Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 36

~ Hope Grew Round Me, Like the Twining Vine 1

At her greeting Martin looked up from his tray. Not quite a single step out of the arc of the swinging door, it grazed his shoulder, sending the teacups into a dance upon their saucers. “Catriona!” he sang out and the room spiraled.

Coincidence ... no more ... 

Seven Woods of Coole ParkOn one shoulder, his starched and buttoned gnome of reason tugged with exasperation at his earlobe, while on his other, a favored brownie cooed and scampered, a white swan’s feather in her grasp, a swan’s feather soft as roses plucked from the Seven Woods, a velvet sweep of memory. More than that ... more than that, she murmured at his ear.

A voice – the low flute, the throaty, reedy rasp ...

We are ... more than that.  

Catherine hurried across the floor. Through his fogged vision he could see the brimming concern in her eyes, in her eyes bright and sparkling as the sun on Coole Lough, in her gray-green eyes the color of moss pathside to Thoor Ballylee.2 Only when her fingertips grazed his white clutch of the carrier’s handles did he remember to breathe.

Glanchroíoch!” he whispered.

“What?” She steadied the tray, quieting the skittering china. “Are you all right?”

Dhá anam, aon croí amháin”, he murmured.

With silent insistence she pulled the tray from his grip, her voice soft as a dove’s wings around her hatchlings. “I should be surprised to see you here ...”

“Yet surprised we’re not?” he answered, softer still.

At the bay window, Martin pushed aside a stack of magazines and a potted violet starred with pale lilac blooms. Catherine slid the tray into the clearing.

“You’ve met Seamus then?” he asked, a hand to his friend’s shoulder. “And you’re here for Sam?”

“I have. I am.”

“And how do you two know each other?”

Sam rustled for his chair, angling to sit. Grateful for the moment’s interruption, Catherine reached to set the brake firmly against one wheel, then against the other, peering at her audience from beneath a veil of hair. There was a glazed serenity in Seamus’s expression, a sudden, blinking vagueness, an awaiting. Martin’s was courtly, accommodating ... patient.

Over the months and years, at the celebrations and ceremonies, at simple dinners, at council meetings, she’d met dozens of Helpers. Above, their paths crossed with an astonishing regularity.

How do you know each other ... 

Jenny had asked that same question often enough, though at first she’d offered little curiosity beyond the given explanation, laughing in a loving and proud way, teasing Catherine for her eccentricities, for her ... expansiveness. Lately, at each nebulous introduction her eyes crinkled with a mild bewilderment, her greeting reserved and unsure. A sad chasm had opened between them. Still narrow, Catherine silently decreed. Please, still narrow.

Joe teased her as well, but underscoring his light-hearted banter was recognition. He saw the line – her line, her mysterious, unshakeable line – and wouldn’t cross it. Not yet.

Father urged avoidance – Vincent, consolation – but both assured her all concerned would understand if she were in the company of friends and couldn’t recognize a Helper. And though she’d had to do just that – pretend – it felt dismissive and wrong. They were her friends, her family. Was there not a middle ground? In her dreams, they walked a blended world.

How much can you accept?

From the convent's bell tower, a muted carillon rang – a harmonic of here, of peace, of embrace.

“As you and I, Sam and I have friends in common,” Catherine said. “And we became friends in our own right.” She bent to Seamus. “What’s all that in the box? May I?”

With a chortle and a flourish, Seamus deposited the rosewood side-angle scope into her palm. “Look, Sam!” she insisted, the toy in her outstretched hand.  Sam grinned and took it from her, holding it to his eye.

“You know what that is?” Martin asked.

“Sure, my boy had one–” Sam cut his words short and looked away. An odd moment of silence fell,  measured by the tick of the schoolroom clock above the swinging kitchen door.

Tá tú go h-álainn,” Seamus crowed, capturing their attentions. “Duine flaithiúlach.”

“There he goes again, speaking the gobbledy-gook,” Sam said with a grateful chuckle. “Who knows what he just said to you. He thinks he can get by with anything, old as he is and a priest to boot.”

Surprised she turned to Martin who leaned against the ledge of the bay window, his fist to his lips to stifle a yawn. “Indeed, he’s the curate before me, leaving me to the place when he retired. Twenty years I’ve tried to fill his shoes.”

“Bí trean, seas an fód.”

“Hush with the leprechaun-ese,” Sam teased. He looked up at Martin. “That wasn’t insulting was it, because if it was, I might have to fight him.”

Hurling Team
“In his day, Seamus Barry could take down a goliath, scrappy thing that he was,” Martin said. “Not so big, but the heart of a lion. He could shoulder and block and strike the sliotar with the hurley sending it four hundred feet at one hundred miles an hour. He’d put the pure fear, he would. Or so he says.”

Seamus cackled with glee and tapped his knuckles together. “Mothaím le neart na naomh inniu.”

Before Sam could utter a second protest, Sister Norberta scurried in. Martin straightened and put his hands behind his back and Sam folded his in his lap, both turning innocent, wide eyes her way. “I heard squealing all the way down the hall,” she said, her admonition negated by a toothy smile. "There's entirely too much fun being had in here! Father M, are you causing trouble again? And did you bring the apple tart you mentioned?"

Martin hung his head. "I confess, there was company up last evening and I was obliged to share it. Next week. Next week, for sure."

Tramp Art Box
"I suppose I'm obliged to forgive you, and I do, though just barely." She lifted the box from Sam's knees. “What’s this? A hobo’s box! And heavy too. Shall we pack it up?” She held the open container out to Sam, who wedged the scope into an empty corner. With it latched shut, she set it on the window ledge.

The keys,” Seamus cried out, reaching for the box, opening and closing his fingers in anxious, fruitless grasp. “The keys! Where are they? Lev will be up soon, all after a game of chess. Those are Lev’s cups. His Kiddush cups. Is it Friday? He’ll want them.” He closed his eyes. “The door. It’s locked. I’ll need those keys.” His voice fell away to a chanting lament.

“It’s only Monday, Father. We’ll find your keys long before Friday.” She patted his shoulder and tucked the quilt beneath his knees. “Ready to go?” she asked, unlocking his wheels. He raised his head, his irises floes of blue ice. A smile deepened every wrinkle.

Glanchroíoch!” he crooned. “Laoch neamheaglach. Grá, neart, ceangaltas, seasmhact. Dhá anam, aon croí amháin .” 

Ireland's green fieldsSister Norberta looked from a startled Catherine to Sam to Martin. “Not to worry. Sometimes he finds himself home at last, walking the vast green fields of Clare. He’s home more and more these days.” She smoothed his sparse hair and touched the back of her hand to his forehead and smoothed again to press two fingers beneath his ear. “Sam,” she said, pushing the wheelchair toward the door. “Sr. Mary Xavier will collect you for therapy in twenty minutes. Will you have your visit in by then? We can push your time back if you want, but you'll not get out of it, so no whimpering.”

“Save me, Catherine. They use the rack here.”

“Actually, Sam, you’re looking really good. Whatever you’re doing, you should keep doing. But I do want to talk to you. Could we go for a walk? Down to the library maybe?”

“A roll, you mean,” Sam said with a resigned sigh.

“No need,” Martin said. “No need to leave. You take the tea while it’s hot still and I’ll pay a visit to Sister Felice. She has some ... umm ... fundraising ideas she wants to share.”

“I'm sure she does,” Catherine said.

Martin paused in the doorway. “Would you be needing a ride somewhere after, Catherine? I have my car and I’m still a fair driver. Or if you would, might we have lunch? I’ve a favorite place not five blocks from here and your company would be a gift.”

“Well, I have run you off from your tea.”

“Good then,” he said and started away.

“Wait!” Catherine called and he reappeared, curving around the door jamb. “Seamus’s box – should you take it to him?”

“‘Tis really my box, after all. Left for me twenty years ago.”

“That sounds mysterious. And what did Seamus say? I’m dying of curiosity.” And you, Martin, she thought. What did you say?

“A mystery and a curiousness we can discuss over bread and jam. Could you bring it out with you? And ‘tis more than all right if you want to have a peek in.”


He does look well. And I’m going to upset him.

He’d been out of the hospital a few weeks, deemed strong enough, well enough to return home, but he’d weakened in spirit. Though they’d sealed the entrance beneath his building months before, Vincent had traveled the narrow, littered alleys to sit with him night after night, arguing, then pleading, for him to move below. “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t,” he’d repeated, his face turned to the wall. “It’s my fault. I can’t.”

At council, Vincent sighed. “He won’t come. We must find another way.”

Father appealed to Peter, whose study provided a possibility, who managed the preliminary paperwork. And one night, Catherine knocked on Sam’s door. At her call, Vincent let her in and for hours they sat at his bedside. At last, Sam had agreed. Seven months of waiting brought him here and a year later, Sam smiled again. His hair and mustache were trimmed and neat. Though he pruned the shrubs and roses from his wheel chair, he could walk short distances on even ground with a cane. He played cards. Talked and laughed and ate with appetite.

Sam wasn’t hidden away. On the day Peter and she had gone for him, the day they’d moved him here, a frail clutch of friends had seen him off, friends from the building, from the old neighborhood. A more robust few had made the trip to visit him a month into residency. The building’s super had his forwarding address, though Sam fretted that it was a mistake. If Mitch came back, Sam would be found. Mitch could be charming, Vincent said, if there were something he wanted. And Mitch would want Sam to know ...

From a row lining the wall, she dragged a chair close to Sam’s, angled so she might watch the door.

“Catherine, you’re a sight for sore eyes. It’s been too long.”

“So much has happened since I was last here. Vincent and I ...”

“I know!” His eyes were bright. “Sarah told me her last visit. I wish I coulda made it to the party. Tell Vincent I said he’s a lucky man, okay?”

“He misses you, Sam. Very much. He wants to come to see you, but ...”

“This place ... it’s far.” He grinned and looked over his shoulder. “And the Sisters are all eagle-eyes and they never sleep.”

“It's a good place.”

Sam nodded. “I’m ... I’m happy for you. For you both. Vincent. I ... love him.”

“I know you do.” She closed her hand over his, her next necessary words sure to wound.

“What? You look like you swallowed something sour. Spit it out.”

“It’s about Mitch.”

Sam paled and pulled his hand away, quieting its shaking with the other, pressing both against a jittery leg.

“When Sarah was here ... did she tell you? There’s been some trouble north of the community. They’re reworking the entrances in the Bronx,” she continued. “Guarding against ... well ... guarding. Miriam had sentry duty and she heard something. A group of ... troublemakers. She heard a name. Initials, really. MD. And when she told Vincent, he thought ...”

