17.11.11

The White Cliffs

by M.J. Snow

She had come here to die. That was her intention from the very start. She dismounted her horse and kissed his soft black muzzle, and he nuzzled her shoulder. She leaned her forehead against his long nose, her only friend. She turned to go, and he followed her as she made her way slowly through the trees toward the sound of the waves. The path was difficult to follow in the thick fog. There was a scent in the air of wet rock, trees, earth. 

 She wondered if she would remember…

___
It was storming outside. Delyth was restless. She'd hoped to go riding, earlier, but the weather forced her to stay indoors. After dinner, the Colonel had retreated to his study, and she had retired to the library. She'd sat near the fire, trying to read Shakespeare's sonnets for an hour or more, but found she read and reread the same page again and again, without remembering a word. She went to choose another book to see if a change in subject matter would help her to become more focused. She found herself wandering to the Colonel's books, the books he kept that were specific to his research. She never touched those, as she never knew when he might send Leighton down for one. Tonight however, she decided to take a chance.


She removed a volume at random from Thomas Browne's  Pseudodoxia Epidemica, the second volume, Tenets concerning Mineral and Vegetable Bodies which detailed Browne's experiments with static electricity and magnetism. She placed the heavy volume on the reading table and began to read. It seemed to be part based in Browne's scientific experiments and yet it delved into Browne's obvious fascination with mystic symbols and analogies. It was all very confusing, but still interesting to Delyth, as she knew very little of the Colonel's work. He was very secretive about both his study and his Laboratory which was at the top of the house. She was not allowed in either place, nor were any of the servants. She plodded through several pages of the book before her eyes began to get heavy.

Waking, she found the fire had burned out and the library had grown cold. She raised her head stiffly and rose, carrying the heavy Pseudodoxia back to the shelf and replacing it carefully. Yawning, she left the library, crossed the great hall, and padded softly up the grand staircase. It was a huge and empty house, she was reminded even more so of that at night. Her rooms were in the east wing on the second floor, and above that the third floor, which contained the nursery, and several spare rooms, was empty and deserted. The servants, who were often housed in the attics, were quartered in a portion of the basements, under the kitchen. The Colonel's rooms were in the west wing on the second floor, his bed chamber, and his sitting rooms. However his study was located on the third floor, above his chambers. The only room on the third floor that was in use. Still above that, were the attics. This was where the Colonel had his laboratory. The only entrance to the attics was beside his study on the third floor.

When she reached the top of the stairs on the second floor, and was about to turn toward her rooms, she heard a sound from above, a cry of distress that made her fear for the Colonel. Startled, she followed the sound hurrying up to the third floor, finding the door to the Colonel's study open. That surprised her, as he always kept it locked, even when he was within. She listened carefully, but heard nothing. She entered the room cautiously, fearful that he would come upon her here and become angry. The walls were lined with shelves of books, the titles strange and foreign, some disturbing. Nestlrode's Reanimation, The Regeneration of Organisms by Everard Tyndall - Smythe, Rebirth of the Dead by Clement DuMaurier, Zoönomia by Erasmus Darwin. Could these books truly have to do with the Colonel's work?

Closer inspection of the room revealed many jars containing preserved animals, or parts of them. She peered into a  case containing many jars holding the leg of a cat, bodies of tiny birds, the head of a baby pig, even a human foetus. Delyth backed away, overcome with revulsion. She bumped into the Colonel's desk as she retreated and turned to look scan the cluttered mess of books and papers. There were drawings of the human body in many forms, skeletal, muscular, portioned into many parts ... her head was reeling. As she made her way around the desk, a sheet of paper caught her eye. It was a drawing of someone she knew, notes scribbled all along both sides of the paper.  It was so awful, she had to cover her mouth and swallow several times to keep from vomiting. She shuffled to the next page and what she saw there was so horrible, so utterly terrifying, that she felt nothing but pure shock. And the face of the drawing she was looking at was her own.
____

The call came in the early morning, the sun not yet risen. Pounding on his door. Rising stiffly from his bed, vision still blurred from sleep and drink. Hitting his head on the door frame. Pellyn, his Sergeant, something about a missing girl. Trying to listen, gathering his thoughts. Realizing he is still dressed. Splashing water on his face, setting out into the fog. The carriage bumping over the cobbles, making his head ache. They rode in silence as the road turned to crushed stone, then to dirt. Before they reached the lane, the carriage stopped, stuck in the deep ruts in the wet road. Climbing out, they continued along on foot, leaving the coachman to wait with the horses.

