Bring you both out of yourselves.”
“I want to do some kind of play.”
“Some play, Miss Annabell?”
“Will you help me, both of you.”
“We would consider it a joy,” says Meg.  “Tell us what you wish us to do.”
“All right!  My wedding dress and veil, will you fetch them from my room.  We are going to have a try on.  I’ve been thinking of making garlands.  That will take us some time and add to the fun. Garlands of wild flowers.  Could you gather some from inside the trees.  I think it will really cheer Miss Emily, just the smell of them.”
Both Lucy and Meg look excited.  “Tom was just taking me to see the wood anemone,” Lucy sputters.  “There were primroses I seen, and a few bluebell still not over.  If we go right now, we can catch them before their closing for the night.”
“Bring what you can.”  Annabell says.
“Mr. Entwistle has fuchsias in his greenhouse, Miss.” Meg tells her.  “Would you like those?”
“Indeed I would,” Annabell replies.  “Oh, and bring some Ivy will you.”
“Ivy, Miss Annabell?”
“A little from the wall on the north side.  No one will mind if you clip from there.”
“Yes, Miss.  I’ll bring some more tea with the flowers.”
“Don’t forget my wedding dress and veil.”
Meg laughs: “No, we won’t forget that, Miss.”
Inside the room, the door closed, Annabell takes hold of Emily’s hand.  “You have to get up, my love.  We are going to have our wedding?”  Emily turns, looks at her.
“But first our bread soup.  Sit up now.  We can have soup on the bed if you sit up.”
A knock on the door, the door flung open, flowers and greenery are everywhere.  Fragrances brought inside draw Emily off the bed and both she and Annabell are now upon the floor examining the variety: long stems, short stems, green ivy vine, Japanese wisteria from the south garden.
“Here’s the wedding dress.”  Meg carries in the white lace wedding dress, and the bright veil made to wear on Saturday, deposits it on the dressing table chair.
“We brought these to add to the garlands,” says Lucy following with more gatherings: Bishops lace, white bryony, early goat’s rue, golden fox and cubs, late season yellow coltsfoot, soldier’s woundwort.
“Here’s a whole new tray of tea and biscuits.”
“We cannot thank you enough, both of you.”
“It is our pleasure, Miss Annabell, Miss Emily.  Something else we should bring?”
Annabell gets up from the floor where she had been separating the herbs and flowers.  “You know, I have been thinking.  A little sparkling wine does wonders.  Ask Mr. McBride.  Tell him the sweeter wine will help our poor stomach’s.”
“We will indeed, Miss Annabell.”
“Lucy, Meg, thank you so much for getting all this. Words cannot express the kindness you have taken.”
Making the garlands, Emily shows Annabell patterns she has learnt to create.  Bluebells with primrose flowers. Roses from the greenhouse.  It all is so wonderfully magical to Annabell how it cheers Emily.
Meg arrives with the sparkling wine in its silver bucket. Lucy following with a silver tray, long-stemmed glasses upon it and more Mrs. Minton’s homemade chocolates.
“Mrs. Minton wanted us to bring you the chocolates, Miss.  She is so pleased you are feeling better.”
Annabell bids the two young women good night at the door. “Please thank both Mrs. Minton, and Mr. McBride. And again yourselves for being so kind.”
The door is shut, the key turned.  They are alone.
“We are going to be married, my love.”
Emily, busy with fuchsias, blurts out, “I want to marry you, Annie.”
“I want to marry you too!  Here tonight in this room!  Only I have forgotten the rings.”
They both cannot stop laughing at that.
Sneaking out, making sure the landing is empty as they run to Annabell’s apartment, running back so quietly so no-one will see them, it all becomes a game now.
Even as both girls undress, when they robe into their chemises, when the lace-edged white silk drawers are on, the white stockings, the petticoats, it all continues as some wonderful game.
Annabell laughs: “Going with tradition is just the right thing, having both the bride and maid’s dress the same, and the veils almost the same.  Now all jealous and unkind spirits who want to mock, none can tell you from me, Heart, nor me from you.  When we make the garlands the same, even we won’t be able to tell us apart.”
“I am so glad you refused the bustle, Annie.”  Lots more giggles.
The laced ivory silk wedding gowns are on and drawn tight.  Veil tulle placed and fixed upon the hair.  Garlands, that which they have made, entwined flowers of yellow and gold and blue and white, these are lowered and secured upon the tulle.
The two girls exchange looks.  Standing staring at each other in the mirror, Annabell grabs Emily’s hand, gives it a squeeze.  “We will set the greenery and flowers around us.”
The dressing table chair is brought to the centre of the room, the two bouquets they have made placed upon it with the ring box that holds the two rings.  Then the chair is surrounded with flowers.  Emily, her voice quivering, takes Annabell’s hand, “For our love and sacrament!”
“For our love and sacrament.”
Now the stage focuses upon Emily for she has knowledge of the service.  It is a wedding service that Emily has known since she was a girl of ten when she insisted her aunt’s describe it in minute detail.
Indeed Emily has been married a few times.  “But only to the sacred circle of stone,” she would insist to her aunts, “the circle of sacred stone is all I will ever marry.”
And so from long memory the words now pour forth: “Blow! Blow!  This wind that sweeps our heart, join us now, strengthen our vow.”
“O powers of air!”  Emily calls.  “O power of sky, close and lock our bond of love.”
“Ask for fire,” Emily whispers.
“O power of fire!,” Annabell shouts, “close and lock the bonds of our love.”
Immediately Emily follows: “O power of water!  Give us this gift of depth and fullness, to our Body, our Soul, our Spirit.
“Now ask Earth,” Emily whispers, adding more words for Annabell to say.
“O power of Earth,” Annabell shouts, words flinging from her. “Earth, solid, reassuring, your constancy and strength bring to our union.”
“In the sight of Great Mother, in the sight of the Old Ones, we bear you to witness our ceremony here,”says Emily.  “Two together, we bear our spirit as being one for your witness.”
From the ring box Emily hands a ring to Annabell, holds out her thumb so Annabell can place the ring upon it.
“I pledge thee Annabell my troth.”  Emily now moves the ring from her thumb to her forefinger.
“I pledge love and cherish thee Annabell through all my worldly life.”
The ring is moved to her middle finger.
“And if I am found acceptable into the next.”
Emily places the gold around her ring finger:
“By the power of the sky,
By the power of the stars,
By the hosts of heaven,
By all that is beyond the reaches of time and knowledge,
I extend this wish.
I, Emily, wish and agree to be one with Annabell.”  
Reaching for Annabel’s ring from the ring box, Emily calls out: “In the sight of Great Mother and the Old Ones, witness our ceremony, two together.”
Annabell holds out her hand, holds out her thumb so Emily can place the ring she is holding upon Annabell’s thumb.  Emily then whispers the words so Annabell can repeat them.
“I pledge thee, Emily my troth.”  Annabell moves the ring onto her index finger.  “I pledge to love and cherish thee through all my worldly life.”
Moving the ring to her middle finger, Annabell says, “And if I am found acceptable into the next,” the ring Annabell now places upon on her ring finger.
“By the power of the sky,
By the power of the stars,
By the hosts of heaven,
By all that is beyond the reaches of time and knowledge,
I extend this wish.
I, Annabell, wish and agree to be one with Emily.”  
Emily calls out, “As the Great Living Mother, as the Old Ones have heard us, we join now into the holy storm. The work of joy is done.”  Then some words are spoken that Annabell does not understand.
Something that does not seem real is suddenly taking place.  Wind has begun to rush around the room, wind that is circling them. Closer and closer it closes upon them, then as its sense touches, this mass of whirling energy moves them so that they seem to be rising from the ground.
As they clasp hands, the air spins them, once, a second time, a third.
Then quietly it lowers them, blows gently away.
And then calmness, great calmness.
Emily has tears in her eyes.  “I didn’t know!  I did not know, Annie.”
“You did not know, my love?”
“That the wind would come.  Aunt Keren and Aunt Mary said if the ceremony was done correctly the wind would come.  It has consummated us, our wedding.”
They sit on the carpet in the middle of the flowers.  With the glasses filled, the chocolates on a plate before them, Emily begins to tell of the old times.
She tells of the secrets of those moments of the lady who held priestess duty of the stones.  Then in a softness she speaks of that which has come in this time as fulfilment. Of the baby she will bear.  The little sacred one she will adore and cherish.
Annabell strokes Heart’s fingers, and as they become lost to Earth’s sight, as they explore a new unfathomable immensity, the two in their love do indeed find themselves as one.
© Kewe   All rights reserved.