Elizabeth’s father was an influential Lord. He ruled all of the lands West of the River Aire and his castle stood tall and majestic on its broad, sloping banks. Yet, Elizabth was forlorn and melancholy. Her father kept her locked away at the top of the castles’s tallest tower in order to keep her out of harm’s way. Elizabeth felt trapped; the only company she had was her maid and her daily routine was always the same. Everyday, she would sit by her window embroidering and look out of her window, gazing sorrowfully down at the waters rushing past far below. Often, she dreamed of being carried away in the fast flowing rapids to distant lands. click to expand…
One morning, Elizabth heard music floating through her open window. She hurried over to see where the sound was coming from. There, on the river below, was a little golden fishing boat. Elizabth heard the music rise up from the boat, and caught snatches of a song: “My love is like a blossom in the breeze. My love is like a moonbeam on the waves.”
The music was captivating, drawing Elizabth like a flickering candle flame draws the unwary moth. The voice was clear and sweet and Elizabth leaned out as far out as she could to try to catch sight of the singer. As the boat bobbed past, she glimpsed the tiny figure of a man stood on the prow with a net. A sudden glimmer of hope lit up in her heart and she felt as if she was floating on air. Perhaps this man had come to release her from the tower. Perhaps he was a Sir John’s son in disguise; the man she was destined to marry…
At last the horses began to go more slowly, as if they were climbing up-hill, and presently there seemed to be no more hedges and no more trees. She could see nothing, in fact, but a dense darkness on either side. She leaned forward and pressed her face against the window just as the carriage gave a big jolt.
“Eh! We’re on the moor now sure enough,” said Mrs. Medlock. The carriage lamps shed a yellow light on a rough-looking road which seemed to be cut through bushes and low-growing things which ended in the great expanse of dark apparently spread out before and around them. A wind was rising and making a singular, wild, low, rushing sound.
“It’s—it’s not the sea, is it?” said Mary, looking round at her companion.
“No, not it,” answered Mrs. Medlock. “Nor it isn’t fields nor mountains, it’s just miles and miles and miles of wild land that nothing grows on but heather and gorse and broom, and nothing lives on but wild ponies and sheep.”
“I feel as if it might be the sea, if there were water on it,” said Mary. “It sounds like the sea just now.” “That’s the wind blowing through the bushes,” Mrs. Medlock said. “It’s a wild, dreary enough place to my mind, though there’s plenty that likes it—particularly when the heather’s in bloom.”
On and on they drove through the darkness, and though the rain stopped, the wind rushed by and whistled and made strange sounds. The road went up and down, and several times the carriage passed over a little bridge beneath which water rushed very fast with a great deal of noise. Mary felt as if the drive would never come to an end and that the wide, bleak moor was a wide expanse of black ocean through which she was passing on a strip of dry land.
“I don’t like it,” she said to herself. “I don’t like it, and she pinched her thin lips more tightly
together.” (Extract from ‘The Secret Island’)