“Of course he thought.” His face grayed and he bowed his head. “How can you even look at me, Catherine? After what ... my son ... did to you.”

“Nobody blames you, Sam.

“They should. You should. Vincent told me what he wanted to do to Mitch and why he didn’t. And that night, when I first saw you–” He broke off, drawing in a shuddery breath.

“I wasn’t sure he should tell you. And remember. Mitch didn’t know about me. He didn't know Vincent and I ...”

“He was always so jealous. Mad about everything. If he had known ...” Sam stared past her, into the garden. “After his mother died, I wasn’t any good.”

"You were a friend, a good friend, always. Father has told me. Vincent too. What you did for them ...”  She waited while the fragile boat of his memories calmed, until his eyes met hers again. “Father blames himself, you know.”

He pressed his knuckles to his lips. “My boy,” he managed. “My fault.”

“Sam,” she asked, her hand on his arm. “Do you have any idea where he is?”

He shook his head. “He’s not here. Whoever MD is, it’s not Mitch.”

“How do you know that? Tell me.”

“About three months ago, I got a letter from him. Burt sent it over from the old place. A chaplain wrote it. I guess ... something musta happened to Mitch’s arm. He’s back in the pen."


“South Florida somewhere. It’s bad, Catherine. Real bad. Mitch wanted me to know ... and he wanted money.”

“Do you know what he did?”

“Armed robbery. Assault.” Tears clouded his eyes. “A woman,” he admitted, bowing his head. “He ... he hurt her and ... she died, so ... murder.”

“How long, Sam? The sentence ...” She didn’t finish her question, and Sam didn’t answer, didn’t look at her. “May I see the letter?”

“Don’t have it. Tore it up and threw it away. When I go ... don’t want anybody finding it after.” He sighed again and swallowed hard. “It’s over.”

Over ...  Relief surged through her like a storm-fed wave onto parched sand – like that wave, slaking with its swell, gouging and eroding with its ebb. Yesterday, her assertions had been sure, but afterward she’d been almost frantic to believe her own words. A leap, Vincent. Mitch couldn’t possibly ... And since, she’d repeated them with fervor and perseverance to drown out Vincent’s. What I would do to him if I saw him again, if I found him anywhere near you. 

It had been a sharp briar underfoot all along, a pricking thorn of fear that Mitch would return, deranged by jealousy and anger, determined to do harm – to Vincent, to Father, to Sam – determined to destroy all he’d been offered and all he’d refused. Sam’s face was etched with sorrow, the planes of it stained with a fevered, gray-red wash. Once Mitch had been a baby, cradled in the arms of loving parents thrilled with his promise, with hope for him. And now, the tears in Sam’s eyes were proof that he had held to a single, frayed strand of that hope, that one day Mitch would change, that he might atone for every anger-fueled cruelty, that he might truly return. She should feel only sadness, but not so deep in her heart, she was glad ... glad that Vincent was saved from choosing, from one day telling Sam that Mitch’s end had come by him.

She curled her fingers gently around his, loosening his grip of the armrest and after long, silent moments, he brought her hand to his dry lips.

“Tell Vincent and Father for me.”

“I will.”

“Now,” he said, after another stretch of time. “I wanna hear how you know Martin, but first, let’s have a look in that box. Whaddya say?”

“I say okay.”

Catherine dragged the box from the ledge and balanced it on her knees, tipping back the lid, careful of its papery, ribboned hinge. She dug the rosewood scope from its corner. “Vincent has one of these too, Sam.”

Rosewood Side-angle scope
“I remember the day Leo gave those out. He musta had a dozen of ‘em. It was Ike’s birthday and I got an invite to the party. Mitch had been below a couple years by then, I guess. Leo gave one to all the little boys – Ike, Vincent, Pascal, Rennie, Stewart, Mitch. Devin, too. And Noah, of course. They ran off with ‘em and pretty soon, there was word on the pipes they were down in the maze. Got in all kinds of trouble with Father. Vincent ...” Sam turned, dragged away by a cough.

Catherine poured a cup of tea for him, lukewarm now, but soothing still, she hoped. “Vincent ... what?” she prompted, when he’d caught his breath.

“Father herded them back up to his chamber and they were all in a row, their heads hanging. Except Vincent. He’s watching Father stomp back and forth. We’re in the back, trying not to laugh and finally Father asks, ‘Just what made you go against my instructions? When I’ve told you time and time again the maze is dangerous? Does no one have an answer?’ And Vincent pipes up, ‘But Father, it was research.’ Father goes, ‘Research is it? Explain yourself.’ And Vincent says, ‘The efficacy of an angle scope can only be proved in circumstances where there are corners around which to see. The maze has the most corners. We have angle scopes. Therefore, it was research.’ Father’s just standing there with his mouth open. Vincent’s seven, maybe eight. A baby still, with that funny little voice he had, scrapey-like. Father looks over his glasses at the boys. Even glares at Leo. Turns back and says, ‘Efficacy! Circumstances! Around which! Therefore! Pray tell, from whom did you learn this manner of speech?’”

Pray tell, indeed,” Catherine said, laughing, amazed at Sam’s fair rendition of Father’s tone and manner.

“Exactly,” Sam said, wiping his eyes. “You oughta ask Vincent about the paper weight he made Father for the next Winterfest. Carved it outta rosewood, just like the scopes.”

