'Poor lass...... they say she is quite mad.'
Mrs Anna Salisbury shook her head woefully, as she stood and watched the lithe figure of the young woman, striding free and confident over the moor. She sighed deeply, and turned to her companion, who was standing beside her.
Her companion - Maggie Smith, a middle aged and rather rotund woman, squinted in the direction of the young woman.
'Its hard t' tell from here, but it looks as though she's singing to herself.' Maggie muttered. 'I heard stories in the village – but I was yet to see her until today.'
'Well, she's here most days, that she is. Wandering through the moor, often singing. Picking flowers sometimes.' Mrs Salisbury shook her head. 'It was a terrible business, Maggie, what, with the Uncle passing away – that'd be Lord Craven, mind, god rest his soul. Died some three years back, and ever since then, nothing has been th' same at th' Manor. Least of all wi' Miss Mary Lennox.'
Her friend nodded, leaning in closer. 'I heard talk in th' village that Lord Craven had a son?'
'Aye, that would be young Master Colin. He was summoned t' the front, back in '15.'
Maggie shook her head once again, and shuddered before adding 'How awful.
'Missing in action.' Anna whispered, drawing out the words, with practised ease.
'Oh!' Maggie gasped, her hand covering her mouth.'How tragic for th' family!'
Anna Salisbury nodded solemnly. 'They say that was what finally did it. Poor Mr Craven. First losing his wife, and then his only son..... They say it was too much for the poor man t' take. An th' lass.... well.....' she gestured towards the form of the young woman in the distance. 'You can plainly see th' effect it had on her, although there was talk that she had begun to turn well before that.'
The young woman strode through the heather, sure and confident. She moved quickly, her feet sure and steady, her muscles wiry with use. Her long hair fell well past her shoulders, in a cascade of dark brown, and it blew out behind her in loose tendrils as she walked. She sung a long forgotten song as she moved through the heather, in a language not one of the dwellers on Thwaite moor would recognise.
"Asato ma sad gamaya.
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya.
Mrtyor ma amrtam gamaya."
Her voice was low, and sweet and pleasant, the song carrying in the breeze. Memories stirred in her mind, as she sung, pushing their way to the surface. She felt tears begin to form, and angrily brought a hand up to brush them away. An image briefly flashed through her mind's eye, as it had done many times before – a young woman standing on the platform of the train station, with an older man beside her – the two of them waving goodbye to the young men on the train.
She closed her eyes, seeing a pair of agate grey eyes framed with dark lashes, and then another, of vivid blue that ache with sadness.
'Don't go, Dickon. Please say you won't go.'
'I have t' go Mary, you know that. Tha' knows what will happen if I don't.'
His voice is gentle. The feel of his hands on hers, they are warm, strong. Tears fill her eyes.
'You have to come back.....I ..... I couldn't bear it if......' she cannot finish. Her words dry up in her mouth, and she feels tears begin to form. She swallows hastily, not wanting to appear weak, fragile. She must be strong. She has to be strong for both of them.
The image faded from her mind, as it always did, leaving the cold cruel reality. The moor, stretching out in front of her, bleak and barren - as it did every day she walked upon it.
'You said you would never leave me.' she said softly to herself, feeling tears spill down onto her cheeks. 'You said you and I would be together, always...... Oh Dickon! why did you have to leave me?'
It's been a while since I've written anything, and the inspiration for this story came over me today as I was walking home. Summer has finally arrived here, and everything is teeming with life and colour. I suddenly had this image, in my mind's eye, of Mary leading a solitary life, spending her days wandering the moor, as though searching for something. Thus, the beginning of this story was born.
Below is a translation of the lyrics of the song featured in this chapter:
Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness unto Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality