The Right Place at the Right Time

White Heart Deer

The Right Place at the Right Time

If you go down into the village and turn this way but not that way, then turn right at the old post you will find a door.

There are many ancient grand houses around these parts, most surrounded by tall, stonewalls. And in these walls there are always doors.

But this particular door is special, as it hasn’t been opened in over one hundred years.


Well, I say it hasn’t been opened in one hundred years, that is, until the day before yesterday.

If you are like me you will no doubt enjoy a nice walk, and the lure of the warm autumnal sunshine was too much to resist that particular day. So, I abandoned my deadlines, downed my pens and paintbrushes and gave in to the urge. I walked past hedgerows groaning with fruit and berries, then along the side of the ancient graveyard until I came to that door.

There was something about the haziness of the day, something about the changing season in the air that made me linger by that door. That’s when I heard it…a sad but beautiful song floating out from behind the wall.

The handle of the door was rusted and the hinges where a tangle of ivy but it opened easily when I pushed a little. And there she was, the beautiful white hart Elspeth sitting making lace in her garden. 

Antique lace

She didn’t notice me at first, she just carried on humming her sweet, sad tune until a branch under my boot made her look. I sat down on the bench next to her, admiring her soft, white fur in the golden light. She told me of her love, a grand white hart named Bernard of Perigord. He was the biggest and strongest of all the white harts in the forest but had been shot down one fine October afternoon by a hunter. As French legend goes, any person who takes the life of a white hart is doomed to a life of unrequited love, and that hunter did indeed die a lonely and bitter soul. However, poor Elspeth was also sentenced to a life of loneliness without her beloved Bernard. She packed her bobbins and her lace making pins and ran far, far way from France until she found somewhere with a wall high enough to keep her safe from hunters herself!

So every year, on the anniversary of her dear Bernard’s falling, she sits and sings in her garden. I count myself very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to discover such a secret.

Elspeth the White Heart on a vintage chair

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