Porcelain (Part 41)

Several days later Christmas came and went with little fanfare, especially at the main house.  Isaac was as frugal as ever and did not allow money to be spent on what he considered to be wasted celebration.  Wyatt did cut down a small tree and place it in the cabin for Claudia.  He also made sure she had a few simple gifts to open, but overall it was a day little different from any other they had spent in Lippelsdorf.  Claudia was sitting next to Wyatt on the porch the next day when Issac passed by with an armful of wood.

“Did you post my letter to my sister?”

“I’ve hardly had time yet father,” Isaac replied in a weary voice, “as I have had many chores around the house.  I am plenty busy despite the work holiday.”

“Well then, return it to me as I think I can manage a walk into town tomorrow and will post it myself.”

“Never mind that father, I said I will take care of it and I will.  Stop worrying about it.”

Wyatt watched his son complete the trip to the side door where he unceremoniously dumped the wood onto the ground and then hurried into the house.

“Lydia sure has that son of mine jumping for her,” Wyatt muttered under his breath, receiving an inquisitive look in reply from Claudia.  “Never you mind girl, just go back to your playing.”

Wyatt wrote several letters after that, about one a month through March, always giving them to Isaac to post as his son had stated he had a special arrangement with the post master to get the letters quickly to the states.  Something about making sure they ended up on the fastest ships.  Wyatt had liked the sound of that arrangement and had praised Isaac for getting it in place.  He would inquire sometimes, about whether any replies had arrived for him at the station, and Issac would respond that he always checked but nothing had been received.  Tension grew between them over this, mostly from Isaac’s side, as he seemingly became more and more irritated by his father’s questions, and shorter and more blunt in his replies.  Eventually, Wyatt would start asking and Isaac would just cut him off with an upraised hand.  He had considered going to the station himself several times; however, the last walk to town had been long and difficult for both he and Claudia.   By the end of March however, he was very worried about the lack of any reply and his patience with trying to get information from Isaac had been exhausted.  He understood the distance involved but he had waited long enough.  As soon as he saw his son walk into the main house that night he had promptly walked over and entered without knocking.  He caught Isaac and Lydia is an argument which they abruptly ended as he stepped through the door.  They looked flustered but Wyatt hardly noticed as he had come seeking different information.

“What is his name Isaac?  What is the name of this post master in town?”

Isaac glanced over at his wife before replying.  “Why are you asking?”

“Because I am going into town myself tomorrow and getting some information from the man.  I have posted four letters to Harriet since Christmas and have not heard one spare word back from her yet.  Maybe he can figure out why his magic delivery trick doesn’t work both ways.  Or help in getting it to work.  Or tell me something about why it should be taking so long.  I need to wire Harriet also, just to make sure she is well.”

“Really father, take it easy.  It is a long walk for an old man like you and it would be a waste of your time anyway.  I’ve told you that I check for you and I’m sure nothing has been received.”  Isaac settled down into a wooden chair and started taking off his brown work boots.  “You do realize that we live in Germany?  This is a long way from the states and mail takes time.”

“Not this long.  Her last letter arrived here barely five weeks after she wrote it so there should have been word by now.  Give me that name boy.”

“You really must be patient.” It was Lydia who had spoken and it took Wyatt by surprise.

“Well, yes, I mean, well, it has been long enough.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin Isaac’s special arrangement or make any kind of a scene. I just need to know what might be taking so long.”

An unusual silence followed, one that remained as Isaac and Lydia seemed to share looks of some kind of understanding.  Finally Isaac leaned back in his chair and stretched his feet out toward the fire before speaking.

“You’re going in the morning, then? Tomorrow?”

“Yes, that is what I said.  Now what is his name?”

“Very well.  Alois Weber, ask for him at the front.”

“Thank you.  Good night son.”

Wyatt strode back out and across to the cabin, while inside the main house the strange silence remained.   Isaac stared up at the ceiling while Lydia stared intently at her husband as she leaned up against the kitchen door frame.  Ambrose came in, seemed to sense that something was amiss, and proceeded on through to his own room.  A cat, which the boy had found in the woods and adopted, but so far not named, jumped up to sit on Isaac’s lap.  Finally he spoke.

“I know.”

“You should, it obviously cannot go on past tomorrow.  And that means tonight.”

“Yes, I said that I know.”

And the silence returned and continued as the clock on the wall slowly marked off the minutes.  The cabin was always dark by ten o’clock each night, and when it was ten thirty Lydia walked over to blow out the lamp on the table.  She then retired to the bedroom and Isaac pulled his work boots back on.


…to be continued

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