continued from part three...
Up in the tower, once her soul returned into her bosom, our lady sat upright in bed fresh as rose with dew on it’s petals.
“Hello, husband.” She greeted him, startled as he was by her recovery. He stared long and hard at her, making her wonder. Does he hate me for my absence? Of course, our farmer did not hate her. He simply could not bring himself to believe.
But when he kissed her lips, and felt the heat of her breath, and the wine of her tongue, he knew it was no dream.
“You have been my wife.” He proclaimed, “But now you are also my gift. For it is no small thing to be able to love you twice in one life.” And then he tenderly led her by the hand and assisted her to the table by the fire.
“Come. Let me fry some fish and cabbage for you and I will tell you of all the happenings you’ve missed these last weeks.”
And so our lady sat at the table and nourished her bones on the dinner her sweet husband set before her, washing it all down with goat’s milk and finishing up with figs rolled in sugar. He told her of every well wisher who’d stopped by and she was shocked at how many people cared about them. And she laughed at the folly of the candle maker’s wife and was scandalized by the relationship between the pastor’s daughter and the black smith’s apprentice. But, mostly she was satisfied. Her husband was holding her close and she delighted in that place.
From that time on, our fair lady was careful to never give her affection or talents to any man other than her husband again. She renewed her commitment to the care of her home with pride and passion. Indeed, she excelled at the art of homemaking. Theirs was a gay abode founded upon understanding. And soon, the rooms were filled with the patter of tiny feet and the cacophony of family. Thus, they lived out their days in peace on the farm her husband’s family had planted for generations.
Even still, she would ever be haunted by the river. A moan escaped it’s depths like a groaning, an inexpressible longing. The villagers noticed and were baffled, but not our lady. It was not because she witnessed the fate of our troll before she flew through the tower window, but because the moan coming off the river was familiar to her. They were her flutist’s melodies, only changed. He now played his love songs in a minor key.
She would pass the night sitting by the open window in all seasons, listening as she did her needlework. And in her soul she would vow, “I have not forgotten, my flutist. I shall never forget.” She was confident he heard her, wherever he was.
“Why do you love that sad sound, so?” Her children would ask her.
“It is not sad to me.” Was her invariable response.
Our fair lady lived to be the oldest person in her village by many years, and happy were most of her days. One morning, as the wilting flower lay prostrate on her bed, as her surviving children kept a death vigil by her side, a thick and oppressive fog rolled off the river enveloping the small, stone house with it’s tower and the surrounding countryside. Never had such a fog been seen in that country before and never has it appeared since. So thick was this fog that villagers reported not being able to see their own hand in front of their face even when touching their nose.
Remarkably, by noon of that same day an unseasonably hot sun seared that cloud-on-earth away. And it seems that with the fog, went our lady. For, when her children went to her bedside to tend to her, they found her gone.
Not a trace she left behind, nor footprint to follow. A woman who was quite simply too weak to lift her head from her pillow before the fog came, had disappeared without a trace by the time it left.
The villagers reported strange sightings and sounds down by the river after her leaving. Once the river only made a low, bass noted groaning when the wind whipped over the water. But after, a high noted whistle could be heard atop the groan. It was almost harmonic, some villagers insisted. And then there was the lady, who seemed oddly bathed in light no matter how dark the night, who many witnessed walking the banks of the river alone. Generation after generation, people would report this lady, always giving the same description, and yet oddly, she never seemed to age.
Vanishing made her legend.
Those who do not know, who cannot understand believe that the ghosts of two lovers haunt the river. But they are wrong. Our lady and our troll do not dwell with the dead but with the eternal.
Love never dies.
Goodnight! Finis! It's Over! The End.
by C. C. Kurzeja
2005 All Rights Reserved