White (4): Pool.

“Upwards and yonder, amongst the grey ones of ancient times.” He spoke with an exultation, before turning to me with an intense glint in his eye to say “Who may bewitch the unwary with their ancient rhymes.” No soon had he turned than he had turned back and was striding upward through the rocky ponderous landscape. “Come on Clara, the downs beckon, the rocks reckon!” I followed as fast as I was able, but the day was warm and my shoes seemed quite inadequate to the rocky path. I was thirsty and my feet hurt and I didn’t know where I was going and I didn’t know who this man was. “Uncle Ambrose, uncle Ambrose!” I shouted suddenly “Where are we going?” He whirled round so fast his coat tails shot out “Going? Why we’re going back to nanny aren’t we? Or at least something very similar. But oh, my child, I see your feet hurt and you are thirsty. Fear not, just over the rise is a stream. There you may stop, drink and rest your feet.” and this was all I got. So I followed. I followed through the stony green land, that became more stony and less green as we went. I followed through the heat and past the now occasional windswept hawthorn that conjured images of iniquitous fey. I followed till we gained the stony mound summit -still green in places, for the downs are not high- and looked down the descending path. In truth there were two. The major path bent round to the left whereas there was a small divaricating path  that can came off it to the right. The view of the rolling lush and stony downs stretching for us was beautiful. “The stream my dear Clara is down there.” and he gestured with his cane down the right hand path. My sense of direction was poor but I knew enough that one must bear left to head back towards the village and told him so. “Yes, of course this is true, but you require cool water do you not? There is no stream that way, only the dry stones in the heat of the day. No my dear Clarabel, there can be no doubt that this is the way.” It was true that one could see a stream that ran down the slope further round to the right that looked like it would intersect the path at a copse of trees further down. I looked round and Ambrose was already off down the path, half leaping from stone to stone in way that made me think there was something amphibian about him. Sighing and trusting that either the path bent round or that he intended to reascend the rise I gingerly followed him down grey sandy-stone path. This side was a steeper descent than the other and twice I nearly lost my footing. Ambrose would not have noticed if I had as he was far ahead and having nearly gained the copse. When he did reach it he stopped and turned back towards me making a beckoning gesture and I thought of his rhyme from earlier. The copse grew on a flatter part of the hill and close up one could see it was not simply hawthorn but also mountain ash and blackthorn. The entrance was guarded by two rowans that framed the slim smart figure perfectly upon my approach. He beamed and he gestured as if immensely proud of himself. Indeed he waited for me the whole while so that I could enter the wood before him. Stepping inside had an otherworldly feel. The trees were not close or high and the light flickered intangibly throughout. The gurgle of the stream was immediately audible, presumably the sound captured amongst the leafy enclosure. I stepped on with Ambrose at my heels. “On on! ” he ushered me as I stared about “Don’t let’s keep your mouth and feet waiting!” The copse was fairly small yet large enough that just round a bend in the path the trees parted in a tiny glade in the centre of which lay a small pool, obviously fed by the same stream. Sunlight struck the pool and it seemed to glisten iridescent, nestling, as it did amongst the trees and rocks. Insects flew about, rendered more visible by the fractured sunbeams that shone in part through the trees. At the pool’s periphery grew meadowsweet, edging the water with is foliage, its creamy flowers tinting the air medicinal. I needed no further instruction but rushed towards the pool and cupped my hands to scoop the water to my lips “And it rippled like lips, as if a nymph rose from the water to kiss me” spoke Ambrose from somewhere. I shuddered inside at these words, which seemed so familiar to me, but as there seemed nothing other than this alien familiarity to the sensation I gave nothing away. “Rest Clarabel, rest, and when you are rested we shall press on to Narnia.” or at least so I thought he said at first, though I realised  quickly he must have said nanny. “When you are ready to go I shall reappear.” And he was gone. I took my shoes off and sat down in the glade by the pool. It was so lovely there and the water so refreshed and calmed me that I thought I would lie down. As I did, I lay my head so it could look across the water’s ripples and darting insects in the light. I felt sleepy in the warm grass and remembered last listening to the croaking of a frog, whom I dimly believed I could spy on a rock just under the hanging meadowsweet leaves.

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