‘It is the church where I am to be married.   You know that!   St. Brannoc’s!  Such a lovely graveyard for my uncle.’
Voices murmuring.   Voices warning.
‘Climb onto the highest gravestone,’ Annabell whispers.   ‘I have done it.   It is quite wonderful.’
Chapter Eight
Ko-Ko Lord High Executioner
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G
eorge in the drawing room, intentionally alone after a splendid meal spent with everyone back from church, enjoys a chuckle.
Why would he not!  Only minutes before this fine time of two o’clock, the day Sunday April 29, 1900, he has once more commenced upon an adventure.
His nerves still shake.  After ringing the bell, praying most earnestly to all he knew that it would be she, for that would be the sign, Meg had stood there before him.
“Miss Trenton,” he forced himself, pulling the courage from inside him.  “This might seem irregular given the social environment in which we live.”  For a moment all further words escaped him. Then they came to him. “Please but I must do it now or I must do it in a year, and I cannot wait a year.  I would deem it a great favour if you would consider a brief walk with me.”
‘Knocks ya socks off, does she!’  Johnie back in Pune that’s what he would say.  Gentle lads in their twenties, times were when he and Johnie, from the United States of America, by way of China, had to speak of women.
‘Those eyes, mesmerize me, Johnie.  From the moment I set eyes on her she had me.’
‘Aadrika!’
‘Ah!  Johnie!  That’s done with, you know that’s done with.’
Aadrika was all George pictured those India fancies to be. Well funded husband, dressed in the best finary one could imagine, she wasn’t from the capital, she was from Pune.
India unfolds around him.  With the hurt of the death of Caroline, he buried himself in all that India offered. Kashvi was the first, Kashvi, the shining one.
“Goddess Yellamma has brought me to you,” Kashvi would undress him.  “Goddess Yellamma has instructed me to adopt you.”
Adopt him, she had brought his soul back to life.
When the carriage took him to her dwelling, how her smile drew his spirit.
With tantric motions, with all the mysteries that India has to offer, she laughing would say that the Goddess has spoken to her.
Kashvi!  Such a teacher.
“It is very uncomplicated,” She would position him, teach him to breath, to hold pleasure.
She had slipped away when the Goddess gave her word the moment was no longer.
Chandani, sweet Chandani, a Brâhmana Jatis mistress came to replace.
She taught him the Brâhmana ways from aeons past.
And then...  Aadrika.
Aadrika would say.  “We are from the same Higher Force.  ITS glory has brought us to this moment.”
When he asked what that meant, she’d smile, and then laugh. “Bambarik!  Bambarik!  How funny you are!”
“Bambarik is teaching Aadrika.”  She would give a loud, rolling belly laugh.  “And her husband.  I make him perform all that Kashvi and Chandani has taught Bambarik.”
George didn’t complain.  In their ardour, the practiced positions from Kashvi came new ones with Chandani. Out of the yawning breath, out of the clasping, Aadrika would cry out with passion.  So many paintings she stepped him into.
“Jawahar, my noble husband has much to give praise to Bambarik for his skill.  I am your ‘Apsara,’ Bambarik.”
She came to the ship to see him off, kisses flowing in his cabin, tears covering his face.  “All is meant to be.”
In these past two days, he cannot explain how once again his heart has opened.
Jade green eyes has Megan Angharawd Trenton, eyes forcing him to look.
“Will you step out with me, Meg?  A walk through the fields?”
