The Last Lantern

Chapter 7 - A Knight from the North

@copyright Jean G Hontz 2009

 


 
Molly fidgeted whilst Miss Throckmorton did up her hair. Why she couldn't just wear it down to dinner she had no idea. She hated having to sit still for so long. It was worse than ... well, anything.

"You have such lovely hair, Lady Molly. It's your glory. Well, it and your eyes."

Molly stared at herself critically in the mirror. Her hair was a mess. It was too fine, and wouldn't stay curled the way other pretty girls' hair did. And it was too light. She wished she had black black hair like Phillip.  Why did she have to be stuck with it?  And her eyes were boring. She wanted flashing dark eyes like Nigel's. 

Molly caught a movement from Miss Throckmorton's then and focused on her face.  She looked so sad for a brief moment.  Miss Throckmorton, though, realized Molly had seen it and erased the look immediately.

Molly scrunched up her lips and then blurted out, "Why did the priest scare you?"  She'd been dying to ask that all day.

"Don't be silly, Molly. He didn't scare me."

"You went deadfish white," Molly pointed out. "Then fainted."

"I ... " Miss Throckmorton groaned. "I'll have to apologize for that.  Poor Lord Rosslyn."

Molly wasn't certain why her Grandfather was to be considered poor, but she kept her attention on the important stuff. "Then if it wasn't fear, what was it?"

Miss Throckmorton sighed in resignation. She knew her pupil all too well. Molly would keep after her until she told her something.

"I... I thought I knew him. But that's impossible. He reminded me of someone who died many years ago."

"So you thought he was a ghost?" Molly asked.

Miss Throckmorton looked down and finally nodded. "Yes, perhaps. I'm not sure what I was actually thinking. I just reacted."

"Who was this man you thought he was?" Molly caught Miss Throckmorton's eyes in the mirror and wouldn't let go.

"It was a very long time ago, a very long way away from here. Let it go Lady Molly."

Molly turned her head and then her body and caught one of Miss Throckmorton's hands in hers. "Please. You never tell me anything about yourself. And this was obviously someone important to you. Can't you tell me please?  Was he.. would he have been your lover?  Did you want to marry him?"

Tears leaked from Miss Throckmorton shocking Molly to her core. She'd never seen Miss Throckmorton cry before.  Never seen her discomposed even, until that morning.

Molly jumped up and wrapped her arms about her governess's generous waist. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you cry. Forgive me?  Please?"

"No need, child," Miss Throckmorton said as she pulled out a handkerchief and wiped at her eyes.  With her other hand she stroked Molly's cheek.  "Not your fault at all. I'm just... Old memories I'd thought long faded away to nothing."

"Who was he?"

"A knight. From beyond the mountains."

Miss Throckmorton, like Molly's long dead mother, was from the North. Way beyond the mountains, through the Pass of Sorrow, and beyond the Lake of Tears. Molly herself had never been beyond the mountains. One day, maybe...

To Molly's utter frustration, the dinner gong rang then, and she perforce had to stop asking questions. Miss Throckmorton was supposed to be at dinner tonight too, so the two walked down the grand staircase together, side by side. Molly, moved by something she didn't really want to name, reached out for Miss Throckmorton's hand.

They were the last two down. Sir Reginald and Phillip were already with Grandfather. The priest was standing alone, as if he were purposefully keeping a distance between himself and the others; or perhaps they from him. He'd been looking out at the night. The storm had finally ended and a cold full moon shown down on the silvery-white world revealed beyond the window. The moonlight was brilliant illuminating the winter sleeping garden and the fields beyond it as they sloped up to the base of the foothills and then turned to mountains.  The evergreens were white too, their branches bent under the weight of snow, looking as if they were bowing to the moon.

Molly, entranced, walked over to look out on the sight. The priest seemed lost in his thoughts.

"Brother Vaal, Granddaughter.  Dinner," Grandfather reminded them.

 

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