EPILOGUE: Under The Stars

TripPlans To The Lady

Pass The Post-its

 

The Do’s Series: Segment 35

 

© Grandpa Jim

 

 

 

“I don’t want to go to bed.” Across from Truss, LoveJoy studies their hands folded together on the table in the SweetTreats Booth.

“Nor do I.” HirschTruss squeezes her hands.

“You kids need to get some sleep.” WhiteHands BakeMuch leans on the broadbroom that he has been wielding to sweep the floor. “The hour is late and everyone else has gone home.”

“You haven’t.” LoveJoy smiles back at the Great Baker.

“You two need a chaperon.” WhiteHands resumes his vigorous sweeping.

“A little longer,” she pleads sweetly.

The Baker nods slightly and sweeps the harder.

“Do you remember that night,” Truss asks, “the night before The Battle of Magdalene Fields? You were resting on the ground under the stars. I touched your hand holding the blanket under your chin. Do you remember?”

“I asked you if your world had changed for the better?”

“And, I answered. . . .”

“’I hope . . .Yes. Whatever may happen. For the better.’”

“It has now because of you. My world has changed for the better.”

“You hope?”

“I know.”

LoveJoy calls back to WhiteHands. “Dear Baker, do you have some featherdown bedrolls, so we can rest under the stars?”

“Humph.” The Great Baker stops sweeping and makes a face. “LoveJoy KickStart, would that be proper?”

“We are good people. Why would it not be proper?”

“Humph.” The Baker takes a deep breath and rotates his shoulders. He moves to the far back of the tent, lifts some things and tromps back. “Here.” WhiteHands tosses two bedrolls and softpillows onto the table, forcing LoveJoy and Truss to unclasp their hands and sit quickly back. “Bakers always travel well prepared.” He squints at Truss. “I have a cot back there.” He jerks his head to the back of tent. “And, I am famous as a lightsleeper.” He looks from Truss to LoveJoy and back to Truss. “Understand?”

“Yes,” the two echo together.

“And, thank you, large-hearted Baker, truefriend,” LoveJoy adds.

“Humph.” WhiteHands spins and walks back. “On the grass,” he instructs over his shoulder in a deep fatherly voice. “Not too far out. I’ll turn some of the glowglobes off. And remember, I am a very lightsleeper.”

“Yes, Baker,” they echo.

Together, they gather the gear and spread the bedrolls on the grass of the roundabout.

Beside each other, blankets pulled to their chins, arms crossed and hands folded over their hearts, the Prince and FarWay girl stare up into the night.

“What will happen next?” she speaks to the starry skies.

“What would you have happen next, LoveJoy KickStart?”

“Am I normal?”

“You are the most wonderfully not normal person I have ever known. I love you for that and for everything else you are.”

“Do you really love me?”

“You know I do. And, I know who you love.”

“Who?”

“Me.”

“You sound certain about that.”

“I am not certain about anything. The past months have taught me that.”

“I do, you know.”

“What?”

“I love you.”

They lean toward each other and kiss.

From the back of the booth, the chiding voice of WhiteHands BakeMuch interrupts the silence. “You promised.”

They laugh together, roll back and gaze at the stars.

“What are we to do?” A lightness carries her voice into the sky.

“Will you be my Lady of Schwangau?” he asks.

“I am your Lady of Schwangau, silly boy.”

“Assertive are we?”

“Yes.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.”

She smothers a laugh and reaches to find his hand. He pulls her closer.

They kiss more deeply and much longer.

“Enough!” cracks like lightning to break the spell, followed by a firm, “You promised.”

They sigh together and roll back onto the soft pillows.

“We could sneak off. . . .” Truss begins

LoveJoy shakes her head. “You do not lose a great baker easily. Nor would we want to. He is too good a friend.”

“True. What then are we to do?” Truss floats the question into the air.

“Where are we to go?” LoveJoy whispers to the night.

“I have it!” Truss is excited.

“What?”

“Not what, where. Where I touched your hand and you asked me the question.”

“Where?”

“Magdalene Fields.”

“Why?”

“I forgot to tell you. TidBit asked if we would accompany them on a field trip.”

“Field trip?”

“The TruthSeeker StealthMouse wants to visit the old ruins and introduce his SandRunner wife to the Lady.”

“They just got married.”

“It’s something of a honeymoon trip.”

“Don’t they want to be alone?”

“They will be. TidBit and DawnRunner have their own tent. We’d sleep under the stars. Like I found you and like now. Of course, we’d have separate bedrolls.”

“GOOD,” resounds firmly from the back of the booth.

“Does he ever sleep?” Truss wonders.

“NO.”

LoveJoy giggles.

“You know. . . .” Truss lifts a finger and traces a line in the stars. “I think TidBit has something to return to the Lady.”

“Who is this Lady?”

“The Lady Magdalene for whom the field is named. A life-sized figure in stone resting on the lid of a large oblong box under the ruins of the old church.” Prince Lohengrin closes his eyes and recites:

 

“‘The Holy Grail neath ancient Roslin waits

The blade and chalice guarding o’er her gates

Adorned in masters’ loving art she lies

She rests at last beneath the starry skies.’”