A surprise for her, as it would be.  Deep surprise! But he could see more.  Recognition!
Two souls they know the moment!
His heart began to rise.
A willingness to enjoy the adventure!
She stands there, a twinkle in her eyes, a merriment in the lips.
“Then I will have the pleasure of meeting you in the Garden by the music pavilion, at three fifteen.”
She nodded.
“Nandi Bull.  Speak about Nandi Bull, George.”
“Ah!  Johnie!  Nandi Bull is dwarpal, the happy one. In your light, the bull.  A man who pleases everyone, that’s you, Johnie.  Never a bad word about you.”
“Nandi bull!  I likes Nandi bull,” Johnie would say. “Tell me more about that bull.”
. . .
A little past two Sunday afternoon, those at the back prepare for a quality meal.
Bella fixing herself up in her room, Meg and Mrs. Minton having a conversation in Mrs. Minton’s room, leaves only Mr. McBride and Lucy in the living room.
Lucy pulls a face, mostly for her own benefit.  “The table is ready, Mr. McBride, if you would care to inspect it.”
“You can forego the pantomime, Lucy.  I just wish to have everything in order.”
Lucy is not sure if she should continue with the comic act. Riling His Nibs is a pleasure she has a right.  But His Nibs can turn when it’s unexpected. Finding some work for her this afternoon that won’t do.  Tom will be back from Sunday meal with his mother, back with horses though they’re out in field. After meal she’ll be over to stables if nothing unforeseen befalls, which she’s hoping it don’t. Lucy decides against more antics.  “Yes!  Mr. McBride,” she replies, her face as innocent as a virgin dove.
Mr. McBride pops the cork of a bottle of Madeira wine, holds the bottle up.  “A gift as a ‘thank you for working this evening.’”
Usually everyone is off-duty Sunday evening.  At 5:00 PM a cold buffet is laid out in the dining room and anything required after 7:00 PM Sunday the front of the house take care of themselves.  The house guests being familiar with everything, all wander into the kitchen for whatever takes their fancy.
With Miss Annabell’s party this evening, Mr. Edward and Mrs. Coulter being here, all at the back will be needed.  A recital is to take place.  The Master himself is doing a performance.  Lucy finishes a bowl of water lilies decorating the centre of the table.
Mr. McBride filling the glasses with the Madeira wine, watches her.  “You brought those lilies?”
“I thought they would add a touch of cheer.”
“And did Tom get into the pond to cut them for you?”
Lucy goes bright red.  “Yes!”
“You be careful with that young man.”
Lucy is about to say that Tom didn’t get into the pond, that he reached with a hook for them, when Bella in a finely embroidered dress, suitable in Mr. McBride’s opinion for any gala, enters the room.  A chatting Meg and Mrs. Minton follow Bella.
Taking their seats around the table everyone falls silent.
McBride standing, announces: “Before we bring up the soup in the pulley-lift, I wish for the benefit of Miss Ackrim, joining us for the first time this Sunday, to draw attention to our practice of offering the Lord a special prayer for our meal on Sunday.”
The butler allows his words a length of silence before continuing.  “Sunday Bible reading has been noted as a time when Master at back of house gives a short needed correction for those who have need of it.” McBride smiles somewhat impishly at Lucy.
“The soup will be getting cold, Woolly,” Mrs. Minton lays a hand on the butler’s arm.
“Indeed it will.  And roast beef and potatoes to follow. So we must hurry.” McBride taps the Bible.  “From Psalms 104 verses 30:
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever.

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In a loud voice, as Horace McBride as a child ended his reciting for the Kirk:
I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

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With that the butler closes his Bible, places it on the sideboard, picks up his full glass of Madeira.  “Now, your health everyone.”
“Woolly,” Mrs. Minton casts a cautionary eye at Mr. McBride, a glance for him not to be getting excited.  “As we’re bringing up the soup, Meg has something she wishes to tell us, don’t you love.”
Meg could almost be crying.  Her hands are trembling. “It is all so sudden, and it doesn’t mean anything I am sure of it.  Mr. George Bexfield has asked me to step out with him this afternoon, and I have accepted his request.”  
. . .
Twenty-five past six and neither Annabell nor Emily are dressed. Both shaking their heads, nothing will do.
“Uncle is singing.”  That leads to fresh paroxysms of giggling.
Annabell checks again through the clothes she has moved aside. “What is it to be for our distinguished audience?”
Holding up a light cream silk bodice, neckline having only a hint of lace.  “This?”
Emily nods.  Now a gown.  “How about...?  Emily picks a light velvet violet and a rose gown.
“I’ve worn those till they’re practically threadbare.  Uncle brought them with the satin.  Too warm all the work I am going to do.”
Emily looks around.  “The satin?  Which satin?”  Annabell goes to the closet, picks out a carefully folded satin gown. Slipping it over her, they both stare into the mirror.
“I never think of wearing this.  It always seems to be not warm enough.  But with my arms waving madly this will be perfect!”  Annabell then screams.  “Oh!  Yes!  Yes!”
Emily wants to try a sage-green skirt, heavily pleated. “You’re always wearing green, try this purple.”  Annabell holds up a pale pink silk bodice, places it against the purple.
“Try it on.”
In front of the mirror, Emily has to nod.
Fondling Emily’s hair setting the silver clips, Annabell whispers, “I am so glad that’s done.”
. . .
Constance waiting at the piano, Ronald whispers into her ear, “Perhaps we should not do this, Conny.”
“Yes!  Yes!  Stage fright, Knobs.  The piano is waiting. The audience is waiting.  They will love you.”
Wiping his brow, the Squire steps to the centre of the stage area that has been created, smiles bashfully.
Lady Middleton in her best low alto tone: “Ko-Ko has not been a good tailor,” she stares at the Squire.  “However as most who lack talent, he is a good politician.  Glib words roll from his tongue. Most recently Ko-Ko’s slyness and wickedness has found him appointed to the exalted station of Lord High Executioner for Titipu.”
Groans come from the audience.
“Unfortunately for Nanki-Poo.”
More groans!
A long, sad, gaze towards Edward.  “Nanki-Poo has fallen in love with Yum-Yum.”
Now cheers!
“Ah!  But Ko-Ko has designs upon this lady.  As all ‘officials’ skilled in the craft, he knows exactly what he will do.  He will execute Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado.  He will take the blood from this poor young man.  And he will get away with it.”
Groans!
Constance gazes forlornly towards Annabell’s intended spouse. “Edward be not afraid young man.  Ko-Ko tells me nothing of his love for Yum-Yum has to do with your expected death.  Nor his being magistrate.  He’s not made a decision to execute you, not quite yet.”
Lady Middleton sings:
On a tree by a river a little tom-tit Sang “Willow, titwillow, titwillow!

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And I said to him, “Dicky-bird, why do you sit Singing ‘Willow, titwillow, titwillow?’ ”

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“Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?”  I cried, “Or a rather tough worm in your little inside?”

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With a shake of his poor little head, he replied: “Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!”

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Now the Squire hesitantly joins her:
On a tree by a river a little tom-tit Sang “Willow, titwillow, titwillow!

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And a cold perspiration bespangled his brow, “Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!”

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He sobbed and he sighed, and a gurgle he gave, Then he plunged himself into the billowy wave.

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And an echo arose from the suicide’s grave, “Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!”

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Constance, with a wider vocal range, shifts to the high end of her mezzo-soprano.
Now I feel just as sure as I’m sure that my name Isn’t Willow, titwillow, titwillow.

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And a cold perspiration bespangled his brow, “Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!”

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That ‘twas blighted affection that made him exclaim, “Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!”

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Together now Constance and Edward:
And if you remain callous and obdurate, I shall perish as he did, and you will know why,

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Though I probably shall not exclaim as I die, “Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!” 

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Constance pounds on the piano as a roar of clapping ensues.
Edward steps forward:
I am the very model of a modern Major General,

I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral.

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Annabell, who’s been standing behind Edward moving his arms, waving them to express importance, now rushes to the Squire taken a seat, a front row chair, drags her uncle to a spot in front of Edward.
Constance again pounds on the piano.
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical, From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical.

