Yes, the time has finally come to leave this story - and I'm loath to leave it behind, but it is now complete. I have written this epilogue for those that requested it. You don't have to read it as the end of 'Beyond' - you could consider the end of chapter 21 'the end' and just leave it at that. Or you can read right to the end of the epilogue. It's up to you! Needless to say, it has been a real pleasure writing this story, and huge appreciation goes out to all the reviewers, who kept me going right up till the end.
I've leave you with a poem from Charlotte Bronte. Thanks so much for everything! xx Elyzia.
Speak of the North! a lonely moor,
Silent and dark and tractless swells,
The waves of some wild streamlet poor,
Hurridly through its ferny dells.
Profoundly still the twilight air,
Listless the landscape; so we deem
Till, like a phantom gliding near
A stag bends down to drink the stream.
And far away, a mountain zone,
A cold, white waste land of snow drifts lies,
And one star, large and soft and lone,
Silently lights the unclouded skies.
The young woman sat in the middle of her garden, enjoying the late afternoon sun on her back. A warm breeze stirred around her, carrying with it the smell of all the flowers that were in bloom in the garden, and the pink heather that grew prolifically in the surrounding moor. She closed her eyes and listened for a moment at the sounds that came her way – the swishing of the wind through the heather, the droning of the bees as they flew from flower to flower, and the twittering of the sparrows that hopped and chirped.
She looked down at the blank piece of paper that lay on her lap, laying flat on an old gardening book. A small smile came over her face. She took her pen, paused for a second and bit her lip thoughtfully, and then began to write, her pen skimming over the page as she picked up inspiration.
My dear Cousin,
Thank you for your letter – it arrived in the post yesterday. I hope that this letter finds you well – and that you stay true to your promise of coming to visit us this Christmas. Dickon, Lily, and I are looking forward to seeing you!
Mary looked fondly down at her daughter, who was amusing herself by playing in the garden. The breeze lifted the young girl's golden hair, casting it around her head like a halo.
As you know, Lily will be three years old at the end of the year. Perhaps you will be able to help us celebrate her birthday. I'm sure you'll be happy to know that early next year there will be another 'addition' to the family, and another niece or nephew for 'Uncle Colin' to play with when he comes to visit. As you can imagine, Dickon was very excited when he found out, and wasted no time in telling everyone we knew! He is a very proud Father.
Yesterday, we took Lily to visit Uncle Archie at Misselthwaite. You would have laughed at the fuss it caused! The staff seemed to 'forget' their duties, and find reason to be in the sitting room with us, at some time or other. Mrs Medlock was most attentive, insisting that Lily have extra helpings of sweet tea and muffins – not even complaining at the amount of it that ended up on the floor and the upholstery of the furniture!
After eating, we went for a walk through the gardens. Dickon was pleased to catch up with his old workmates, and pay a visit to Ben Weatherstaff, who continues in his retirement. While Dickon was busy, I took Lily to see the Secret Garden.
You'll be pleased to know that we have kept our promise and that the Secret Garden is always open now – for anyone that wishes to go there. It is still so beautiful, Colin – the roses are all out and are in full bloom – I swear every year there seems to be more of them! It still retains that same wild and otherworldly feel to it that its had from when we were children. But it is so beautiful. I can't wait to go there one sunny day in the future with you, Dickon and the children. To think that it has been twelve years since we first discovered the Secret Garden. So much has changed since then, hasn't it, Colin? Dickon and I married, you studying towards a degree of Science at Cambridge University... I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel as though I have lived a while lifetime in only 22 years...
I will take the time to fill you in on how Dickon's business venture has been progressing. It was certainly 'hard going' (to quote my husband) at first, but over the past year things have really started to go smoothly. Dickon often says that he can't believe no one ever thought of it before – contracting someone to help others with their gardens. He not only helps maintain and change what they have already, but he helps design gardens from scratch. Although I don't think he has built any 'Secret' gardens yet! Of course, you never know what the future will bring, but I would like to think that our Secret Garden remains unique. I suppose only time will tell.
