"Spend Not Therefore, Time In Vaine" (Thisbe's Song, by Abraham Cowley)
Come, love, why stay'st thou? The night
Will vanish ere wee taste delight.
The moone obscures her selfe from sight,
Thou absent, whose eyes give her light.
Come quickly deare, be briefe as time,
Or we by morne shall be o'retane,
Love's Joy's thing owne as well as mine,
Spend not therefore, time in vaine.
I was sitting in the library, basking in the warming glow of the late afternoon sun when I saw him. He did not see me, too involved in his book to take notice of his surroundings. Some visitor of the Madame's perhaps? I was in one corner,near lost in the huge, plush chair I'd hidden in to read. This book being a selection of the seventeenth century poems of Abraham Cowley and certain other Cavalier poets. Those words took me far from the here and now, back to the romantic and somehow less frightening days of yesteryear. Each book in that place was a rarity, covered in leather, hand bound. I did not know this then, to me they were books and that was
In the shadows near the fireplace I saw him. Not at first, for he sat in the dark at the other end of the library. He was in a chair and a little behind a round table upon which sat a chessboard. The pieces of which had been put away in the small drawer beneath the table. It seemed that I gradually became aware of his presence, as if the long shadows had begun gathering themselves slowly into the form and figure of a man. A man clad in black from head to toe. A man, still as the books around him, highly intent on the book in his hand.
I could barely see his features for the sun dazzled my eyes and motes of dust swirled in the light like tiny flakes of sunlit gold. I blinked several times, and shifted my head from side to side to see him better. But between the sunlight in my eyes and the darkness where he was, there was simply no way to make out his face. Finally I burrowed down into the cushions of my chair, hiding. If he was some visitor of the Madame, I would not be so polite as to interrupt him. And too, I wanted to sit and read and not be instructed to fetch or carry, or perform some other household servant's chores. Tis was during what I'd come to think of as my time. That time between when my chores and lessons were completed, and when I'd had to be back to my Grandpapa's for sleep.
A late evening cloud covered the setting sun and I suddenly had the desire to look again. So I rose my head up over the tall arm of the chair and for a few precious moments I could see him clearly. Pale he was, pale faced and thin with unusually long dark hair tied back with a ribbon. No man of my acquaintance had hair of that length. I wondered idly if he was a foreign count, or a nobleman perhaps. Someone from a country far away come here on secret mission? Indeed, he reminded me of someone I knew, but as to who it was I had no clue. I got tired of looking at him and went back to my own book. Caressing each page as I read, my lips mouthing the words and my finger following each line as read the poetry. Both of us, man and child, lost in the stories and adventures of another time.
I was woken by one of the parlor maids as she began closing the great curtains of the library, so that no light may show through to the outside. It was one of the new laws, set down by the Germans who now controlled our country. It was dark outside, and too late for me to be walking back home. Especially without a pass allowing me to travel after curfew, another German rule to control us. The Madame was informed and generously allowed them to find me a room in the servants wing, one down near the end. From the looks of it, the room hadn't been used in a while, and nor had any of the rooms near it, for that matter.. Sleepily, I said my prayers and then climbed into the bed as the maids puttered around. As the young blonde one, Musette tucked me in, I asked if the new gentleman was staying the night as well.
"What gentleman" came her question. "Why, the one in the library that I saw today, " I replied. The response I got surprised me. Musette stated that there were no gentlemen spending the night, not even the German Generals that had made this chateaus their current home. I can even now recall how my voice piped up in protest "But I saw him in the library! He was dressed all in black and," when I was shushed by the Head maid, Musettes' own mother.
"Nonsense" She scoffed. "There is no such man, child. These books that Madame allows you to read, they pull your imagination to places far beyond where it should be allowed to go!" At that I grew very quiet, and apologized saying I must have been dreaming. I had no desire to have them tell the Madame that I was making up stories. For then she might decide to have them take away my time in the library all together.
I rolled onto my side, watching them from near-closed eyes as they blew out the candles. Musette, strangely pale, made the sign of the cross as she looked at me before being pushed out of the room by her rough and blustery mother. And in the dark and alone at last, I then said my prayers to the lady.
Late that night I was awakened from my sleep by the sound of footsteps that came down the hallway. Footsteps that passed my room without stopping and continued on towards the main part of the ages old building. And with it came such a feeling of loss, of deep sorrow and cold rage entwined. Shivering, I pulled the pillow down into the center of the bed, hiding my head beneath it, and both pillow and I under the blankets that covered us. And I prayed to the lady. I prayed as hard as I'd ever prayed for my Mama and Papa's safety that the owner of that heavy tread not be able to find me. For I knew, somehow I knew
that despite Musette and her mother's assurances to the contrary? Those footsteps belonged to the man in black.
Fandom:OC, historical, mythological
Words: 1120 (not including the poem by Abraham Cowley)
X-posted to: worldundersiege