White (5): The Stony Path

“I’ll whistle across the merry land, 

I’ll whistle from afar,

I’ll whistle with the gentleman, 

Who leaves the door ajar.”

Such were the words that drifted into my wakening state, to a tune I fancied I knew from somewhere. I noted dimly that some kind of pipe was dissonantly set against the melody of the voice, though much quieter. I suddenly came to with a start, recalling where I was. “Uncle Ambrose!” I called, fearing my solitude in this strange place. “Yes” came the familiar voice “Are you ready now? Are you rested?” I sat up and looked around. The light had changed vastly since earlier and I could only hazard the time. The dimmest edge of twilight felt visible, though the it was still clearly day. “What time is it?” I managed to say through an intangible panic. “It is time my dear, for us to leave! Your feet must be a healed a thousand times over by the slumber you’ve had.” I wanted again to ask where we were going, but it was clear that we were not going back to the house, not going back to mother and father or nanny. I wanted to feel anxious, terrified of their worry and wrath, fearful for my own safety, but instead all I had was a numb disquiet accompanied by increasing sense of marvel. “The path leads on through twisted bower, which is the thorn and which the flower?” He gestured from  the other side of the pool that I should follow. Rising from where my shape pressed in the grass still and quickly putting my shoes back on, I picked my way more purposefully than before, towards the path and Ambrose who waited where the trees resumed. The light dappled in a completely different way now and the slightest hint of cooler air drifted through the trees. The trees seemed more comforting now, more welcoming. I felt their susurration as a voice of calm. The copse proceeded not much longer and the path emerged into a second rockier  terrain. The sun no longer beat upon us, it was low in the sky and the larger rocks cast ominous dark shadows across a scene of heather and grass. Curiously, though from the top of the previous down it had looked like the path should have continued downwards after the copse, when  in fact this new path led up a steady incline into an ever stonier place. Ambrose danced on, skipping his way up the path, turning adroitly once in a while to check I was still there. He needn’t have -if indeed there were anything more than show to his checking- for I followed now without reticence. Onwards went the grey path, and as it did so did the vividness of the emerging twilight. The rocks especially seemed to begin to glow with a faint indigo. As we went I noticed now that though there was much light in the sky, the moon, near full, rose from behind us -where the lake was. Ambrose did not turn round but at the moment I saw her rising he intoned “Nigh encroaches oh so soon, the joyful kingdom of the moon.”

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