They came to the end of the tree lined avenue and, as they entered open parkland, Nigel was grateful for the cool breeze on his cheek. To the left, a good distance off, he could see a glint of water. Perhaps the breeze was coming from there. He had a sudden longing to be beside the lake, feeling the breeze coming off the water and relieving him from the appalling heat.
But what was that? Straight ahead and silhouetted against the descending dusk was some dark, substantial shape.
He halted abruptly. 'Celia, what on earth is that?'
Lady Brearley tittered. She then placed the flat palm of her free hand clumsily upon his chest in a spirit of drunken re-assurance.
'Be not afraid, Sir Knight. That's our famous maze. C'mon, let's go and take a look.'
She propelled him in the direction of the maze, until they were standing before one of its entrances.
'Well, shall we go in?' she invited.
'I don't know. We might not find our way out again.'
'Nonsense. We can't get lost. I helped Maurice design it.'
'It looks rather muddy.'
'C'mon. Don't be wet.'
She pulled Nigel in and they proceeded down paths bounded by towering hedge walls.
'Taxus baccata,' said Lady Brearley.
'The walls. Taxus baccata. Lovely old Common Yew. Lovely stuff. Maurice wanted to hedge it with Japanese privet. But I vetoed that. Mind you - have to be careful of yew.'
Celia did not answer but instead tugged him onto another path. 'Oops, dead end; don't want to go down there.'
'Why…Why do you have to be careful of yew?' Nigel persisted.
'The leaves and seeds are poisonous.'
She pulled him on deeper and deeper into the maze, through a long and bewildering array of paths and hedge walls which either turned sharply through right angles or led only to dead ends. He was quickly disorientated by the constant turning and doubling back amongst high, dense hedges that seemed blent with the night's blackness and barely distinguishable from it. All sense of direction or destination vanished and he felt himself lost in some infinite darkness, a creature of the underworld, condemned to spend all eternity wandering blindly. He thought of the Labyrinth and of Theseus and the Minotaur. Would he find something like a Minotaur at the centre of this Labyrinth, and if so, what form would it take? He remembered the thread which Theseus had used to retrace his steps to the outside world, and reflected that he was entirely dependent on the tenuous thread that was Lady Brearley's memory. He tightened his grip on her hand.
And yet, Celia seemed to know exactly where she was going, and how to get there. Their frustrating journey was frequently accompanied by her shouted directions. 'No, not that path, that's a dead end. - Turn right at that corner. - Not that way. That'll bring us back on ourselves.' Drunk as she was, it reassured Nigel to know that he had one of the maze's designers as his guide.
At last, after taking yet one more path to their right, they entered a small, rectangular area walled on all sides by looming hedges of yew. Nigel looked hard but there seemed to be no exit except by the way they had entered. He felt uneasy. This cramped and claustrophobic space enclosed by high hedges gave him the impression of being trapped at the bottom of a deep pit from which there was no escape.
Lady Brearley turned to him triumphantly. 'This is the dead centre of the maze,' she said. 'Isn't this what you wanted?'
Her question struck Nigel as most odd given that he had never had any inclination to enter the maze. He did not know what to say.
Celia said, 'This is where Maurice used to come to…'
But Sir Maurice's purpose in coming to the spot was not to be revealed verbally: for the next instant, Celia was lunging at Nigel, and imprisoning him in an abandoned, drunken embrace. He felt her thin, moist lips welding to his own; her penetrating tongue deep inside his mouth, arching and squirming like a large, mucous covered slug.
Magnificent Britain by Michael Murray