The following Triptych of scenes is based on the BBC 2003 telemovie, 'Byron'. I have changed or amalgamated some of the details of these scenes to better express what moved me most within them. The characters of William Fletcher, manservant to Byron, and Fletcher's wife, Ann Rood, are however, very much based on how they are portrayed in the telemovie.
Scene 1: THE PARTING
They sat together in the middle of the empty, stark kitchen. Until today it was her place of work on the Estate.
He sat on the bare wooden chair. She on his lap, her arm around his shoulder. Their foreheads touched. Their heads bowed toward each other - eyes downcast. His arm was soft about her waist. There were no words. Language had left them. There was only shared feeling.
After some while, she kissed him. On the lips. Softly, yet she remained upon them with lingering. In time she slowly made to rise. He stayed her with a tightened hold of her waist, his head still bowed.
She stayed. And then, in time, she had to leave. He released her. She did not look back. She could not.
He sat for some time, hands on knees. Bolt upright. Eyes wide and stunned, he stared into middle-distance. Unblinking, he remained. Still. Neither did he make expression nor movement. He remained. Thinking. Or, trying not to think. The Waiting had begun.
He turned his head and the spell broke. A faithful servant he was, and his next thought was of his duty to his Master. He straightened his head back, sniffed to wake finally from his reverie and looked ahead with a new resolve. Work must always be done, or from now, endured.
That is what would get him through. He slapped his knees, sprang up and strode off to attend to his Master...to bury his pain.
Scene 2: HUNGRY EYES
He sat alone on a hard bunk-bed in a small dark room. His face was front-lit by a watery pale light that washed the one small window. The only other glint of light shone from the centre of a miniature glass cameo cradled gently within his large hands.
He looked down. It was a portrait he held; an image of a woman – not young, but not old. Her face was plain but fine-featured and all he could see were those wide soft dove-grey eyes looking up at him; sadly – imploring him, "Come home, William."
Bending his long height low, William bought his eyes, his heart, as close as possible to the treasured image and encircled it in his warmth.
William's gaze was held there for some time, sinking into those grey eyes, willing himself to be with her. A long finger delicately, slowly, traced the outline of the glass and then lingered lightly over one cheek of the portrait, then under the lips.
He covered the face with the warmth of his hand and slowly peeled his shoulders upright with a long sinking sigh. The torrential rain barred his view from the window. But William looked through; beyond the rain.
He looked and looked and searched – knowing that somewhere out there, thousands of miles away were those eyes waiting for him; looking back at him with the same longing. If he looked long enough and far enough, perhaps he would see them.
The rain roared louder. Dusk drew on. William remained. And the room darkened further.
Scene 3: THE RETURN
Horses, carriages, coaches and hansome cabs. Prams, people, men, women, squealing children. People, prams hansome cabs and carriages. Back and forth they rattled and rushed – noisily, ceaselessly. Thick and deep.
She stepped from her Mistress's house, straight on to that churning street. She was talking. But a flash of something familiar caught her eye amidst the Crowding. And yet it is was not familiar - to this place. What she saw, was far on the other bank of the road. But it couldn't be. She wasn't expecting this – or could it be so?
Cabs, horses, people shut the sight from her view. Then – a gap. The image still stood. A man. A man's arm and shoulder at least. A familiar build dressed in mourning black. Not moving - the only scene in the street that didn't. Yes and just before the crowd closed over again – the eyes. Those eyes.
Gone again. But with anxious eyes she strained to see. Then the Rushing broke, briefly – for a breath only. And she saw as through a window…him. Standing there. Stock still. Arms a fraction akimbo as if allowing breath into a heaving heart. His lips were slightly parted, as to let in a gasp. His eyes were weary. So weary! But his face still strong – as always.
In that brief space, he took in her face. Round, white and with roses. And her eyes – those soft grey eyes. Desperate to cry but too strong to break. His only need now was to break that drought and to free her tears.
Horse, cabs, hansomes, carriages, people, shouts, bells and the cries of Hawkers. The crowd closed over again. But the they two heard nothing.