They trudged through the driving rain for a half an hour before they reached the lane. Slightly overgrown, difficult to see in the driving rain & fog, the lane too, was deeply rutted. The mud sucking at their boots seemed to urge them to stop, to go back and leave well enough alone. Maudslay Hall rose out of the fog, looming in the dim moonlight, huge and uninviting. Light burned in a few of the lower windows, glowing yellow, but rather than seeming welcoming, they somehow added to the sinister air of the great house. 
____
It was then that she heard another cry from above, closer this time. The Laboratory. Delyth was torn. Her instinct was to run, and yet if she could help. If she could stop this ... If it was as she feared, it was too dreadful to imagine. Before she could change her mind, she ran quickly from the study and moved to the attic door. She tried the knob, praying it would be locked, but finding it turned easily in her hand. Creeping quietly up the steps, she prayed she was wrong, that it was all some kind of terrible misunderstanding.

Reaching the top of the stairs and following the low ceilinged hallway toward the light at the end of the passage. She could hear noises, grunting ... low moans ... She stopped just before she reached the door, afraid, wanting to turn back, to go to her rooms and climb into bed. Pretend this had never happened. But she couldn't, she knew. So she inched forward, peering around the door frame.
____

The front door was opened to them and a thin grey man squinted out at them. "Are you the police? You ought to come to the back of the house." He frowned at them, as they stood dripping and mud splattered.

"Chief Inspector Whitclif, D.S. Pellyn." He said, pushing past the butler, moving into the foyer. Pellyn followed, what might have been a smile hiding at the corner of his mouth. The Butler looked up at Whitclif, eyes widening. His height intimidated people. His scars more so. The butler recovered quickly, however, years of experience taking precedence over his surprise. "Our carriage is stuck in the mud, perhaps half a league south of the lane."

"This way officers." he said, leading them through a dark, high ceilinged hall, dimly lit by a few widely spaced gas lamps. There were six doors leading off of the Great hall. The butler stopped in front of the second door on the left. "You may wait in the Library. Colonel Maudslay will be with you shortly. I shall have a fire lit and tea will be brought for you. You must be cold." He looked them over again, standing near the hearth in sodden clothes, looking out of place amongst the furnishings of the great house. "I shall send a team of horses to extract your carriage from the mire."

Whitclif nodded and the butler turned to go. "Just a moment..." the Chief Inspector called after him. ”What is your name, man?"

"My name is Leighton, Sir. Charles Leighton. I have been butler at Maudslay for thirty two years." 

"Not Sir, Chief Inspector, thank you." Whitclif frowned. Then he nodded again, and Leighton turned and exited the library. Whitclif made a mental note to speak more with Leighton. Thirty two years in service to the Maudslay family, he could be a very useful source of information about the family history, as well as the current residents of Maudslay Hall and Estate.
 ____

Delyth stood frozen in the doorway as she took in the scene in the Laboratory. The huge room was arranged like an operating theatre, with the operating table on an elevated platform in the centre of the room. There were seats on one side of the platform, thought to her knowledge, not one ever entered the Laboratory save for the Colonel. The remaining sides of the room were lined with bookshelves, a large table covered with books and papers. Strange and sinister looking machines and equipment crowded close around the left side of the platform.

Shelves containing jars similar to those she'd seen in the Colonel's office lined the far side of the room, however the atrocities contained in these jars were far more frightening. These jars were larger and she could make out a newborn human baby, what appeared to be several human brains, and various other human organs and body parts.