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I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical, I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,

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About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news, With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

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Rushing to centre stage, Annabell waves her arms for the audience to start singing:
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

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Edward stepping in front of the Squire, proceeds:
I’m very good at integral and differential calculus; In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, I am the very model of a modern Major General.

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Annabell to the audience waving her arms as a choir leader encouraging their singing:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,

He is the very model of a modern Major General.

He is the very model of a modern Major General.

He is the very model of a modern Major General.

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Back now behind Edward, Annabell’s hands are being pointed everywhere as he bellows:
I know our mythic history, King Arthur and Sir Caradoc’s.

I answer hard acrostics; I’ve a pretty taste for paradox.

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I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus.

In conics, I can floor peculiarities parabolous;

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I can tell undoubted Raphael’s from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies.

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Then I can hum a fugue of which I’ve heard the music’s din afore, And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.

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The chorus needing no cue, bursts forth:
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense ‘Pinafore.’

And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense ‘Pinafore.’

And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense ‘Pinafore.’

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Edward and the Squire retort:
Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,

And tell you every detail of Caractacus’s uniform:

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In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,

I am the very model of a modern Major General.

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Constance and Annabell join the audience:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,

He is the very model of a modern Major General.

He is the very model of a modern Major General.

He is the very model of a modern Major General.

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Edward continues:
In fact, when I know what is meant by “mamelon” and “ravelin”,

When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin,

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When such affairs as sorties and surprises I’m more wary at,

And when I know precisely what is meant by “commissariat”,

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When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,

When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery,

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In short, when I’ve a smattering of elemental strategy,

You’ll say a better Major General has never sat a gee.

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Constance in high voice:
You’ll say a better Major General has never sat a gee.

Never sat a gee?

Never sat a gee?

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Edward points at the Squire:
For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,

Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;

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Still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,

I am the very model of a modern Major General.

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In high anticipation the audience sings the last chorus:
Still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,

He is the very model of a modern Major General.

He is the very model of a modern Major General.

He is the very model of a modern Major General.

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The song finished, Annabell rushes to hug the Squire.
Such a fright has comes upon her.
What is it she feels.
Hold him!
Hold him!
“Annabell!  It is time for your song, my dear.”
“Yes, Aunt.”
The audience, clapping for the Squire and Edward, now clap as Constance gets up from the piano bows.
Annabell at the piano: “Well, thank you Mr. Gilbert and Sir Arthur for your wonderful art.  A work from our beloved Thomas Hood — The Song of the Shirt:
With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,

A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,

Plying her needle and thread.

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Stitch!  stitch!  stitch!

In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,

She sang the ‘Song of the Shirt.’

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Work!  Work!  Work!

While the cock is crowing aloof!

And work work work,

Till the stars shine through the roof!

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It’s Oh!  to be a slave,

Along with the barbarous Turk,

Where woman has never a soul to save,

If this is Christian work!

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Work!  Work!  Work!

Till the brain begins to swim;

Work work work,

Till the eyes are heavy and dim!

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Seam, and gusset, and band,

Band, and gusset, and seam,

Till over the buttons I fall asleep,

And sew them on in a dream!

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Oh, Men, with Sisters dear!

Oh, men, with Mothers and Wives!

It is not linen you’re wearing out,

But human creatures’ lives!

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Stitch!  stitch!  stitch!

In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

Sewing at once, with a double thread,

A Shroud as well as a Shirt.

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But why do I talk of Death?

That Phantom of grisly bone,

I hardly fear its terrible shape,

It seems so like my own.

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It seems so like my own,

Because of the fasts I keep.

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Oh, God!  that bread should be so dear,

And flesh and blood so cheap!

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Work!  Work!  Work!

My labour never flags;

And what are its wages?  A bed of straw,

A crust of bread,and rags.

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That shatter’d roof, and this naked floor,

A table, a broken chair.

And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank,

For sometimes falling there!

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Work!  Work!  Work!