 

“The words are beautiful.”

“They are the ones TidBit used when I first asked about the Lady. He said the verse was from the Old Days. ‘A part of the life and sound and picture of our tribe,’ the Mouse said. I remember his words, and I remember the Lady.” Truss pauses. “She is beautiful. You must see her.”

“I would very much like to go with you to meet this Lady.”

“Thank you.”

“What is it that you think the StealthMouse returns to the Lady?” LoveJoy lifts her head off the pillow and bends toward Truss.

“After the dancing, I glanced over and saw your mother with TidBit. Nurse Hoadie handed the StealthMouse something that looked very much like a certain leather pouch I remembered seeing before at this very location. . . .”

“Could it be?” LoveJoy’s eyes open wide. “Could it be the one from the exchange here in the roundabout?”

“I believe it was the pouch TidBit handed to you and you traded to Nurse Hoadie, your mother.”

“Oh, my.”

In the half dark, Truss can see LoveJoy cover her mouth with a hand and slowly slide the hand down.

“The StarShine of SeedStone,” she says with awed reverence. “Does the SeedStone belong to the Lady?”

“TidBit retrieved the pouch from under the lid on which the stone form of the Lady rests. I do not know to whom the SeedStone belongs. The Lady’s form provided the gem a hiding place, and our StealthMouse was very aware of where and how to access that secret location.”

“It is great treasure.” LoveJoy’s breathing is rushed. “Apart from TidBit and my mother, has anyone else discovered where the SeedStone belongs and how it might be found?”

“Now, there are also the two us.” Truss arches his head back. “And the Baker.” The Prince calls to the rear of the booth.

“I will tell no one,” sounds quietly from behind the tables. “To prove my word, I will accompany you on this visit with the newlyweds. You two need a proper chaperon, and you all need an able guard.”

“So much for privacy,” Truss pouts.

“You will have your new lady with you.” LoveJoy reaches to rest her hand on his. “And we will look forward to meeting the Lady you met before me.”

“They are both beautiful beyond words.” Truss pulls her hand and body toward him. “And the one I prefer most is closest to me.” They kiss.

 

“WILL THERE BE NO SLEEP TONIGHT?”

The Great Baker’s exasperated tone separates the two . . . briefly. . . .

“IT’S TOO QUIET. STOP IT.”

WhiteHands’ scolding separates them again . . . and then. . . .

“NOW — SLEEP!”

 

Truss and LoveJoy fall into their bedrolls with easily heard sounds of peaceful separation for the night.

 

“Goodnight, handsome lad,” she speaks.

“Goodnight, pretty girl,” he answers.

 

“GOODNIGHT and GOODNIGHT,” the Baker exclaims. “We travel in the morning. HUMPH!”

 

As she drifts to sleep, LoveJoy muses dreamily, “Where . . . will we . . . be . . .?”

As he turns onto his side and closes his eyes, the Prince mumbles, “What . . . and who . . . will we . . . find . . .?“

 

With one ear open, the Baker snores greatly, happily and soundly.

 

 

* * *

 

 

“We have a new excavator on the way.” TomMee D. HitBolt IV stretches on his toes over the top of the carrel and peers down at Sid Cherise, where Sid sits positioning newly discovered Post-its with a pair of overlarge tweezers.

“Really.” Sid lifts the magnifying glasses to his forehead and glances up to TomMee. “Who is this person?”

“A ‘Richard’ something. I didn’t understand the full name.”

“A referral from that ‘mysterious’ fellow again?”

“Yes, from our ‘Mysterious Stranger.’”

“Who is Mr. Mysterious?”

“I have no idea who ‘He’ is, but he has good ideas. In the past, he has given us some leads that have saved time and effort at the digs.”

“True.” Sid slides the magnifying glasses over his eyes, bends down and lifts a faded yellow Post-it with the tweezers. “Where will you put this referral?”

“The ‘new excavations.’ That was the suggestion made by our mysterious friend.”

“Hmmmmm.” Sid places the small yellow square between two others. “Where we’re discovering ‘What Happened Next’?”

“Precisely. There is more work there than our existing crews can handle. We can use the help.”

“That’s okay with me.” Sid leans back and lifts his head, the glasses magnifying and distorting his eyes for a surreal effect. “Who knows what and who we’ll find there?”

“My thought exactly. Who knows?”

“Good. Put this ‘Richard’ guy to work.”

“I will.”

Sid bends back down. “And, could you get me that new tray of Post-its from the refrigerator? I think I have a sentence here. It could be the start of more, perhaps much more.”

“Fantastic. I’ll get the Post-its.” TomMee hurries to the refrigerator. “Without these little yellow fossilized remains,” he calls back, “we wouldn’t be where we are.”

“We wouldn’t?” Sid muses rhetorically, squinting for a closer look.

“We would not.” TomMee closes the door of the appliance and starts back toward the carrel with the tray. “Why, who knows where we’d be?”