The Colonel stood upon the platform facing away from her, the grunting and moaning sounds she had heard were coming from him. He was unclothed, and thrusting furiously between the legs of a girl who lay splayed on the table. Delyth knew this girl, and yet she barely recognized her. She was also unclothed, and her body seemed to have been taken apart and stitched back together again at the neck, shoulders, waist, hips, knees and ankles. The girl appeared to be dead, indeed, the top of her skull had been removed and her exposed brain glistened in the flashes of lightening that illuminated the Laboratory through large skylight windows. Her face had been cut and sewn from ear to ear, leaving her with a gruesome smile. Delyth covered her mouth with both hands to keep herself from screaming. The Colonel continued to thrust into her violently, panting and groaning. Delyth turned, fleeing down two flights of stairs and locking herself in her room.

Was this to be her fate? Is this what the Colonel had planned for her? The drawings on his desk told her it was. But she had no way out. She would not come into her inheritance until her eighteenth birthday, still almost a year away. Until then she had no money of her own. She had no friends outside of Maudslay Hall. No relatives besides the Colonel. She could not run, there was nowhere to go. She was trapped here. She had only one way out, she knew. With just a few hours until daylight, she would soon be missed. She would wait until morning and behave as though nothing had changed. After breakfast she would act.
____

Pellyn looked around him, taking in the dark library. All around them were huge shelves of books, so tall that they disappeared into the darkness above. There was a grouping of worn leather chairs in front of the hearth, as well as a heavy reading table and a huge old desk on opposite sides of the room. "Gloomy old place," he said, reaching out to pull a large volume part way out from a nearby shelf. "The Cataleptic Chymist by Robert Boyle," he continued down the line, reading out titles as he went. "Physika kai Mystika by Bolos of Mendes, Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica in seven volumes, Paracelsian Iatrochemistry, Luigi Galvani: A Studye of Bioelectricity, Royal College of Surgeons Anatomy..." he whistled, shaking his head slowly. ''I prefer a good detective story, myself ..."

Before Whitclif could reply, a young maid entered carrying a tea tray. Silently, she placed it on a table near the hearth and knelt to light the fire. The fire caught and began to burn, illuminating the library and making it seem less intimidating, more comfortable. The maid turned to go, leaving them to pour their own tea. As she passed, she looked up at Whitclif and gaped, apparently not as well trained as Leighton. Whitclif scowled at her and she scurried out of the room.
___ 

After a sleepless night, she changed and went down to breakfast. The Colonel was already in breakfast room, comfortably seated at the head of the table, reading his newspaper. "Ah, there you are Delyth my dear, I'm afraid I've started without you. I've just been reading the Times. Its seems that Ripper fellow got another victim yesterday. Listen to this...
*Times (London) Saturday, November 10, 1888  - ANOTHER WHITECHAPEL MURDER.
During the early hours of yesterday morning another murder of a most revolting and fiendish character took place in Spitalfields. This is the seventh which has occurred in this immediate neighbourhood, and the character of the mutilations leaves very little doubt that the murderer in this instance is the same person who has committed the previous ones, with which the public are fully acquainted.
The scene of this last crime is at No 26 Dorset-street, Spitalfields, which is about 200 yards distant from 35 Hanbury-street, where the unfortunate woman, Mary Ann Nicholls, was so foully murdered. Although the victim, whose name is Mary Ann (or Mary Jane) Kelly, resides at the above number, the entrance to the room she occupied is up a narrow court, in which are some half-a-dozen houses, and which is known as Miller's Court; it is entirely separated from the other portion of the house, and has an entrance leading into the court. The room is known by the title of No 13.

Delyth felt a wave of nausea pass over her. "Oh Colonel, please, would you mind not reading it out to me this morning? I seem to have woken with a terrible headache, and this distressing news makes me feel a bit ill, I'm afraid." she said shakily, pushing her plate of toast away from her.

"I'm terribly sorry my girl, it is disturbing news. Rest assured we're safe from the Ripper here, with London so far to the south. But perhaps you ought to go and have a lie down. I'm off to my study. Rest well, my dear. We shall speak again at dinner." He rose to go.