From weary chime to chime,

Work work work,

As prisoners work for crime!

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Band, and gusset, and seam,

Seam, and gusset, and band,

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Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumb’d.

As well as the weary hand.

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Work!  Work!  Work!

In the dull December light,

And work work work,

When the weather is warm and bright.

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While underneath the eaves,

The brooding swallows cling.

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As if to show me their sunny backs,

And twit me with the spring.

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Oh!  but to breathe the breath,

Of the cowslip and primrose sweet.

With the sky above my head,

And the grass beneath my feet.

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For only one short hour,

To feel as I used to feel,

Before I knew the woes of want,

And the walk that costs a meal.

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Oh!  but for one short hour!

A respite however brief!

No blessed leisure for Love or Hope,

But only time for Grief!

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A little weeping would ease my heart,

But in their briny bed,

My tears must stop, for every drop,

Hinders needle and thread! 

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With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,

A woman sat in unwomanly rags,

Plying her needle and thread.

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Stitch!  Stitch!  Stitch!

In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,

Would that its tone could reach the Rich!

She sang this ‘Song of the Shirt!’

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The audience claps.  McBride hands out drinks.  On a back sofa, finished with watching Annabell’s performance, the Squire reaches for a brochure brought from his rooms.  “I thought you might take a look at this, my dear.  Thomas Cook.  Greece!  You and me a cruise before our walk through the Alps.  Tunisia!  Cyprus!”
“Is this to make sure I come to our wedding, Ronald?”   Constance begins to laugh but stops when his hand touches her face.
“I had thought it might be the determining factor, my dear.”
. . .
In the kitchen McBride wanders carrying two empty wine bottles.
“Have they finished with the food, Woolly?”
“The table is full, Missy.  Mostly interested in the drinks now.”
“I’ll tell Nelly she can be off.”  Mrs. Minton breathes a thankful sigh.  “Tomorrow will be soon enough for the rest of the dishes.”
McBride sits by the kitchen table.  “Come here my love,” he pats his knee.
“Woolly!  All the time for that later.”
“Come, give me a kiss.”
Mrs.  Middleton wouldn’t mind a sit-down even if it is on Woolly’s knobbly knees, except that moment Lucy pushes open the back kitchen door, waves at Tom as he turns back to the stables.
“Nice to see you, this evening, Lucy.”
“Nice to see you, Mr. McBride.”
. . .
“A new moon tonight, Laurie,” Edward helps his mother into the carriage for the journey home.  Lawrence did not come with them in the Brougham, telling them he preferred to ride to the manor.
“The stars will see me fine.  Don’t wait up.  I might take a romp out on the moors.”
“Well, watch for tradesman’s potholes, especially this first stretch.  They can be treacherous.”
“I will.”
Annabell kisses Edward.  The carriage door is closed.
Henri grasps the reigns.  The horses take them away.
The Squire shakes Lawrence’s hand.  “Hope you enjoyed the evening.”
“I did, sir.  I’ll see if the fellow is still up in the stables and wake him if he’s not.”
“It’s Tom, he’s doing duty tonight,” the Squire points around the manor towards John Hopkins’ farm.  “The son of the farmer over-way.”
As the young man walks towards the stables, the Squire, Constance, Annabell and Emily take the steps to the manor door.
. . .
After the spasm of contractions, the breathing softens.
Emily rolls upon her back.
Naked, Emily plays broodingly upon Annabell’s most private, delicate area.
The soirée had been a success.
Edward has shown no resentment of her, not that she can discern. He seems to like to be in her presence.
“Do you like this?”
Annabell moves so that she is even more exposed.
