Jenny: Wakeful in the Dark

I cannot tell what hour it is in which I write. The lords have all retired. There is not even the sound of one last maid sweeping the halls before she rejoins her family in her own home. I find sleep impossible for myself, listening as I am to this empty silence of waiting. I have never seen a man die, nor have I ever been in danger of losing my own life. But I imagine that if I saw the knife coming, I would pull in my breath and hold it, as though that would help. But so it is with the valley: unless God’s living mercy comes upon us, nothing will help us. We are far outmanned and underarmed for the situation, almost to the point of making Cunorix’s victory over us an embarrassment among his other triumphs. To see Ambrosius and Cunorix in pitched battle together might be a fine thing, but this will be a slaughter. There are only a few men here, half of the Companions gone, or wounded; the rest are the native folk, the slow-speaking, dark-haired Eryri people. They might put up a vicious fight, fighting as they are for the land that saw their fathers and their grandfathers, their ancestors all the way back to Julius Caesar’s blundering into the White Cliffs. But it will be a hopeless one. I have come far and endured much to look on this hopelessness, and I find myself wondering if this is my payment for nursing boyhood fancies when it was long past time to put childish notions away. Rome is coming to her knees, and one by one her provinces are coming down with her as the all mighty wisdom and will of the Amen brings them to the boundaries of their times. To be living at such a time! There is quiet and darkness all around me, quiet and darkness before me. God has ordained no going back: the past lies as one in a tomb, silent and untouchable. There is only to go on to meet what the Father has predestined will occur. For us the only hope now is that his will is good. Though he take up the world by its corners and shake it, his will is good.

Master Lucius blinked, his eyes burning from the shiny glare of black ink. The room had fallen into a well of darkness, only the lamp at his elbow casting a weak gleam over his hand and the parchment beneath it. Who would read it? he wondered. This time tomorrow, all might be lost, gone up in flames. But in case, just in case, something was to be saved out of the ashes, he wrote.

He put down his pen and crushed the heels of his hands to his eyes. “Oh, Tacitus,” he groaned. “I am a dead historian.”


Surfacing from sleep, the boy snorted "Woof!" and rolled over quickly to find his face full of wet muzzle. Blinking away his sleep, scooting clear of the dog's face, he looked up to see Aithne staring down at him. He had one fantastic moment of supposing she had come out to stab him in the dark, which would prove that she was a spy. But then he was disappointed to see how startled she was at finding him, and he knew that spies are never surprised to see people lurking after them.

"What do you mean, stumbling on a man while he sleeps?" he asked her gruffly, getting up and stomping off his bare feet on the cold flags. And remembering a part of a story Artos had related once, he asked, not really knowing what it all meant, but feeling that it seemed applicable, "Are you one of those girls with an unquiet conscience?"

No comments:

Post a Comment