"Yes that's a good idea; I will have a lie down. I'll just have a bit more tea first." She waited to pick up her cup until the Colonel had departed, as her hands were shaking terribly. When she'd finished her tea and eaten a few bites of toast, she pushed back her chair and went down to the kitchens.
____
Cook was baking pies when she arrived, and if she was surprised to see Delyth she did not show it. "Good mornin' Miss! Ye look a bit pale this mornin', didn't ye yet eat yer breakfast?"

"I wasn't very hungry this morning, but I'm going riding and I thought I might take a basket along, in case I'm not back in time for lunch." Delyth said. She often went riding and took a lunch so that she could stay out all day. This way she would not be missed until dinner time.

"In this rain, Miss? Ye'll catch yer death! And it’s cold out there!" Cook scolded her as she put together a basket of bread, cheese, apples and cold ham. As Delyth thanked her, she took her hand for a moment and Cook looked surprised. Then she smiled and added two biscuits to the basket. Delyth blinked back tears as she donned her cloak and headed for the stables.

Rogue was anxious to get out, as he'd been cooped up all the day before. He danced and nudged her as she got him saddled and ready. This was a job she preferred to do herself, as she enjoyed every moment of time with the huge stallion. She slid her basket into her saddle bag, mounted, and rode out into the mist, the tears streaming down her face becoming lost in the rain. Their destination was the chalk cliffs, and they thundered across the park, over fields and into the forest. They slowed when it became difficult to follow the path, Delyth dismounting and slowly leading, Rogue following closely.

When she could hear the sea, she knew they were coming closer to their destination. As, the trees thinned, she knew they were approaching a huge expanse of flat land that ended in the cliffs, and a vast drop to the rocks and surf below. The thick mist prevented her from seeing very far ahead. She would ride, she decided, just ride until the world disappeared from under them. But first she would rest under the trees for a moment. She opened her saddle bag and took out her basket, setting it down and taking out an apple, which she fed to Rogue. He nickered and nudged her, looking for more. Laughing, she took out a second apple and fed it to him. She curled up under the tree and leaned back against its trunk. Rogue stood over her and shielded her from the rain, bending his long neck to nuzzle her face and nibble at her hair with his soft lips.
____

Startled, Delyth woke, certain that someone had spoken her name, but in the fog she could not tell from whence the cry came. How could anyone know she was here? She'd been so careful that she was not followed. Rogue had gone. This surprised her, it was unlike him to wander far from her. She stood stiffly, peering into the mist, looking for him. She felt a pang of longing for the horse, her only companion these last several years.

The rain had stopped and her clothes and hair had dried. She did not remember falling asleep, but she found herself curled under a tree, her head resting on her arm. How long had she been here? Rising slowly, she peered into the fog, pressing her back to the tree trunk, her heart pounding in her chest. She heard a deep chuckle behind her and whipped her head around to see who was there. It was a man standing there, a stranger, and Delyth felt at once afraid and relieved. He took a few steps closer, and she couldn't help but notice that he moved with a certain grace that she had not often seen in other men. He was smiling at her; his handsome face conveyed both humour and a kind of fondness. She felt a strange sense of recognition, yet it was impossible to recognize someone you'd never seen.

Standing in front of her, he looked down at her and said "I wondered if you'd ever wake up. I've been waiting for you for a very long time."

"What are you doing here? Who are you?" She asked, shrinking back a little as he moved even closer.

He laughed. "Wandering. Waiting for you. Don't you know me? No, perhaps you wouldn't. You will, soon enough.''

"I haven't seen you before. I'd remember. I've seen so few people ..." It was true, she would remember. He was handsome, strikingly so. Like he'd been sculpted out of stone. Even so, he was terribly masculine, tall and strong, slightly intimidating. Like no one she'd ever seen. His hair was jet black, and so were his clothes.

"You have, but you wouldn't remember." He grinned. "Later, there's time for that later. Come now, it’s time to go."

"Go? But where? I can't go home ... I came here to ..." She looked toward the sea, hearing the waves crashing and breaking on the rocks below.

