Note – this is now Chapter 16 of the story Of Wind and Wings, a story inspired by Sue Vincent’s prompts.
Note 2 – this chapter is not based on one of Sue’s prompts. It is an “in between” chapter that was needed to fill in detail.
“You dinda be asking Mr. Brown for lunch again, didja?”
The older man glared at his son, hands firmly on hips. The Grubb silently watched his feet.
The older man, let out a sigh. He was Grubb, though Ed thought of him as “Grubb the Elder”. “Name’s Grubb. Mr. Grubb was my fadder and The Grubb is me son. I’m just plain, old ‘Grubb’,” he had said to Ed on meeting.
Grubb the Elder shook his head. “We don’t’ be needin no charity and Mr. Brown ain’t no rich man.”
“Grubb, dear, the boy is trying.” The woman, Mrs. Grubb turned to Ed. “The Grubb just doesn’t understand money. He can’t make heads nor tails of Coin, if you take my meaning. He doesn’t know the cost of anything and doesn’t carry a penny.”
“No, that durned son of ours don’ta know the value of nuttin.”
Mrs. Grubb smiled at her son, a look Ed found tender, loving. “No, he understands ‘value’, he just doesn’t know ‘cost’.”
“Can’t see no differnce.”
“Mr. Pulman, you understand the difference, don’t you?”
Mrs. Grubb smiled at him as if he were a child. “What has more value, this pan that I use to cook every day, or this necklace I bought last year?”
“The necklace is far more expensive, valuable,” Grubb said.
“More expensive, but try living without the pan and tell me what has more true value.” Mrs. Grubb then held up her hand and pointed to a pinky ring. “Grubb gave me this when we were first dating. It was cheap, but he couldn’t afford it at the time. He had scraped by for months to get it. A pawn broker would laugh at me if I brought it in, but it is the most valuable thing I own. Of even more value to me are Grubb himself and, of course, The Grubb.”
Ed smiled. “I get your meaning, Mrs. Grubb.”
She nodded. “Our son, The Grubb, he doesn’t know a Sou from a Cent, and things weigh pounds, not cost Pounds.”
“If I had a quid for every time he wasted a…”
“Now Grubb, be kind. Only the heartless put more stock in cost than in value.”
“Right, the very rich and the very poor. But if I dinta put value there, we would be in that ladder bunch.”
Ed, always a bit confused by accents and language, was super confused at that statement. What did ladders have to do with cost?
“He means that we’d be very poor, dearie,” Mrs. Grubb said. She winked at Ed.
“Didn’t I sez that?”
“Yes you did, Grubb dear. As I was saying, our son, The Grubb, he doesn’t get money, but he understands value. Life and things that make life possible are at the top of the list. Money and things it buys at the bottom. Things.” She shrugged. “I wish others knew the value more and the cost less. To me that makes our Grubb smarter than most, but others say he is, well, I don’t want to use any unkind words.”
Ed liked Mrs. Grubb from the moment he met her. He hadn’t been in the house for more than a minute before he found himself sitting with a cup of tea and some type of sweet biscuit. Within another minute he had accepted her invitation to supper.
Mr. Grubb was nice, but Ed found him confusing, hard to follow.
The afternoon had been spend wondering around the moors. Ed had tried to see it through the eyes of the man-child, The Grubb. The world was a completely different place to The Grubb, both infinitely more simple and infinitely more complex. Everything was part of everything else in an intricately woven pattern. Every time someone cut a strand, it weakened the whole, and yet, life was ever flexible, and a new connection usually took its place. And the moor, all of it from rocky peaks to swampy bottoms, formed an organic whole, a whole that he had first caught a glimpse of in that leaf the day before.
The Grubb just laughed when Ed said anything.
“You are funny, Mr. Ed, talking about ‘my’ view of the world. It’s not mine. It is yours. You are one of them, and they taught me to see as you do. You are so funny.”
After the cup of tea, and while waiting for supper to be prepared, Grubb the Elder gave Ed a short tour around the farm.
Grubb the Elder seemed too much the stereotype to Ed to be real. Not that Ed really knew the stereotype, but he figured that if there were a stereotype for a rustic small time farmer who lived outside of an out of the way village that was lost in time, Grubb would be it. Like his son he had a strange mix of ignorance and high insight. He was obviously more learned than The Grubb and far more practical.
“Most a our fruit, veggies and meat are grown right here. Do-it myself. An’ get a bit of income from the workshop, see. The Grubb helps as he can for oh bit in the morning, but is worthless for more’n a couple a hours a day.”
The accent was also unlike anything Ed had ever heard. He wondered if Grubb didn’t create it just to confuse outsiders.
As Grubb was the master of the outside, Mrs. Grubb was the master of the inside. Through conversation Ed discovered that she earned more in a few hours doing contract work online than Grubb did all week with his hard labor. She also did cooking, canning and other things expected of an old fashioned farm wife.
