Gran Gryndal was not to be denied at her coven. Nonetheless, she had gone ahead to prepare them for the shock of the peculiar visitors, and to caution them sternly about hasty assumptions and liberties they may have thought to have taken. She apprised them of the pair’s circumstances, and of how Merylyn had been banished from Cain.
They were to help in the care and upbringing of the strange and white daughter.
Her last words in private to her women were “She is not of us. I know it. But she was born of one of ours. We will see her colours soon.”
And so the three made entrance, through a land of confounding dimness, to the hidden coven of Gryndal. The forms of seven cloaked women stood waiting in a semicircle, some looking grim, and others displaying a keen curiosity. They had ornate headdresses, seemingly fashioned from vines and the flowers of summer. On Gran’s right hand was Merylyn. Her headdress was of simple black, crowned with the wings of a vanquished raven. Elfeena had broken her habit of clinging to apron strings, and held gingerly onto Gran’s fingers. Her big round eyes did not blink as she looked unabashedly from one face to another. A keen observer would have noted that her small thin lips moved as if with words while she studied them, though she did not speak.
“Come. Lay on your hands.” said Gran to her coven. “These are ours, now.”
And so they did, without waiting, though more than one averted their eyes in the embracings. “Speak, Elfeena. I know you can.” So, as each of them knelt to embrace her, the girl said, with her simple shy smile, “Thank you. Thank you. It will be all right.”
Though tired from their long journey, Merylyn and Elfeena spent their night around the fire, hearing stories of Gryndal. Speaking but little, they began to feel, even on this first night, the tentative beginnings of acceptance. As the dawn glow crept upon them, and they were preparing their beds, Gran took Merylyn aside and asked a strange question.
“I had asked you whether you were ever in a bad sickness, or had lost your faculties for a time. Please think, Meryl. Has nothing odd or out of place happened to you that you could not explain?”
“Yes, I have thought on it, Gran. My sleeps are at all times the same. Except that one day I awoke some two hours later and did not know why. One of our women said to me “Where did you go? I did not see you in your bed and went out to look, hurting my eyes. And now, here you are, back where you should be.” “I ridiculed her, saying that I could not sleep and took a walk.”
To be continued…..