V. Cinderella In Black

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There was a buzz renowned across Wilfred that if all was fair in love, fine and forgiven in war, then on the ensanguined ground of Maplebell, love was the war, lovers the gladiators, roses the sword dyed red en feudal masquerade and statuette of moss ridden angels, with wings and arms extended heavenwards the chanters of death lore for those less virtuous.

It was a striking manifestation_ the great Maplebell; but detached looking_ sad seeming, like all beautiful things.

A museum article with a great cost for its time, but no worth for it-self.

The forest extended its arm to embrace the lake and in its core lay this centerpiece, imposing golden bronze from age and sun, mossy at times of rain but no less outstanding. It stood apart from the rest of the country; ahead in time and type, against the stretches of jadeite green and sometimes emerald_ when grasses were touched by dews. Its back had a marsh of hill basin and a range of birches lined its front, with miniature lakelets dotting the whole property.

There was something uncommon in its air. Something too behind its time. Like a manuscript of conventional creeds in the horde of the liberal minds which though had its price fair; it had no value of import.

Like Austen's Pemberley and Bronte's Height.

Four years later, today, as April stood at the paved lane of the vast estate that led to its front yard, she wondered why? Why, whenever she had thought of home all this time, of careless comfort and reassuring ease; it was always the dark corridors of Maplebell that edged her remembrance.

The dinner tonight was, without endorsement, in her credit and April was scatty about the evening. She wondered what it was going to be like. Balls in London had been different. They weren't personal affair. Here in Wilfred, it was all about what was expected of her and what she could put out to that expectation.

Sybil was timely, sidestepping these battles of dealings.

The coach halted down the road; April and Sybil were courteously helped out of it, promptly joined by Sybil's husband_ Mr. Thatcher and for the moment the pair kissed, April stood still on the crackled pavement, breathing in the clean June air rushing into her bared flesh softly.

The cyan blue sky was bright and vaguely dotted by a strip or two of crumbling cloud.

"You are braver than I thought." A voice mused out loud to April and her face angled skyward looked down to find fine green eyes studying her. "Now, April, remind me to breath, will you?"

"Funny, Jeremy." April jeered with a smile. "Here I am wondering what to make of so many probabilities and you claim being the one out of breath."

Jeremy Rochester had always been the handsome ones of the lot so it didn't need be remarked that the black suit and silken bow-tie he had don was a wining compliment to his sharp lined face and green, foxtail eyes.

What, however, came as remarkable was the way his eyes were glowing as they clashed with the earthen ones of April. It was not praise or wonder, alighting those orbs but mare hilarity of the situation.

April was wearing black.

Fairy tale lost element of its magic when Cinderella chose to attend the ball in a black, shadowy dress instead of that conventional silver-blue silk. Beside, a brunette that she was, the thrill of blue and blonde magic simply slipped out.

Her au courant French-tailored, silk dress_ curiously, if not distastefully_ was the deepest, darkest and deadliest of the midnight shade. One could confess that April's dress was breathtaking. It cascaded down with elegance and then, flared at her waist like a midnight waterfall, thousands of stars twinkling across its length.

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