Chapter 7: Moonlight Encounter
By the time Walter drifted back into consciousness the daylight had faded and it was now dark inside the cottage.
Something very heavy was lying on top of him, the weight of it crushing down onto his chest, and he wondered how it could have gotten there. He pulled the dead weight of his hand upwards, gritting his teeth with the effort, to feel about … to see what the heavy thing was - and there was nothing there. He wondered how that could be...
Later on, the moon came up and, little by little, the Captain managed to roll himself over so that he could see it.
It was a good place to be: from where Walter lay he could see both the moonlit ocean and the moon itself sailing above it. He liked the moon and he liked the sea ... he only wished that he wasn't so tired. He wondered why no one had come along yet to take the heavy thing off his chest. Then another wave of weariness washed over him, and he closed his eyes again.
For Victor the rest of the workday crept by slowly. With so many things on his mind it was difficult to keep his thoughts straight. He wondered how successful the Captain's 'chat' had been with the Solicitor and he kept replaying the argument he'd had that morning with Victoria over and over again in his mind.
When it came to him to leave, he didn't feel like going home yet, so he decided to go for a very long walk instead.
Usually when Victor went for a walk, things would fall into place, but today the further he went the more unsettled his mind became. Eventually he gave up trying to think and he just wandered aimlessly, letting his legs take him in whatever direction they cared to go.
He walked and walked for a long time, well into the night. Eventually he reached a point where he had to stop to rest, and so he did.
Something about the place seemed familiar, and he lifted his head and looked around. In front of him - not more than ten or fifteen feet away - was the Bride's grave.
A sudden irrational thought came into his mind: if he stayed here long enough, perhaps she would come and tell him what to do next...
Victor spent the night at the Bride's grave, waiting. Over and over again, he relived the brief time that he had spent with her, wondering if, perhaps, it hadn't been a very strange dream.
The sun came up, and still he lingered, wondering if somehow he could bring her back by sheer force of will. From time to time he could hear rustling behind him in the forest, but he didn't bother to look. It might have been Victoria, or maybe someone else, but there was only the one face he wanted to see...
The sun climbed into the sky, then sank down again. The forest air grew cool and damp as the evening deepened once more into night. Moonrise came and more hours passed. It was only when he heard the sound of the ravens that he finally opened his eyes.
She was standing at the foot of the grave.
Not the ragged corpse that he had known briefly years before, but the very image of the lovely girl that she had been ... as she had been when she lived.
She was so much more beautiful than he had remembered. Large dark eyes shone brightly above a small nose, and her long, thick, dark hair fell in waves over her long neck down past her bare shoulders. She still wore the wedding dress, but now it looked new and fresh - not like the tattered rag he had seen on her years before.
"It's neither right nor proper to summon the dead," she said, shaking her head.
Victor staggered to his feet. "Emily!" he cried, and he reached out for her.
But she drew back. "No, Victor… "
Victor persisted. "But I was wrong! I should have married you!"
Emily looked wistfully at Victor. She stretched out a ghostly hand and caressed his cheek. Her touch felt like butterfly wings upon his skin.
"I love you, Victor," she said. "And I always will ... but you're still not mine … you belong with your family … they need you now."
"But I can't," he complained. "It's too hard. All these years I've been hoping and praying that you'd come back. And now you have."
She smiled. A sweet, sad smile. "Only to say good-bye, darling."
The Bride shook her head.
"Have faith, Victor... "
"Faith? What faith? ... I can't go on ... not without you!"
"Oh, Victor... but I believe in you. We'll meet again, don't worry. But life here … is so short. Don't waste yours waiting for me."
She paused and smiled again. "Good-bye, my love."
"But, Emily!" Victor cried.
She started to fade. "I have to go now ... there's someone I've been waiting for … someone who needs me …"
She blew him a kiss, and was gone.
Victor fell to his knees.
"No!" he wailed. "Emily! Come back! Please come back!"
But there was only the sound of the wind whistling through the empty trees. And the sound of ravens crying in the distance.
His heart pounded and his head swirled. So many years he had waited to see her one more time and now - too quickly - he had lost her again.
Victor lingered awhile longer at the grave. He wept and raged, and then he wept again. And when his tears finally dried, and he could cry no more, he pulled himself wearily to his feet and turned for home.
He didn't know how to go on, but he clung to her words.
'... I believe in you...'
It would have to be enough.
The pain was still there, but the Captain didn't feel it quite as much now. Somehow it felt duller, much less urgent, and a lot more distant. The room grew dim, but he didn't mind - he liked the darkness, and it seemed comforting to him.
His thoughts wandered as he felt himself sink. He thought about Emily and wondered if he would ever see her again.
And then she was there. "Hello, Daddy," she said to him gently. "I've been waiting for you."
The Captain's eyes widened and they filled with tears. "Oh, my girl," he whispered. "Oh, my darling girl!"
Then he died.
The spirit of the Bride paused for a moment, and then reached out and gently took his hand in hers.
"Come," she said. "Mother's waiting for us."
He opened his eyes in wonder and, after a few more moments, the essence of the Captain stepped away from the emptied body and, hand in hand, the two walked together into the waiting Light.