Sathena preferred that only her mother call her by the endearment “Sadie.”
Lada Ara seemed to notice the girl’s hesitation.“I see. Well, perhaps in time you’ll learn to trust me. For now, bring forth the Eye you still hold within your pocket.”
“I’m sorry, but my mother used to call me Sadie. My father, though, still uses my full name.”
“I understand. The Eye, please.”
“Oh yes, here you are.” Sathena held out the blue marble, glowing cobalt in the white light from the Moon.
“No, no. You hold it. The longer you possess it, the more… Well, never mind.” The spider extracted a heavy magnifying glass from her satchel and held it out to the girl. “A full moon provides better light, but this will do for now. Hold up the Eye to the light and look at its illumination through this.”
Sadie began but paused. “What is a Gribble?”
“Not what, dear. Who. The Gribble, as he is called, is, as am I, an ancient being. You may meet him soon enough for he seeks, though blindly, that orb you hold.” Arachne motioned for the girl to lift the glass.
Sadie twirled the glowing blue sphere in the light and gasped, “There are writings within the marble! Hmm, I think they are writings…”
“Ancient glyphs. The knowledge to read them has been lost.”
“Wait, I think this says,” Sadie paused and shook her head as if to clear it of cobwebs. “I could almost read it. I see odd symbols, and they start to mean something. But then they don’t. Wait…” Sadie turned the marble a degree. “It says ‘prison’, I think.”
“Put it away child.“ Ara took back the magnifying lens and stored it. “Put away the Eye, but keep it safe. Take it out in private and let it become warm in your hand. Lie in bed and let it rest in the hollow of your throat, roll it in the dip of your belly.”
Sadie returned the Eye to the small case. Ara’s words were mesmerising, but felt unsavory coming from the massive spider.
“I don’t understand.”
“Nor do I. Not fully. Yet. But the Gribble may. And there is your namesake…”
“My namesake? You mean…”
“This Eye, it belongs to the Gribble?”
“One of many. But that’s enough. The less you know, the safer you’ll be. For now.”
The spider packed her things. “I think your father follows us.”
Sadie gave a harrumph. “I was quiet when I left…” Turning around she spotted a bright flashlight scanning back and forth a few hundred yards behind them. The faint call of Professor Brimson wavered through the woods.
“Nonetheless, he comes. And with him comes that beast.”
“I’m sorry. What should I do?” Sadie’s anxiety lifted her voice.
“Return to your father. Control your dog. Come find me when the Moon is full.”
Sadie watched as Lady Ara angled off the path. Within seconds the spider’s hat dipped below the seed heads and was lost.
Professor Brimson spied the faint red torchlight and his daughter who held it. He released his pent-up breath. There she is. He stopped, called and leashed the dog. “Don’t want you knocking her down, old boy.”
Sathena spun around and ran back up the path. “Father!” she cried when she came close and the wolfhound struggled to reach her. “There you are. Isn’t this fun!”
“Fun? Fun would have been if you’d invited me out rather than me having to discover you vanished in the pit of the night. Why must you vex me so?”
“I’m sorry, Father. I…I thought I saw lights from my window. I didn’t want to disturb you. I know Mother’s been troubling you recently.”
He tilted away to gauge her face as she lied. I know there exist enticements in this new landscape. I wish you’d trust me though.
“Let’s head back. You’ve an important day tomorrow,” he said.
“Oh?” She reached down and scratched the dog’s chin taking over the leash.
“Ah, right. I neglected to mention in the turmoil of the electricity failure. Richard has found you a tutor. She’ll be here tomorrow, ah, today, at nine.”
“A tutor? But you said I could have the rest of the summer off from schooling.” She started back toward the house, pulling Harry with her. “Come on, Harry.”
“I think you’ll like her. And Sathena? I know I’ll never keep you captive. What I want you to promise is that you’ll take Harry next time.”