Return to Riversleigh


I step out of the forest into a clearing. Riversleigh Manor lies just ahead. I take a deep breath and inhale the fresh clean air. I have been away from Riversleigh for far too long. But, if there’s one thing I know about Riversleigh Manor and its mistress Sibyl Riversleigh, it’s that I will be welcomed back with open arms. I take in the view and feel a sense of calm washing over me. Riversleigh. It may not be my family home but it is home nonetheless. It has always been a place that I could depend on for comfort, for support, for inspiration. I smile.

And then…worry, insidious as it is, creeps in. What if the manor is full? What if there are no rooms available? What if no one is home? I had heard rumours that Sibyl was planning to embark on some new excursion (as is often her way…I bet L’Enchanteur is the impetus behind this latest venture. Something to do with a cruise? Sounds like her cup of tea for sure.) Another deep breath. “Stop that!” I tell myself. “You are getting ahead of yourself. Just go up to the door and knock!” I take one step forward. One more deep breath. I straighten my cape, adjust my gloves, and steel myself for what may come next. “Enough,” I say aloud, somewhat louder than I intended.

A voice, this time not my own, asks “Well, are you just going to stand there all day or are you going to come inside?” I look up to see Regina Stoby standing in the doorway to the manor. “Come come now,” she says. “We’ve been expecting you. Colleen has aired out your room and freshened things up a bit in there. She knows how much you love fresh flowers…freesia is your favourite is it not?”

I stand mute just staring into Regina’s (Matron as we call her) kind eyes. “I don’t understand,” I say, almost in a whisper. “I didn’t tell anyone I was coming. I didn’t even know it myself until there I was, duffle bag over my shoulder, headed down the path into the forest.” Matron simply laughed. “Come child,” she says. “Come inside and warm yourself by the fire. You are shivering and must be weary from your long journey back to us.” I am confused, but I obediently walk towards her.

She slips a cozy rug around my shoulders and embraces me. “You have been missed,” she tells me as she leads me into the house. “Come sit by the fire. Ebony has a pot of her famous chicken soup simmering on the stove for you.” She leads me to a large wing chair and I sink into it. Ahhhhh. The tension in my body begins to fade as Matron places a small tray on the table beside me. A bowl of Ebony’s chicken soup, a cup of warm milk and honey, and a small plate of delicious looking scones. “From the tea room?” I ask. Matron smiles and nods. “Bridgette made them fresh when she heard you were coming.” I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until I saw the food she had placed before me. It tastes even better than I remember.

I feel my body sink deeper into the chair. My eyelids flutter as I unsuccessfully try to fight back sleep. I feel Matron’s gentle hands pull the rug up, tucking me in like a mother with her child. Her voice sounds far away. “Sleep child sleep.” My mind fights against sleep. I have so many questions to ask, starting with how did they all seem to know that I was coming? As if she could read my thoughts, Matron replies, “There will be plenty of time for questions later. Now you must rest.” Her voice sounds so far away and I realize that I cannot fight the sleep. “That’s it child,” she says. “Just let go.” As I drift away, it occurs to me that Matron has been calling me child. It’s been so long since anyone referred to me as a child. I think I like it.

Published in: on December 29, 2008 at 3:50 am  Comments (6)