I Carry Your Heart - Chapter 10

~ His Return



Catherine dreamt long into morning, lulled by the rhythmic tapping and the distant whisper of a timeless wind and by the even darkness mitigated by a single, flickering candle. Her dreams were more image than story and comforted her with sensations of warmth and safety. Hidden so deeply away, a truly separate peace enfolded her.

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For Mouse and Vincent, the day dawned early. Vincent awoke first, rolling onto his back from his curled position of sleep. He raised his forearm across his eyes, his dreams of the night not as soothing as he would have wished.

In his, he had walked for miles through unfamiliar streets above until he reached the end of the city. A massive boat was anchored in the harbor, made not of wood but of twisted thorny branches, black and wet. Wherever he touched, the thorns grew and arched toward him. From deep within the recesses of the boat, he could hear a faint music, alternating sweet and discordant, and he felt compelled to climb. Instead he stepped back, legs in wide stance, his arms behind his back, one hand grasping the other wrist.

“A difficult study for neither Jung nor Adler,” Vincent chastised himself. He pulled to a sitting position, stood and stretched away the stiffness of a night in a bedroll. Mouse still slept and Vincent smiled at the manifestation of his dreams – a syncopated finger-tapping on the rocky floor.

“Mouse ... Mouse, time to get up.” Vincent gave him a gentle shake.

“One more gizmo ... need one more,” Mouse muttered.

“Mouse.” Vincent repeated the nudge.

Mouse opened his eyes and smiled, each day a wondrous surprise party. “Morning already? Kinda hungry.”

Vincent chuckled. “We have what remains. Let’s eat it up."

“Yeah, won’t have to carry it outside.”

Vincent tilted his head in silent question.

“You know. Carry it inside instead!” Mouse laughed at his joke and scrambled from his covers.

Vincent took his breakfast and the book he’d been reading closer to the lantern. Mouse followed and asked, “What story is that?”

He showed him the cover. "Adam Bede.”

“Who?”

“George Eliot.”

“Poetry?”

“No.”

“Don’t always get poetry. Words left out.”

Vincent laughed. “Yes. Words left out, Mouse.”

“Vincent ... read to me ... like when I was little?”

“This is not a children’s story.”

“Not a child.”

“All right. I left off here last evening. Adam is going to Snowfield to see Dinah after being apart many weeks”

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Chapter 54: The Meeting on the Hill


You perceive how it was: Adam was hungering for the sight of Dinah, and when that sort of hunger reaches a certain stage, a lover is likely to still it though he may have to put his future in pawn....

She was much longer coming than he expected. He waited an hour at least watching for her and thinking of her, while the afternoon shadows lengthened and the light grew softer. At last he saw the little black figure coming from between the grey houses and gradually approaching the foot of the hill...

What was she thinking of as she wound up the hill? Perhaps she had found complete repose without him, and had ceased to feel any need of his love. On the verge of a decision we all tremble: hope pauses with fluttering wings.

But now at last she was very near, and Adam rose from the stone wall...with the fine instinct of a lover, he felt that it would be best for her to hear his voice before she saw him. He came within three paces of her and then said, “Dinah!” She started without looking round, as if she connected the sound with no place. “Dinah!” Adam said again ...

This second time she looked round. What a look of yearning love it was that the mild grey eyes turned on the strong dark–eyed man! She did not start again at the sight of him; she said nothing, but moved towards him so that his arm could clasp her round.

And they walked on so in silence, while the warm tears fell. Adam was content, and said nothing. It was Dinah who spoke first.

“Adam,” she said, my soul is so knit to yours that it is but a divided life I live without you. And this moment, now you are with me, and I feel that our hearts are filled with the same love. I have a fulness of strength to bear and do our heavenly Father's Will that I had lost before.”

Adam paused and looked into her sincere eyes.

“Then we'll never part any more, Dinah, till death parts us.”

And they kissed each other with a deep joy.

What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?” 1

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Vincent paused, closed the book and brought it to his forehead with two gentle taps.

“What? You didn’t get the story?”

“I understood the words.”

“Me too. She goes away. She comes back. He’s glad to see her. Things work out.”

“Yes. That is the story.”

“What’s wrong then, Vincent? You look ... bothered.”

“Just thinking.”

“I’m bothered,” Mouse said.

“What about?”

“Father. Mad at me.”

“No one is mad at you, Mouse. That I promise.”

“You're supposed to tell me what to do.”

