This is now the 28th chapter of “Of Wind and Wings”. See the table of contents here.
“Don’t go over there.”
Ed jumped, and turned. He hadn’t seen Eliza. “What?”
“You know what I’m talking about. Don’t go see The Grubb. He just got home late last night and still needs his rest. Wait until after Winston’s party.” She frowned at him.
Ed laughed. Wasn’t he the one that was supposed to see “what is”? She was right, of course. The Grubb did not need company. It was a miserable day and he was bored, so he figured a short visit wouldn’t hurt. He was wrong. The Grubb needed his rest.
But what would he do with his day?
“Have you read the book yet?” Ed knew the book she was talking about and shook his head. She nodded, as if she had already known.
“Ok,” Ed said after an awkward minute of silence. “I guess I can read it today.”
Eliza had given him a reading copy of the book, not the big leather-bound edition he had first seen. In paperback form, the book wasn’t very long and, of course, wasn’t as unwieldly as the giant leather edition. It was manageable. He had leafed through it a little before and found that Liza had edited his great uncle’s words and added a little of her own. Despite her editing and additions, Ed could tell that it was mostly Stanley’s visions, just clarified through his hostess’ pen.
“At first there was nothing. Nothing but forever. Grey. Stark, angular, beautiful but empty. Loneliness enveloped all. Void. Out of this nowhere, a wind began to howl across the bleak, monochrome landscape. A solitary figure appeared as if blown in by the wind. He was attuned to the beasts he followed, almost one of them. He felt the land. He knew its moods. But then he left and the cold, lonely wind shrieked across the empty country once again.” He had read these words before, but with further experience they resonated more. He knew the place.
Ed continued on and read the first two chapters, the chapters that were previously hidden from him. He paused and thought about them. It was a very good description of the moors and the people he had met. He could see how it was as much the words of someone like him, and American returning “home” to the motherland, than of someone born and raised there. But it was just a taste, he needed to know more.
He dug back in and read all day, finishing just after supper with only a few pauses to eat and stretch.
The book was much as Liza had explained, and yet different. If he took into account the words of the man on the moor, the book took on an even deeper meaning.
Ed sat down at the little desk in his room. He closed his eyes and felt out across the moor. He could feel it as it was. He kept the mental map up and brought the book into it.
The book began on the open moor.
For a single human, it seemed unchanging, eternal and ancient. But it wasn’t. It was like a living creature. It breathed. It grew and changed. It was system, alive in its own right.
The book did follow the story, both the real history and the imagined.
People entered the land. At first it was solitary hunters that whispered across the land like the wind. But others came as well. They brought different tools. They tilled the land. As the people became rooted to their farms, they lost some of the natural spirit of the land that the hunters had. Knowing they needed to know the moods of the Universe, they created rituals and built monuments.
And thus entered the dragon.
A deeper feeling descended on the people. Some regained that spirit the hunters knew, but gained even more. They gained an understanding needed to work the land and be true partners with it, not just exploiters. To know the land even more, they tried to understand the seasons. And from the seasons, the very stars themselves.
And they grew even more, so much more, and sowed fields with giant stones, not just tiny seeds.
At the same time, some of the original people of the land grew in other ways. They tried to make sense of their forgotten past and so invented one that never really existed. They gave life to the lifeless and histories and meanings to worlds of the dragons.
This happened all over the island and all over the greater land of the Mideast and Europe, but it was on the moor that these changes became tangible. It was on the moor that the time that never was grew into a reality just slightly out of reach, but there, as real as the ever present wind.
And as the land and people changed again, as the restless explored new territory, the moor became a last refuge of the people of the dragon. And then, when a new wave crossed from the mainland, these people of the dragon turned a new direction and entered their own place and lived on their own plane, in parallel with the newcomers. They continued to delve deeper into their secrets. They became the Hidden, the Others. People called them many names, such as fairies, elves, hobgoblins and the sith, but they remained just The Others.
Ed’s eyes snapped open.
Is that what his great uncle really wrote?
Well, not entirely.
The first chapter was so much simpler than that. It talked of the moors and the coming of the people. It spoke of the wind and the people who grew up listening to that wind, and it spoke of the dragon and the people who harnessed the dragon’s power and built the monuments. Where had Ed gotten all of that other stuff?
After the peopling of the country, there were the two families. The book talked of them, was about them. It wasn’t’ quite as Eliza had said, though.
Oswald, the founder of Edward’s family, was the son of a Saxon woman who was raped by a Viking raider. His village was attacked when he was a young man. Ironically, his wound was given by his half-brother Bjorn. Gravely wounded, Oswald escaped inland, and, more dead than alive, found his way onto the moor. He was rescued by Kylynna, a woman of The Others, the Hobbs, the Sith. She fell in love Oswald, the half Viking.
And so the blood of the dragons resurfaced.
Liza’s family was different. She did have some of the old blood in her. The bit of history that Ed had heard, about the priestess and William Geville, where part of the story of the book.
The problem was, the history of Ed’s family from that first infusion of Dragon blood to his great-great grandfather departure for America, was not told from the point of view of Liza’s family, the Gevilles.
