April 9, 1896 - Elizabeth Bassett's Diary

It was dark. My breath frosted in the night air and rose slowly up before me like an icy cloud. The moonlight cast treetop shadows at my feet. I was in the forest. In the distance a wolf howled at the moon. Closer, a twig snapped.

There were hushed whispers from the trees around the tiny clearing. Men talking, preparing for something. Their voices were too low for me to make out the words. I strained to hear something to make this place make sense.

It was like distant thunder at first only the sound only grew stronger. I recognized it as hoof beat on soft dirt and then I saw it. Two clouds of icy air rose up together. A snort echoed in the clearing. The horses head was bobbing slightly as he galloped.

On his back, a woman had his reigns. She was leaned down, her head close to his neck. Her brown hair fluttered in the wind like a flag. Her face was concentration and determination and somehow I could see both mirrored in the eye of her steed.

The forest came alive with movement. The whispering men exited the shadows and moved with a singular purpose. The horse cried out a warning and halted his run. The men threw a rope net over them, before either had a chance to react. The horse started to rear up. Incredibly, the woman held fast.

Cruelty was in the air. The men tugged on the net, toppling the horse to one side. The woman narrowly avoided being crushed by rolling to the side. Her determination was unscathed by the turn of events. She struggled with the net. I think she was trying to find an edge to get under.

One of the men, he must have been the leader, approached her. His rugged looks would have been attractive but for the evil look in his eyes and the twisted grin on his lips. He said something to her but I could not make out the words. She kicked at him only to have her efforts foiled by the heavy net. He snorted frost into the air.

He reached a hand out to her and grabbed her shoulder. His grin widened. Her left arm slipped through the net. His face turned toward one of the other men and she swung fast. There was pure silence as her fist contacted his nose. The man staggered backwards. He snorted again, only this time the air was bloodied.

Off in the distance a voice called out into the night. The woman smiled. Another man, close by to the first, stepped closer to her. In a rough motion he twirled up his rifle and slammed the butt into her head. The crack echoed in the clearing. The woman fell to the ground and lay there moaning softly.

I shuddered and the forest disappeared. My eyes blinked quickly, my heart was racing in my chest. I sat up in bed and tried to slow my rapid breath. It was only a dream. A strange dream which made no sense to me, but the woman in it, she seemed somehow familiar although I am sure I do not know her.

My roommates were all fast asleep. The room was only dimly lit by the moon outside. I looked across at the lower bunk opposite mine. Penelope looked peaceful there.

My thoughts wandered back to the previous day. She had been nearly late enough getting back from class to be in trouble with Mrs. Carrington. I am certain, it was only her escort that saved her. She had arrived on the arm of Jonathon.

I do realize I have no call to be angry. I cannot help that I am. I had wanted to believe his promises that Penelope was not of interest to him. I had wanted to think that maybe he was interested in me. I had wanted to live in a fairy tale in which he rescued me from my otherwise dull existence.

On the steps of Carrington Manor he crushed my every wish. The way he looked at her was unmistakable. The way she smiled and blushed to even look at him was not my imagination. Her slightly disheveled appearance left little to the imagination of where they had been or what they had been doing. I wonder if Remington knows yet?

I pushed the jealous thoughts aside and sighed. My head dropped back down to my pillow. I was exhausted and frustrated. I was angry and sad. Oddly enough, I was also relieved. Relieved to not have the burden of balancing a romance with studying quite so soon into my time at Primrose.

Sleep came again.

I was standing in a field of sea lavender in bloom. It was beautiful. The sky was clear and sharply blue. I think it was summer. I could smell the salty ocean over the fresh lavender scent. The rhythmic sound of waves crashing against rock kept a beat of time. I was not alone.

The woman from the forest was back. She was moving through the field in front of me, her focus seemed to be a lone tree standing in the distance on a green hill. Behind me Edith was moving toward the tree as well. I started in the same direction.

The close we came to the tree the harder it was to see. The three of us said nothing to each other. The air seemed heavy with worry. I had the sense we were searching for something or someone. We approached the edge of the lavender field. The tree was so close.

A man appeared on horseback in front of us. I recognized him as the town sheriff. Edith tutors his boys on occasion but he hardly looked at her. His eyes were looked on the brown haired woman from the forest.

“You don’t need to see this.” He said in a solemn voice.

She did not answer. She walked by him. I followed and Edith followed me. I could see there was something hanging from the tree. At first it appeared like a sack swaying gently in the wind. Thunder roared in the distance and I turned my head to look eastward over the ocean. Dark clouds were moving fast. A summer storm would be on us soon.

I looked back to the tree. The brown haired woman gasped. I looked higher and saw the curly golden locks of hair. This was not a sack swaying in the wind.

The storm was overhead now. It began to rain. The light of day faded and darkness reigned. I sat on the grass. Edith and the brown haired woman sat with me. Edith was crying.

Suddenly I was alone with Penelope. She continued to sway in the wind. Her eyes snapped open and their green color was glowing in the darkness. She stared at me and I felt guilty.

“A Primrose girl can make a difference.” She said.

Her eyes closed and the storm passed. I was standing alone on the grass below the tree and Penelope was gone. Her words echoed in the air. There was meaning in them that was just beyond my grasp.

A bell sounded out.

I sat up in bed again. Penelope was awake as well across the room. She looked over at me.

“Are you all right?” She asked.

“Just a bad dream.” I replied.

For just a moment I was tempted to warn her of Edith’s plan to deal with her. The moment faded though, after all it was only a dream. No doubt it was brought on by my involvement in plotting against her and the unavoidable feelings of guilt even though if anyone should feel guilty for their actions it is her and not I.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An unusual episode, and very powerfully written. My only quibble was with the final paragraph which was a touch "modern" and explanatory.
Mr R Fane