21    Bess of Holebourne

Thomas is ill.  Knowing they cannot trust Agnes Day, They take Thomas to London to Bess of Holebourne.  They are surprised to find she is a frail old woman.

The old woman had changed. 
No longer ancient, she stood stately & erect in a dress so huge & heavy
it looked as if it wore her.
Art: Paul
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At the far end, in a huge winged armchair, sat an incredibly old woman, tiny and frail with skin like paper, wispy white hair, and scrawny white legs roped with veins and mauve blotches. The old woman wore a fleecy bed jacket and on her feet were cheerful fluffy slippers, the type you buy cheap off the market. She appeared to be watching television or perhaps she was dozing. Whatever, she took no notice of them.

Thomas walked down the vast corridor of the room towards the old lady. As he stepped into the pools of sunlight streaming through the tall windows, he seemed to change until Rosie found herself thinking him quite handsome and wondering why she had never seen it before.

When Thomas changed everything changed, even the dust in the sunbeams sparkled like gold. Wonderful crimson flushed the shabby curtains, while the wooden furniture gleamed, and the naked floorboards shone like glass under a sea of polish.

“Sir Thomas of Rhyme, the gladness of our eye is only exceeded by the joy in our heart,” tolled a mighty voice, mellifluent and cultured in golden tones like the ringing of a great cathedral bell.

Rosie looked to see who spoke. It was the old woman, but she too had changed. Still old, though not so old, she stood stately and erect in a magnificent dress so huge and heavy it looked as if it wore her. Hoops of white silk, interwoven with golden thread, cascaded in every direction. Jewels sewn into the skirt and bodice caused the woman to sparkle like a goddess.

A tight curled auburn wig, capped by cloth of gold, crowned a marble white face, ghostly except for tiny vermilion cupid-bow lips enamelled at centre of her thin mouth.


from Chapter 17    Bess of Holebourne

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Thomas the Rhymer