The Sun Must Set to Rise

19 June 2013

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
So she ran away in her sleep.
Paradise, Coldplay

"Don't set that down."
She flinched at the sound of the voice, at the shivers its cool, guarded tones sent down her spine.
"Don't set it down; you'll catch the tapestry," the voice repeated.
She glanced about her in the shadows, trying to sift a figure from all the darkness.
"You shouldn't be in here." If only her voice wouldn't shake so! She knew very well who addressed her, but he seemed so different with night hanging about him.
"I came to fetch some sort of aliment. A man grows hungry after a time, same as anyone else."
"There's food in the barn." She couldn't keep the smirk from darting over her lips, and was glad he couldn't see her face in the dark.
"Food for the likes of cows and pigs, you mean."
"Food for the likes of you, if you intend to stay here without charge." The girl's tone grew cold until it was nearly as chilly as the frost that clung to the windowpanes. "You had tea only a short while ago, and you won't get anything more until breakfast."
"Come now, be reasonable!" He was trying to be persuasive, but she heard the confidence ringing through the timbre of his voice.
"I am nothing if not reasonable." Susannah raised her candle and scrutinized the worn planes of his countenance. Little half moons, the hue of the sky after the sun has sunk below the horizon, colored the skin below his eyes. "Couldn't you sleep?"
He snatched the candle from her, making the flame jump nervously. "I have better things to do."
Though he ignored her, she followed him as he proceeded down the carpeted hall, feeling oddly like a stranger in her own home. "Where do you think you're going?"
"Are you really that daft?" The unseemly hour did little to improve his humor. "Your cook has gone to bed, has she not?"
"I expect so; it must be nearly midnight. You could not satisfy your hunger at a more sensible hour?"
He did not reply, only ventured further down the hall, forcing her to follow.
When they came to the door that opened onto the veranda, Susannah stopped, but her companion did not.
"This is the way to the kitchen."
"I'm not looking for the kitchen," was his cool reply.
Grinding her teeth in frustration, she continued on, keeping her eyes on the pair of broad shoulders before her lest she lose him in the long shadows of the night. She knew the house better than she knew her own hand, but he did not, and goodness only knew where he might wander off to were he given the opportunity. She hadn't the strength to physically stop him, so she stalked his footsteps with feline dexterity.
"It's too late to be rambling about like this."
If her companion heard her words, he didn't show it. Turning a corner with a clarity that fit strangely on a man who had been in the house only once or twice before, he left her in the corridor with no choice but to continue on. She trailed him just in time to see his shadowy figure disappear into one of the rooms.
"Hist!" But he was gone, dissolved into nothingness in the pitch black cloak the house wore in the day's earliest hours. Treading a bit more heavily than she ought in her haste, she slipped through the doorway herself and glanced about for the flash of the candle's flame.
"Ah. So you do know your own house. I had my doubts for a while back there."
She saw his face the minute the last words fell from his lips, illuminated by the small glimmer of the candle which he raised until it was at eye level. "You've found the library."
He moved the candle closer to the cracked spines of the books with a certain carelessness, as if he observed their titles and authors only out of sheer boredom. "I told you I was hungry. It's been months since I've last read a decent arrangement of words on a page."
"You never mentioned you like to read."
"'Tisn't my favorite occupation, but one must amuse himself somehow in times such as these, musn't he?"
His words echoed hollowly in Susannah's ears. "Few men would be so bold as to admit they came here for amusement, I'll grant you that."
"I would have thought you'd known me long enough to recognize that I'm not like most men." The bitterness in his tone stung her like salt in the sea's spray.
Wishing to change the topic, she asked, "Have you any particular title in mind?"
"None at the moment, but I'm not picky." He handed her the candle so she could scan the shelves herself. "Anything halfway decent will suffice."
She lit upon a thick volume with Bunyan printed on its spine. "The Pilgrim's Progress?"
He shook his head and wrinkled his nose as if the title disagreed with him. "Can't bear such dry prose. I had to read it as a boy once, and I don't intend to repeat the process."
Susannah turned back to the shelf and began again. "Plato? Virgil? Holinshed? Milton? Shakespeare?"
To each offer, the young man shook his head again, each time more decidedly. "Dash it all, girl! Have you nothing more interesting than all that? I'd sooner come across some engaging literature in the library of a monastery!"
When he had rejected nearly every title in the room, she set her stump of a candle down and fixed him with a firm eye, though he could not see it. "Fend for yourself, then. But don't burn any of the books with that light." Then she yawned and sat back in one of the room's many chairs, pulling her shawl closer about her shoulders. "Remind me again why this couldn't hold until morn?"
"My mind was not at rest. I needed something to soothe it. Does not a book fulfill that purpose?"
"Very rarely, I'm afraid." She sighed a little sigh that sounded familiar and comfortable in the old room. "There's only one I can think of at the moment, and even it will not refrain from rebuking and refining you at the same time that it soothes."
His attention was caught at long last. "I've never heard of such a book."
"Yes, you have, though you do not know it. It's full of quests and warriors, servants and kings, demons and angels, Darkness and Light. It's on the shelf over there, if you care to read it."
His eyes lit up in the soft candlelight, but they dimmed once more when he saw the book she referenced. "You lie, lass. 'Tis naught but the Holy Scriptures."
"I do not lie." The late hour was beginning to take its toll on her, but she whispered it once more before trailing off. "I do not lie."
When the sun began to peak through the windows some time later, sending its ribbons of light across the shadowy floor, it met with a strange prospect. The young girl, her curls tumbled around her face and her feet hitched up under her, lay asleep in the hard chair. The man, however, was far from weariness. When he noticed his young companion slept, Kenneth reached for the weighty volume she had recommended, glanced at a few pages, and then shut it once more. As he had told her before, he had better things to do.

