Thursday, 27 November 2014

...of longing

Tamar turned, and sat looking into the fire. The flaming tree had died down. Tamar stretched both her hands over the fire. She wished to see, rising out of the hot coals again, that tree of flame. But the fire was sluggish, and refused to rise for her pleasure.
If Tamar doubted at all about the coming of her angel, she doubted in the winter. In the spring, when the gorse bushes became as yellow as the sun's beams, she believed in his coming. In the summer the warmth of the coloured days made her feel that her lover must be near. But now she only had the fire to tell her pretty tales.
Would all her days, she wondered, be passed in Folly Down, in the company only of shepherds, and perhaps a badger, as Miss Pettifer had hinted? Would her years gather, weeping, about her and find her, as their number increased, still a maid? Would they, and later years as forlorn as they, lead her on into the darkness? Tamar hid her face in her hands.
Jenny began to tidy the room. She deplored the fact that her mistress so soon renounced and gave over a conversation that, had she been with anyone else, would have meant long hours of amiable talk.
Jenny looked at Tamar's back. No other servant, she felt sure, could have so charming a mistress, and certainly never see her - with such queerly mixed feelings of fear and admiration - unclothed.
But Miss Tamar might have gone on talking a little longer.
Jenny was at liberty to go to her home that evening. But she did not wish to go there. She had done all she could in Tamar's room, but now, as Tamar was so silent, she believed that her mistress wished her to go away.

[Mr Weston's Good Wine, Powys, T. F.]

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