While Grubb was a man of the earth, his worldview was almost mundane. He knew and understood the land and could feel its moods, but he talked about “his property”, “Man’s use of the land” and other such things, not of the land as an independent entity the way his son did.
Mrs. Grubb seemed much more world-wise and had a better education. She had grown up in the village and had travelled before settling down, as opposed to Grubb who lived most of his life on the farm, seeing the village as being so heavily populated to feel stifled there if he had to stay for more than a few hours.
And yet Mrs. Grubb seemed to have more of an eye for the “Other” side of things. She saw the land as something of value for its own sake. She didn’t say, but Ed could tell she saw it in a way similar to how The Grubb saw it.
As Ed was getting ready to leave after dinner and the two Grubb men went out for chores, Mrs. Grubb took him a little to the side.
“You shouldn’t worry so much about your age, you know.”
“What?” Ed had spent every day for over a year thinking about age.
“Age. When you think about age and worry about it, all you are really doing is worrying about death. You can’t worry about death. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a part of life.”
Ed half shrugged, half nodded. He felt a bit uncomfortable and wasn’t sure what to say.
“See that tree out there?” She pointed to a lone, bare tree. “It’s dead and some say unsightly. I could ask Grubb to take it down. But I don’t. Birds use it. Insects use it. In its death, it brings life to others. Eventually a storm will knock it down. It will rot and the nutrients it has absorbed over its life will be released again into the soil, where it will help bring forth new life.”
Ed nodded, thinking about the cycle. He thought back to the leaf he had held. The leaves fall from the trees helping create the soil for the trees to bring forth new leaves.
Mrs. Grubb watched him, as if ensuring he had soaked it all in before continuing.
“It is different with humans. We want to live forever and escape death. It isn’t going to happen. But when we do die, they fill us with chemicals and lock us away. We don’t decompose. We don’t return to the soil. Isn’t that ironic? In our attempt to cheat death we become much more truly dead than if we just let it be and joined the cycle.”
“I guess I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
Mrs. Grubb nodded. “Most don’t. When I go, I want to be wrapped in a burlap sack and buried out there so I can return to life in another form. It’s the way the Others do it.”
“Yes. They are called many things by different people. French Fairies, German Elfs, English Hobs, Celtic Sith, a lot of names. But they have their own name for themselves. I just call them ‘The Others’.”
“And these fairies, they’re real?”
Mrs. Grubb looked at him as if he had three heads. “Are they real? You of all people should know the answer to that! Hmmph, ‘are they real’ indeed. Asked by a Barrow, no less.”
“How did you know I was related to the Borrows?”
“Just look at you! How can anyone not see it! And everyone knows that the Barrows have Sith blood.”
Ed thought of a popular science fiction franchise. “So, does that make me a Sith Lord, like Darth Vader?”
“Don’t be making fun of it around here. Those Hollywood types can steal our words, but it has roots here going back thousands of years. And it’s been part of your family for at least fifteen hundred if not more. People still talk about them, the hobs, the sith, though few know the truth. Honestly, I’m surprised you haven’t heard of the Daoine Sìth.”
The words resonated in Ed’s mind, but they were wrong. It wasn’t the language of his dreams, it was a different language, a newer one. He shook his head.
Mrs. Grubb frowned and studied Ed.
“I’m afraid you have lost yourself over there in ‘Merica. You need to spend more time here, out on the moors. The Grubb isn’t what the people in the village call ‘smart’, but he is far more brilliant then they when it comes to life, the moors and The Other. Spend some time with him. And Mrs. Smyth knows, though she has her own funny ways. She is stuck in a rut of her own making. Hmmph. She is waiting for The Sign, without seeing it blazing in front of her nose as it has been for years.”
The Grubb and Grubb the Elder entered the house. They had finished their evening chores.
“Ah, Mr. Pulman,” Grubb the Elder said. “See ya r leavin. Be back soon! Yer welcome any time. Though I’m sure The Grubb’ill find ya.”
He held out a big, powerful mitt of a hand. Ed withstood another bone-crunching shake.
“Bye, Mr. Ed,” The Grubb said. “See you soon.”
Mrs. Grubb just smiled and waved.
As Ed got in his car, he could feel the eyes on him, eyes out in the moor, not from the farmhouse. He shook it off and drove back to Liza’s house.
And so it continues, now up to chapter Fifteen (15) of the “book” Of Wind and Wings. Chapter 15 is here. Chapter 14 is here. Chapter 13 is here. Chapter 12 is here. Chapter 11 is here. Chapter 10 is here. Chapter 9 is here. Chapter 8 is here. Chapter 7 is here. Chapter 6 is here. Chapter 5 is here. Chapter 4 is here. Chapter 3 is here. Chapter 2 is here and Chapter 1 here.
Yuck. Someday I am going to create a proper navigation for this story…