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Black Rainbow Chapter One
Scientists assert that it is a wholly natural phenomenon-child of storm cloud and full moon, as its bright sister of day is the offspring of sunlight and rain.
Megan was not superstitious, but when she reached the top of the ridge and saw the black rainbow framing the huddled towers of Grayhaven Manor, her first impulse was to pick up her wet, clinging skirts and retreat at full speed back down the slope she had so laboriously ascended.
The rainsquall that had drenched her during her walk passed as quickly as it had come, and as the weary girl paused to rest, the full moon burst free of the clouds. The rainbow's hues ranged from palest silver-gray to a black deeper than the moonlit vault of the sky-an ominous portent for a traveler whose destination was the old house under that sinister arc.
It lay in a little cup of hills, whose slopes must be green and pleasant by daylight. The moon robbed them of color, as it did all other objects in view; the trees were sable plumes, the lawns pale as snow, the little stream a silver ribbon. The scene had an eerie beauty, but Megan found herself wishing she had not beguiled her weeks of enforced idleness by reading so many of the Gothic romances then in fashion, with their abundance of specters, vampires, and haunted castles. Not that she had had much choice; her landlady's small library consisted entirely of such volumes, and she had not had the money to join a circulating library.
At first glance the ancient walls and towers of Grayhaven appeared to be a perfect setting for one of Mrs. Radcliffe's tales of imperiled maidens and Black Monks. Subsequent glances gave quite a different impression. Sheltered by the enclosing hills, the house clung to the earth like a curled-up cat, blinking yellow windows of eyes in smug content. The suggestion of warmth and light in those amber squares was most welcome to a wet and weary traveler.
Still Megan lingered, tempted to rest awhile before proceeding. They had told her at the station that it was only four miles to the house. The distance had seemed at least twice that long. She had eaten nothing since breakfast, and her wet skirts felt heavy as lead. The ground was damp, and she shivered in the sharp breeze that had arisen to scatter the clouds. The moon rode high above the last wrack of the storm, a silver ball rolling up an invisible path across the sky-chariot of the goddess Diana, virgin huntress of the Romans.
Megan was better educated than most of her class, she knew her Latin and even a little Greek; but she had not learned of pagan gods from the nuns who had provided her formal schooling. Her father had been half a pagan himself; from his tales ...Black Rainbow. Copyright © by Barbara Michaels. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.