“Wait!” Catherine squealed. “I’ve seen it on Father’s desk. It’s beautiful! I didn’t know Vincent made it.”

“Yeah, Vincent’s good with his hands. Always was. Flip it over next time you’re down there.”


“You’ll see. Wait ‘til Father’s around and watch his face, 'cause steam's gonna come out his ears.”

“When I see him next, that’s the first thing I’ll do,” she said, spinning the open box toward Sam. “Let’s see what else is in here.”

tiny chess set
“Would ya look at that!” Sam said, reaching for a small wooden container. When he released the catch, the box opened flat and a game board was revealed – tiny, painted squares of lacquered black alternating with an ochre-colored wood. Miniature chess pieces of gold and dulled silver rattled corner to corner. “Leo had a set just like this. Carried it in his pocket, everywhere he went. Always liked a game.”

“Who’s Leo? I don’t think I’ve met him.”

“Oh, he’s been gone a long time. Russian guy. Noah’s grandpa. They lived kinda far out. North, up near Levon under the park in the Bronx. His name was Levya but his wife called him Lyova, so we shortened it to Leo, cause otherwise there’d have been two Lev’s.”

Leo gave those out. Leo had a set just like this. 

Lev will be up soon, all after a game of chess. Those are Lev’s cups. His Kiddush cups.

Leo … Lev

Sister Mary Xavier materialized at their side, her soft rubber soles masking her approach. They each turned comical faces to her – eyebrows raised, mouths in O’s of questioning wonder. “What?” she asked, scanning the room. "Did I miss something?"

Sam made a show of smoothing his hair, palming the chess set to Catherine with a magician's skill. “Nothing, Sister. A little reminiscing is all. Turns out we got more friends in common than we thought.”

“The world’s a small place, isn't it? Connections everywhere if we're open to them.” Sister Mary Xavier grinned and chuckled darkly. “Say goodbye for now. Your turn on the rack.”

“Told ya,” Sam groused. “Hold on a minute. Gotta kiss my girl good-bye.” He pushed out of his chair to a wobbly stand and held open his arms. “Happy life,” he whispered.

The window brightened. Catherine repacked Martin’s box, tying it shut with the knotted leather string she found in a coil on the ledge. Something else you must see, Vincent. In the garden, prismed droplets of rain studded the clown-faced pansies and the evergreen hedges shimmered. A sky of broken clouds streamed sunlight to earth in a rayed fan. Far from here, deep below the streets, in rooms hidden even within a secret city, that same light beamed from their atrium’s high ceiling into their bedchamber, across their pearl and ivory bedding. From the belfry, the carillon sounded again, a plaintive peal.

I miss you …


“Found you.”

“I wasn’t hiding, Mouse.”

“Still. Found you.”

“You did.”

“Ask me how.” Mouse danced in the entryway of the abandoned chamber, his gaze darting from shadowed niches to shallow, jagged ledges, back to the sunken center court where Vincent stood. Carved benches circled a raised table of rock, on it a map spread beneath a chuted sunbeam, hazy with dust motes.

“All right. How.”

“Sniffed. Smell like flowers.”

Ah. Our laundry above. Have you not found your stack of clean clothes, Mouse?”

“Saving ‘em. Jamie. Coming back tomorrow.”

Vincent turned back to his study, hiding a smile. “A wise decision. Is there an occasion? A special time you’ve planned?”

“Hope so. Tell you after.” Mouse sidled into the room. “Walls look like cheese,” he said. “Lots of hidey-holes.”

“These holes go on for hundreds of feet. Speleologists call this spongework.”

Mouse leapt across a basin water-carved into the floor and bounded across the room. “I call it neat,” he said. “Whose?”

“This chamber?” he asked and Mouse nodded. “Once it was Noah’s. I was here when I was very young. His family was moving and I remember helping Noah pack his toys into a huge chest. Levya – Leo, his grandfather – hoisted it to his shoulder, balanced it there. I thought him the strongest man on earth.”

Huh!” Mouse grunted, climbing onto the bench back. “Balance,” he said, his arms wagging wings as he toed the narrow ledge. “Not so easy.”

Quiet, Vincent watched him perform, but Mouse’s words blazed before him, a sear on the stone. Not so easy. Not so easy at all.

The headache was gone, in its echoing space ... Catherine.  Earlier, she’d seemed so near he felt her kisses on his throat. Then she’d distanced and calmed and she was satisfied and content ... until she wasn’t.

After the morning meeting, he’d asked Cullen to go above to begin the relay to her. His note would transfer hand to hand and eventually Benny would deliver the news of Kanin’s return, that MD was not Mitch. But he’d felt her anxiousness, her frustration, and he had to believe she’d not received his message. A wave of sadness washed over him, then a bloom of her joy. He shivered at the mercurial change and breathed deeply in, tipped his head from side to side, stretching his neck, reaching for his own focus. A low reverberation sounded between them, like the last rumble of thunder from a passing storm, and then she was near again, so near he thought he might turn to her, take her in his arms, so near he was sure she plucked at his sleeve ...

“The Number Four site,” Mouse was saying. “Kanin says meet him after. Says he needs the map, too.”

Vincent sighed and tucked the long edge in and began to roll, the way to Martin’s garden disappearing inch by inch.