“What guidance do you seek?”

“You know. The Talk. Heard Father ... giving instructions,” Mouse said, rolling his eyes.

“Which talk shall I give you?”

“Heard ‘em all already. Kinda like the birds and bees one best.” Mouse wiggled his eyebrows up and down.

“I think you can revisit that one on your own time.”

Mouse stared at the cavern roof, then over at Vincent.

“Got one question.”

“And that is?”

“What do I do?”

“About what, Mouse?”

“About ... you know ... Jamie.” Mouse whispered her name, hunching his shoulders as if bracing for a blow.

“You must follow your heart.”

Mouse drifted into puzzled thought. “Sometimes heart runs fast. Sometimes heart stops. Follow which one?”

Vincent smiled and clapped Mouse twice on the shoulder, but he had no other response. They rose and gathered their camp into packs, leaving behind no trace of their presence.

“Just to make sure.” Mouse was busy with straps of one bag, opening it to inspect the treasures they’d carried up from deeper down.

“Sparkly.” He sat back on his heels. “You think they’ll like?”

“They will like, Mouse.”

“Nervous.”

“I know.”

“You?”

“I'm not sure.” Vincent sighed.

“Not sure?”

“Not sure what I am.”

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Catherine pulled herself from the deepest sleep she’d known in weeks, roused by a rustling sound in the passageway. “Who's there? You can come in!”

Jamie appeared in doorway “It was my idea to give you all this privacy, but I wanted to talk to you.”

“Come sit.” Catherine patted the covers and settled against her pillows.

“How do you manage to look so pretty in the mornings?” Jamie asked from her perch at the foot of the bed.

“Aren’t you sweet. Usually I head straight for the shower first thing without looking in a mirror. I’m a bear without coffee too.”

“Well, that’s why I’m here, um, mostly. I can bring hot water for the tub, or I can take you down to the bathing chambers. We could get a coffee on the way and some breakfast, if you'd like.”

“Oh, I'd really love a shower," said Catherine, intrigued beyond imagining in the destination. "So what’s the rest of why you’re here?”

“I don’t know. I’m a little nervous, I guess. Sometime today ...”

“Yes, sometime today. I know just how you feel.”

“You do?” Jamie was incredulous. “Huh. Imagine that.”

“I’m just a girl too, Jamie. With dreams and wishes”

“I told Father to, ahh, kind of ... stick it.”

“Yes, he told me. Old Fart.”

“Is he mad?”

“No. He agrees with you!”

Huh! Imagine that.”

Catherine changed from her nightgown, brushed her teeth at her washstand and followed Jamie out and down. William was in fine form, his face flushed from the heat of baking. There were fresh scones heaped on a platter and a large French press full of dark coffee waiting on the sideboard. People milled about, some packing lunches for an outing. Several heads were bent over plans for a new technique to channel the naturally warmed waterway Mouse had discovered. It was as normal and familiar as her office cafeteria. Though welcomed with surprise, she soon felt as if it were her custom to breakfast here and filled a mug twice with coffee before she and Jamie continued on.

The bathing chambers ...

A warren of narrow tunnels ended in intimate hollows, each with a gentle fall of warm waters into a pool. Jamie explained the order of things – that a white towel hung outside a doorway signaled occupancy. Father and Mary had private chambers further down the passage and there was a communal pool for soaking.

“Vincent’s?” Catherine asked, aiming for nonchalance.

“Vincent’s isn’t here with these.” Jamie eyed Catherine with a flash of pity. “You get to his down a stairway behind the stained glass in his chamber, through that hidden passage. You didn’t know that?”

Catherine pressed her hand to the hollow of her throat where she could feel her heartbeat and a flush of heat. She needed a shower. And when she emerged, Jamie was waiting in the antechamber, finger-combing her wet hair.

“What will you do today, Catherine?”

“Explore some. Wait, I suppose. What about you?”

“I can’t wait around. I’ll go nuts if I do. It’s Sunday, but I’m thinking I’ll go down to the water project site and do some work. Besides, it won’t surprise me one bit if Mouse and I don’t speak to each other for days. He’ll probably take one look at me and disappear.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Catherine said, tucking a dark, damp strand of hair behind Jamie’s ear.

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She changed her clothes again, this time into a soft dress Mary had provided. Then she reached into the wardrobe for her gift, emerging with the box cradled in both hands.

What to do with it ...

