Romance Fiction posted October 24, 2014 Chapters:  ...4 5 -7- 


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Novella's final chapter

A chapter in the book Enchanted Balcony

Enchanted Balacony - Ending Chapter

by Loren (7)


Closing words from the last chapter:
"He's a good man, Grandfather." Camille added. "Mother has no right to be so disapproving of someone I just met, even if it is by chance."

The judge laid a hand on her shoulder. "To you it might just be a fleeting and chance meeting, but to your mother it's the beginning of possibly having to let go of something she holds as precious," he nodded towards her, "you." Your grandmother and I will speak to her. She will come around, I'm sure."

A shadow from the balcony fell over them. They looked up to see Rose Marie standing at the railing, staring down at them. Her body was framed in shadows.

"Father, is that you?" Rose Marie called out. A wisp of hair had blown across her face and she brushed it aside.

"Yes." The judge called back. "Your mother and I have come to call. We'll be up shortly."

"But who is that with you?" She leaned forward, hands on the railing. "Camille, is that you and that -- that iceman?"

"James, Mother. His name is James. And he's taking me for a ride in his wagon."

Chapter VII


The moon's glow had sheathed the cobbled street into gold-leafed domes. The wagon's wheels rose and fell in easy rocking swells over the shimmering, raised stones.

Camille looked back to her apartment to see her grandfather and mother standing in silhouette on the balcony. With a tentative raise of her hand, she waved. Her grandfather waved back immediately and then in moments only measured in heartbeats, she thought she saw her mother wave as well. Camille put the back of her raised hand to her face and turned to James. "Mom waved, James. At least I think she did. Maybe she was just brushing her hair from her face. But I want to believe she waved."

James turned to look. Smiling, he nodded and waved back. "Indeed, it looks as if she did. Maybe even to me."

"Do you think I was rude to mother when I called up to her on the balcony and said I was going with you? I've never defied her so."

"She truly loves you, Camille, and because of that, it will be her heart that listens. In time, I'm sure, she will come to understand you meant no malice."

Camille looked up into the moonlight. "In a way I can understand what Grandfather said about Mother's fear of letting go." Head still turned upward, she breathed into the night air: "Standing in tears amid the alien corn ..."

James cocked his head toward her. "I see no corn around here, Camille. Only a landscape serene and whitened with moonlight."

"No, silly, it's a poem, by Keats. I can't remember the title, but it ends: 'Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam - Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.'"

"So, your being courted is new to your mother and she stands in the balcony's casement, fearful of what she sees."

"Yes, but she must understand, it is all strange to me, as well. Exciting, but somehow irresistible and intoxicating, too." She shook her head. "Does anything I'm saying make sense?"

"I only know that at this moment, there is no other place I'd rather be."

Ferried by the wagon and companied only by the rhythmic clop of My Lady's feet over the cobblestones and the occasional squeak of iron-rimmed wooden wheels, they moved in silence towards Dickinson Park. Their road soon became canopied with ancient oaks.

"It's beautiful!" Camille exclaimed.

'Tis," James answered. And, as he said this, the western sky -- just above the majestic branches of the oaks -- became veined with the flight of distant swans. A gray, untroubled wedge, in the evening's light. Feathered lorries, transporting their thoughts beyond the ice wagon. The swan's trumpeting call, a hushed lullaby, cradling them in twilight's bloom.

"Ah, here we are." James said at last. He pulled My Lady to a halt just under a black wrought iron arch, heavy with English ivy. Inside the arch, large cursive letters spelled out Emily Dickinson Park. The intricate signage was supported on either side by pillars of blonde, quarried flagstone. "Beautiful, no matter what time of year."

"Or day," Camille added.

"Indeed." He clicked My Lady forward, steering left. "Have you been to the Moses Arbor?"

"In the rose garden? Yes. I love the colored shade when the sun shines thought the leaves and petals."

"Aye, that's the one. My great grandfather built it, you know."

She laughed. "Of course he did. Why am I not surprised?"

"Would you like to go there?"

"Yes, yes." She hooked her arm around his. "Lead on, my noble and most gallant iceman."

"It is but a ways in. I'll need to settle My Lady along the road here and we can walk the rest of the way." He steered the wagon to a graveled apron and called My Lady to a halt. Pulling back the handbrake, he jumped from wagon and grabbed a hobble for her feet.

"Will she be okay out here alone?" Camille asked.

"Aye, she'll be fine. The hobble is for her safety that she doesn't bolt. Most likely she will sleep while we're gone."

"Sleep?"

"Aye, horses sleep standing up. A defense God put in them himself. Horses, big and powerful as they seem, are prey animals, and their first instinct is to run from harm." He hobbled My Lady's front feet and moved over to help Camille down from the wagon. "By their sleeping standing up, it is easier for them to race off when danger is near."

Camille was standing next to him and he took her hand. "Come, look." They moved to be at the side of My Lady's head. "Never stand directly in front of a horse, Camille." He instructed. "Their eyes are such that they can naw see in front of themselves and if you were to reach out to stroke them, it would startle them. It would be as if your hand came out of nowhere. He paused. "Like many men startled by God Himself because they can naw see Him in front of themselves."

Camille reached out and stroked My Lady's muzzle. James put his hand atop hers and continued. "See already My Lady's head bobs, and soon you will see her rear right hoof hitch up at the coronet. A sure sign of rest and coming sleep." My Lady's head bobbed lower, followed by the right hoof being slightly bent. "See, all is well." He squeezed Camille's hand. "Come now, let's be on our way."

The winding concrete paths through the park were intermittently lit by electric lamplights. In the distance, through the trees, a pond glittered with moonlight, its dark waters marbled by floating swans. On a berm, rising from the pond, stood an ornate bandstand. Band music played, filling the night air.

"In winter, before my polio, Father would take Mother and me ice skating on that pond." Camille pointed. "The band would play, just as it is now." She squeezed James' hand. "It was a wonderful time."

"Aye, it would be." James led her to the right of the pond towards his great grandfather's rose arbor.

The arbor, infused with starry string lights, twinkled in fairy-like quiet. Camille stopped when she saw it. "Oh my, I've never seen it at night. It's beautiful."

"Even more so when you walk beneath it; come on." He hastened their pace to stop at the arbor's entrance. There was a bronze plaque with raised lettering, burnished by the weather and shimmering above the deeper shadows of itself.

By the offered glow of the twinkle lights, Camille read the plaque: "Moses Arbor: Designed by: James O'Leary -- 1862-1922 -- Exodus 17:11: 'So it came about when Moses held his hand up -- goodness prevailed. And when he wearied, Aaron and Hur responded by holding up his arms.'" Camille looked at James, quizzically. "I'm not sure what it means?"

"It was Great Grandfather's belief that we all need help from time to time. He built the arbor of cedar that it might support twelve climbing rose bushes - six on either side. He instructed that they were to be planted two feet apart, giving them room to grow and creating a tunnel twelve feet long. The roses themselves are of various varieties -- from around the world."

"I've often wondered why so many kinds, but it couldn't be more perfect, when the sun shines through it's like walking into a jeweled kaleidoscope." She moved to the arbor's entrance, hands to her side; she closed her eyes,raised her chin and twirled in a tiny circle. "So perfect," she repeated.

James came up to her, taking her hand. "Aye, it is. And many couples have been married here --- knowing each of us at times needs the support of the other. The branches at last becoming inseparable."

Music from the bandstand filtered into the arbor. James started to hum its tune.

"What is that?" Camille asked.

"You don't know it? It's In the Good Ole Summer Time." He sang a few words: "In the good old summertime." His voice was strong and melodic. "In the good old summertime, strolling through a shady lane with your baby mine." He hummed a few bars and ended, grinning: "That she's your tootsey-wootsey. In the good, old summertime."

Camille giggled. "Tootsey-wootsey?"

James laughed in return. "Do naw blame me for the words, but they are the ones just the same."

"It really doesn't matter does it?" Camille said. "Because it's pretty regardless" She smiled and began to sway with the music.

James took her in his arms. "Dance with me, Camille. Dance with me this enchanted night."

Camille, eyes closed, rocked in his arms. Tears began to brim in her eyes. "Oh, James, I don't want this night to ever end."

He tightened his hold on her and moved his ear close to hers. "Nor I, but we both know it must." He brushed her cheek with his lips. Their feet, waiflike above the tarmac of the arbor, waltzed in perfect harmony to the music.

She held her cheek closer to his, feeling the wetness of his own tears. "Brigadoon doesn't exist, does it?" She breathed.

"Aye it does, but only for a moment in time."

"When will you came back?"

"I know not. It was by chance of My Lady's wandering that led me to your balcony - even as it was the one my grandfather stopped at so many years ago."

Camille held him closer. "Don't leave."

"This mystery, Camille. This Brigadoon magic that's brought us together, I've no control over. My Lady, Gus and I are but caught in its tide."

"Then I will go with you."

"Nay, you can naw. It is not your time."

"Then I will wait."

"You can naw." He drew her close, feeling the warmth of her body. "You are alive and must live your life -- not in wait for me that I might return."

Camille reached her hands up to his face, pulling him closer. "Kiss me, James. Kiss me that I might remember this moment forever."

James bent his head into hers, their lips met, their tears mingled. "I will wait." Camille said. "Even if it takes forever."

##

"Miss Camille! Miss Camille!" A woman's voiced called. "Wake up now, you know you shouldn't be out on this balcony in the dead of winter. As your caregiver I know a few things about catching your death in weather like this. You're nigh on seventy years-old ... Miss Camille?" The caregiver gingerly touched Camille's shoulder. A chipped Belleek teacup with a pale lavender rose pattern slipped from Camille's lap and fell to the floor. It shattered in the frigid air. "Miss Camille?" The voice paused in gasp. "Oh my, Miss Camille, I'm so sorry."

Perfect moments are rare, not in that they are exceptional, but rather in that we do not truly believe enough in them that they might occur. Camille sat out on her balcony, the sun began to set, burnishing the building and boulevard below with a sheen of gold. It was quiet, but for the rumble of a horse drawn wagon over the cobbled street.

"Ice, get your ice cakes," an iceman cried out. "Ice, newly harvested from Brigadoon Lake. Get your ice cakes from me."

Camille put down the book she was reading, smiled and looked over the balustrade. "Up here." She waved.

The iceman saw her and pulled his horse to a halt. "Aye, I see you Ma'am." A tweed cap covered his reddish hair. Lean and muscular, he was wearing a leather vest with a wet sackcloth hung over one shoulder. He appeared to be close to her age. His face was open and unblemished

"Brigadoon Lake?" She asked . "Your ice must be special indeed."

"Aye, that it is. Some even say magical."

"James?" Wonder and anticipation ached in her voice.

"Aye, Camille, it is I, come back. It was bit of a broken road that brought me here, I admit. It's been a long journey from the rose arbor to your balcony, but My Lady here is sure-footed and I trust where she leads."

"And is that Gus, sitting next to you?" She asked with hopeful glee.

"Aye, it is. Waiting for the touch of your brush I'm sure. And My Lady, her ration of carrots as well."

Tears brimmed Camille's eyes. She stood, surprised by the sudden strength of her legs supporting her body.

"You've no need for the brace any longer, Camille. In Brigadoon ..."

"It is magical," Camille finished for him.

"Indeed, it is." He held out his arms. "And now it will no longer be ..." He shook his head. "Nay it will no longer ever be but for a moment in time."

Camille rushed from the balcony and into his waiting embrace.

FINI


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"Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam ..." from "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats
"In the Good Ole Summer Time": Words by Ren Shields, composed by George Evans

Dickinson Park and the Moses Arbor do not exist but in my mind. But the enchantment is real if only we pause to believe and bravely follow the call of the nightingale.

I hope you enjoyed this little romantic novella - it's my first attempt at writing anything this long. Thanks for those who followed it and offered advise along the way.

As always, edits are welcomed.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by CammyCards at FanArtReview.com

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