"Yes, yes I know what you came to do. But it’s time to move past that. Come along now, follow me." Not quite knowing what made her do it, she followed him as he made his graceful way through the trees. There was no path, and the direction they travelled was not toward her home. This made her feel safer, and she hurried to keep up. Delyth wondered how he could find the way through the mist, but he seemed confident in finding his own path, so she went along, tracing his footsteps. When she got her gown caught in some nettles, he laughed and untangled her, seeming not to notice the thorns that pricked his white skin.

He stood and she took his hand, examining his cut fingers, surprising herself with her boldness. He held his fingers up to her lips and traced over her bottom lip, leaving a bloody trail behind. She licked her lip, tasting his blood on the tip of her tongue, he reached out again and she licked the blood from his fingers. As she did so, she looked up into his eyes and found they were the darkest she had ever seen, deep and smouldering. She looked away quickly and stepped back, afraid she would get lost there, wondering what kind of a spell he had cast over her. He took her hand and pulled her on, along his invisible path, to where, she did not know. 
___

As they leaned in close to the fire, trying to dry their clothes as much as they could, the door opened once again and a man entered the room. He was of average height, fifty-ish, fair hair going to grey, his rugged face bore a solemn expression.

"Gentlemen, I'm so sorry to keep you waiting. I trust you've been well taken care of? Good." He said, not waiting for an answer, but continuing as though he were having a conversation with himself. "Colonel William Maudslay, First Baron Grimthorpe. But Colonel will suffice. It’s Chief Inspector Whitclif? And Sergeant Pellyn? Yes, very good. Thank you for coming. I seem to have misplaced my ward. Delyth is her name. Lovely girl, very pretty, sweet, you know. Never any trouble, I can't imagine what could have happened. Not like her, not at all." He didn't seem to notice them very much at all, barely looking at them as he spoke.

Whitclif's head ached. "Yes Colonel, we'll need to ask you some questions, and then question the servants as well. Get a better idea of Miss Maudslay's normal routine and her most recent actions, up until the time she disappeared." 

"Yes, yes, yes, of course. Ask away, you'll have full cooperation from myself and the staff. The last time I saw Delyth was at breakfast. We always breakfast together, then I retire to my study until dinnertime. I have my lunch brought up on a tray, so as not to disturb my work. Delyth lunches here in the library, usually. She's a great reader, you know. You may be shocked, but I encourage it, even though she's a girl. I had a governess here for her when she was younger, but the best way to learn is to read, I always say. I allow her to choose whatever she likes to read about, to follow her own path. Always has her nose in a book, that girl."

Pellyn looked at Whitclif questioningly and Whitclif nodded. Pellyn cleared his throat and asked, "Colonel, what about this morning. You mentioned you'd seen her at breakfast. Were you the last to see her today?"

"What? Erm, where was I? Oh yes, she sometimes lunches in the garden if the weather is fair. Too cold for that now, though. I'd assumed she'd lunched here, but cook said that she'd taken some things in a basket and gone out riding this morning. So perhaps not. Tea alright? Something a bit stronger perhaps?"

They declined and the Colonel crossed to a sideboard and poured a measure of Scotch, drinking it down and pouring another.  They questioned him for an hour, learning that Delyth had come to him as a child of eleven, her father, a distant cousin who had moved to Wales as a young man, had been recently killed in a carriage accident. Her mother, a Welshwoman, had died of consumption when she was only three.  The Colonel had been contacted by his deceased cousin's solicitors and found that he was her only living relative. He had sent for Delyth immediately, taken her as his ward and brought her to live at Maudslay Hall. 
 ____

At last the stranger paused, lifting his head and sniffing at the air for a moment. He nodded and pushed on, and soon they emerged from the trees. Delyth was surprised to find a closed carriage and two pure white horses waiting, but no coachman in sight. The stranger nodded at the horses, opened the door for her and handed her up, climbing in after her and settling across from her. The carriage began to move. She thought the coachman must have been off to the other side out of her line of sight.

