A tower stands by the edge of a wood, an old weathered tower with moss and creepers growing across the peepholes, with green moss in the cracks and corners, and withered woodbine hanging like stiff, dry hair down over the red stone. High up on the east side is the only window in the crumbling walls.
Up there behind the deep-set window a woman stands gazing out at the coming night. She is small and thin, and her hands resting on the window-sill are as white as moonlight, and her chin as pale and curved as an arum-lily. But her eyes shine black as pitch which drips from a burning torch. She stands gazing out at a plain as open as the sea, while the rooks from the wood fly off over the trees and wheel and tumble down over the crowns and cry deep in the wood. Behind her the tower room is as cold as stone in the half-light, and a cricket chirps shrilly in a crevice.
Out over the plain there is nothing but the brown grass of Winter lying as if the melted snow had flattened it, and in the grass lie pools of water here and there. Near to the tower they reflect the red western sky, while farther off they are as grey as the clouds.
While she looks out over the plain where the sky darkens and is stilled by night mists, she listens for the winding stair to sound under a footfall. She listens for the groping of a hand over the lock of the iron door. She listens for the sound of another living body in the dead tower. And she hears nothing but the cricket and the hollow whine of the wind through the empty rooms beneath.
She bends farther forward, and leans her elbows on the windowsill. They are cold from the cold stone, but she does not notice. She does not see that the red sky has faded in the pools in the grass, nor that the plain which was as open as the sea has drawn itself together. And she does not notice that the rooks are silent.
For she is thinking of him who came one night and tied up his horse at the door, climbed up to her room, slept in her bed - and was gone before daylight. Of him who came to her like a squall, and whose speech was like the wind soughing in a wood, and whose embrace set all her dreams alight and brought the warmth of the sun into her heart. Of him who left her alone with the marks where his horse had pawed the ground at the foot of the tower. Sleepless, dreamless and restless, she stares into the night.
It is Lonely Yearning who sits mute at her window with the endless plain of a wasted life before her, and a withered wood behind her - Lonely Yearning, sick of her memory and as immortally young as the madness of Hope.
The sun has set. Around the tower creeps night's forest of darkness.
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