Chapter 4

Written by: Sumanda Maritz

Alice struggled to get the thorns out of her skirt. From the house, a Cape Malay voice called to her, “Madam Emma, are you hurt?” The woman waddled toward her. Her strong hands gently helped untangle Alice. Maria then tucked Alice into the kitchen with the Aga stove that provided heat against the stormy wind outside.

The front door opened and slammed shut again letting the wind whip through the house momentarily. Alice heard Maria talk to someone in the foyer. “Madam, I thought she was you, but then she spoke and I knew she wasn’t.”

Alice saw Emma, from the visions in her Bloubergstrand home, enter the kitchen. Except that this Emma was visibly pregnant. 

Emma sat down heavily in a chair opposite Alice. Maria fussed over the pregnant Emma until she had a cup of tea to drink. “Well,” Emma started, “this is quite interesting. My name is Mrs Oliver Seton and who would you be?” Alice knew that no one would believe her story if she told the truth, and introduced herself as Miss Alice Smith. She only added that she was lost and didn’t know how to get home. There was no way to explain why she looked so much like Emma, so she passed it off as a coincidence.

That evening, as they sat in the warm lounge, Emma told Alice why she lived alone with only Maria. “I fell in love with Oliver against my mother’s wishes. She wanted me to make a suitable match in London. However, love cannot be dictated.” A sad smile played across her soft face. “We eloped two days before Oliver sailed from Portsmouth to carry troops to the eighth frontier war.” 

“My mother was so enraged that I went against her wishes, she passed away that night.” The obvious pain in Emma’s voice made Alice realise that Emma had truly loved her mother.

“I was unable to join Oliver immediately and stayed behind to make arrangements for my mother’s estate. Oliver arranged with a fellow captain that I would follow him in a fortnight. Oliver’s ship, the HMS Birkenhead, left at dawn. I did not know that it would be the last time I would see my husband. His ship sank on the 26th of February 1852 in Gansbaai just weeks after leaving England. I arrived in the Cape of Storms a widow with child.” She ended with a sob.

Going to bed later, Alice thought about Emma’s story and how it fitted with the disturbing visions she had seen in the haunted mirror. The panicky screams of horses coming from the parlour startled her out of her slumber. She stumbled out of bed and made her way toward the sounds. With trembling hands, she reached out to the mirror that showed a sinking ship in a dark storm-ridden sea. Men and horses drowned as she watched. As before, she was pulled into a swirl.

Comments

I really enjoyed this chapter. It moved seamlessly from the various scenarios and you made the unbelievable, believable. I like the way the theme of the mirror is carried through the story. Great use of imagination and story telling.