7 August, 2018 by katelaity
‘Perhaps if you hold your crucifix before us?’ Chambers suggested to the abbess, who looked at me somewhat dubiously.
‘You think her a demon?’ I asked, somewhat aghast that such loveliness could be suspect.
‘It could be that we have some Wigan Pit Lass here,’ Tansy said with an insouciant air, the sort that always made me want to brain her at least when she was he.
‘Look at that face. She is a doubtless a woman of some breeding and status.’ I could hardly countenance such a suggestion. ‘Are you not the one to say that a demon must have some faults? Do you see any faults in that divine beauty?’ I admit I may have been rather taken with the ethereal image before us.
‘We can test her,’ the abbess said, tiring of our bickering. ‘Spirit, draw near.’
The figure hovered in the air with a sort of puzzled expression, but after a moment it approached the lady of religion. Sorrow etched her face. I felt anger for whoever had harmed this beautiful innocent, for innocent she must be with a visage like that.
‘Be thy intents wicked or charitable? Swear to us that you are true and good.’ The abbess held aloft her golden cross. The spirit hovered for a moment indecisive.
Would it be revealed a demon? I held my breath, for I could not believe it to be true.
The indecision however seemed to be due to its spirituous nature. The diaphanous hand could not take the cross from her, though she reached out for it. The golden crucifix passed right through her misty hand. After a puzzled moment of reflection at the impossibility of the motion, the spectre moved to draw the cross upon her own breast, showing herself to be part of the same faith held to be infallible by its followers. Though many of my compatriots would regard this as dangerously subversive, my own mother had been an adherent in her youth and retained a fondness for the old practices which perhaps had influenced me to tolerance.
Nonetheless, the important token this gave us was reassurance that the lovely spirit intended us no harm. What woman as lovely as this could harm anyone?
‘You forget our recent sojourn in the other lands, perhaps,’ Tansy murmured to me as I stared in rapt awe of the figure before us.
‘All that glisters…’
I flushed in the flickering light of the corridor, the heat rising to my cheeks which was not past needing, I must say. It was quite chilly now. ‘As the poet wrote,
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.’
Tansy laughed a little at that, but it was a gentle enough sort of mirth. He did not wish—or should I say she did not wish to twit me unnecessarily, but I bridled nonetheless. My friend calmed me with a smile and said, ‘O yonge fresshe folkes, he or she / In which that love up-groweth with your age / Repeyreth hoom fro worldly vanitee.’
‘Meaning what precisely?’ I was loath to admit I had no idea what Tansy was on about.
‘Only that one ought to proceed with caution,’ my friend responded but with a look of such enigmatic wistfulness that I was taken aback.
She smiled at once and punched me lightly on the arm. ‘Mind how you go. Let us continue.’
The ghost beckoned before us down the corridor into infernal darkness.