6th January

The House in the Glen

He saw her first among the trees, flitting like a deer, or the ghost of a deer. With her long black hair and pale face, and her lack of fear, she wasn’t like a deer at all, but that was how he thought of her. She stopped, looked at him as a deer might, but then unfroze and moved on, careless of the crack- ing of twigs under her feet.

She was from the big house. He had heard about her.

He reached the stone wall with the gate set in it. This was as far as you could walk in the glen: the wall marked the policies around the big house, and the gate was usually shut and bolted. But today it was open.

The house and the people who owned it were nothing to do with him or his kind. Money had built it, and the memory of money sustained it. The girl’s parents were hardly ever there, he’d heard, though he couldn’t recall who had told him this. Her father was in London, her mother in France. They led separate lives, so the story went, and neither of them worked. They didn’t have to. That was what made them different.

He was just a boy from the village. She had been sent away to school, so they had never met. That was not supposed to happen.

The house was old-looking, but not as big as he’d expected. He’d expected a castle. How could he have walked these woods for so many years and never seen the place? Because of the high wall, he told himself, but it wasn’t that. The house was like the ghost of a house. If he went away now and came back in the morning, would it still be there?

There was a doorway with a low lintel. The door was of thick, rough wood with iron studs in it. It was open, as the gate had been.

He thought, If I go in here, I may never come back out.

He heard the girl’s voice singing, the clink and clatter of food or drink being prepared. For him?

He said to himself, What do I have to lose?

Reader: Kate Molleson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Guitar: Sorren Maclean
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