On the way back many thoughts raced through Lisa’s mind; ideas that made her head glow under the burning Caribbean sun. She was oblivious of the unfailing trade wind, it could not put a damper on her inflamed senses. What she had just learned lent credence to a nagging suspicion, steeped in uncertainty and fear. More than that, it raised the spectre of terror. Where would it end? Her life stood in danger, that much could be no longer denied. An inexorable destiny neared with steady strides. Would she be the third victim of a man afflicted by an ill-fated mania, which a healthy mind was unable to understand?
She shuddered when she espied Arthur up on the grounds, leaning over the parapet rail, pretending not to see her. It was just as well, since she harboured no desire to acknowledge his presence. Far weightier matters occupied her now, vital to her well-being, if not her life. She had to be careful not to go near him with a face still flushed by excitement and darkened by suspicion. The knowledge just gained needed to be effaced from her countenance.
Arthur was sensitive she realised, forever leery of her visits to the Castle, especially today after an unusual long absence. He knew of her whereabouts, no doubt about it, because she had been shadowed again. Today he might forget his tact and ask her some pointed questions, for which she prayed to have ready answers.
Time was ticking away, a solution had to be found before she lay either crippled for life on a bed, or cold as clay in a coffin. Leaving was out of the question, she had no place to go. Talking to Arthur straight from the shoulder, as it were, would be futile. He seemed stuck in a mire that pulled him down deeper by the day. There was no way out, neither he nor she could escape the march of destiny.
But Lisa had an indomitable spirit. Having led a roller coaster life, up and down, down and up, she learned early not to throw in the towel at the first sign of adversity, even if it seemed fatal; certainly not without a Herculean struggle. According to her she had neither failed as a human being nor as woman and wife. True, her husband never possessed her wholly, for part of her belonged to this enchanting island and wonderful estate.
But on account of it her spirit soared, enlarging a hitherto more confined horizon. Therefore having just part of it, should count more than completely possessing a narrow one. To be sure, she was a devoted wife, loyal and true, which in her estimation made no difference to him. Whether she be a Griselda or harridan, a man in the clutches of misogyny obeyed orders from powers unknown to her.
Lisa found her husband in his study, absorbed with a book before him. Without preamble she said:
“You know, Arthur, from now on I will visit the library in town for books and information.”
He looked up surprised but pleased even more. For an instant she thought he would leap up from his chair to embrace her affectionately, but he must have remembered in time his solemn nature, which considered effusiveness tantamount to weakness. With satisfaction written all over his face he said:
“I commend this decision highly. First, you have a far greater selection there; second, I will not hide the fact that I have great reservations about the librarian over at the Castle. Don’t take it from me, ask Jaques Gratton or others, that woman is the most vicious gossip on the island. Her tongue is steeped from tip to root in slander and defamation. I bet she has been trying to denigrate me and others with you.”
“Never, Arthur,” she lied.
“I am astonished to hear it,” he said with raised eyebrows.
“If you don’t object, I will go to Bridgetown tomorrow, there are a few books I would like to take out,” Lisa changed the subject.
“Shall I go with you?” he inquired.
“I would say better not, it would be too boring for you, because once I get engrossed with a mass of books, I forget time and possibly you too,” she countered.
A Way Out
Excerpt from Without Tears and Other Tales