7 epistles:

  1. Oooooh I like it so much! Your writing is getting better with each piece I read. :) Keep it up! I especially liked this line: "Though he ignored her, she followed him as he proceeded down the carpeted hall, feeling oddly like a stranger in her own home. "
    And by the way, I love the current background on this blog. :)

    1. I'm so glad you liked it, Rachel! This scene was an interesting one; I didn't have much of an outline for it at the start, so I gave my characters free-reign and let them guide it. I was surprised where they took me, but also rather happy with the result. :)

  2. Beautiful, Elizabeth. I cannot wait to read the entire book when it is published. Love, Annie-Jo

  3. As Rachel said, Elizabeth, this is just beautiful and I can definitely see how you've grown and matured so much in your writing! Well done! I loved the whole scene - a little intense, but reflective and soft at the same time. I loved this line best, probably:

    His attention was caught at long last. "I've never heard of such a book."
    "Yes, you have, though you do not know it. It's full of quests and warriors, servants and kings, demons and angels, Darkness and Light. It's on the shelf over there, if you care to read it."

    Something I took special note of was the way you handled your characters' POV - weaving threads of thought from both Susannah and Kenneth's minds, almost seamlessly. These days, professional writers/teachers seem to frown on the changing of POV within one scene too often, however, I do believe if done well, it can be quite brilliant and intimate. I can't wait to read Rifles in the South Field when it is written and published, Elizabeth :D. God bless!

    1. You're sweet, Joy. :) I haven't been able to write as much as I've wanted lately, and its been difficult getting back into it. Being written on the spot, this scene is hardly as polished as it would be in a final draft, but I'm pleased you like it all the same!

      The switch between points of view, while not my usual habit, was rather necessary to this scene. I struggled with keeping the story's flow, since swapping perspectives poorly tends to make the narrative bumpy and irregular. I'm not sure if I'm quite satisfied with it at this point, but I'm letting it stay as is for now. We shall see how everything falls when I'm in the process of editing Rifles.

  4. this was stunning, I loved it. and before I read miss rachels comment the line ~ Though he ignored her, she followed him as he proceeded down the carpeted hall, feeling oddly like a stranger in her own home. stood out to me. This is very delightful and has me intrigued. Keep up the great work.
    Blessings ~ Rachel Hope.


"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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