She unwrapped it and, after a few moments of silent consideration, carried it down the passageway. In Vincent’s chamber, still so very silent and empty, she placed it in the middle of his writing desk. Stepping back, two fingers to her lips, she shook her head, muttering aloud. “I can’t leave it there with his journal! He’ll think I snooped.”

She moved it to his dresser, the card under the base. “This is so cluttered. He’ll never see it!” She moved it to his bed, nestling it in the pillows.

Aacck! Not there!”

His chair. Yes. She set it on the seat and walked away, but twenty feet down the passage, she turned back. “It should be wrapped!”

In her room, she returned it to the box of crinkly paper shreds. Tying it with some jute string she found in the bedside table drawer, she meant it this time. Wrapped. She carried it back to Vincent’s room, settling the gift and its card in the corner of his big chair. She fussed with the position of it, pulling the seat out, turning it to an angle, pushing it in until, with a groan, she slumped over the back of the difficult chair, her hands grasping the finials, her forehead to the fabric.

“Just leave it, Chandler. Cast your fate to ... to the chamber of the winds,” she said in a voice caught between a whimper and a laugh.

She turned then, sparked by memory and with curiosity. What was beyond the stained glass? Just as she began to sidle over, thinking she might discover the secret passage, she heard noises – a clatter of footsteps. She darted from the doorway and trotted down the tunnel.

Safe in her chamber, Catherine slowed her breathing and searched her dresser-top for her watch. It was almost surreal, the idea of time below. Above, the day had a structure meted out in segments, schedules, timeclocks. Here, time had a forward and backward flow to it, as if today and tomorrow and yesterday dissolved into their original matrix, measureless and mystical. Still, the Sunday afternoon concert in the park would begin at a particular hour and she wanted to hear it.

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Their private place to listen ... to be together ... in the circle of his arms, against his strong shoulder ... her face turned close to the pulse of his throat ... hours of beautiful music for the two of them alone ...

These days, they kept a bundle of quilts and pillows to lessen the cold and cushion the hard floor. Catherine pulled these out when she arrived, but it felt strange to be there alone. And so she paced … from the light to the shadows to the light again … until the orchestra finished with tuning and the concertgoers quieted. For a moment, the music was birdsong and breeze and when the violins swelled with the opening measures, she sank into the cushions. With her knees drawn up and her arms folded, pillowing her head, she lost herself in music.

Linn's 'Vincent in love'
“Catherine.” Vincent called her name. He leaned against the tunnel wall a few feet down the passage, cloaked in shadow.

“Vincent." She echoed his careful tone. "You knew where to find me?”

He bowed his head, his answer just audible over the strings. “Always.”

“It's difficult to surprise you,” Catherine whispered.

“That, Catherine ... is inaccurate.” A few measures floated by in their silence. “Albinoni?”

“Yes, the Adagio and then, after that, Bach – the Air in D and the Concerto for Two Violins.”

“Beautiful.”

“It is.”

“I meant ... you, Catherine.”

He stood apart from her under the grate, his face turned to the light and sound. His stillness settled her jittery heart, but he was so terribly quiet ...

“Won’t you sit with me?" She held out her hand. "I've missed you so."

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1. George Eliot. Adam Bede. Chapter 54. The Meeting on the Hill. 1859.


Click HERE for Chapter 11.

15 comments:

New York City Utopia said...

Oh, I'm absolutely sure now, your story is excellent! I've just caught up with several chapters. All right, it has been a bit of a cliffhanger as far as Vincent and Catherine were concerned, but my hopes are up again ;-)

Anonymous said...

Love the scene between Vincent and Mouse. You've really captured the interaction.

Leanne

Vicky said...

Ooohhh... he's here!

(I wish I'm not driving you nuts with these comments but... I love this story!)

Carole W said...

Driving me nuts? Are you kidding? I love re-reading this along with you. A scene just came to mind - in Beast Within, Vincent materialized almost into some underground maze of steam pipes and clutter to face Mitch - cloakless, determined, large – I understand completely ... he's here ... He just fills the space, doesn't he, and there's room for no other.

~ C.

Brandy said...

Oh, for French Press coffee and scones in the morning, I would GLADLY live Below! But then, I'm a sad slave to my stomach.

Catherine's fight with her gift was highly comical. I could feel her frustration. "Aaak, not there!" And her determination, "she meant it this time."