"Rest now," the stranger told her. "The journey is long, but it will not seem so if you sleep." He smiled at her again and suddenly she felt very, very tired. She curled up on the bench seat and quickly fell into a deep sleep. The stranger covered her with a fur and watched over her while she slept, and the driver-less carriage sped into the night.
____
"She was always a quiet girl, never one to make trouble. She had a Governess, as I said, but she seemed to prefer her own company, as I do. I let the Governess go when Delyth was fourteen and allowed her to educate herself. At dinner I would ask her what she'd read and we'd discuss her books. Very bright for a girl, you'd be surprised at how thoughtful she is.''

''When she isn't reading, she rides. The stable master taught her to ride not long after she arrived. She took to it rather marvellously. I'd planned to buy her a horse of her own, but before I could, I came into possession of a stunning black stallion. Damn thing wouldn't let me near him, but he took to Delyth right away. I'm not much of a horseman anyway, so I let her keep him. Rogue, she named him. It fits him. Practically inseparable she and that damn horse." 

They got much of the same form the butler, two maids and the cook. Miss Delyth is a good girl, very polite. Always has her nose in a book, or out riding that great brute of a horse. 

Leighton, the butler provided an interesting tidbit of information that caused Whitclif and Pellyn to exchange a glance. "It’s odd that Miss Delyth should go missing so soon after the other girl. There was a maid who went missing not two weeks ago. She was a bit of a wild young thing though, wilful. Most likely ran off with some boy from the village." He looked disapprovingly at the detectives. They both knew this would bear looking into.
 ____

Whitclif's frustration was building as the house staff were thoroughly questioned and nothing of import was uncovered. They learned nothing more through interviews with the grounds keeper, gamekeeper, kennel master, stable master and grooms. Whitclif knew he could not delay much longer, the girl could be hurt, or in danger. He sent Pellyn to begin to gather men from the local farms and the closest village. Dawn was breaking, the rain had diminished. The mist would begin to burn off soon. The time for talk was over. It was time to organize a search. 

"Colonel, you mentioned there was a portrait of the girl." Whitclif said. "I'd like to look at it, if I may." 

"Yes, of course, of course. I'll show it to you myself, it hangs in the music room." The Colonel exited the Library and led Whitclif across the Great Hall to the third door on the right. The music room was elegantly furnished in the colours of the sea, soft blues, greens and greys. A piano stood in one corner, a harp in another. Above the hearth hung a large painting in a gilt frame. 

Whitclif crossed the room to look up at the painting. It depicted a rocky coast and a stormy sea, a broken sinking ship on the horizon. In the foreground stood a young woman on the beach wearing a blue gown with a red underdress. One hand to her breast, the other tries to tame her dark red hair which is unbound, and like her gown, is lifted by the wind. Although she is in three quarter profile, it’s easy to tell that she’s beautiful. 

The young maid who had served them tea earlier in the Library entered with word that coffee and breakfast had been prepared for the Colonel and the detectives. She did not look at Whitclif as she spoke, but focused her eyes on the buttons of the Colonel’s waistcoat, shy of him, but not frightened Whitclif noticed. The Colonel smiled broadly at the maid as he thanked her, watching her depart the room, his gaze lingering just a moment too long on her retreating frame.
____

Delyth woke as the carriage came to a halt. Again, she was unclear about the passage of time. It seemed to be still dark outside, so it must be night, she thought. And yet, it seemed to her that she had slept for hours and hours. The stranger looked at her across the cabin, smiling as she sat up and adjusted her clothing.

“You could not look more perfect, do not fret.” He said, opening the carriage door and climbing out. He offered her his hand and she accepted, steeping out after him. Looking up she saw a beautiful house, not as large as Maudslay Hall, but more beautiful and less sinister. The windows glowed with warm yellow light, inviting them forward, beckoning them in out of the cold night air. Silently, they ascended the steps together. She heard the carriage begin to move behind them. Looking over her shoulder, Delyth noticed the carriage still had no driver. However, the horses seemed to know just where to go. They trotted gracefully, continuing along the drive and curving behind the house. She watched them go until the stranger took her hand and drew her along after him.

