After the Storm

Readers;  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have been working for quite some time on a novel that features a woman by the name of Rachel Thompson as the main character.  Rachel is nearing 40 and she has lost her husband of some 18 years only months ago.  With the money she inherited under his life insurance policy she has decided to buy an old mansion in her hometown and attempt to restore it to its former glory.  In that process she has come again into contact with one Jacob Eaton, a man she dated very briefly before she met her husband.  There are any twists and turns that lead up to this scene.  To get the history or back story of Jacob and Rachel, click here.  For the scenes that most directly lead up to this particular post, click here, 
and then here

For an hour the wind rattled the shutters and whistled under the eaves of the house and shifted the flames in the kitchen hearth and drew them high into the throat of the stone chimney but when the table was fully set the wind abated as suddenly as it had come on and the snow continued to fall softly as the night deepened.  She lit candles and each of the four guests found their seat at the table and she brought first the soup in a white tureen and set it on a cloth on the table before the empty chair and motioned for their bowls, one by one, and filled them with the steaming soup.  She then held an open hand toward John Cavendish and nodded and he, speaking in Dutch, returned thanks for the meal.

When they had finished the woman began clearing the table and refused the assistance that each of them offered.  She motioned for them to move into the great room of the house.  As they complied, she went to the wide window there and opened it in and unfastened theshutters and pushed them open and they looked out on the now-clear sky and the new white world under the light of the stars.

The four of them sat by the fire and as it burned they fed it split beechwood from a stack beside and shook down the embers with an andiron and basked in the warmth and yellow light. John Cavendish and Jacob Eaton told stories on each other from their days at Oxford and talked of the peculiar habits of their old professors.

When Janet excused herself the woman accompanied her up thestaircase, bringing blankets and towels. Rachel stretched and felt tired and when the woman returned she stood and stretched her arms and smiled at the woman and the two of them left the men alone by the fire. 

It took Rachel some time to arrange her bed and to changeinto the flannel gown the woman had given her. She was ready to snuff the candle when she heard the knock on her door.  It was not Jacob.  Rather, the hostess opened the door a quarterways and nodded in a manner as to inquire whether she might come in.

“Oh, yes, please do,” Rachel said.  And she beckoned with her hands, believing as she spoke that the woman did not understand her words.  She was wrong.

“I listened to all of you down there.  I could not help hearing most all of what was said.”

“Oh, of course you were perfectly welcome to listen.  Thank you so much for your hospitality here.  The dinner was wonderful.”

“You are looking for something?”

“Well, yes.  All of us are.  Looking for treasure.  You’ve heard the stories, I’m sure.”

“Yes.  The Emperor’s wedding gifts.  The stolen wagons.  I’ve seen a hundred people looking for thesame.  But that isn’t what I am talking about.  I mean to say that you are looking for something.  Not the treasure that is supposedly hidden here.  You are looking very hard.  Harder than most.”

“What makes you think that?  I mean, how did you know?”

“Some would simply say that it is a gift, although I can’texercise it when I hear people speaking in my own language.  I know English, but it is still a strange tongue to me and so when I hear it I listen more to tone and inflection than I otherwise would.  In fact, I can fix my mind is such a way that I do not understand the second language at all and then I hear only the emotions behind the words. I can’t do that with my own language, the meaning is too quickly and automatically processed.  When I turn off the understanding of the words, then I hear the voice of the heart.”

“What is my heart saying?”

“It is saying many things. You know at your deepest level that you are caught up in a grand story that you only know part of; you are only aware of part of.

“It is the same for everyone, but you have a better sense of that fact than many others.”

“How can you know that?”

“In part because you have recently learned something and yetyou are still searching so intently, so purely and courageously.  You are hiding nothing.  No, I can’t say that.  I can say that you are hiding less than before; less than is common.  But you are still hiding.”

“Should I be afraid?”

“No.  Fear is the onething that can ruin it all.  Perhaps the only thing.”

“Can you give me any advice?”

“Only this: that you will find what you are looking for.”

“The treasure?”

“No.  That is not what you are looking for.”

“What am I looking for?”

“Something that no cart of gold or chest of jewels can ever grant.”

“What must I do?”

“You must keep seeking and never fear when you learn what it is that is truly in your heart; what you truly seek.  You must not be afraid of that.”

 copyright 2018

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