Everyone is endlessly fascinated with the bathing arrangements Below. Makes you appreciate modern plumbing, once you've tried to figure out sewage and water-waste for a fictional community, doesn't it?

And...Vincent. I love/hate that Catherine greets him quietly, but no, they're not there yet.

Brandy said...

Also, Adam Bede? What an interesting choice. I admit to being ignorant of its existence (thank you Wikipedia, for illuminating me) - is this book a favorite of yours? Or one you read a while back? Tell me your reasoning!!

Carole W said...

Catherine's character needs delving into, I think. We all seem to know and understand more, maybe care more, about Vincent. In rereading these chapters, I think I should have included more of her internals. Maybe in an edit in the future ... hmmmm.

I mostly passed off the plumbing issues to 'magic of below', didn't I? LOL.

Amazing, isn't it, like the LotR, ST, the Harry Potters, the detail required to render a world seeable and believable. Livable.

I'll admit, I'm just an eager voyeur re: Vincent in the bath. Shallow - the water ... me. ;-)

Carole W said...

Oh, Adam Bede. I read it in college in a course years and years ago - along with Silas Marner and Middlemarch and still have my old paperback, university bookstore, highlighted copies. I remember being very interested in her (the author's) language and descriptions and in her personal, real life too. The women writers of the time who had to use a male pen name ... fascinating.

I'd marked that last paragraph all those years ago thinking then it would make a nice wedding vow. (though I didn't use it, either time!) I was so very romantic back then - like now, I guess.

It was a literary memory that popped into my head as I was writing along. Nothing more mysterious than that, except in its coincidence that the preceding paragraphs (which I modified a bit for brevity) seemed to fit so well with V & C's story.

One of the jobs I used to wish for, back in the run of this show, was Patricia Livingston's - the literary consultant for BatB. I'm just an English Major geek still.

Vicky said...

Carole, Carole, Carole... You've been talking to me a lot I guess: I'm a "rabid Catherine side-taker", as you already know. I was telling Krista the exact same thing last sunday (I think before watching our episode). Everyone is always so ready to understand, to comfort and protect Vincent... but what about Catherine? As Vincent sees himself, she has the hardest part in it. Oh.. please don't get me started, I may never go back to work!

I love to see people re-reading I carry! Go Brandy! I've reread it myself a few weeks ago, and loved it all over again.

Hugs.

Carole W said...

But Vicky, you started is a wonderful thing! There's no one I agree with more out there.

I'm thinking, thinking, thinking ... as I write this next chapter of I/V of ways to show more of Catherine's depth of character. Who was she back then ... beneath that cloak of 'fashion law' mentality. hmmmm

Brandy said...

Wow, the literary consultant for the show...what a dream job. I wonder if she'd find things for the writers, or the writers would ask her to find things?

I would love to see more of Catherine's internal musings. Don't worry, you'll get there when you get there. In the meantime, we're all enjoying the ride!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Adam Bede. I wish I was an English geek. I'm certainly a grammar Nazi, but haven't yet read enough to be an English geek. It's something I aspire. to. :)

Sonia Who? said...

Ch. 10

So enjoying re-reading this story.

Wonder what Vincent's dream meant.

Mouse is so amusing. It's always fun reading about him. I can understand why Vincent enjoyed time spent with him.

(I love the comment you made here: "I'll admit, I'm just an eager voyeur re: Vincent in the bath. Shallow - the water ... me. ;-)" LOL you're funny! But I think we're all the same opinion regarding this.)

AZLadyWolf said...

"Aaak, not there!" How funny! You make her nervousness contagious!!

The conversations between the characters and their interaction, I can HEAR Vincent's voice, and Mouse's; I can see the smile on Catherine's face during her conversation with Jaime before going to the bathing chambers....

It's soooo wonderful -- believe it or not, I want to cry.... this is like coming home after a long absence, and finding everyone you love still where they are supposed to be! Thank you....

Carole W said...

AZ, now you're making me tear up. I'm really glad you like these chapters, pleased you find the characters familiar and believable. It's all I wanted to do - keep them alive.

Thank you again,
Carole

Barbara A said...


“I'm not sure.” Vincent sighed.

“Not sure?” (Mouse)

“Not sure what I am.” ...

Hahaha ... hasn't this been the root of Vincent's problem since the beginning? He is sure what he is.
That's what you have Catherine for, Vincent. She has always seen you and loved you for what you are....
I am reading your stories again, Carole. They are still wonderful!