“Yes!  I like you.”   As one hand holds the womb, the second follows the curves of the body, an intensity again enflaming.
“I like you!”  Emily taps.
The hands play and build.
“Ummmmmmm!”  Annabell murmurs.  “Ummmmmmm!
Do that again!  I like how you do that.”
Excitement being sent along the divinely arched region.
Nipples hard, nipples red in their engorgement, the tongue winds its way upwards into the glistening mouth.
Mouths joined, the two lie tongues together in their intoxicating feminine scent.
It is their souls they enter, the two joined together.
Open, vulnerable, they are one.
As they fondle, their bodies glistening, the aroma of rose and spice drifting.
. . .
Lawrence had a sense even in Biddiford that he was not here for the wedding, not to collect money from his father, though he still hopes to do that.  These past years he has become familiar with how this ‘Other’ manipulates him.
It works on his pleasure, his need.
When he had taken the prostitute and smothered her, he was guided.  Smothering her, he did have the choice to kill.  He did obey!
There is so much he doesn’t know.  How can you kill another person?  He should have turned away, that is what he should have done.  He must become his own master.  He must leave the coven, disappear, take a ship anywhere.  He will have have a chance then.
Playing cards Friday evening, Enid has asked Edward where Annabell’s friend was staying in the manor.  “In a room on the second floor,” Edward had replied.  “She is the only person on the second floor.”
He hadn’t thought of it at the time, but this morning when she entered the carriage, sat beside him, he knew he was going to share his seed with her.
This “Other” wants it.  They want his seed to create her child.  She is of the bloodline, she has to be.  This Emily knows it’s to be done, he is sure.  There would not be such insistence were she not aware. In these high matters he has learnt they always make you aware. You always have choice.  It is important to them that you always have choice.  When you are aware of choice.
Lawrence guides the horse to the wooded area across Oath Highway.  He has no intention of going to the moors.
His purpose is to speak with Miss Adams, this Emily. Once Evil tires of him he will be brought to trial for the prostitute.  He will be hanged.  But they, at this higher level, have decided that Lawrence will give ‘The Other’ that which it wishes.  If he submits this last time perhaps he will be allowed to go free.  What better than to do it tonight if she is in agreement!
Then he will go to Ronald Bexfield, tonight or tomorrow morning, ask for a sizeable amount.  His father to come with him to the bank in Biddiford.
Bella and he will take ship.
In the woods across Oath Highway, Lawrence ties the horse to a sprawling oak.  Covering the horse’s eyes with a blind, he crosses into the garden on the Manor south side, slips by the bandstand, the lily pond.
After the concert, he had unlocked the solarium door that was opposite the dining room.  The servants would not bother to check this far door.  He tries it.  No resistance. It opens.
Good!  These inner forces are working with him.  All that remains is to step up to the first floor, then to the second.
Thought of words that he’ll speak come to him.  His voice will be soft yet the power will flood over him.  ‘The Other’ will prepare him.
In the hallway, under the lone light over the stairs, Lawrence steps to the first floor.  The door to the second floor has a narrow walnut chest at the side with chamber sticks for lighting.  He lights one.
With his hand around the candle, Lawrence proceeds up the stairs to the doorway above.  He peers into the passage. A night lamp is lit on a table some thirty yards down.
Pacing first to the turn and the south passage darkness, then back to the north passageway darkness, Lawrence has not yet gathered the courage to enter Emily’s room. He cannot startle her.  If he enters and she is awake, she might scream in surprise.
Those underneath likely will not hear, but he cannot be sure.  He has to talk, explain that this is the time.  That ‘The Other’ has its will in this matter.  That he is merely fulfilling a role, as she also, some agreement she has made.
She will know he is sure.  But he has to make certain.
He will only share his seed with her if she is willing.  He will take on no further burden.
Back by the night lamp, Lawrence taps on the door, “Mistress! Mistress Emily!”
