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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Captivity, by M. Leonora Eyles This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Captivity Author: M. Leonora Eyles Release Date: April 2, 2005 [eBook #15527] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CAPTIVITY*** E-text prepared by Michael Ciesielski, Project Gutenberg Beginners Projects, Mary Meehan, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team Captivity By M. Leonora Eyles Author of Margaret Protests TO E. J. R-S. You have often said that you could never write a book. You have written this one just as surely as Beatrice wrote the Vita Nuova for Dante. Until I talked with you I did not know that our lives are the pathway for God's feet; I had not realized that Trinity of body, brain and spirit; and it had never come to me before how, for each other's sake, we must set a censor, very strong and austere, upon our secret thoughts. I have learnt these things from you; the gold of your thoughts has passed through the crucible of my experience to make a book. Perhaps a little of the gold has been left clinging to the crucible—and for that I have to thank you, my dear. Margaret Leonora Eyles. Bexhill-on-Sea, 1st February, 1920. "Man comes into life to seek and find his sufficient beauty, to serve it, to win and increase it, to fight for it; to face anything and dare anything for it, counting death as nothing so long as the dying eyes still turn to it. And fear and dulness and indolence and appetite—which, indeed, are no more than fear's three crippled brothers who make ambushes and creep by night—are against him, to delay him, to hold him off, to hamper and beguile and kill him in that quest." H. G. Wells ("The History of Mr. Polly"). Captivity CHAPTER I CHAPTER II CHAPTER III CHAPTER IV CHAPTER V CHAPTER VI CHAPTER VII CHAPTER VIII CHAPTER IX CHAPTER X CHAPTER XI CHAPTER XII CHAPTER XIII CHAPTER XIV CHAPTER XV CHAPTER XVI CHAPTER XVII CHAPTER XVIII CHAPTER XIX CHAPTER XX CHAPTER XXI CHAPTER XXII CHAPTER XXIII CHAPTER XXIV CHAPTER XXV CHAPTER XXVI CHAPTER XXVII CHAPTER XXVIII CHAPTER XXIX CHAPTER XXX CHAPTER XXXI CHAPTER I As long as Marcella could remember, the old farm-house had lain in shadows, without and within. Behind it rose the great height of Ben Grief, with his gaunt face gashed here by glowering groups of conifers, there by burns that ran down to the River Nagar like tears down a wrinkled old face. Marcella had read in poetry books about burns that sang and laughing waters that clattered to the sea for all the world like happy children running home from school. But the waters on Ben Grief neither laughed nor sang. Sometimes they ran violently, as though Ben Grief were in a rage of passionate weeping; sometimes they went sullenly as though he sulked. It was upon Ben Grief that Marcella looked when she went to bed at night and when she wakened in the morning in her little stark room at the back of the house. There was another window in the room from which she could have seen the sea, but Aunt Janet had had a great mahogany wardrobe placed right across it, and only the sound of the sea, creeping sometimes, lashing most often, came to her as she lay in bed, reminding her that the sea was there all the time. In front of the house rose Lashnagar, the home of desolation, a billowing waste of sand rising to about a thousand feet at the crest. Curlews called and sea-gulls screamed over Lashnagar; heather grew upon it, purple and olive-green; fennel and cooch and henbane sprang side by side with dwarfed stink-nettles, stunted by the salt sand in which they were rooted. But the soil was not deep enough for trees or bushes to take root. In Marcella's lifetime men had been lost on Lashnagar, and sheep and dogs, adventuring too far, had never come back. Legend had it that hundreds of years ago Lashnagar had been a quiet little village nestling round Castle Lashcairn, the home of Marcella's folks. That was in the year before Flodden Field, a hot, dry time that began with Lady Day and lasted till the Feast of All Souls without rain or storm. In that hot summer a witchwoman, very beautiful, had come to Lashnagar to win the soul of Andrew Lashcairn, winning with his soul his bed and his board. A wild wooing it was, and a wilder wedding. All the wooing had been done by the woman —as was the way of the Lashcairn women ever afterwards—in the dry heat of that unnatural summer when the sap dried in the trees and the marrow in men's bones, while the heated blood surged through their veins more quickly than ever before. On the Feast of All Souls, the wedding day, a copper sun rose in a sky of blood and lead, and all the folks of Lashnagar drank deeply to drive away impending horror. That night, after they slept, while Andrew Lashcairn lay awake in the witch-woman's arms, a great wind came in from the sea, sweeping before it the salt sand of the dunes, covering the village and the castle and the old feet of Ben Grief where sheep and cattle fed. The witch-woman, with her lord and a few servants, fought and battled a way through the storm of sand and stones to settle where the last of the wind-blown desert piled on the knees of Ben Grief. The next year Andrew rode away to the fight at Flodden Field. Unknown to him, the witch-woman who loved him rode close to his heels. There his pennant, with its sun in splendour and its flaunting "By myself I stand," went down. When the hush of death fell on the noise of battle the witch-woman crawled by night among the dead to find her lord lying with one arm thrown carelessly over his dead horse's neck. It was there, companioned only by the dead, that the witch-woman's twins—a boy and a girl—were born. And it pleased their mother's grim humour to creep about the battlefield in the darkness until she found banners and trappings of the Southrons, whom she hated, to act as birth-clothes for her son and daughter when she carried them back mile after mile to brooding Lashnagar. It was the boy who