She could not remember when she had been first taken to Rossorty. But she would never forget the first time she had looked on it, with eyes that saw its beauty.
On sunny days its one narrow street ran straight up the rose-coloured cliff into the sky. On dull days it had a gentler, less dramatic beauty. But never could it look like any other town.
Great rose-coloured cliffs, without a blade of green, sloped up like a reclining wall shutting off the sea, and up this rosy slope, almost to its top, marched the lime-white little cottages. The blue of the sky, the rose of the street, the white of the houses, with their yellow thatched bonnets, and, like veils upon their faces, the nets hanging to dry; nothing ever looked just like that. The seaward side was one sheer drop against which the ocean dashed and roared, eating inward in great caverns. At low tide it rolled away to show the ancient smuggling caves of the Fasseferns. But when the tide was high it sent its spray flying to the cliff-top, and the sunlight made of it a rainbow diadem to crown Rossorty.
It was on such a day that it first pierced her with its wonder. In one sharp moment she saw, and never would forget. Nothing that went before was clear, but suddenly, into the half-dark that is the narrow vision of a child, there flashed, with the clatter of hoofs, this blaze of beauty…
Past her up the street rode a man, madly spurring his horse. His bare white head shining like silk, in scarlet hunting-coat and white breeches, astride an ash-white horse, and down its slender flanks the blood was trickling.
Up, up the steep street he rode, lashing the horse, and as he passed, women rushed to their doors and children scampered away.
On, on, up the rose path toward the rainbow mist.
To the top, and out of sight!
A scream went up as if from one despairing throat. And then they ran, following his path; fleet young women with children in their arms; ponderous, heavy-footed mothers of men; grey-haired grandmothers wailing toothlessly, and hobbling old men; and with them ran Nancy.
Cries and wailing everywhere: “Another Fassefern gone to his death. Suicide Fasseferns! Suicide Fasseferns! Ill luck to Rossorty and our men at sea. Woe, woe, the day!”
At the top they threw themselves upon the ground and crept forward to the cliff’s sharp edge, gazing down upon the lashing coiling water. Nothing could be seen of horse or man; only the sea continuing it s age-old programme, hissing up the time-worn rocks, then drawing inn its breath to hiss again more wildly.
But while grey heads stared down, despairing at the black teeth of the sea, Nancy looked upward, expecting to see horse and rider galloping in the blue above. For never could she quite believe that he had nor ridden straight into the sky. And the beauty of this mad thing was for ever stamped on her soul.
From Dark Star by Lorna Moon p16 - 18