"The Blessing House"
Previous Chapters... Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five
"Excuse me, it's just...er, may I help you?" asked Lewis, still unable to stop staring at her.
Abigail walked into the office and closed the door behind her. "Mr. Lewis Rogers?" Lewis nodded mutely.
She continued, "I understand you have a house for rent...I was hoping it's still available. I found it in an ad...not a very recent ad," she replied. Lewis Rogers had a soul, too, and at that moment, it was speaking the truth to him. "Young lady, would you like to join me for a cup of coffee?" She happily replied, "Why...yes, that would be very nice." Lewis escorted Abigail to the Trudy's Fresh Perk & Bake, a small café and bakery on Main Street, owned and operated by Trudy Mistler, descendent of Walter Mistler, the baker.
Trudy had inherited her grandfather's artistry with flour and water, but never found a man to share her passion for puff pastry, and over the years she puffed up a little herself. So, she remained content to be the plump and perky proprietor of the charming, old-fashioned establishment. When they were seated, Lewis extended his hand. "You say you saw an ad for a house?" Abigail put out her hand, "Abigail Sommers...yes, you see it was strange. I'd been traveling, staying briefly in many towns across America. Yesterday, I stopped at an Inn, and found an ad in your local paper. It sounded like a house I would like. I'm a furniture restorer, and love to be surrounded in history." She continued, a little embarrassed that she was able to speak so freely, "I sometimes believe that I don't belong in this time...I feel out of place in the information-internet-cellphone world." Lewis watched her as she spoke, and envisioned Abigail in a time gone by, and indeed, that is where she belonged, where she was meant to live.
He continued to look at her. Hers was a fresh face, slightly freckled and sun-washed. Her hands were conventional hands of other women, in other times, hands unafraid of hard work, hands that tended lovingly to her home and gardens, hands of the kind of woman who always found a way to have enough to share with everyone around her. Lewis could barely contain his enthusiasm. He felt like a matchmaker, for if anyone suited the Blessing House, it was this lovely, earthy, red-haired woman with a far a-way look in her honey-colored eyes. They talked for more than an hour, while plump Peggy waddled over from time to time to refill their cups and to entice them with some freshly baked decadent dessert.
It was the first time Abigail felt she could confide in someone. She saw a father-like quality in Lewis, and all the comforts assigned to it. She told him about her parents' traffic accident, and how they died in the wreck, holding each other. Abigail thought it was most romantic, "To die in the arms of your beloved," she mused, as her eyes twinkled and filled up. Lewis was enchanted, as she continued to talk about her travels from city to city, and about her furniture restoration business. "It was a hobby. I was a kindergarten teacher, and nurturing young minds should have been fulfilling, but I was never happy unless I was nurturing a grain of wood on an old piece that seemed to be begging for new life." Lewis understood perfectly the concept of something begging for new life.
Turning to the practical, and approaching with diplomacy, he inquired, "Forgive me, my dear, but are you able to provide for yourself?" Abigail smiled. "Mr. Rogers, I had a wonderful Aunt Josepha; she died last year..." Lewis raised his hand, "I did not mean to pry." Abigail shook her head, "No, please, in fact, in a way, it was Aunt Josepha that made me consider coming to Vermont. When I was leaving Portland, my neighbor asked me where I was going. I blurted out that I was going to visit Aunt Josepha in Vermont. Auntie didn't even live in Vermont. I don't know why I said it. Then I saw your ad, and since there was no phone number, I drove here to see you about it." Lewis reached for his hat, "And, now, would you like to see the Blessing House?" It was a beautiful autumn afternoon, so they walked along Main Street to the corner of Bramble Lane.
The Winnebeck sisters, engaged in one of their seasonal ceremonies, were setting baskets of dried flowers of faded autumn tones, on their porch, then continued to the broad lawn to place a huge cornucopia scantily filled with wooden fruit. The sisters agreed that the baskets and the horn of plenty were plenty awful, but they did their best to give their home some curb appeal. Between their duties, the sisters managed to notice Lewis Rogers and a winsome redhead walk through the front gates of the Blessing House. Suddenly, there was a rush of wind, and swirling around Lewis and Abigail. And, what seemed like every fallen leaf in Vermont, lifting up, winding, whipped up like a cone shedding particles all around; then, just as suddenly, the leaves dropped to the ground in one neat mound against the fence. "Is it always so windy?" asked Abigail, steadying herself after the occurrence. She hadn't noticed the tidy pile of leaves. Lewis did. "Quite unusual, I'd say." The Winnebecks saw it all, but that didn't surprise them as much as what they saw when the leaves settled.
They were astonished to see that the baskets of flowers were now fresh and vibrant, bursting with color, yellow and red chrysanthemums. Their eyes moved to the front lawn, where the horn of plenty was now transformed and filled with gourds, pumpkins, corn and winter squash - all spilling out in perfect symmetry. The sisters looked toward the Blessing House, then at each other, and in unison, smiled, and exhaled, "Lovely!" Lewis unlocked the front door, and with an apres-vous gesture, followed Abigail into the front hall, and with child-like curiosity, hastened to look at the expression of her first impression. He was not disappointed, as Abigail had the wondrous look of a child on Christmas morning, beaming at the presents under the tree. Without taking another step forward, she turned to Lewis, "When can I move in?" Lewis grinned and clasped his hands in delight, "Today, if you like...I'll inform the solicitors."
To be Continued....