Entering, she looked around her and saw they were in a great hall, but a smaller, again, than Maudslay. The hall was white marble and it glittered with candlelight. There were candles in wall sconces lining the walls all around. From the high ceiling hung an intricate crystal chandelier, casting a soft glow over them from above. She looked to the stranger, still beside her, holding her hand. He smiled again and she thought how out of place he looked here, dressed all in black, with his black hair & deep, dark eyes. But even as she thought this, she realized he fitted perfectly … he was as beautiful as his surroundings and his skin was like white marble.

“Come, you must be hungry.” He said, and led her along the hall, through a small ballroom adorned in blue and gold, and through open doors on the far side of the room. They stepped out onto a terrace and Delyth gasped. They stood on a terrace overlooking a beautiful garden in full bloom. The air was warm and soft, a light breeze caressed her skin. The foliage was green and lush, and she could see a nearby pear tree bore fruit ripe for picking.

“But how can this be? It was so cold! Its nearly winter …” She looked at him, confused, but not frightened. Somehow she felt no fear. She knew that she was safe here, that the stranger would protect her.

He chuckled and said, “It’s not winter here. Unless you want it to be. Do you, love?”

“No, this is … its lovely.” Delyth answered”, still confused, but understanding not to question any further.

The stranger pulled out a chair for her and she sat down. Only then did she realise that there was a table before her, laden with all sorts of wonderful food. There was roasted chicken, bowls of red grapes, fresh bread and cheeses, a vegetable tian, figs and olives, a huge basket of apples and pears, cakes and pastries, Turkish delight, nuts and sweets … far more than they could ever eat just the two of them.

“Such a beautiful feast … are you expecting someone else?” she asked.

“No, my love. I did not know what you would desire. So you may choose whatever you like.” He said, taking an apple and polishing it on his sleeve. She found she was ravenous and sampled fruits, chicken and cheeses while the stranger ate several sweets. As she reached for some Turkish delight, she looked at the stranger who was eating his second apple.

“Will you tell me your name, Sir? I know not what to call you.”

He laughed heartily at that and answered, “You may call me Furcifer. That will do nicely. Come now, you must be tired. He stood, stretching, and pulled out her chair for her. Taking her hand, he led her back through the ballroom and up the grand staircase. They turned left at the top of the stairs and proceeded to the last door on the right. He opened the door and gestured her to enter before him. The room was beautiful, its furnishings white, cream and gold. There was a magnificent high bed, draped with gauzy white fabric. Doors stood open to a balcony, letting in the soft summer air. “There is a bath drawn for you through there.” Furcifer told her, pointing to a door at the end of the room.

She passed through the door to find a candlelit room which contained a deep tub, filled with warm water and scented with rose, vanilla and spices. She undressed and settled into the tub, basking in the warmth and breathing in the scents, feeling content and very happy. When she finally emerged, she found there were soft white towels and a sheer white bed gown waiting for her. The gown fit her perfectly. She scented her neck, wrists, and between her legs with more of the spicy rose scent, brushed out her long red waves, and opened the door to the bedroom.

He stood there waiting for her near the balcony doors, the soft breeze ruffling his hair. White sculpted chest and arms were in stark contrast to his black hair and trousers. He held out a hand and she went to him without hesitation.

“You’re mine …” He said, looking into her eyes with an intensity that made her breath catch in her throat.

“Yes …” she answered. She reached out to touch his face with her fingertips and he leaned down to capture her lips with his, kissing her deeply. Her arms twined around his neck and he scooped her up, wrapping her legs around his waist. Moving to the bed, he leaned forward, lowering her to the bed, covering her with his strong masculine frame, sliding his hands over her body, feeling her softness, pulling back and ripping the sheer gown down the front and tossing it aside. He unfastened his trousers and let them fall to the floor. Moving back to her, running his hands over her chest, cupping her breasts, teasing her pink nipples with his thumbs. She covered his hands with her own, sighing at his touch, and digging her fingernails into his arms. He bent his head to take her nipple into his mouth, sucking and nipping as she whispered his name. He moved a hand between her thighs and felt her heat, sliding his fingers into her wetness and teasing her gently.

