Chapter 2

Written by: Donna McTavish

…… I will burn.” 

 

The words were choked in a torrent of tears and the girl shuddered. Mary put her arm protectively around her thin shoulders.

 

“You’ll not burn,” she said defiantly. “I won’t let them.”

 

The girl wiped her eyes with the back of her small white hand and drew her lips together in a thin line.  A small muscle in her jaw twitched and in an instant all trace of despair had vanished and was replaced with a look of such firm resolution that Mary drew back.

 

Mary knew too well what despair looked like; she had seen it in the eyes of children who never had enough food to eat or warm clothes to wear. She knew that the face she looked at now had never known such hardships. Under Mary’s gaze, the girl straightened her spine and lifted her head. No, not a witch but not a housemaid either thought Mary.

 

She looked again at the tiny white hands now resting in the girl’s lap. Her long fingers moved absently, turning a thin band of gold around and around. The movement stopped abruptly as the girl noticed Mary watching, and she pulled her skirt closer to cover her hand. As she did so, the hem of her dress lifted and a fold of rich purple velvet unfurled from under the thin cotton. It lay there in the space between the two girls, brazen and brilliant in the watery morning sun and the girls gazed at it in silence, one with confusion, the other with defiance.

 

Mary hardly noticed when the girl reached out to rearrange her skirt. It seemed to her that the purple cloth held her in a trance and she was unable to understand what she saw. The purple interloper disappeared and the girl turned her blue eyes towards Mary again, daring her to speak. The intensity of her gaze rendered Mary speechless. She looked quickly away, her mind a jumble of questions. The girl was of a similar age to Mary and now that her colour had returned, Mary could see that they had the same complexion. And now she also saw that the girl’s fair hair fell around her shoulders in a tangle of curls just like Mary’s own, and her eyes were the same shade of blue. Only their hands were different. Mary looked down at her own short fingers and bitten nails with regret.  

 

Still the girl said nothing but only held her head higher.  

 

 

When they returned to the market, the carriage remained resting on its side but the horses had gone. No one paid any attention to the two girls as they made their way to Regent’s Close, slipping through the market where the people were still muttering about the unusual event of the morning.

 

Mary kept her hand on the girl’s arm. At the entrance to the Close, a man stood. She felt the girl’s muscles tighten and her step falter. “You must not tell,” the girl whispered.

Comments

This chapter is outstanding. Mary and the girl are so real I was the third person in the scene, invisible but part of it. The story flowed and the mystery you hinted at when you described the girl opened the door to many possibilities. Then the mysterious man introducing more tension and the entire situation is opened up. Yet the telling of the story was delicate...to match your description of the girl. Beautifully crafted.
Nicely merged with the previous chapter and this was about people, dress , attitudes, and emotions. A mixture that in itself, tells a story within a story - and yet the story doesn't slow down but carries on smoothly with just the right hint of heightened anxiety at the end. Lovely chapter, Donna.
Thank you both. I love the premise of this story, and the location (I was born in Edinburgh), and I am looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.