“Marguerite, are you sure you want to do this?” He leaned against the upright work table. The spears and other
hand hewn weapons were now long gone, probably taken by one or the other nomadic tribes that had wandered through the area.
“I have to go, George.”
They had rested briefly, eating a quick picnic lunch, then stood in the clearing that looked down from the cave. Her friends
had come with her despite Marguerite’s insistence that they needn’t bother. Having a reputation to maintain, Marguerite
would never tell them but their presence pleased her immeasurably.
Malone helped Marguerite on with her backpack, “We’ll be right here waiting for you.” he promised.
“I know.” she said with a warm smile.
Marguerite caught a brief wink from Veronica who stood just behind Malone.
The couple had made up last week, possibly because Marguerite had told Ned he was being an idiot and he - with little fuss
- agreed. Malone didn’t want to lose Veronica any more than he wanted to wallow in guilt over something that could not
Marguerite was pleased about that as well.
“Come on.” Roxton said and started forward. He had insisted she not enter the cave alone. Marguerite couldn’t
talk Roxton out of attending and, in all honesty, she was glad he would be with her. Facing demons was one thing but who said
they had to be confronted alone in a dark cave?
From the Private Journal of Marguerite Krux.
We hesitated at the cave’s opening then walked inside. I’m not sure what we thought we’d encounter
but all appeared basically as it was left. The fire pit, hanging pelts, hand-made dishes and even the bed near the vine wall
hadn’t been moved by either man or beast.
A practical part of my mind said that this would be an excellent area to set up house if ever we were forced to vacate
the treehouse. Another more emotional part announced I was out of my mind.
Roxton spotted a spear, laying on the cave floor, and picked it up. He was admiring the workmanship of his double when
his attention was drawn to me, as I stood by the spring looking at the trickle of water. The flow wasn’t as hardy as
it had been a month ago. I’m sure Challenger would have had a good, scientific explanation but I put it down to the
fact that it just wasn’t needed as much as it had once been.
Almost simultaneously Roxton and I looked to the far wall, to where the vine had been. I could see something of its
presence had remained in Roxton’s mind, his dark side coming up with a recollection. I explained to him how it had been
a living thing and held me captive. I also mentioned how bad it had been abused and discarded.
I saw the pain in his eyes and nearly smiled. I reassured him, walking over to Roxton and stroking his cheek. He looked
away from the wall then down at me and returned my smile.
“Still,” I had said, “There may be a way of making amends.”
I moved away from Roxton and traced the protruding leaves of the dead vine down to its uprooting. I turned to make
a suggestion to Roxton and saw that he had already guessed what I planned. He filled one of the cups that sat on the spring’s
brim as I dug into the dirt with my fingers, pulling the root back into the soil. He walked over with the water and, when
I had the soil patted down, Roxton poured.
True. It might have been dead but there was a time when I thought a relationship was lost yet it too managed to come
back -- so why not this miraculous plant?
Then Roxton did something I’ll never forget. He reached over to touch one of the plant’s dried leaves,
to caress it as I had seen Dark Hunter do. We both stood back and watched as the vine began to grow slowly green. It moved.
The spring behind us began to bubble alive, with more enthusiasm, too.
That’s all it wanted and needed. I’m so glad we could help.
I promise we will come back.” Marguerite called into the cave and saw the greenery give a cheery shake.
As they walked downward, glancing at Challenger and the others in the distance, Roxton placed a warm hand on Marguerite’s
shoulder. “Did you find what you were looking for in there?’ he asked.
“Yes, I think I did.” Marguerite replied, “You?”
Roxton didn’t answer right away. Instead, he pulled Marguerite a little closer, and whispered, “I found what
I was looking for over three years ago when a woman, unlike no other, entered into my life.”
“Such romance, Lord Roxton.” Marguerite teased, “You really know how to make a girl feel special.”
“Living planets and women are my specialty.” he respond with a chortle.
“Ah.” Marguerite leaned into Roxton a bit as they stepped foot on level ground. “Time to go home, I think.”
“Home? To the treehouse?” he asked.
“Where else?” she replied.
Where else, indeed.
((Once again I must say “thank you!” to everyone who has responded kindly to this fiction. I tried to do something
a little different here, a little dark, but I think in the end we want to see our heroes whole - no Roxton/Dark Hunter pun
intended - and ready for their next adventure. What further secrets, you might ask, does Lord Roxton have to reveal? Now that,
my friends, is for another fiction - and possibly another writer - to divulge! Take care. Love, Beckers))