Wait,” Mouse said. “Woodlawn. Kanin’s plan? Let me look.” Frowning, Mouse smoothed out the map. “Not so sure.”

“His strategy is sound,” Vincent said. “If we’re to safeguard–”

“Haven’t asked Stewart. Haven’t asked Noah. Might matter.” Mouse splayed his fingers on the paper. “Didn’t ask you, Vincent. And it matters.”

Habit insisted he swallow his disappointment, that he deny his wishes. He reached for the map again, curled it to a tube.

And yet ... another voice, another presence ... NO!

Speak this truth. 

I ... will ... speak ... this ... truth. 

“Yes. It matters.”

“Kanin said if. Kanin said save time, save worry.” Mouse looked up at him. “Kanin said easier. Didn’t say only.”

Vincent gripped Mouse’s shoulder. “You’re right, Mouse. He did say easier. He didn't say only. And there is another way.”

Click HERE for Chapter 37.


1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Dejection: An Ode. VI.
2. References to William Butler Yeats and his years at Coole Park.


SandyX said...

Ahhhh, it felt so good to hear Vincent say "Yes. It matters" Thank you for giving him that moment.

I can't wait to sit in on Catherine's lunch with Martin!

Thank you for another wonderful chapter. Things are really starting to turn now, aren't they?

Now, where can I find a good Gaelic translator ...


Carole W said...

Thanks, Sandy! You're up too late though. Hmmm. So am I.

Don't worry about the Gaelic - Martin will translate for Catherine. I'm glad you liked the chapter, particularly Vincent's assertion. I hope it felt good to him too!

Hugs, back

Kemara said...

I only have time enough for a short comment...will write more later. I just wanted to say how delightful I found this chapter.

I see the overall motif or symbol of this story as a Celtic knot...different colored cords weaving around and under each other - colors bleeding one into the other from red to green to blue to gold - but in the end all the same cord.

Sonia Who? said...

Was hoping this chapter was going to be about Catherine's chat with Martin. Oh well, have to be patient and wait a little more.

I like Vincent's assertion too. It's about time he thinks of what he wants instead of what others want.

Enjoyable chapter. Look forward to the next; hoping it'll be before the new year, but will understand if you'd be too busy with the holidays. Don't feel bad if you can't post a chapter every 2 or 3 weeks. We, your fans understand.


Carole W said...

OH, Kemara. I can only aspire to your analogy and I wish, I hope and I will try so hard to approach such a description. I'm humbled that you would think that and I will treasure your words. (and I'm printing them out to read every morning as an affirmation. Martin would tell me to do that)

Big, grateful hug,

Carole W said...

Oh, I'm sorry Sonia. I knew you'd be disappointed, but I can only say that this is a big story (bigger than I ever expected) and that next chapter might be more satisfying to you. To all things, a season - as it is said.

The conversation with Martin is complicated and will take some contemplation - which you all know means dithering on my part over every word. But I'm already at work on it and believe I can promise it before Christmas.

And I can tell, there are still at least a dozen chapters to go. Eventually that "dozen more" will be true and we'll count down to the end.

Hugs to you as well!

Krista said...

Oh, Carole. Wow. It seems you also have some backstory that's dying to escape--I love the bit about young Vincent picking up Father's modes of speech. (LOL---I keep hearing young Vincent say it in my head, with just a touch of Father's accent.) And now I'm dying of curiosity about the paperweight. :)

And it's so nice to see that Sam is in a better place than the dump he was in and that Mitch will really, truly, not be endangering Vincent or the tunnels again.

Thank you so much for letting Vincent say that "it matters." I'm loving that whole moment.

Fantastic chapter---I can't wait to hear Martin and Catherine's conversation :)


Vicky said...

I love it, I love it! Thank you, Carole. Psst, snuggling up to Sandy for that translator... or shall we wait for "himself"? I can only imagine the things going on in Martin's head... so get them to lunch, pronto! :-D hee

Little Vincent is adorable! "Research", eh? Is the paper weight actually in Father's chamber? I've never had anyone describe it to me, since I'm very much aware the "display of items" is... large!

I feel more story here, it's spilling all over...
"Yes. It matters". Finally! yea! That's the way, Vincent. Now, I must reread the chapter; for that second layer, you know, the one you enjoy even more (or even don't catch) the first time. All of IV does that to me!

Big hugs, dear!

Carole W said...

Krista - heh, backstory. You know it. :-)

Thanks for liking the chapter. Thanks for liking the Father/young Vincent story. And V's not-so-baby step - it's just a beginning. It was a welling of the Other, the 'dark flavor of victory', but well used. I'm hoping he'll grow fond of his Otherness ... in time.

Actually, I have to say - thanks for everything. Your insight and comments, your friendship, all mean so much.

Another hug!

Carole W said...

Vicky! The paperweight is all in my mind, although I will go and search the desk, maybe in the Orpheus episode, and see if my brain was prompted by any reality. I'll get you a good description of it in the chapter.

Oh, let Martin do the translating. There are so many nuances to Gaelic - I could have made a huge mistake and said something shocking! (though I use the Gaelic Translation Forum, there is often disagreement among the participants).

I'm glad you enjoyed young Vincent. Even though we saw him on screen in Promises, I feel and visualize him a bit differently. I hope he rings true.

Thank you for reading, Vicky and for rereading, which makes me feel very happy.