Mary put down her pen and paper, then got up rather awkwardly, placing her hand on her back. She slowly walked over to where her daughter was sitting, and sat down next to her, in the cool shade of the plum tree.
'What are you doing, Lily?' she asked.
'It's a garden Mama!' the young girl pointed seriously to the little pile of sticks and flower heads in front of her. 'I'm making a garden.'
'That's lovely my darling.' Mary replied, fondly ruffling her daughter's hair. Mary looked as Lily turned her large blue eyes up to meet hers. Dickon's eyes. She sighed, a soft smile forming on her lips, as she remembered another garden, long ago.
'Can I show Daddy?' the girl asked.
'Of course you can! I think he'll be delighted with your "garden". Shall we go and wait for him by the gate?'
She took her daughters chubby hand in her own, and together they walked over to the gate that separated their little piece of paradise from the gravel road. Mary pointed out the red roses that had bloomed over the archway of the gate, lifting Lily up so she could get a closer look at them. Presently, she saw the dark outline of a horse and rider, against the backdrop of the moor. She lifted her hand and waved a greeting.
'Daddy, Daddy!' Lily shouted, squirming with excitement in her arms. 'Mama! Daddy's home!' Mary could not help but smile happily. Her daughter's enthusiasm, and toothy grin always served to remind her that life was indeed good.
She saw Dickon laugh as he rode up to them, strong and confident. He jumped down from his horse, choosing to walk and lead it behind him. Mary laughed back as Lily ran up to him, and he received her with open arms. She watched with tenderness as he gently took the young girl in his arms, and carried her, balancing her on his hip.
'How are my two favourite girls t'day?' he asked, as he drew nearer. Mary felt happiness welling up inside her. Dickon often greeted the two of them with that phrase.
'We're good.' Mary replied, nearing him 'You'll be pleased to know that your daughter appears to be following in her Father's footsteps.'
'Aye?' he said, cocking his head to one side.
'She has begun another "Garden".' Mary smiled.
Dickon put his arm around her, and pulled her tightly towards him. 'Perhaps not only followin' in my footsteps?' he said softly, kissing her forehead.
Much later, once Lily had been put to bed, and the sun was beginning to set over the moors, Mary picked up her pen and continued the letter to her Cousin.
I know you wrote of being hopelessly in love with Samantha Sutherland, in your last letter. Please Colin, give the poor girl a break and propose to her for goodness sake! Don't keep her waiting another six years! I'm beginning to wonder if I need to come to London myself and slap you for being such a Rajah?!
You asked me if life was good. It is good, Colin, it is so wonderful, and in so many ways. How is it wonderful? It is wonderful having people to love in my life – Dickon, Lily, you of course, and so many others. It is wonderful being here amongst nature – seeing the seasons unfold, seeing the beautiful colours of all the seasons, taking deep breaths of the air from the moor. It is wonderful in that I am happy, finally happy. I wouldn't wish for anything to change – not one thing.
She put her pen down and took a deep breath of the twilight air. She heard Dickon come up behind her, and presently she felt his warm arms around her shoulders. He reached around and kissed her softly on the cheek, his lips lingering near hers for a second.
'I see that you're writin' t' Colin again?' he commented softly, and she felt his breath warm on her face, sending a shiver down her spine. Delicious thoughts of being alone with him, that they had the entire evening to themselves. She felt a quiver of anticipation pass through her. 'Come inside, th' letter can wait.'
She turned around, into his deep blue eyes.
'I'll come inside once I've finished.' she scolded playfully. She turned back to the letter, a tiny sliver of regret passing through her as she heard Dickon walk away, chuckling quietly.
'Still my contrary wee lass, eh!'
'As contrary as ever.' she agreed, privately pleased at his teasing. 'I'll be there in a minute.'
She sat back, watching the sky, fixated by the way the colours gradually changed, the azure blue giving way to gold and vibrant orange. She watched, breathless, at the beginning of twilight, listening to the sounds of the birds and creatures of the moor settle down for the night. Another day was ending, with the promise of a new day not far away. She sighed, got up slowly, and stepped inside to where Dickon was waiting for her. Life was indeed good.