Emily rubbed her belly gently, smiling as she thought of the child growing in her. Somewhere in the night a bell tolled twice. Comfortable in her silken sheets she slept again.
In his lonely mansion on the edge of the moor Sir Edward lay sleepless thinking of his wife. He heard a small bell toll in the distance.
Emily roused once more from fitful slumber. Her mouth was dry and her head full of feathers. She raised a hand to reach for the carafe of water by her bed and heard the bell again. Her hand felt heavy. Exhausted she dropped it back to her side.
‘It is as though I have taken a sleeping draught,’ she thought drowsily, ‘ but I do not remember doing so.’ She slept again.
Edward heard the bell and leapt out of bed. His heart raced, his palms were wet. He threw back the curtains and stared into the night. The church spire rose above the village, a blacker blade piercing the black of the moonless night, touching the stars. Was she now amongst them?
‘I am maddened by grief,’ he thought. Sighing heavily he lay back on his bed.
The doctor had given him a sleeping draught, but he could not allow himself such comfort when his beloved lay cold in her grave. Every time he closed his eyes he saw her, his Emily. The child inside her making a roundness to her loved form. Her face peaceful, but no longer that of his mischievous, teasing darling.
Finally he succumbed. This pain was unbearable. He must have respite for a few hours. Whilst he waited for the opiate to take effect he tried to comfort himself with the excellence of her oaken coffin, fully sealed against the depredation of worms and the corrupting air.
The next time the bell tolled he could no longer hear it.