A Story in the Attic

The Williams House; Chapter 5: Uncles, Aunts, Nephews, and Nieces; Pgs. 114-118

.     A great rumble came through the attic window and echoed throughout the room, and then a raindrop came. Water started coming down, slowly at first, going pitter-patter, pitter-patter, pitter-patter. Then it picked up, starting to come down in sheets.
.     “We better close the window,” said Lilly as she stood up. “We don’t want rain to come in and mess up some of the work we have done today.” She pushed down on its top, and the whole thing closed with a firm snap and a creak. “There,” she said once that was done, “things should warm up a bit now.”
.     “I want to play something,” said Maria suddenly.
.     “Do you,” asked Lilly. “What would you like to play?”
.     “I want to hear a story,” said Maria.
.     “What kind of story?”
.     “About a storm,” said Maria.
.     “About a storm,” repeated Lilly. “About a storm. Shall we?” She looked out the windows and listened to the rumbling and the wind. Distant thunder and a couple streaks of lightning could be heard and seen, coming from far away. “Well,” she continued, “all right. But we’ll all have to gather around and be very quiet. No interrupting,” she warned.
.     Everyone pulled their cushions together, forming a circle of eight small people. Lilly cleared her throat.
.     “Do you hear that noise?” she asked as she pointed out the window. “Well, that is the noise of a storm, but it is a storm in another land, echoing back to us across a great distance. It is still summer over there, with all the trees still in full bloom and all the birds sitting in their boughs. The earth is rich and soft there, with moss and downy turf covering its surface and flower beds springing out in several places. Springs of water jet up on the hillside, and flowing water snakes down among the grasses.
.     “When the sun shines on that land, it makes the water shine like crystal glass. Yet the sun is currently not shining there. The land is dark and covered with clouds, thick and dark clouds, not too unlike the ones over our attic right now.”
.     Several of the children looked up as though they expected to see the clouds through the wooden beams of the roof.
.     “It is raining hard,” continued Lilly, “and the people who work there are all locked up tight in their low roof huts. The huts are made with a sort of thatch that prevents the rain from leaking in, and some of the people are right now looking out their windows at the water drizzling off the edges of the roofs.
.     “The streets are empty, save for one lone man, dressed in a tailored coat, trudging down a dark alley in the pouring rain.”
.     Lilly paused. “Take over from here, Ann,” she said suddenly.
.     Ann looked surprised for a moment and then excited. “This man,” she said, “is walking right now under the shadows of the night. He had a very important paper concealed deep within the folds of his tailored clothes. It is rolled up like a scroll, with a seal on it and flattened from being pressed against his chest. The rain is pouring into his clothes, but is unable to reach through all the lairs to the parchment, mostly.
.     “An old man is waiting for this traveler, expecting his entrance in a low hut any minute. This old man’s name is Errol, and he is seated by his fireplace and warming his hands.
.     “You can take over from here, Will,” Ann finished as she sat back.
.     “The traveler’s name is a well-kept secret,” said Will without a moment’s pause, “though he is known by any that have dealings with him as ‘the messenger.’ He had just flung open the door to the old man’s hut— what was his name?—Errol. Errol stands and motions him to the low table, sitting down in one of the wooden table chairs himself. The messenger closes the door and sits opposite him.”
.     “‘I hope the document is safe,’ Errol says.
.     “‘Quite,’ the messenger replies as he pulls it out of its place in his clothes and throws it upon the table.
.     “The paper is dripping with the rain water, and Errol flings his fingers upon the seal, ripping it off and unrolling the parchment all in one motion. Then he looks at the servant with surprised eyes.”
.     William paused, and everyone waited a moment before bursting out, “What happened? What happened?”
.     And Johnathon added, “What did the paper say?”
.     Will sat back slightly and began folding his arms. “No one knows,” he said mysteriously.
.     “What do you mean ‘No one knows?’” asked Johnathon indignantly.
.     “The parchment was all watered out,” said Will. “It happened right as the servant stepped under the overhang of the old man’s hut. A large splash of water came pouring down and in one moment got in the fold of the messenger’s clothes, soaking the paper wet through.”
.     “But how will we know what the paper said?” asked Susan.
.     “We won’t,” said Will. “That’s the whole point. It was a story about a storm, and the storm washed away the note.”

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Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!

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