Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > The Blanket of the Dark > Epilogue
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  

In the pleasant shire of Kent the manor of Roodhurst has long lost its rustic peace. The old house disappeared in the reign of Anne, and the park this twenty years has been carved into suburban roads and gardens. But the ancient flint-built church still stands, and on the left of the altar are the Messynger tombs. There, on a plinth of black marble, my lord lies carved in alabaster, with his robes curiously coloured and a gilded Garter jewel at his breast. For Sir Gabriel became a great man and the master of broad lands over all south England. Henry made him the Lord Messynger of Roodhurst, and under Mary he won an earl’s coronet and an ample fortune. Nor did Elizabeth degrade him. He trimmed his faith opportunely, and died in full possession of the wealth he had won and in the sunshine of his Queen’s favour.

On the shelf beneath him is the figure of his countess, less resplendent, but with a gilt coif above her marble face. On the entablature, among the heraldic scutcheons, may be read in lapidary Latin how Sabina, Comitessa de Roodhurst, died in the odour of sanctity in the year after her lord, hasting to rejoin him in Heaven. The inscription tells of her wifely merits, her pieties, her meekness, her assured hope of salvation. It enumerates her children, one son who continued the name, and no less than seven daughters, who found fitting husbands, so that, though the title died out soon after the Restoration, the blood of Messynger and Beauforest is still perpetuated in high places.

The name of the Countess Sabine flashes now and then into the national story — in state papers, in court memoirs, in the dedicatory addresses of many poets. But more is to be gathered from the local histories. She was a great lady in Kent, a figure like Anne Clifford in the North. Her beauty is extolled; her hair was unstreaked with grey till her death, and her figure, owing perhaps to her passion for horsemanship, remained to the end that of a slim nymph and not of a mother of children. She was the best of wives, and there is a tale of how, in her husband’s interest, she won by her arts the grace of a queen who did not love her own sex. Her virtues were eminent and high-handed; she ruled her lord’s estates with far-sighted skill, generous to those who obeyed her, but adamant to opposition, loved by some, feared by many, deeply respected by all. In her rural domain she was a lesser Gloriana, and men spoke of her as they spoke of Elizabeth, with pride and awe and a remote affection. In very truth, says her epitaph, a virtuous woman, a true mother in Israel, whose price was above rubies.

Sir Ralph Bonamy dwelt peacefully in Wood Eaton until his death at a ripe age in the same year as King Henry, keeping open house, breakfasting magnificently on beef and ale, hunting in Stowood, and fowling on Otmoor, and training such falcons as were not to be matched in England. To his house came Brother Tobias, when the community of Oseney was scattered, and there he spent his declining years as the family chaplain. Tobias became a silent old man, who stirred little from his chamber, where he was busy with a Latin version of Euripides in the manner of Seneca — a work which has not survived. Sometimes, seated among his books, he would receive in conference uncouth men out of the woods, and on a winter’s night by the hall fire he and Sir Ralph would speak of dangerous things. They agreed that the blanket of the dark had fallen on England, and that long before it lifted they would be both in Paradise. Sometimes they spoke of the Lady Messynger, and Brother Tobias would propound a fancy. He would tell how, in Euripides’ play, the true Helen was carried to Egypt, and how it was only a phantom Helen that went to Troy with Paris and brought on Greeks and Trojans unnumbered ills. So it was, he said, with the Lady Sabine. There was a true woman of that name, who was beloved by two noble youths, but where that woman was gone, said he, was known only to God. What survived was but a phantom, a hollow thing with much beauty and more cunning, who was mated to another holl............

Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved