Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam (Ch. 4)

This is a sequel to chapters already posted.

Jeremy had arrived quite late at the Rostrevor resort the evening before but, by email, had arranged to have breakfast with Rebecca. They met at the table with the enthusiasm of lovers who had been parted too long, but are trying not to make it too obvious to the surrounding tables—without much success.

They ordered from the smiling waitress: “Priscilla” her name tag announced. Jeremy’s tastes were more substantial than Rebecca’s but both orders could be considered “hearty,” no doubt stimulated by the country air. Most of the breakfast time was consumed by Rebecca’s report as to how her weekend with the girls had fared. When she had completed in perhaps unnecessary detail, Jeremy took over to discuss the day’s activities. “How much do you know about this neck of the woods?” he asked.

She smiled frankly. “Jeremy, I’m a city girl born and bred. What do I know about the country? Zilch. Up until now I avoided exposure on the grounds that it would be dirty and boring. If you want to prove it otherwise, be my guest.”

He smiled in anticipation. “OK.  This is my old stamping ground so I guess that puts me in charge. After breakfast we’ll go for a walk and climb to the top of a hill I know. There you get the most wonderful view. It will give you a sense of the vastness of this little paradise. We should take a picnic lunch with us. I brought a backpack just for that purpose… Now, to be practical, let me see your feet.’’ With some amusement she swung them out from under the table. He examined the three inch-heels with mock concern. “Have you got any flat shoes, walking shoes, preferably with rubber soles?”

“Why would I ever want a pair of those?”

He laughed. “OK. First stop. The shoe-store. There’s a good one in town. Next your outfit.” He examined her beautiful pearl gray suit with the navy trim. The colour suited her and did wonders for her figure. “That’s a gorgeous suit for afternoon tea with the Queen but it’s not quite what I had in mind. Do you have any ‘rough’ clothes? I mean something you might wear for walking in the woods and across open fields?”

She was full of curiosity but answered. “I have a pair of shorts and a nice plain blouse.”

“Sounds just right. I’ll take some insect repellant just in case. In shorts and a blouse you’ll have a lot of bare skin to offer to the insect god.”

After breakfast she went upstairs, touched up her make up and changed into the items she mentioned. She came down the stairs while he stood in admiration at the bottom. “You approve,” she asked.

“Wow! Considerably above a passing grade.”

He drove her to the shoe-store and they selected a pair of Rootes running shoes, which she found surprisingly comfortable and good looking, though she was considerably shorter in them. Then they got in his car and drove for a short distance to a remote dirt road. They parked at the end of it. “We start our little walk here,” he said holding the car door for her and then locking up.

The road petered out shortly into a grass path and then to just Muskoka rock and rough. She found the climbing strenuous but she managed. After a short while they followed the worn path into a wooded copse near the top of the hill.  Here he stopped her. “Listen,” he said, with his finger over his lips.

She listened. “Listen to what?” she whispered after a pause.

“The different sounds you can hear. What do you hear?” He was whispering too.

“Well you, of course.”


“Well, there’s a sort of high pitched steady, what will I call it? ‘Scream;’ only not as loud as a scream.”

“That’s the cicadas. It’s an insect that “screams” in the heat. You won’t see them but there are hundreds, maybe thousands of them. What else?”

“The breeze in the trees. That’s lovely… And the lapping of waves against the rocks. And LOOK! That tiny squirrel rustling through dead leaves.” She paused. “And my own breathing. I don’t think I ever noticed that before.”

“Nothing more?”

She strained. “No I don’t think so.”

“No cars?”

“Ah… No.”





“Now you are in the country!”

“OK… It’s strange—maybe a little scary—but it is beautiful.”

“Come on.” He took her hand. “I know there’s an old fallen tree up here where we can rest and just take it all in.”

He led her out of the woods to a bare rock surface at the top of the hill. And indeed there was a large tree trunk. They sat down side by side. He looked at her in admiration, kissed her soundly, then dug into his backpack for a bottle of water.

The view was astounding. A large lake at their feet but implanted with islands and points of land. He pointed out a gust of wind ruffling the surface as it scudded across the lake. He pointed out a power boat carving a white wound through the water. They sat silently mesmerized by the view.

He reached into the backpack and pulled out a couple of sandwiches wrapped in foil. He also found a half bottle of Pinot Grigio (screw cap) and some plastic glasses. He set out the lunch, passed her a sandwich, a paper napkin and a glass of wine. They had their lunch in companionable silence.

When they finished lunch, he questioned her. She was game for more exploration. They tramped quite a distance through the pines and the scrub and the granite flows. He pointed out rocks that were obviously molten at one time and which had “frozen” into streaked abstract patterns—full of colour and age. Then there were the boulders, the remnant of some former glacial advance. She was eager to learn and he was delighted to be her teacher. After—well actually it was a few hours, they eventually wound their way back to their home log. They stood and reviewed their circuitous path. He said, “I think it’s time we headed back to the hotel, if we want any supper.”

“Oh Jeremy, this is such a perfect moment. Do we have to cut it short by going home now?”

“Well now let’s see,” he replied as he looked into his bottomless backpack. “ The hotel has been generous. We have two large sandwiches and another small bottle of wine and some fruit. Would that do you?”

She acquiesced and he set about making her comfortable. He even lit a small camp fire in a blackened circle of rocks. They relaxed and ate their scraped up meal as the sun set. Jeremy was sitting on the log with Rebecca sitting on the ground resting her back against his legs. (Rebecca could not recall ever sitting on the ground before but she was too embarrassed to mention this.)They were quiet as the pink sky was swallowed up in mauve, then deep purple and finally black—black with thousands of diamonds… and a big moon.

She finally said from her reverie, “Jeremy? Who the hell are you? You come into my life like a whirlwind and before I can boot you out again, you take root. I don’t know anything about you except that you dance divinely. So tell me more—a lot more.”

He didn’t quite know how to handle her question. “Well, you know that I’m single, though I did have a pretty serious girl friend until a couple of months ago. She left me. I live alone in a modest house, which the bank and I own in lower Rosedale. I’ve know Sheila for many years…”

“Sheila I know. But what do you do?

“Oh, you mean what do I do for a living?” She nodded.

“Well I was trained as a lawyer and actually practiced for a while, but it wasn’t my bag. I didn’t like the people I worked with and mostly didn’t like the client’s either. You were always taking a black or white position with hardly any grey. So I turned my avocation into a vocation. I’m a free lance writer.”

“A writer! That’s a surprise. Can you make a living out of writing?”

“It’s not easy, especially creative writing—like novels, or short stories, or poetry. But commercial writing—ads, brochures, speeches, things like that—it’s rather soul destroying but it does pay well. I prefer the creative writing, but I have to live.”

“So where might I read some of your creative writing?”

“Mostly in magazines.”

“Which magazines?”

“Well occasionally in Macleans, sometimes in the Walrus, the Presbyterian Record, ah…”

“The Presbyterian Record! That’s a religious news magazine, isn’t it?”


“Are you a religious nut?”

He gave a genuine guffaw. “If you mean by that, have I got a faith, a belief? Well yes I have. I try to be a good Christian.”

“Jeremy, you can’t be serious? I thought a modern man like you would have pretty well dismissed all that stuff as superstition.”

“Well, of course, many people do. But it’s a bit like dismissing black holes as myths, just because you’ve never seen one.”

“But that’s different. Black holes have been proven to exist by scientists.”

“And who are scientists but human beings who are trying to understand the true nature of things?

“Let me illustrate. As humans, we can only understand creation by reducing it to human terms: what we can perceive by our senses or imagine in our minds. So you and I can see, feel, smell, hear, and taste (if we wished) this log I am sitting on. But we know it doesn’t only exist as a log but as cells, then atoms, which can be divided into molecules and then into protons, electrons, etc. and finally into quarks. Though we can’t actually see any of these smaller things we can imagine what they might look like if we could. At the other extreme, at one time this log was an almost indistinguishable part of a forest. So what is this log?”

For the moment she went along with his philosophical argument. “And I guess what we call a log is something entirely different to that ant that’s now crawling along it.”

“Exactly. I suspect he sees the log as a nesting place or a feeding station. In fact, he probably can’t see the whole log, only a small part of it.”

He continued. “So what is a human being? It’s obviously more than the sum of the parts: arms, legs, head, torso, stomach, liver, brains, etc. Can we describe a person if we list all his parts? Obviously we cannot. We need to analyze his appearance, his character, his actions, his beliefs, his likes and dislikes. None of these are concrete things, but they are vitally important in describing the individual. Science may be trying to study some of these non-things but it is far more comfortable when dealing with things.”

She filled in his pause. “I don’t know exactly where you are taking me.”

He carried on as if he had not noticed her interruption. “Mankind has a large catalogue of the non-things that make us a human. And as well as that list, there is a time dimension. All these non-things are essential to the making of the man. Try and describe a man scientifically and you’ve only got half a man.”

She looked at him with her eyes twinkling mischeviously. “You know, Jeremy, if you’re going to be an evangelist then you should get to know your market.”

He was brought up short. “Now what do you mean by that?”

“Well, in this setting, I’m you’re market.”

“Yes, I guess you are.”

“And I’m a woman.”

“There’s no doubt about that!”

“And you’re giving me a logical argument as to why I should believe that creation is God’s.”


“A lot of woman, me included, really don’t trust logic. We recognize that logic does not rule the world.”

“What do you mean, ‘Logic does not rule the world?’ If we don’t rule by logic then surely we are doomed!”

“Do you think our parliaments, our companies, our organizations, you, me are ruled by logic?”

“Well, of course. What else?”

She turned her face upwards to him. “Jeremy, you are a wonderful man but you are so naive. People are ruled by their emotions. Their decisions are formed by love, hate, pride, feelings, intuition, greed, politics, memories, things like that. Then men devise logic to make their emotional decisions acceptable to other men. You remind me of the man who said, ‘I really don’t understand this but I’ll be glad to explain it to you.” Woman understand these things. Therefore they don’t trust the logic. Many men just don’t get it. They think that defining ‘love’ as an evolutionary way to procreate one’s genes, is helpful logic. Of course, that misses the whole point. Love  is dying so that someone else may live. Love is taking the blame for someone else’s mistake. Love is combining with another individual until you are one. Love is what it does to you emotionally. It simply cannot be explained logically.”

He looked at her in respect and amazement. “I never thought of it that way. You’ve really shaken me up.”

“Surely your practice of religion has shown you this. Jesus said many things that make no logical sense at all. ‘The first shall be last and the last first.’ ‘The more you give away, the more you have.’ ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.’ He certainly recognized that His world was ruled by human emotions!”

“How do you know so much about Christianity when you deny it?”

“Oh I don’t deny it. I just haven’t been a very good follower. I’ve let my sins exclude me.”

He laughed and kissed the top of head. “God doesn’t exclude you because of your sins. He loves you regardless.”

She picked up her glass mischievously. “Here’s to God.”

“Amen,” he said.

“Now it’s your turn. What are you when you’re not being just a beautiful and brilliant women?”

She actually blushed. “Well, there’s really not much to tell. My ex husbands have taken good care of me, bless them. So I don’t actually do any work. There’s my music, of course…”

She could feel his legs stiffen against her back. “Your music! You’ve got to tell me about that.”

“I guess it’s just a gift. Maybe it’s ‘a gift of God.’” She turned a bit to look at him but he didn’t comment. “I got my ARTC, that’s a formal degree in music. I can play the piano. Not at concert level but certainly at entertainment level.” She was looking over the dimming lake as she spoke. Suddenly she became aware of music cascading over her! She twisted and her mouth gaped. Jeremy was playing a harmonica with considerable dexterity!

She waited until he finished. “Good heavens. How many other hidden talents do you have?”

After a half hour of delightful tunes floating out over the lake, they reluctantly packed, climbed down to the car and drove home. They entered the hotel and he took her to her room. He kissed her warmly but didn’t linger. He closed the door gently after she went in.

Rebecca undressed and was about to get into bed when she had a nightmare of a thought. What did she really know about this charming man who was doing such strange things to her? Nothing—that is nothing that he hadn’t told her himself. What it he were a fraud? There have been handsome frauds before. What about this one?

She went over to her laptop on the little desk near the window. She turned it on and opened Google. With fear and trepidation, she typed in “Jeremy Firstbrook + Toronto” In a second it was all there. Born in 1955, the same year as she. And definitely a writer. There was an impressive list of his publications, though she didn’t remember reading or even seeing any of his articles in print. After all why would she even look if the subject didn’t interest her? But she felt reassured that Google backed him up in what he had said. She turned off the computer and sat for a while thinking. She even asked herself, “Is this love?”

It was a cool late summer night. Sitting there in her night attire she shivered. She would need that extra blanket. She shook it out and arranged it over the bed. She turned down the covers and crawled into the cozy envelope. She was asleep almost immediately.

3 Responses to “Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam (Ch. 4)”

  1. Victoria says:

    I look forward to the rest!

  2. jack long Feb 21,10. says:

    This episode seems to be mostly stting us up for more action to come.
    Now that we have lots of background we’ll expect some pretty exciting stuff.
    The suspense is killing me or at least wounding me a little.
    Bring it on.

  3. Silvana Ness says:

    Victoria keeps preceding me, word by word.

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