Kissing and nibbling his way lower he knelt before her, spreading her open like a flower, pink petals glistening, breathing in her scent, dipping his tongue into her silky wetness, tasting her sweet nectar. She writhed under his tongue, her moans reaching a primitive part of his brain, urging him on. When he could stand it no longer, he reared up over her and pushed into her with one deep, hard thrust, embedding himself to the hilt. Her eyes filled with tears and he stopped and held there for a moment, returning his attentions to her full breasts, distracting her from the pain.

Slowly beginning to move inside her, withdrawing almost all of his length, then pushing in deep, moving faster, thrusting harder as she clung to him. Slipping a hand between them, he used his fingers, sliding into her wetness to pleasure her further, working her gently as he felt his climax begin to build, she began whimpering softly, hot waves of pleasure flowing through her, rolling over her.  He felt himself tightening, straining, surging into her again and again, grunting into her neck, biting her shoulder hard, as she cries out loud for him.

He holds her in his arms. She asks him if she can stay here. He laughs and tells her yes. This is their place. She needn’t worry.

“You’re mine, love. You’re safe here with me, always.” He strokes her hair as she settles against him. “We are one now, you and I.”
____
They searched for hours, covering the park and grounds, moving slowly through the forest. The rain had washed away any evidence of the stallion’s hoof prints. Several Constables, farmers, village men and the outdoor staff of Maudslay Hall all slogged uncomplaining through the mud, beating through the brush. Some of the farmers had brought their collies and the kennel master’s hounds ran baying through the trees. Whitclif was part of the group searching in the forest, moving in the direction of the sea. Pellyn had joined another group that was headed over the fields toward the nearest town.

"Chief Inspector! Here!" came a cry from the clearing at the end of the path. As he reached the edge of the trees, he saw a group of men halfway out across the flat grassy expanse, pointing toward the sea. He ran past them, forgetting his headache, his fatigue. When the ground became rocky, he slowed and picked his way forward to the edge of the cliff, being careful of the crumbling rock. 

There was no disturbance in the rock and dirt at the cliff's edge. Could they have just galloped on and on, until the ground beneath the horse’s hooves gave way to air? Did their momentum make it so that it seemed like they were flying for a moment before their descent began? He prayed to gods that he did not believe in that he was mistaken. 

Whitclif looked down. The cliff was so high, the drop so sheer, that he was overcome by dizziness for a moment. When he regained his focus he saw what he had expected, and yet had hoped so utterly, that he would not see. On the rocks below lay the broken remains of a girl and a huge horse, the waves crashing over them, swirling the girl's long dark red hair into the horses black mane. As though they were one.


Research, Inspiration & Sources:
I research everything & read tons before I write anything, so here are some of my major references. (Just in case anyone cares *grins*):
*Casebook: Jack the Ripper - The Times London, November 10, 1888
History of Alchemy  Many of the Colonel's lovely books are drawn from alchemy, chemistry, early studies of electricity, and of course anatomy
Pseudodoxia Epidemica
History of Chemistry
History of Electricity
History of Gas Lighting
History of Anatomy
Animated Tour of 19th Century Anatomical Dissection
Baron Grimthorpe (poor thing, I've made him a terrible person, but I've only stolen his title, and I liked Yorkshire for the setting (the chalk cliffs especially). However, Colonel William Maudslay is purely out of my imagination.)
Miranda - The Tempest by John William Waterhouse as I always go to Waterhouse to find inspiration for my heroines. Looking at Miranda and the waves, everything began to come together in my mind. Many of the Colonel's lovely books are drawn from alchemy, early studies of electricity, and of course anatomy
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Erasmus Darwin
Zoönomia
The rest is based a bit on a thought I had … when you die, do you even know it? Or do you just go on, move on to another place with whoever you love best? I could have written this as a very long story, and I was tempted to. However, for once, I forced myself to do what I began to do. To write a short (and that, 6,845 words later, is debatable) story of my own. I could see myself expanding on this at some point, as there is an awful lot of character development that could be added, the backstory could be told in much more detail. Maybe. For now, it is what it is.

2 comments:

  1. Probably the most learned research for an erotic tale I've ever read ! Hot ! Browne's P.E. not such a huge book but he did introduce the word 'callipygous' literally meaning beautiful buttocks into the English language.

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