Something from the very end of book IV, in its unedited and raw form!
My world has changed. I see that now.
Once, before, I could imagine a way. Now, there is nothing that is clear. I will write it again, for it seems that it shall never be more appropriate: the future is dark, the present burdensome; only the past, dead and buried, bears contemplation.
And I contemplate it. Every day, I think back to a time when I didn’t know what it was to be happy, because I didn’t know that I was happy. It is only the absence of that happiness that has shown me so clearly what my happiness was.
I find ways to occupy myself, especially now. I have my tasks, and I take some momentary pleasure in thinking about them. Gilbert’s book is interesting, a worthy challenge. I did not think myself a thief, but I find that my mind is beginning to work that way. I find comfort in being reunited with Will Pike, and sharing the burden that he bears. He seems to have found his station in being mentor, friend and advisor to the girl queen. Once, that would have occupied me and I would have found contentment in the game, particularly with such opponents to play against. But not now. When my mind quiets itself, when I try to find calm and peace, it is you, always you, only you in my thoughts.
I cannot compass a return. I cannot come back, not after having such an encounter with the man who will doubtless be all but king in a few months. And so my world has changed. A moment with you would be worth the death it must bring, but there is a fool’s hope in me that there is still a chance, not of a moment, but of a life lived together. A fool’s hope that the world might release you from your life and me from mine, and we might read and argue and think and laugh as we once did. But that hope fades. You will fulfil your destiny as a great princess, perhaps even a queen of some far-flung foreign land. I will wander on, lost in a world with you in it, but further away now than even when I was at Constantinople, behind a barrier greater and more terrible than those that I thought insurmountable before.
Sometimes I watch the people of this great city going by, wondering if one of them might be you. Wondering if I might have missed something that would put you here, now, within my reach. And then I remember that the thought is all hope and no truth, a wish without a genie to make it real. I do not trust hope, not any more.
As I write I realise that you will not read these words, as it is for so many of the words I have written and thought. My hope - such as it is - is that you have forgotten, that you have found a life that makes you whole and happy and that perhaps when you remember me, you might smile. But I do not want for you the load I carry, I do not want for you the weight of hopelessness. Perhaps you might think of me as a moment of the past, as you might recall a piece of music or a play or a hunt, a moment worth having lived, but not one which causes you to dwell for its having passed. That is what I wish for you. To smile should you remember, but not to be sad to be apart.
A wise man spoke to me of that still, small voice of calm that you might hear when all others are quiet. That voice which brings comfort in the darkness, that voice which allows you to master your fears of dying, of being alone, of the wrongs in the world. I shall listen for it, I shall try to find it in the scripture, in my books, in the words of others, and I shall try to find my peace.
I pray, Elizabeth, that you have found yours.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought