Thursday, October 21, 2004

 

the child, six


Hates? Hates? That word seemed to suck the vitality out of the Child's already-weak limbs. 'Hates me? But she doesn't even know me!' she cried, as Mathilda gently but firmly bore her along.

Swiftly they reached the foot of the Mountain of Spices and the tall one all but carried the Child to her favorite spot under the trees, among the flowers. There Mathilda set the Child softly down, then knelt at her side. 'Here,' said the rushing voice, 'we shall answer your questions, which are many.'

The Child paused, catching her breath, catching at her scattering thoughts. Which question first... 'Who is she?'

'She is the daughter of an enemy.'

'An enemy? But why is she here?'

'She has lived here for years. She lives at the foot of the Mountain of Spices, but on the other side.'

Oh. Then... 'She owns the Mountain?'

'By no means. The Mountain belongs to he who brought you here.'

The Child frowned in bafflement. 'But she acted like she owned the Mountain. She ordered us off the Mountain. And you obeyed her.'

A smile. 'Little one, we did not leave in obedience to her. Rather, we left to protect you from her - from her angry and vicious tongue. Sharp as a sword is her tongue, and she wields it against any who stay in this house.'

'Why?'

'Because you have what she can only pretend to.' Mathilda gestured towards the Mountain. 'She often walks the Mountain, pretending to own it. Because of her bluster, you thought she actually did own it. She does not, but lays claim to it by claiming to be a family relation to he who does own it. She claims to be the wife of the Master.'

The Child gasped.

'But she is not,' Mathilda went on. 'She envies you.'

'Me? Why should she envy me?'

'Because he brought you here. You are here because he wants you to be here. She is here because she stole in and laid claim to the small house on the far side of the Mountain. She remains here, because the Master is kind. He has no desire to throw her out, in the hopes that his kindness will break through to her. That she will come to her senses, renounce the heritage of her father, and humbly petition to become in fact what she pretends to be - a member of the Master's family.'

A silence. Then, 'Am I a member of the Master's family?'

A smile. 'You are.'

'But how could that be?'

'By bringing you here, the Master laid claim to you for one of his own. He loves you, and risked much to rescue you, that he might break the chains from off you, and place you in the heart of his house here, where you may heal and grow strong.'

A warm feeling spread over the Child. Like being wrapped in a blanket. 'When will he return?' she asked breathlessly.

'Soon. His coming for you is soon, little one.'

The Child cast her eyes upon the lofty mountain height nigh to them - and saw again the strong woman, the daughter of the enemy. She shuddered.

'Do not fear her. She can only speak against you; she dare not touch you.'

The Child cast down her eyes. 'I feel like we ran before her.'

'It was not cowardice, little one. The woman is blind. Not a blindness of eyes, but of spirit. She cannot see Truth. To stand before such a one and try to convince her of Truth - that is to waste one's breath. You cannot defend yourself to her. You can only be gracious and loving and kind - which is to be a daughter of this house.'

Mathilda rose to her - their? - feet. 'When the Master comes, he shall set all to rights. He shall defend you, little one. You need never defend yourself.'

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