Read Parts One, Two, and Three.
I saw the girl to her tutors, then locked myself in my chambers. I banished all the maids: "Yes, Madam can undress herself tonight. Yes, I am sure that will suffice. Thank you Esmerelda, Thank you. Good night." When I was finally alone, I wrote a letter to my lover. I told him he must never again come to my rooms. I folded it three times, sealed it, and drank several cups of wine from a silver flagon. After awhile, I rose up from my writing table, and looked out the east window--- cold, silver stars had come out, and the moon was almost full. I found myself drawn to the ancient stone chapel.
I thought about how it might look in the white light of the moon; a dark silhouette against a stand of evergreen. The Duke claimed it was five hundred years old. I did not doubt this. And now it called to me. I realized then that I was sad. I could not see my darling Harry anymore. But it was necessary to survive. It would not serve my reputation, and the girl could not be trusted. Not at all. She was mad. I threw my velvet cloak about my shoulders, made haste with my riding boots, and strode out into the night.
I could see it in the distance, on a short rise, heading toward the tree line. I was aware of the wildflowers beneath my feet, the smell of the sea. As I got closer, the chapel, directly in the path of the moon, shone as if possessed. The large wooden doors wielded easily to my touch. The walls inside were thick with moss. A marble and gold cross at the altar was nicked and burnished by the smoke of a thousand candles. The statues of the Holy Mother and her Blessed Son, sat far back in the shadows--- as if brooding. The prieu dieus had long succumbed to moths. Yet I still found it beautiful.
The frescoes along the east and west walls were faded, but it was still possible to discern a portion of each story as it unfolded; a lamb being led to slaughter, a virgin ascending into the skies, a white horse, the birth of a child, and a prophet rising from his tomb. A silk tapestry hung directly over the marble altar; the moon, the stars and the sun set against an indigo sky. Though quite faded it was still possible to see each gold thread.
I sat on one of the carved wooden benches and noticed something quite unusual. Someone had hung a heavy cracked mirror, richly beveled and bejeweled, on the west wall. And though I’d visited the chapel on many occasions, I had never seen it. "How odd," I said aloud, startling myself, "Did the Duke know about this?
I slid off the bench to investigate, and as I approached---- the surface seemed to shimmer, as if it had suddenly become a lake. Then it settled, and I saw a young girl, 12 or 13, dressed in grave clothes, on a funeral bier--- in the forest, in the bright light of day. Her face was impossibly pale, almost white. I stood transfixed. In shock. She turned to me, and said, "I am Snow White. And you have poisoned me."
To be continued.