The Gevilles saw that which never was, an inheritance from the ancient people of the wind. They lived in a land of forgotten gods and imagination. They built worlds and told stories.
They didn’t’ know the past as it was.
There was a third person in the book. One who sat with the two lovers and told of the twisted history of Oswald’s family. This third person was one who saw the past.
Ed got up and paced for a moment before sitting again.
The third family, those who saw the past. That would be Mr. Brown’s family, and through his sister, The Grubb.
Mr. Brown’s sister, Mrs. Grubb, Martha, had more than just the sight for the past. Ed felt that she read him like an open book. She knew. He could see her as the narrator.
It all fit together well. The book worked when thought of that way.
But then there were the two final chapters.
The problem was that the original chapters had been distorted almost beyond recognition. First Stanley had rewritten them as love letters, asking for a response that he knew would never come. But then Liza had reworked them again, emphasizing the love letter aspect even more, but also emphasizing the destiny part, what she felt was her destiny.
What was left if those two parts were scaled back? Was it possible to discover the originals hidden beneath?
Ed got up again. He paced around for a minute, before standing with his eyes shut. He reread the words in his mind, but also looked with the open eyes of his mind at the landscape and the tiny shadow of past that he could see.
The second to the last chapter was pretty clear, and was actually a later addition, written after the main story was complete. Not feeling satisfied, Stanley had written himself into the story. He talked about his love affair with Liza’s mother, one he wanted to bring out into the open and continue. It was very possible that he knew Liza was his. Probable. Almost certain. In fact, the last chapter made much more sense that way.
Stanley didn’t want to create a new generation. One reason, of course, was that they were too old. But also, a new generation that joined the two houses already existed. The first half of the chapter was an affirmation that Liza was his daughter and that he wanted to come over and be a father to her. That was it.
The second half of the last chapter was not an alternative ending. It wasn’t really a reading of the future, either. It had little to do with destiny. Simply put, it was the original ending of the book before he added himself to it, before he created the love letter. The future generations was “the future” as seen from the vantage of his grandfather. It was about him, Stanley.
The way the book was originally laid out, Stanley’s grandfather sailed to America, seeming to end that almost-but-not-quite love affair between the two houses. But then, someplace in the misty future, one would return and that love affair would come to fruition with a new child. Elisabeth.
Later, Stanley filled it out by putting in the chapter about himself, but as an explorer. He also toyed with the idea of having all three families join, instead of just the main two. But when he added that chapter of his romance with Elisabeth’s mother, the old end didn’t make sense, so at that time the last chapter was then changed, pushed off until the time of his own grandchild, instead of his grandfather’s grandchild. His grandchild. Lauren.
But he couldn’t leave well enough alone and put in that love letter, shoved between his chapter and the chapter about his grandchild.
This pushed the last part off into some vague time in the future. Liza read that unspecified time as being herself and added all of the destiny stuff. Yet she couldn’t hide that he was writing about a grandchild. The word was used so many times. The grandchild.
So that was the book. It was a history discovered from years of research into his family’s past. A history that he saw fit to write himself into.
But it was more.
The entire book was a love letter. It was a love letter from Stanley to the real love of his life, the moor. It was also a love letter from Stanley to his past, to his family, an affirmation of who he was. And the entire thing, not just the last two chapters, was a love letter to the human love of Stanley’s life, Elisabeth’s mother.
That was it. That was the book.
Although it was late, Ed went downstairs to the kitchen. He wasn’t surprised that Liza was still up. She had an open, yet full, bottle of wine and two glasses.
Liza poured the glasses as Ed sat down. They had a silent toast and sipped in silence. After a few minutes Liza said, “Well?”
“It was a nice history and a nice love letter to loves of Stanley’s life,” Ed said. He sipped again, then looked at Liza. “Your family is full of storytellers. They see that time that never was. But are they historians? Can you see the past so clearly, or do you create it yourself? Stanley obviously loved the creative, free spirit that was your mother.” He lifted his glass in a toast.
Liza lifter her glass, returning the toast, and then took a small sip.
“But what you didn’t say speaks volumes,” she said.
Ed lifted his glass again. And smiled.
She looked at her own glass, but didn’t lift it or sip off of it.
“Do you want me to say it out loud?” Ed asked. “Perhaps not.”
They sat in silence for another minute.
“You know, my great uncle was also a bit of a story teller,” Ed said at last. “My family does have some of yours in its veins. That the lines never crossed, as it says in the book, is a fiction. He knew it, but then, he could also create myth, couldn’t he?”
Liza nodded. “He could.”
“Here is to myth!” Ed raised his glass.
Liza smiled. She clinked her glass on Ed’s and drained half of it in a long pull.
“You know,” she said, “I think the country air does you good.” Ed gave her a questioning look. “You have grown, Mr. Pulman, you have grown. Not just a little but by a large amount. You are not the meek man who my brother in law pulled off of the wild moor.”
Liza lifted her glass.
Ed seemed a bit confused at first, but then tapped his glass against hers.
They sat in silence again for a moment before Elisabeth got up.
“It is late, Edward. Tomorrow will be a long day. And remember, we’ll be having dinner over at Winston Brown’s house in the evening, celebrating the Grubb’s recovery. Goodnight.”