November 19, 1879
Violet McAllister slid her diary into the secret
compartment of the desk and shut it in. Her life, cloistered in darkness,
concealed. She could appreciate the irony of it.
She ran her hand over the smooth wood, which, cleverly
constructed, gave no clue to the hollow that served as a crypt for her words.
She wedged the key into the crack at the back of the drawer. From habit, for
there was no purpose for it now. She might as well toss it away. And yet, might
it not pose a puzzle to someone? Would anyone even care to speculate on this
little key or be intrigued enough to search for its mate?
Once she was gone, did it really matter who discovered the
dreadful secrets of her life?
She lined up the letters on her desk, more tidy than she
had ever cared to be. One to her solicitor brother-in-law and one to the vicar.
She stared at the third for a long time and suddenly snatched it up and tossed
it into the fire. She watched the flames taste the paper and then devour it. It
was better that way. Let him have no regrets.
Now there was only one thing left to do before Dr.
She had given Betsy the afternoon off and the Skuces
wouldn't be back today. So the house was silent, save for the ticking of the
grandfather clock in the hall. Violet's boots clicked loudly on the polished
hardwood floors. The noise was intrusive, shattering her fragile calm.
She let out a howl of rage and despair. Who was there to
hear after all? But it did nothing to lessen her anguish.
She stepped out into the sombre November afternoon, under
a sky swollen with the first snow of winter. She glanced about her beloved
domain once more. But the gardens she had so lovingly tended resembled a
graveyard, and the wooded ravine, the blackened bones of summer. Beyond, the
barren patchwork fields stretched across the windswept valley to the distant
She couldn't find the beauty in it anymore. It was the
blackness in her mind seeping out, encompassing all.
It had already smothered the goodness in her, leaving her
with nothing but festering hatred and bitterness and anger. Soon it would
destroy everything she touched. She couldn't allow herself to sink to that.
Above all she feared madness.
Violet strode through the ice-crisped meadow grass to the
orchard, unaware of the biting wind. She knelt beside a wooden cross and
whispered, "I'll be with you soon, Tristan." The thought gave her comfort. It
would be such a relief to be a spirit unencumbered by all this earthly
The first wet flakes of snow were falling as she retraced
her steps. She stopped outside the carriage house, staring down toward the
secret garden. She could just glimpse the half-naked Pan through the
winter-bare trees. He looked absurd in his cocky brazenness, defying even the
winter storms. She marched down to her once-favourite spot.
He mocked her, this stone god. Foolish mortal! He had
witnessed moments of great joy, and of deep despair. And he had merely laughed.
With a mighty heave, she toppled him from the plinth, but he thudded unharmed
to the earth. Foolish mortal!
She ran to the carriage house, her face wet with tears and
melting flakes of snow. Inside, she took a sturdy rope off the hook and slung
it over a beam.
Moon Hall continues for another 366