Hugs all around this morning!

New York City Utopia said...

Ha! That was rewarding... gratifying... sheer pleasure! Eager to read Martin's translation but that's only curiosity, not frustration ;-)
((((Hugs)))) and thanks!

RomanticOne said...

It's always exciting to get another glimpse of Vincent's childhood. We saw so little of it in the series. Your story shows Vincent's "humanity" in so many ways. I've fallen in love with the Gaelic language! Some people may say French is the language of romance - I have to disagree. Maybe it's because I've some Irish blood in me. Keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to lunch with Martin and your promised Monday night with Vincent. There's an undercurrent of excitement here that's beginning to bubble to the surface and I can't wait to see the results! If it will help, I'll send your muse a box of chocolates! :)

Kemara said...

Further thoughts on this chapter....
I love that Martin calls Catherine "Catriona". I was in the Society for Creative Anachronism for a bit. My persona was Irish (of course), and my name was that really jumped out at me.

This chapter reminds me of a saying "Touched by an Angel" used a several times: "A coincidence happens when God chooses to remain anonymous." Many conincidences here!
The Gaelic is driving me crazy because I can almost - but not quite - figure it out.

Glad you like the Celtic knot analogy. I can see the colors as dark and rich....Catherine is emerald green. Vincent is gold. The tunnels are ruby red. Martin and his family are deep blue....all twining together like the vine in your title.

Brandy said...

Hooray a chapter! Boo, too short!

I feel like the Mitch thread has come to an end, but you're weaving in a new thread with Martin and Catherine's involvement.

I looked REALLY hard for a poem about knots, but no luck, so here's one about threads, instead.

The Thread by Denise Levertov
Something is very gently,
invisibly, silently,
pulling at me-a thread
or net of threads
finer than cobweb and as
elastic. I haven't tried
the strength of it. No barbed hook
pierced and tore me. Was it
not long ago this thread
began to draw me? Or
way back? Was I
born with its knot about my
neck, a bridle? Not fear
but a stirring
of wonder makes me
catch my breath when I feel
the tug of it when I thought
it had loosened itself and gone.

Carole W said...

Thanks NYCU! Yours are gracious words and I'm pleased you were pleased by the chapter. You made me want to finish the next chapter tonight, but I'm worn out from Blogger's eccentricities of last evening.

Martin is supposed to be fasting on Mondays. Will he??Hmmm. I'm not sure about that ... exactly ... but he will translate.


Carole W said...

R1, the muse is clamoring for chocolate. She loves the stuff, thrives on it, swears she'll not desert me if only there is chocolate. Virtual chocolate works, too! And she thanks you - hugs you! - for the thought.

Oh, thank you for saying that about revealing Vincent's humanity. And I'm glad you enjoyed and accepted my Young Vincent. The backstory and youthful stories of the characters tickle inside me. I wish the show had gone on it's expected 4 or 5 years. I'm sure we'd have been treated to some histories.

I hope I can make the spiral to the end exciting - it feels exciting in my mind. Thank you for feeling its bubbling. I like that image.

I was in Spiddal once, years ago, a village on the Galway shore. Gaelic is spoken there still and in the pubs, all these beautiful words floated along in conversation and song. I fell in love with the sounds, even though I understood nothing. Charlie taught us to say Men at Work and Women Talking - I think it was supposed to be funny. I only wish I could have stayed longer, like years instead of weeks. Truthfully, I wished then for an Irish beau to whisk me off my feet, settle me in some ocean-side cottage and read to me. (Who me? A romantic? A believer in fairy-tales?) :-)


Carole W said...

Kemara, the jewel-colored knot imagery is just beautiful. Again, I'm humbled by your kind words.

There are lots of coincidences!

Vincent quotes Emma Bull in The Only Gift - "Coincidence is the word we use when we don't see all the levers and pulleys." Rilke's "great energy moving nearby" was an inspiration for this story. and Julia Cameron in the Artist's Way suggests that when we fully commit to something, the universe moves to open doors, to make things happen. All these are your words restated, I think. V and C have committed - and the possibilities increase. Catherine was right - we don't know what our limits are.

Ah, the Gaelic. I promise Martin will translate. You could google the phrases if they're driving you batty - but I don't think it will be all that long before the next chapter is up. :-)


Carole W said...

Hi Brandy - the poem is lovely! and so appropriate. I don't know Diane Levertov, but I'll be looking her up. Thank you, always.

Short? It was over 4200 words, long compared to the average chapter that finishes up around 3700 or so. LOL. I've gone back to some early 2400-word chapters and beefed them up (Chapters 1, 2 and 3 so far), though when I finish and then start the edit, I'll whack out the weeds again.

Mitch - who knows what might happen - he's a bad man. They have enough problems below with whoever is encroaching from the north. I don't want to worry about him spilling the tunnel beans and tipping off some nosey party. LOL.

But Catherine's connection with Martin began at Eimear's party in chapter 19 - when she sat with him in the archway, when she first said 'we are more than that' in response to Martin's asking her if she's married. (I'm afraid to go back and look at that chapter's posting date. It could easily have been a year ago.) Vincent's echo of that pulled Martin in. Wonder how he'll tell Catherine he knows what he knows and oh, how he wants to know more.

Thanks for reading!

Carole W said...

I meant Denise Levertov!

AZLadyWolf said...

