The pathway through the marsh was built to endure – straight, solid, and indestructible. Even the marsh’s ravenous denizens were repelled by it. The stone viaduct was impervious to all but the miasma of wretchedness that rose from the muck.
The fecund foliage surrounding the path encroached on the bridge’s low barrier rail stretching sinewy tendrils and spindly arms to their limit, their prey just out of reach.
A slow march of convicts proceeded across the bridge toward their final judgment. Sentenced to spend the remainder of their days in the fortified gaol at the end of the span, many were more frightened of their passage over the marsh than by what they faced behind stone and iron.
The irony of the procession of prisoners was not lost on the nurseryman. Generations of his family cared for the marsh, seeing that the plants were well-tended and well fed. On the days of the gaol march, he would withhold provender, ensuring the plants were especially hungry.
There were still a few prisoners who believed they could traverse the marsh and escape from their jailers. None were ever seen again. A few townspeople believed the men made it safely out of the marsh. The wild dogs gnawing on unearthed bones knew better.