Turning the handle, he slips inside.
. . .
“I will see you in the morning.”   Annabell smiles, “If that is what you wish.”
“I do.  You cannot have the girls thinking I sleep with you every night.”
“I cannot?”
“No!”
“Oh!”
“Tomorrow my love!”  A last kiss, Emily forces herself to shut Annabell’s bedroom door.  Passing the white rattan furniture, the soft blue paper of Annabell’s parlour, flowers in a bouquet upon the writing bureau, the carved marble lamp that remains softly lit in the hallway, she does not want to leave.
Aunt Keren has been told of feelings she has when she is with her love.  She asked if some magic was possible so that Annabell will not marry Edward.
“If you wish, my dear!”  Aunt Keren had replied.  “We could bring forth a demon, supplicate its help.”
“But I do wish, I do wish.”
Then she had burst into tears.  Her aunt had wiped the tears.
Emily hurries past the black Japanned chair with its pagoda figure.
‘Don’t proceed,’ the chair seems to whisper.
“If you create magic that Annabell must not be wed,” Aunt Keren had softly stated.  “There will come a moment when you will no longer have her.”
“Allow your pain and you will have her always.”
Will she have her always!  Can she share her!  Passing the Squire’s rooms, passing Lady Middleton’s chambers, Emily stops at the narrow walnut chest where the rosewood barometer hangs. Maidens all dressed in burgundy gaze down from the walls.
Stairs below!  Stairs above!  What should she do?
All now she wishes is to scurry down those wide open stairs that reach out to nowhere.  Her heart torn to pieces, she’ll open the front entrance door, dash forever outwards, run and run and run and run.
“Follow your heart,” Aunt Karen had kissed her.  “You heart will never tell you to do ill.  Where it takes you is where you might wish.  But where it takes you, only you can tread.”
‘Oh, wonderful High Beings.  Great Spiritual Sacred Beings, I do now ask for your love and help.  Help me in this moment.  Place me within your hands.’
Lighting the candle stick, she forces herself into the stairs. On the silent carpet upwards she steps.
The top door opened, a lamp is lit down the hallway, its soft hue covering her door.
‘I have decided, dear Annabell.’ her thoughts whisper. Annabell turns her head to stare.
‘It is not reasonable for you to ask me to let you go.’
‘Let you go!  I will never let you go!’
‘If you marry Edward, you will let me go.’
‘What nonsense you talk, I will marry you also.  Do we not have the rings!’
‘Dear, Annie.  But I just wanted...’
Annabell giggles, ‘I know my darling.  You will know when we marry!  Hurry my dear.  No more delay.  Let us get inside.’
By the lamp, Emily turns the rose-wood knob.
The chamber stick wobbles, the candle flickers, for a moment she believes she hears a sound from the hallway. Emily lights the lamp placed upon the dressing table In a moment of sudden panic, she cries out, ‘Annabell, are you still with me!’
Annabell wickedly pulls a face.
Emily flops onto the bed, rolls across it, begins staring at the ceiling.  ‘Why are you looking at that picture.’
‘It is the church where I am to be married.  You know that!  St. Brannoc’s!  Such a lovely graveyard for my uncle.’
Voices murmuring.  Voices warning.
‘Climb onto the highest gravestone,’ Annabell whispers. ‘I have done it.  It is quite wonderful.’
Emily sits up.
Getting off the bed, taking off her blouse, placing it upon a chair, shadows are at every angle, shadows at every corner of the room.
At the washbowl, the coldness of the water shocks.
Quickly she pats her face with the towel.
Unbuttoning her petticoat, the nightdress cotton cloth over her, at the dressing table she combs her hair.
Reflecting from the mirror, the writing cabinet opposite. Turning, she looks about.  She thinks she has heard a sound.  A sound by the door.
“Is there someone there!”
The lamp carried across, she examines the door.  The lock is turned.
Then she thinks she sees the doorknob turn. The sight so startles her that with her free hand, she turns the knob herself, gives the door a good tug.  It holds firm.  The door is locked.
Through the ghostly hum of the half-words she has been hearing, she now hears clearly a cultured woman’s voice:
‘Emily, my dear.  We are with you.  He has gone.  Sleep well.  You may be content now.’
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