Tabitha returned home, at the turn of the year.
'' Back and
in time for Yule. I could not ask for a better gift. ''
''Make room.'' Assorted brothers and sisters shuffled round the
benches, Tabitha was placed between Robert and Bryony. Robert
seemed crestfallen.'' It's alright Robert, I won't steal the marzipan
house from under your nose.' 'Laughing faces glowed in the fire light shining with goose fat and happiness.
Hams, puddings piled high, cheeses from the dairy. The air was
filled with the smell of cinnamon ginger nutmeg. Father heated cider
thrusting a red hot poker into his mug. Plates groaned . The thin
days of winter forgotten if only for a day.
Then the doors burst open. A dark knight seated on a fiery steed
rode straight into the hall. The horse steamed, they seemed to bring
the storm with them.' I have come as arranged, come child you are
my price, you are my prize.'' The snow blew through the open door.
The snow swirled round the hall. Snow lay on the knight's steed
back. White against midnight black.
''I am no child, but a woman grown.''
‘’You are promised, I have waited long, I will wait
''Give me your hand, as you are no child.''
''What is this? Ma, Da?''
''You are no child, yet you hide behind your
''I am no child. I hide from no one''
'' I have watched the first sunrise, I have sailed along the north
wind, I have encircled the world in a single night. You, are all
children, but you, are my child bride.''
''Tabitha, he's right.'' Her father stood by her
''What do you mean, he's right? What right have you to promise me
'' I am your father, I wanted you away from here I sent you away but
you came back. I didn't want this night, neither did your mother. You
are to be his bride'''' We waste time. Give me her hand. Or give me
another, you know the arrangement.’’
'' No not Bryony, not my little sister.'' Tabitha stepped into the
centre of the room and took the dark knights hand.
In one swift move he swept her up and seated her in front of him.
One moment in the bright hall, the next into the darkness. The world
rushed by stars streaked past like comets. The sun rose and hurried
into the west. Tabitha was beyond time outside place. The world
coalesced again, the horse slowed then stopped. It was hard to see
nothing was definite but it was only mist, then she heard the roaring
of the sea. In front was a great river behind a standing
"This is where it ends, this is where it
Tabitha dismounted. The knight pulled out a glittering sword.
Not common steel but made of moonlight hammered by frost.
It shimmered and glimmered, it spoke of power, it whispered age, it
"Seven daughters I have brought here, now it is your turn." "Into the
river, into the tide, in death you will, be my bride." He thrust the
sword at Tabitha. She took a step into the stream. Ice broke. Water
swirled over her shoe. Dark water swallowed her leg. Cold so cold,
the pain shot up her legs, already she could not feel her toes. She
glanced back, the motionless knight was still
"One kiss, just one last kiss, at least my
bridegroom owes me that."
He bent his head in acceptance in agreement.
He urged the horse into the frozen river. Tabitha reached up, he
bent down, she placed her arms around his neck. Their lips touched,
Tabitha's first kiss and her last. She held onto him as if to life itself.
The kiss lasted for ever, her arms locked in this final embrace. A
warmth within in her swelled, the cold forgotten, the river forgotten,
all she could feel was his lips on hers. She tightened her grip. The
knight slid off balance from his horse. Into the water onto the ice
which broke with the weight of his armour. He fought the stream, he
fought the water, but failed. The last thing Tabitha saw was a faint
glow beneath the ice as the knight was swept out to sea.