Saturday, August 19, 2006


According to the legend of the Luck of Eden Hall, on which the prosperity of the family Musgrave depends, a retainer, fetching water from the well, surprised a company of fairies dancing on the green. He snatched the cup and made off with it, despite their furious attempts to reclaim it. As he fled he heard one declare:

Whene're this cup should break or fall
Farewell the luck of Eden Hall.

I corrupted the legend this way:

The evening gloom matched Damie's spirits.
She didn't know what to do or where to go. She couldn't risk wandering far. Didn't dare approach the keep.
The air grew chilly, dank.
The bats came out.
After a time she got up and paced about the small hollow to keep warm, round and round in front of the well, her cold feet slipping in her wet sandals.
Now and then the breeze carried sounds from the keep, a drone, a few notes of music. Entertainment for the company, she thought, a party. Hope they're having fun, fun, fun.
She glared through the gloom at the dark shape of the leather-covered chalice on the well head.
She couldn't take the thing with her. Common sense told her that. John said the thing ended up in a glass case in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
If that was the Luck, it was supposed to go to the Musgraves, according to the legend - or whoever inhabited that blockhouse over there.
Without intending to, through no fault of her own, she had interferred with its intended possessor.
Or had she?
No, she had no reason to suspect the square-faced lord intended to give the beaker to anyone. His gift to her had been purely an impulse gesture.
Therefore she was the mechanism.
Therefore someone had to come.
Or maybe she could just leave it here.
No, she couldn't do that. She had an obligation, or why else had she been dumped here. To make sure the Luck got into the proper, intended hands?
Was the Luck, for some reason unknown to her, necessary as a talisman?
The moon edged above the trees. Silver and velvet shadows.
She saw, with wry amusement, she had trod out an almost perfect circle in the dew. She wondered if there would be fog before long. That would not be pleasant.
She heard someone whistling.
The whistling came closer.
She drifted out of the moonlight and stood immobile, clutching the length of her shawl in front of her.
A short shape, swinging a bucket, came slipping down the slab stone steps.
He lurched over to the well, bent and dipped out a full pail, grunted as he sloshed it up and set it on the ground.
Damie made out he seemed to be decently dressed, and he wore a hat.
She decided that might indicate some status, and he was likely from the keep.
Perhaps the square-faced lord wanted another drink from St. Cuthbert's well.
The fellow stretched and belched, staggered a little and gazed around.
A whiff of ale floated on the light breeze.
Drunk as a lord, thought Damie, but not a lord. He might do.
He spotted the leather case on the well cope and ambled around to pick it up. He turned it this way and that, peered at it, rocking a little on his heels.
He giggled and tossed the case in the air.
Oh crap, thought Damie.
If he drops that...I'll see to it myself. I'll push him in the well and stand on him until he drowns.
He tossed the case again.
"Take care with that cup, you fool!" She couldn't help it.
The man swung this way and that, peering into the shadows, his treasure now firmly clutched against his chest.
He finally focused on her form as she moved out into the moonlight.
He stuffed the beaker down the front of his tunic and backed a step, crossing himself.
"I found it," he said blearily. "'Tis mine!"
"Actually, it's mine,'"said Damie, counting on psychology.
Unless he fell flat on his fat face, the thing was safe, cushioned by his paunch, she thought.
Now what?
She edged around the clearing, aiming for the track barred light and dark in the moonlight.
Time to foutez le camp, if she could.
The man seems to gather courage. Only one white wraith danced and wove in the glade before him. A female, at that. He advanced on unsteady feet.
"Mine," he vowed beligerently. "White boggle."
Damie turned to run.
She slipped. He reached for her, nearly toppled over. She clawed up at his face, regained her feet and pivoted away.
He halted, stood staring stupidly after her.
Damie paused at a safe distance, impelled to call back.
"Remember - if the cup is broken -bad luck will follow."
She fled, her hair streaming silver in the moonlight, fading, reappearing, fading from sight down the forest track.


Sela Carsen said...

Neatly done! Does she know the actual words of the curse? I think it would be more effective if she repeated the more poetic version. But if she doesn't, then it works just as well. It's more direct this way.

Erik Ivan James said...

I truly enjoyed reading this scene. The excellent descriptions of place, characters, images and thoughts (the combination), placed me in the shadows watching, as if I were there. No critism to offer.

Bernita said...

Yes, she does, Sela, and that's about all - John quoted them to her.
Thought it would be just too pat for her to quote it.
Legends change over time, and I want to show, by her intrusion, a more mundane reality, how the original could have occurred before embellishment.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Erik.
Am worried about POV shifts here.

James Goodman said...

nicely done, Bernita.

MissWrite said...

"The bats came out."

You know, something so simple can provide such a nice touch in setting the mood. That did it for me.

"I'll push him in the well and stand on him until he drowns."

That had me rolling. Loved her attitude.

Very nice, Bernita.

Bernita said...

Thank you, James and Tami.
Still some rough edges, I'm afraid.

Ric said...

A nice bit - the underlayment is very good.

Nicely done, Bernita.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ric.
"Underlayments?" Would you expand on that, please?

Ric said...

She had an obligation. to whom? to the Fates? to the Muses? to the square faced Lord?

The perfect circle in the dew, the white shawl, fitting into the legend so perfectly, but not saying so.

The not knowing if he were noble or not.

All kinds of questions, tension, all fitting into the legend - kinda.

Nicely done.

Savannah Jordan said...

First, I love this line, "Silver and velvet shadows." And second, when do we get the rest of the story??

Well done, Bernita!

Bernita said...

Ah, thank you, Ric.

Thank you, Savannah.
She comes back. Hot(?) sex. Their car blows up.
I'm working on improving what I've got.

Monica said...

Great scene, wonderful writing.

Bernita said...

Kind of you, Monica. Thank you.

Mark Pettus said...

Very nice. Almost poetic, and tightly written. I enjoyed reading it.

I found a bunch of fairies dancing in the woods when I was but a child. After years of therapy, I can finally talk about it.

A POV shift that doesn't confuse the reader is a fine POV shift indeed. Good work.

Bernita said...

Nice to see you, Mark. Thank you.
A purist would crap all over it for that though.

kmfrontain said...

It was well done and fun to read, Bernita. Is this story a done deed, btw? Or are you still writing it?

Bernita said...

Glad you enjoyed the snippit, Karen.
It's a "done deed" - though I'm revising it in fits.

Jeff said...

Very nice, Bernita. :)

Cynthia Bronco said...

"I want to show, by her intrusion, a more mundane reality..." In my youth, I hated the mundane, but now I think it so much richer and easier to connect with.
I liked it.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I like how you did that, I was in the mood to read and was a little let down when I got to the bottom...LOL...I coulda' read a few more pages...we're gonna' snippet you to death.

This is sorta' like the conundrum they usually come up with in time-travel...if you know the past can you choose correctly for the future!

We'll know the whole book by the time we're down!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Cynthia.
Many legends have a kernel of truth or fact at the point of origin. One might say I'm re-corrupting this one.

Thank you, Bonnie. Guess I'll have to cut back on posting snippits then!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Hey, you can't cut back on snippets...I've still got to figure them out in the correct order! LOL!

Bernita said...

Hither and yon, Bonnie.

Anonymous said...

I know this isn't the point of the post, but I just wanted to say that your weave of scene description and action is so artfully done. Just enough to bring it uniquely to life.

That takes a careful touch.

Bernita said...

Why thank you, Jason.
~looking at snippit with fresh eyes~