PART VII: When It Rains, It Pours
The next morning broke dark and mysterious.
Bea sat in the candlelight, watching Martha sleep. The cascade of emotions swirling round and round her mind had awoken her over an hour ago, and now she began to think clearly. In thoughts, rather than tugs – tugs had been all she’d managed thus far. Her thoughts were of Prince and of Martha. Two people she dearly loved, and who would lead her in different directions. Toward Prince, away from Martha. Toward Martha, away from Prince – perhaps forever.
These were wearying thoughts and they put Bea nearly to sleep.
Then there was a song out in the wood. Bea smiled, for she believed she was dreaming. A lovely, deep down dream that danced about her weary mind like fuzzy-headed dandelions. She was dreaming of that beautiful day when she had met Prince. When she had heard his laugh. When she had sung his song. And danced in the rain.
As the song drew nearer, it occurred to Bea that she was not yet asleep. And without a thought she stood, left the room, left the cottage, and went to the wood. And as the sky broke into a chorus of rumbling thunders and the rain dropped heavy morsels of wet on her shoulders, Bea stood. Listening. Waiting. Watching.
He did appear, of course. Just as he had that day. And they danced. They sang a little. When Prince took her hand and sank to his knee, they cried. And without a thought, Bea gave him the first answer that sprang out of her heart.
“Oh yes,” she said. “Of course I’ll marry you. Only I hope we needn’t move very far away.”
Because Bea hadn’t heard the news yet that Prince had been released from his post since his term of service had only just been finished. She didn’t know these things because Prince had never been able to tell her what he was doing out there in the wood all this time. It was a secret. Bea knew only that Prince’s work compelled him to travel quite often to sometimes remote locations.
But the truth came out now, and Bea cried a little more, as she fully realized that she wouldn’t have to choose between her husband and her sister after all. And it was very exciting. As they went to check on Martha, they talked in smiles and laughter, as young lovers often do. And Bea had her hand in Prince’s pocket. And as she drew it out, she discovered there a brief note that had been intended for her.
“Oh, blast, I knew I had forgotten something!” Prince took the note with the sudden realization that he’d meant to leave it on the door yesterday so Bea would know he’d gone. And he’d forgotten it.
“Sorry,” he grinned ruefully. “If not for my stupidity, you might’ve avoided all this.” But something else had got Bea’s attention. “That’s my grandfather’s handwriting.” For you’ll remember the complete lack of writing implements at his post, and so Prince had been forced to jot the note on back of an old recipe card he’d found in the kitchen. As Bea analyzed the card, it became apparent that in the well-known though faded hand was written a very old, very popular, very original recipe. For cherry currant wine.
So the story ends. Martha made a full and speedy recovery and cheerfully applied herself to the task of getting to know her new brother. Walter and his brother James eventually returned to Town where they established a new kind of dancing school, which takes place out of doors either rain or shine. Bea and Prince married and built another cottage on the edge of Wylles Wood. And the two sisters, having been left destitute by the loss of one famous recipe, quickly found themselves the sole beneficiaries in the sale of another.
And how came the recipe for grandfather’s famous cherry currant wine to reside in the kitchen at Prince’s outpost? Well perhaps that will be another story.
As for myself, you may have guessed by now that I had my own wee part to play in this story. It’s no secret that I watched Bea and Martha grow up; aye and saw their children and grandchildren grown too. And if you happen to spot a couple of twins in their nineties running around these woods, I beg you remember the difficulty they caused me one weary night in 1915.
Or 1914. The mind grows a bit dim in my latter years.
© Cortney Matz, 2009