You know that since I am late to finding your BatB blog and stories, it has taken me some time to catch up with I/V. So here I am - and it has been a thrilling journey….
This is a wonderful chapter (actually, wonderful story), and I feel something mystical -- magical, even -- brewing here. I am breathless with anticipation -- even to the point of having butterflies!
You are Michelangelo with descriptions -- “her voice settling, sure as a dove’s wings around her hatchlings.” Such elegance and grace! Your attention to the little details makes everything so much fuller, richer….. more real.
And your blog is so fortunate to have such dedicated posters who offer sometimes startling insights and descriptions of their own, like Kemara and her Celtic knot, Brandy and her poems -- it’s a double treat for me. The pictures you add, and the links to music - like the bodhran clip - add wonderful texture. It’s so easy to be transported, heart and soul, to this wonderful and ever expanding world. You can make me cry in one section (Seamus worrying about the location of the keys and Sister Norberta’s comfort of him) and laugh through my tears in the next (“Save me, Catherine. They use the rack here.”)!
I don’t care how long it takes you to post (well, really, I do, but I can be patient and uncomplaining) - just as long as you keep writing!!! Please promise that you will!!
I am Seriously Addicted,

Carole W said...

Laura, I can barely find words to thank you for yours! You made ME cry! It really means a lot to me that you like the story and even more that you would take the time to tell me. I'm very encouraged by your response to the story and in particular to this chapter. I promise to do my best to get as close as I can possibly manage to elegant and graceful, though now I'm starting to tear-up again and I'm a little nervous too!

And you know this means I will tweak double time!

Bless you for your kindness, Laura. You've given me a treasured gift.


Ann B. said...

Laura has described your talent very well. I see you as a word-weaver. You can take words and string them together in magical ways. It is as if you weave a shawl of finest and most delicate of threads that can be draped around the shoulders to keep out the real world's chill for a few minutes as we visit the one that you have created with these stories. (I do not write quite as well as you do, hopefully you get the idea) The celtic knot comparison is perfect. The I/V story weaves together so many possibilities and so many rich colors. It is truly a beatiful thing!

OK, on to more practical things! I am just DYING to know the story behind the paperweight and will have to look at Father's desk more closely. Hmm, do you think it is also possible to find out the story behind the ship's wheel in Father's study? (pretty please?)

I am so happy that someone has finally given Mouse the credit he is due! He is actually a pretty amazing guy, he just does not express himself well and I am glad that I am not the only one that seems to think so. Finally Vincent is able to voice what he deems to be a personal need/want to someone! And yes, Martin's garden matters and not only to Vincent but the community as a whole if you stop to think about it.

I am SO looking forward to V and C's reunion and to catch up with Flynn and Eimer as well. I worry about Flynn......

Also where is the sound clip for the bhodran music found?

Carole W said...

Ann, I can hardly find words to respond to you. I'm so touched, so humbled by your words and nervous too, that I can't possibly measure up to them. It's so scary for me, every single chapter, to post and I think the minute I hit 'publish' that I've made a terrible mistake. The next hours after I feel really shaky.

But to read what you've written here ... I can't tell you how nice it is to hear. You've given me such a lift - Thank you, thank you.

Now, I made up the paper weight thing. There's so much stuff on Father's desk, it's possible something like this is there, but it's just an idea that popped into my mind when I was tooling around the internet looking for tunnelish illustrations. But the ship's wheel? I'll think about that - it would make a good story!

It's my feeling that Mouse is more mature than he appears. He just has a way, his way. Remember in Shades of Gray, when he says "go, if you die, Vincent'll kill me anyway." That was a very serious, in-tune Mouse speaking. And he's only boyish, not a boy. I love Mouse too!

I'm worried about Flynn too.

The clip is in the footnotes of chapter 32 but here it is - it's short, a solo by one of the Corr sisters.


Thank you Ann, Laura, Kemara, Sonia, Norma, Sandy, Vicky, Krista, Brandy and Claire for all you've done for me. It's everything.


AZLadyWolf said...


I second Ann! Although I would have the word "master" precede the description of "word-weaver."

What you are weaving is a great and enchanting tapestry of the world and characters we so love and treasure. (Like the ones in the Great Hall!)

And we all treasure your talent, and YOU. Thank you -- for keeping this magical place alive for all of us.


Carole W said...

Laura, I won't be able to type the next chapter this choked up and this teary-eyed. Thank you again.


RomanticOne said...

Merry Christmas from your biggest fan in Texas and to all my fellow "commentors". Hope you all have a safe and happy holiday.

Carole W said...

Merry Christmas to you too, R1! I hope you get snow your way just this once!

Thank you so much for your gifts - your interest and commentary and patience. I am truly grateful.


PS - I fully expect a chapter before Christmas - not the V/C reunion one, but it will move the story a few hours closer to the event. Maybe I can make the fireworks go off for New Years. ;-)

RomanticOne said...

Re: your holiday message. There were days I don't know what I would have done without your wonderful story. It has provided not only an escape, but a message of hope. I believe that we all are born with a gift. How wonderful that you have shared yours with so many people. Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

AZLadyWolf said...

I must echo Romantic One's message, and found this from Kahlil Gibran

"Should you care to write (and only the saints know why you should) you must needs have knowledge and art and magic - the knowledge of the music of words, the art of being artless, and the magic of loving your readers."

You have all three. Knowledge. Art. Magic. And we love you in return.

"And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." Gibran

We have all laughed, shed tears, and been refreshed here, and in so doing, become friends.

Thank you for your gift of Vincent, Catherine, Father, the Tunnels - our magical world - all year long.

Merry Christmas and may the New Year be joyous - for you, and for all of us that you have brought together. It's truly amazing!


Anonymous said...

Laura, what a wonderful quote! Very appropriate, and very true. Thanks for sharing.

I must echo both Laura and R1. It's been a wonderful year, dear Carole; I'm looking forward to many, many more of them, filled wthis kind of ith magic and friendship. Merry Christmas to all!



Carole W said...

RomanticOne, you're good to me. Your words mean so much and give me hope and fortify my courage.

If I've given you even a smidge of light on a dark day ...

Thank you for telling me this. I really does mean everything.

~ Carole

Carole W said...

Laura, how beautiful! "the dew of little things" - I'll cherish your thoughts. Such kindness - and your support! I can't get over it.

I am amazed at the changes in my life over this past year - all due to my connections to and conversations with my tunnel family. What will the next year bring?

Merry Christmas to you too and the brightest, shiniest of New Year's. I look forward to getting to know you. Thank you again.


Carole W said...

Vicky, you dear. If it weren't for you, I'd be hiding in my little writer's warren too scared to show a line to anyone. Big thankful hugs for you.

I am stoked for the new year! I wish we could all be together for the eve of it - I can just imagine all our resolutions, hopes and dreams afloat on the air - and all the rousing support and hurrahs-for-us. Changes will come, hurdles will be jumped, obstacles cleared.

Because we all can and will!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Carole,
I found this chapter to be quite magical. Reading your words is always like reading poetry. I'm so excited as we move toward the resolution of all the story lines. You are amazing.

My wish for you is the Merriest Christmas and a wonderfully Happy New Year!

And I wish the same for this exceptional tunnel family.


SandyX said...

Carole - just stopping by to add my holiday wishes ... I wish I had the words to tell you just how much joy your writing - and your friendship have meant to me. You say you're stoked for the new year and wish we could all be together for the eve of it ... we are together for it ... we're all miles apart, but it really feels like we're together ... and I have a feeling 2010 is going to be incredible.

Carole W said...

Jitterbug, the resolution of all the story lines makes me quake in my boots! I'll need magic to grab them all and tidy them.

Thank you for your generosity and encouragement. I'm really looking forward to the new year. Usually I find New Year's Eve a bit sad, but this year, I plan to stay up and greet it.

Merry Christmas to you!
A Toast To New Friends!!

Carole W said...

Sandy, I feel the same way - totally geared for 2010.

I've been amazed at the ease of friendship, the deep communication that often requires few words. I'm so pleased that we've become friends.

I'm practicing my white-knuckles for the airplane to San Diego. Are you?

Thank you for liking my stories. It means so much to me.


SandyX said...

LOL - Yes, white knuckles here too. As much as I hate the idea of flying, I'm really looking forward to making that trip with you.


RomanticOne said...

Hope you're feeling better soon.

Krista said...

Connections everywhere, if we're open to them

Yes, it matters.

Oh, Carole...I have missed this chapter too. (Well, I suppose I always say that, but it's true...)

I love the intertwined connections...and I still want to know what's on the paperweight. ;-)

Greaty job, again and still. :)

-Krista :)

Carole W said...

Uh oh, the paperweight! What is on the under-side???? I'd better make myself a note to figure that out. :-D

You're good to me, Krista. Thank you for reading, re-reading, always being there to listen and hear me meander, for your patience as I tweak and retweak and for making me feel like it's all okay.


Ophelia said...

I wish I had a better collection of words to use, but I keep coming back to the same one: perfect. The perfect words on which to end. The perfect sentiment. "Yes. It Matters." And Mouse! "Hidey-holes!" Could he be more exquisite?

The visit to Seamus? This rings of truth . . . and I believe you, the author, have visited such rooms. This visit makes me love Catherine - and Martin, too - even more.

I wait eagerly with the hope that the passage to Martin's garden will be saved. It seems . . . necessary.

Thank you for this loveliness, Carole!

SandyX said...

I love the tone of mystery presented in this chapter. So many questions ...

I'd forgotte about that paperweight. There has to be a good story there, to set Father to steaming.

Thank you for keeping at this, Carole. I can't wait to see where it all ends up in the end.

Carole W said...

Thanks, Ophelia ... Sandy. Speaking of "it matters", you both matter so much to me. I'm amazed at your kind words and so grateful for the support and your interest.

Where this all will end … I hope I can bring it to a close one day. I know I've threatened a dozen more chapters, but what if it takes more than that? I need that nail-biting emoticon to insert right here.

I don't want to see Martin's garden closed off either, so I'll have to go put some pressure on Kanin to refigure the plans.


Ophelia said...

If it takes more than that, Carole, then it takes more than that. You'll know what is right in the continued doing of it - and this belongs to you, after all! Your only obligation is to yourself, though I'm thankful you let us come along for the ride!

RomanticOne said...

One of these days I'm going to spend the money on Rosetta Stone to learn Gaelic. Love the language and wish I could understand all that Seamus said. Even so, the tone is understood and that is enough for the story to hold me close to its mystery. Can't wait to get all these characters together. It should prove to be quite a party.