Dark Rosaleen

Dark Rosaleen

by Marjorie Bowen

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Overview

The boy was building a small fort in the Orangery, of toy bricks, mud,
and sticks. The Orangery was empty. Only a few, dry, fragrant leaves from
last year remained in the corners and on the wide sills of the windows
which reached from floor to ceiling. On the other side a magnificent
tapestry was carefully hung and the figures on it seemed to fill the
large building.

When the boy glanced up from his fort he was acutely aware of all these
strange, tall figures, which were moving in a stately cavalcade towards
the corner where he lay: white elephants, camels of a pale honey colour,
giraffes and zebra speckled and striped, princes turbanned and wearing
armour that sparkled with gold thread, slaves leading monstrous beasts by
scarlet cords, and captives, their arms bound behind them--all these
seemed, to the lonely boy, to watch him at his play; and as the sun,
pouring in through the long panes of glass, caught here a strand of
bullion, there a thread of silk, they appeared to move as if about to
speak.

Above the corner where the boy worked was the Triumphal Car bearing the
Hero of this parade, and close by the heavy wheel was a Negro who helped
to push the majestic chariot.

The expression of this figure, which seemed bent, not only in labour but
in supplication, and the way in which he rolled his eyes, as if in a
frenzy of terror, affected the little boy. The man was a slave and
plainly expected punishment. As the boy returned to his work, laying out
his lines and galleries and ramparts according to the drawing in Indian
ink beside him, marking the places for each cannon and building up the
citadel where the flag should fly at last, he was conscious of the shadow
thrown over him by the suffering of another--a picture only, but terribly
real.

He vaguely regretted that his mother and stepfather Mr. Ogilvie had not
remained to keep him company, and presently he sat up with a sigh,
brushing the dried earth off his hands and with his back to the tapestry,
gazed out through the open door on to an expanse of lawn and park where
all the grass, trees and flowers seemed to shimmer in the sun.

The long silence was broken by the first of two visits which were to make
that day memorable. As he stared through the open door another boy put
his head round it and smiled.

'I was told to come and play with you. May I do so?'

The child nodded with grave courtesy. Visitors to the Château were not
rare, but this one spoke English and that was a little uncommon.

'My mother sent you?'

'Oh, yes,' the stranger advanced. 'Her Grace said that the other little
lords and ladies were away, but that I might have the honour of coming
here to play with your Lordship.'

The boy did not at all like this way of speaking. He felt embarrassed by
the other's fawning awkwardness. The stranger was a little younger than
himself, sharp, shrewd and precocious in manner.

'Oh, what a beautiful fort you are making here, may I look at it?'

The other rose, his natural sweetness struggling with a dislike of this
intruder. He brushed the powdered earth from the knees of his trousers.

'Of course you may look at it, but there is not very much to see. I have
only half finished, there is a good deal of work but I like to do it all
myself. You are English, are you not?'

'Oh, no, like your Lordship, I am Irish--I was born in Dublin.'

'My name is Edward and if you have come to visit us there is no need for
you to be so formal.'

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013741058
Publisher: WDS Publishing
Publication date: 01/10/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 209 KB

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