jueves, 22 de febrero de 2018


Can you outrun the night?



He would have known her name, if anyone had told him what it was, but he did not recognise her face. A handsome woman, already well into her forties, but lively and active, with flashing, autocratic dark eyes. To him she was merely another passenger, one more unfortunate on the way to the sanatorium high on the mountain. For they were all unfortunate who passed this way; either doomed to die themselves, or to lose one they loved.
It was good business for a carrier, this hospital. All summer they had toiled up and down this steep, new-laid, track, him or his master, on foot or on horseback or driving the carriage, bearing letters and flowers, patients and visitors. Once there had even been a pianoforte, a beautiful piece of work whose safe delivery had been superintended by the maker himself, coming all the way from Paris, it was said.
Now – autumn was here. First, the rain. Soon, the snow would come; but there was time to worry about that and to spare. He did not like the look of the weather today. The mountain was veiled deep in mist, and a great black cloud was rolling up the valley behind them. It was already spitting with rain, and threatened worse.
He could just see her if he looked over his shoulder. She sat in the carriage with her back straight, proud as a queen, her brow furrowed in a little frown (of worry, or displeasure? he did not care to find out), her hands clasped tightly on the handle of her bag.
The day grew darker. Night was falling, and, though it was close to full moon, the clouds blocked out all the sky. It was with a profound sense of relief that he brought the carriage to a halt in the tiny lamp-lit square of Ste-Marie-des-Montagnes. Surely, he thought, she would not want to go on tonight.
But, 'Why have you stopped?' she demanded as he opened the door for her.
He touched his cap. 'I thought you might care to stop here for the night, Madame. There's a storm coming, and we have yet an hour's drive, at the least.'
The first clap of thunder came just as she said, 'No. We carry on. I must get there tonight. I may already be too late.'
He nodded, closed the door, and climbed back on the box.
It poured steadily for the next forty minutes. The road became mud and he was forced to slow to a crawl. He could barely see ten paces in front of him; over and over again he had to wipe the rainwater from his face. And soon they came to what he had dreaded since the storm began. The ford ahead was a torrent of brown, swirling water. It was already as deep as would reach to a man's waist, he calculated, and the horses were as reluctant to go forward as he was.
This time she opened the door herself and stepped out without claiming his assistance. She stood, careless of the way that her skirts dragged in the mud, and called to him, 'We must keep on!'
'The ford, Madame! The river is in flood!'
She surveyed the scene, but shook her head. 'I cannot delay,' she said.
'I won't go further,' he protested. 'It's not safe.'
'I must go on,' she insisted.
'We'd never get the carriage across the ford.'
She looked at him, impatiently but not unkindly, then she drew a purse from her bag and held it out to him. 'Then take this, and let me have one of the horses. I will return it tomorrow. If you are an honest man, there is enough here to recompense your master for the loss if I do not keep my word; if dishonest, there is ample to set you up in business elsewhere. I do not care which; only, give me the means to go on.'
He gaped. 'Your luggage?' he said, stupidly.
'Dross. Do with it as you will. Now, will you release to me a horse?'
The purse was heavy, and after all it was her business if she chose to die sooner than God intended. He hastened to do as she told him, his cold hands fumbling with the buckles and sodden straps. She nodded. 'One moment,' she said, and climbed back into the carriage. Busy with the reins, he did not look to see what she was doing, and was shocked when she emerged dressed in men's riding clothes, her heavy cloak abandoned on the seat.
'Come, then,' she said, and he handed her the bridle. 'Thank you,' she said, and she led the horse on, up the track, towards the river. He watched until they were through the ford, soaked but still defiant. Further than that, he could not help her.
'Good luck!' he cried after her. But she could not have heard him over the wind.


Rather depressing premise, sorry! It's sort of implied when Louise is introduced for the first time. Most of the time I choose to ignore it.

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario