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Enchantment

Did you know that in the wind you can hear music? You can. If you lift your face to the stars and look up, if you turn it to the moon and watch its pale light.

Did you know that there is music in the ocean? It is in the crash of the waves as they beat upon the shore. It is the white spray as it dances upwards and cascades over rock. Sparkling and falling droplets glimmering against the light.

There is music in the earth. You can feel the thrum of it underfoot. Pulsating, throbbing with primeval life.

They listened. They listened to the music as though it were a dream. All the wanderers... the vagabonds... the gypsies of the fields.

The grey-eyed man they had listened to with respect. His voice commanded attention. They had given it grudgingly. And then they were silent, but their leader spoke.

His voice was guttural and full of disdain for this group from the city. Why should they aid the detective? What did he know of passion, of rebellion, of desire and fear? So restrained by every propriety! They were strangers to the gypsies. Their leader stood and laughed at them.

The young and pretty blonde woman had then stepped forward and spoken gently. Her voice pleaded to the women, to the wives and mothers, sisters and daughters. It pleaded for mercy, for understanding. They listened and loved her for her kindness.

But she was a stranger, and even as they watched and marvelled at her innocence her words held little meaning. The children that died were not their children. The mothers that suffered did not suffer like they suffered. The people of the cities are strangers to the gypsies. Strangers to their world hold no meaning.

The man with the moustache had been indignant. He had even helped one of their number. They nodded politely but did no more.

Yet somehow one plainly-clad solitary figure grasped the leader's mind- grasped all their minds. She stood- the very essence of all they hated. All the pride and dignity- all the arrogance and discipline. At last in fury at her silent contempt the leader reacted.

Sing or dance. Be one with us. Show that you live and breathe and feel and bleed. Convict us that you have heart- and we will comply. Only that is sufficient.

He had elicited a reaction. A spark of fury had erupted in the black depths. Some of the women moved closer together. The woman frightened them. She looked and moved like a witch. Her eyes were knowing, knowing and cunning and intelligent. The woman in black knew too much.

They did not like the way she smiled when the leader confronted her. Then she stepped forward, towards the fire.

She took the violin right out of his hands. Old One did not even protest. He loved the fiddle. He would not allow another to touch it. Yet one look from the woman in black and he had surrendered.

She must be a witch to compel him so.... and when she lifted the instrument to her chin, the people of the field knew it. This was no civilised melody. Mocking and haunting, fierce and demanding.

Yet it hypnotised them. Almost against their will the lasses gathered and began to dance.. She drove them on with every stroke of the bow.

A melody ancient and yet young, music from another age- another life. Passionate, brooding, sensual yet ominous... the music woke the heart of the gypsies. All that was primitive and wild and free stirred within them as they listened.

The young girls danced. The people from the city were watching their companion in amazement.

The young girls danced. Graceful bodies covered in bright coloured clothing danced to the rhythm of that entranced fiddle.

And then she stepped forward. And the dancers faded away like daylight before oncoming night. She was the night, she breathed and lived the darkness in that fiddle.

Haunting... beautiful- and terrifying. They were conscious of that figure, solitary and alone, swaying under the influence of the melody. Feet, so light and swift they could only belong to a witch stepped around the fire.

The music mounted, quickened. And with it that figure moved in constant graceful motion.

The menfolk rose to their feet. They stared and watched wonderingly. Who was this woman- this strange amazing wonderful woman? What was this melody that she played?

The woman did not see the firelight. The audience had vanished to her mind.

Instead she saw the valleys strewn with bodies... and she was alone in the moonlight. Cold and white it shone upon her upturned face and glinted off her reddened sword. She was alone, and the field with its dead called to her- called to her with its message of death. She heard music, inhuman and cold. Death sang to her through the wind.

The whole of her soul was caught up in the melody. It was strange and beautiful, and it enchanted her. She listened to it... and as she listened she felt its chill seep into her being, soothing away the awful heat of pain and bringing numbness.

She glanced downward again. The bodies had gone. Instead there were people. She saw their faces upturned to her in fear and longing. Hands reached out in supplication. Their heartache burned into her consciousness. Their pain tore into her and the numbness fled.

Suddenly she was bleeding.

The woman paused in her music. Her listeners gaped at her in fear and horror. The terror of the gypsies was such that they could not move to protest, and even the people from the city seemed powerless to speak.

The woman raised her violin to her chin again. This time the music changed, slowly- yet increasingly. They watched and listened and they felt their souls taken up and transported into another world.

The world which was in the woman's eyes.

Tears came to the eyes of the men as they listened. Their women strove in vain to stifle their sobs.

Yet they looked at her. And their faces held a look of surrender and heartbroken rapture. They looked and listened and it felt like heaven itself had come and was shining its light into their hearts.

This was no witch. Yet this was no mere mortal either. How could a woman look like that- look with so much kindness- so much wisdom and pain intermixed. She captured their souls with the violin.

The music flowed from her heart and into theirs. Love surrounded them with every note, kindness and compassion epitomised by a woman's skill.