Part the One Hundredth: The Fluttering of the Veil
Hope nearly didn’t answer Charity before the sun went down. As she considered Charity’s invitation to change her thinking as to whether she was willing to accept her amorous attentions, there was only the faint background of light from the gloaming. Neither had stopped their conversation to light a candle.
In the twilight, with this question before her, Hope felt she understood better the old tales. She remembered stories her aunt told her, of how this time of day was when the veil between the world of men and the fey parted, and one could go from one to the other with a simple step off the path. She recalled that not all the stories were pretty, and how many who slipped away ended up in places as often terrifying as wondrous.
Hope finally had an answer for Charity. “Of some things I am certain by coming to them on my own. While I appreciate your attention, and were things much different I would be flattered, I do not see myself able to return the affection you wish from me.”
Charity took some time before she responded, “At least you are kind and hors de dans l’ouvert about this.”
“I suppose some part of me wishes you had actually been Charles. When you were him, and you played at- I mean, had actually tried to woo me, there was something appealing to it all, something that…”
“…felt good?” Charity finished her sentence.
Hope sighed. “Yes, I suppose I could say that. And again, there but for these circumstances I might well have fallen- received them better.”
“You don’t make this easy on us, you know.”
“Perhaps,” said Hope, “but this is the only way it can go. I do not mean to leave you such, but I cannot see myself doing this.”
“Save were I a man, though?”
“Even then, it would mean we could not. There is also the crew of the Gale to think of, and how such an engagement would be taken.”
“That sounds like le Capitaine’s reasoning,” said Charity.
“I’m surprised, though. If I may ask… why me and not her?”
“Are you si aveugle with your own heart? Or do you secretly want Andrews to succeed in wooing you?”
Hope found she was smiling at the thought that there was a man who was a worse choice than Charity-
The door opened behind her with a flash of light and Abigail called out, “Sink me! Do you two not believe in having light in here?”
Hope and Charity turned to face Abigail as she used the lantern she was carrying to light the candles. She hung the lantern as well and replaced the veil of the gloaming with fixed tallow light.
“And what ye be up to?” Abigail asked them with a slight joking smile. “What conspiracies ye be plotting behind me back in yer rendezvous, eh?”
Hope could only look at Charity and mimic the suppressed shock on her face from the innocent words Abigail chose…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan