Work on the door chime is finished
Eleanor stood up from the stool and looked at her part for the door chime. Rachael had showed them some of her initial ideas and designs. And then she explained the Jewish legend that she was representing and a hush fell upon the room. Everyone had added some part to the device. For her part, she designed and built an airship. Simone had supplied materials for the cables. John had worked with Eleanor on the engines and pneumatics. Michael provided boxes in the shape of famous buildings that were artfully decorated. Jason, working with Charles, had provided power that would, no doubt, leave visitors scratching their heads. Even Felicity and Liam had made contributions that would show. Tomorrow, Rachael with Eleanor, Simone and Liam would install it to its final location in Mordechai’s Watch and Clock repair.
Millicent had said that true departure was weeks away. Meanwhile each person was finding closure with his or her time here on Earth. Eleanor had spent the past weeks helping at her family factory. Her time and effort was more appreciated in these last weeks than it ever had been before. Initially she had been bothered , but she came to understand how her father was trying to make up for the lost years. She also helped complete Millicent’s order of custom wardrobes. It was the first time since she was a child that she had been allowed to spend time in the finishing room. She carved, sanded or treated the wood. She, her father, her brothers and her grandfather worked mostly in silence. But there was there the usual grumbling and laughing at frustrations. At the end of the day everyone would share a cup of tea with Simone serving. Simone had been sharing her work experience with Isaac in the front room and helping set up proper accounting methods.
In the evening, Eleanor and Simone would travel to Simone’s house for dinner and the occasional social gathering. Simone had made it clear that she would never join the family firm. There was still hand wringing and resentment over that, but Simone remained resolute with encouragement from Eleanor. Simone’s family invited the two of them to the opera and ballet which thrilled Eleanor. Simone was annoyed because she found them dreadfully boring. But Simone was viewing them anew with Eleanor so rapt by the performances. Eleanor’s enthusiasm provided useful conversation fodder for dinners and social gatherings.
Eleanor packed her airship in the box and moved it with the others while Rachael watched. Eleanor told Rachael, “There won’t be a dry eye in Stepney.”
Rachael snorted as she worked on gears in the main box, “It will be from laughter if I don’t get the timing on these gears correct. Who would have thought timing something over 15 feet would be so hard?”
Eleanor laughed and said, “I know John came close to cursing your name. I heard something along the lines of ‘blasted miniatures’ and ‘damn thin lines’. It was as harsh as I’ve ever heard out of him.” She looked down at the open box in front of Rachel. Eleanor asked, “Are you nearly done?”
Rachael grumbled again, “Close. I’ve never done anything this complicated before. It is going to take a couple of days to put it all together at the shop.”
Eleanor put a hand on Rachael’s shoulder and said, “Don’t work too late. We’ll have dinner soon.”
Charles piped in with a cheerful tone, “No worries Miss Woodson. She has another hour and then I will turn the lights off and open the door.”
Rachael hissed, “He will too. I’ll never get this done, you electronic bastard.”
Eleanor laughed as Charles said calmly, “For your health Miss Weiz, For your health.”
Dinner on the ship
Eleanor left the work room chuckling and headed upstairs to the galley and residence. Millicent, Liam and Michael were at the table watching Felicity and Simone cook dinner. Simone was cooking a stew. That was cause for amusement because a) Simone had never cooked until she had joined Millicent’s crew and b) she could not remember ever having stew. Felicity was beside her, chopping and coaching about what goes in and when to stir. Simone seemed be enjoying herself as Eleanor walked by and waved. Simone briefly looked up and smiled and then was back to stirring. Eleanor sat down at the table and asked Liam quietly, “Stew?”
Liam said, “Felicity described it and Simone said it sounded wonderful for a cold night.” He leaned in and whispered, “Felicity is doing most of the chopping and measuring but Simone is very energetic. “ At that point Felicity said, “Just stir to mix the spices. We don’t need it whipped.” Eleanor stifled a laugh.
Simone without looking up said, “Dinner is almost ready.”
Charles said, “I’ll send Rachael up.” Michael and Eleanor set the table as the others gathered. Millicent had specified at least one dinner a week together. It turned out most people had dinner together except for Simone and Eleanor. After a few minutes, Rachael arrived complaining, “Can you believe he turned off the lights?”
Eleanor said, “He said he would. You told me you believed he would.”
Charles piped up and said, “And I am an AI of my word.”
Rachael whined, “but I had to use the torches in the chair to find my way out.“
Felicity said from the chopping block, “Charles probably guessed you would have tried to find a way to work by door light if he left the door open for you. Anyway, Simone has worked hard to make dinner tonight and I am sure you wouldn’t want to miss it.”
People found their places. Wine was served and Simone and Felicity dished up the plates. Conversation was lively and raucous. Eleanor warmed as compliments were paid to Simone who genuinely appreciated the comments even if she guessed how much Felicity had actually done.
Eleanor asked Rachael, “How long will it take to set this beast up?”
Rachael looked at the table and scratched her head, “I don’t really know. It is so complex. I’ve always taken the summer for the other pieces. But those were done in me off hours. I will have you, Simone and Liam and we’ll be working in regular hours. But it is a convoluted bugger. We’ll probably spend half a day just loading it and then another half unloading and unpacking it.”
Liam said, “I’ve got a good wagon that Betsy can pull. The backs on the bench are a bit low though.” He shrugged apologetically looking at Rachael.
Rachael grimaced, “I’ve resigned myself to ride in the bed of the wagon. Just give me a decent blanket and a pillow or two.”
Liam said cheerfully, “Consider it done.”
Millicent said, “I would add my help, but I think it best if you all work this without me. It will be good practice.”
Rachael turned to her and said, “Father will ask about you.”
Millicent leaned back in her chair and smiled, “Tell your father he hasn’t seen the last of me.”
General conversation continued until the hour was late and people headed to their respective quarters.
Breakfast before installation
Eleanor wore, got up without disturbing Simone and headed to the gym where she did some morning exercises. Simone was still asleep or at least in bed when she returned. Eleanor jostled her a bit, “I do not know how you sleep so late.”
Simone moaned and said, “I am not sleeping late. You are the one who gets up at the crack of dawn.”
Eleanor smiled and said, “It comes with running a factory that starts at dawn. The gym is free. I will see you at breakfast, “ and she headed to the washroom and a shower.
It was going on a month and half since the horrid week at Smith’s. She and Simone were sleeping through most nights now. Routine helped Eleanor make it through the day. Gym and a shower began that routine. After showering, she saw that Simone was gone and must be at the gym. She dressed in a white blouse and a practical set of breaches. In the galley, early risers were gathering for breakfast. A pot of tea was steeping. Michael, Felicity and Liam were there. Felicity was looking radiant these days as the wedding day approached and Michael was looking like he might burst a button in anticipation. Eleanor’s throat choked for a moment and then she shook it off. The three were discussing the best parks in London. Michael asked, “Eleanor, which is your favorite?”
Eleanor sighed and said, “I didn’t get out much. Russell Square was good for a sit down. I enjoyed Hyde Park when I…” and her voice caught. Memories of her brother’s killing came back. She took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry… woolgathering…maybe a different park might be nice if we are around in spring. Suggestions?”
Felicity eyed her with a raised eyebrow but returned to working on some toast and said, “You should try Battersea.” Liam heartily agreed and the conversation changed to the virtues of that park. Eleanor took a drink of water to compose herself and made a cup of tea and some toast. Rachael, Simone and Millicent arrived and Eleanor got up welcoming the distraction of making three more cups of tea.
Liam greeted Rachael with news. “The wagon is ready. Near as I can tell, everything including you will fit in the back. “
Rachael chuckled and said, “ye are the soul of sensitivity. I’ve picked out my pillow and blankets. I hope this wagon has decent springs.”
Liam shook his head and took a sip of tea, “It’s London lass. Nothing is going to make your ride smooth.”
Rachael laughed and put a bit of jam on her toast. Everyone finished eating and Millicent took the dishes with Michael. The rest headed to the workshop to move the parts of the project. There were five large boxes plus a coil of cable and a box of tools. Eleanor, Liam, Simone and Felicity moved the crates to the wagon as Rachael supervised first at the workshop and then at the wagon. When the creates were arranged in the wagon, Liam lifted Rachael by the shoulders into the back of the wagon. Rachael arranged her pillow and blanket as the rest of the crates were stowed around her.
Liam helped Eleanor and Simone into the front bench. He then climbed into the other side, gathered the reins, and clicked his tongue. The ever faithful Betsy moved forward pulling the wagon. Eleanor supposed the distance from Eagle Wharf to Stepney wasn’t very long. But the ride seemed interminable. It was a cold, blustery day with snow flurries. Eleanor loathed London winters. The ride was not in Liam’s covered cab and as the wind and snow blew in their faces Eleanor envied Rachael sitting in the bed, hidden from the elements. But Rachael’s sour look corrected Eleanor’s thinking.
They finally reached Stepney Green square. They couldn’t take the wagon all the way into the narrow streets and it would be a long walk with the crates, but Eleanor was grateful to get down from the bench with less wind and snow blowing in her face. Rachael was unloaded first. She headed off quickly and Simone followed her to the clock shop on Silver Street. With Rachael and Simone gone, Liam and Eleanor were left to unload the wagon. He shrugged and said, “Looks like it you and me lass.”
Eleanor pursed her lips and said, “Seems so Mr. O’Hannigan. I have no doubt that Simone will quickly make herself indispensable to Mr. Weiz and Rachael the moment she walks in the door.”
Liam looked down the road at the disappearing pair and said, “Tis a gift. I’ll let you settle accounts later with her.”
Eleanor laughed and the two of them hefted two boxes to the shop.
A new ramp had appeared at the doorway. It was long and interfered with the curb, but Mordechai was good friends with the neighbors and they saw Rachael in the wheel chair. So no one complained. It was that kind of neighborhood. Liam and Eleanor brought the crates into the shop which had the door chime stopped because of the expected traffic. Eleanor found herself curiously disappointed, but she squared her shoulders, put on a smile and moved to the back workroom. Mordechai waved them to an open space on one side. Liam and Eleanor set their loads down. Liam headed out directly. Eleanor glared at Simone and nodded her head towards the door. Simone got up and said, “Excuse me Mr. Weiz. I need to help unload.”
Mordechai looked at the two big crates and said, “Oy vey. How many more are there?”
Rachael looked at the boxes, “Four more plus tools and a great long cable.”
Mordechai put his hands in the air dramatically, “I run a business here.” He then pointed to Rachael, “You and I will talk about that word ‘business’ later. I will help these poor souls so the local urchins don’t pick it clean.” Rachael frowned as everyone filed out the room.
Eleanor, seeing her awkwardness, said, “let us get the boxes. You’ll be busy enough later. With all of us, we’ll be quick.” Rachael’s shoulder slumped and she nodded and stared at the table. She said, “I better start a new pot of tea. You’ll all be chilled.”
With the four of them working together it took two more trips to get all the boxes, cable and tools. On the last trip, Eleanor, Simone and Mordechai came in and stomped their feet to get the dirt and snow off and headed to the back. Coats came off and ended up on hooks and chairs. Rachael poured out five cups of tea and Liam came in after tending to Betsy and the wagon. Mordechai brought out some cheese and bread and a small luncheon started.
Mordechai looked uneasily at the boxes throughout lunch. Finally, as the last cheese wedge was taken by Liam, Mordechai asked, “Rachael, I don’t know what you’ve planned. I never do, but that is just too big.”
Rachael smiled with a quirk on one side, “You always say that. But for your information, most of that is packing. I’ve viewed the front room. We’ll have to rearrange one or two items, but this will not be in the way at all.” Eleanor snickered at the comment, which annoyed Mordechai. So he turned her and said, “I’ve been to your family shop now young lady. No craziness in that shop. A nice, well dressed young man greets you. I’ve no doubt Rachael finagled you into this madness as well.”
Before Eleanor could answer, Rachael said, “Her part is the focus. I suspect, if Mr. Woodson saw her ship fly, he might countenance some madness.”
Eleanor whispered, “You don’t know my father.” More loudly she said, “But yes, Mr. Weiz. I’ve added my part to the madness as you call it. And doubt you’ll will never forget me once you see it. No matter how hard you try.”
Mordechai threw up his hands and shouted to the roof as if the heavens would rescue him, “Surrounded. God. Surrounded. Liam O’Hannigan, surely you can restore sanity to this bedlam.”
Liam scratched his cheek and said sheepishly, “Rachael asked for some songs for those music boxes of hers and I supplied a tune or two.” Warming to his part, “and I helped make a mechanical doll.”
Amidst the laughter of the table, Mordechai put his head in his hands and shook it despairingly. Then he got up and said to Rachael in mock severity, “Your baubles will fill the front room. I should make a sale or two before you displace all my goods completely.” He got up and suddenly grabbed Rachael’s head and kissed it saying, “My crazy daughter…you’ve come back. I’ve missed you.” He then looked around, “I blame you for this.” He left the room rubbing Liam’s head affectionately on the way out despite the curmudgeonly words.
The Door Chime is Installed
Simone asked, “What happens next?”
Rachael said, “We unpack and start installing.” Dishes were gathered and taken to the kitchen and the unpacking began. There were five boxes plus Eleanor’s airship. Four of the boxes would go in the corners of the front room. A slightly larger music box would be mounted in the center of the room. After getting the contents out of their various crates, the four headed to the front room to figure out what needed to happen. Rachael pointed to two corners which held clocks and said, “Those will need to go.”
Mordechai fretted, “That is from Henry Baldwin in Manchester. You just don’t move a piece like that.”
Eleanor looked at the wood clock appraisingly. The wood case was quality wood with a good finish. It had a dignified look about it with its long case topped with the circular clock face sporting roman numerals. Eleanor asked, “I might have a place for it. What is the price?”
Mordechai sputtered for a moment. Scratched his head, “Eh, price?”
Eleanor said, “I’ll want an inscription plate above the door. Not too big, but made of brass.”
Mordechai shifted his gaze between the clock and Eleanor who simply smiled. He said, “What are you talking about?”
Eleanor shrugged, “Rachael says the clock needs to move and I know a place for it, but it’s not here. How much is the clock if I get an inscription plate?”
Mordechai, still confused, asked again, “You want to buy the clock?”
Eleanor said, “It is quality built. It has a fine wood case. It will look magnificent in the Front Room at Woodson’s. Who knows? You might get business.”
Mordechai scratched his head and said, “I have to think on the price. Haven’t had a family discount in a while. Eli Weichsel can get the engraving done and pack it up tomorrow. That is a good job for an apprentice.”
With the crisis averted, Liam found a ladder and work began. Customers came into the store with their watches or clocks or looking to purchase something for a relative or friend. The door chime was blocked so that the crew could work. Customers looked a bit confused at the lack of noise. Liam and Eleanor worked together mounting the corner music boxes. Simone worked on the device after it was mounted making changes under Rachael’s direction. By 5:30, they had two of the corner music boxes mounted. Liam declared work was done despite Rachael’s protests. But he silenced all muttering when he declared that dinner would be at “The Bottle and Glass”.
“The Bottle and Glass” was where Millicent explained the coming journey and gave them the shot of nanotechnology. It was there her new journey really started. At the memory filled pub, Liam and Eleanor got Rachael through the door. Liam said into her ear, “Bit o’ change in roles on this visit.”
Rachael hissed, “Liam O’Hannigan, if you weren’t holding me up right now I would roll over your feet. I think you still owe me a beer for hauling you in here the last time.”
Orders for meat pies and beers were placed with Simone ordering a wine. Conversation circled around the challenges of the day and what they had accomplished so far.
Rachael looked at Eleanor and asked, “What are you going to do with that old clock. I know how much that costs. It will be near on two months of salary even with Millicent’s wages.”
Eleanor smiled and flushed a bit saying, “A gift of sorts for my family. It IS a beautiful clock and I expect my father will have your father tend to it.”
Rachael asked, “What will the engraving be?”
Eleanor smiled quietly, “Thank you for giving me wings and letting me fly, Love Eleanor.”
There was silence and then Liam raised his glass and said, “Here, Here” and everyone drunk deeply.
The next day, they left earlier but still used the wagon because Rachael expected to finish and they would want to haul the tools back. She rode in the back with the blankets and the pillows. Eleanor was sure that Rachael enjoyed being out of the wind for the ride. Simone joined her under the blankets and the two of them laughed while Eleanor and Liam shivered in the cold slow ride to Stepney Green Square.
At the shop, coats, gloves and hats were replaced with warm tea and a discussion of the final activities. Eleanor and Simone worked on mounting the cable and the airship. The work was not as challenging mentally as it was physically. Holes had to be drilled for the screws and for the brackets which took time with the hand crank tools Eleanor and Simone took turns using the hand drill in the ceiling. With the holes drilled, Eleanor held the cable in place while Simone secured a bracket and the cable. Both Simone and Eleanor had sheens of sweat by lunch despite the chill of the front room.
Around 1PM, Liam clapped his hands announcing, “I’ve got the last of these corner boxes up and I need luncheon.”
Mordechai poked his head from the back room and said, “I’ve got some root soup made that will get you going again.” Eleanor felt a bit warm and wasn’t sure that soup seemed so good, but she found she cooled quickly and the warm soup helped keep the chills away. The five sat crowded around the work table surrounded by gears and springs, and half built clocks. They shared what their favorite soup was. Liam’s was a fish soup he could get near the docks. Rachael’s was chicken matzo ball soup. Simone’s was beef stew despite it being a newly acquired taste. Eleanor described a spicy fish stew her mother would make when Eleanor was young. She said, “We have only had it once since mother died. It was hard to find all the spices and father isn’t much of a cook and mother never wrote recipes down.”
After the lunch break, Eleanor and Simone returned to the cable that circled the room. When she and Simone had nearly mounted the cable all the way around the room, Eleanor brought out the model airship. The two foot long balloon had a small cable and wheel device that rested on the cable so that ship could roll along the track easily. Eleanor flipped a test switch in the cabin of the model and the engines came to life and the airship started traveling around the room.
Liam stopped his work on the final corner box and watching the large air balloon travel let out a loud whoop, and shouted, “Aye, that’s fine one lass.” Simone gave Eleanor a hug and a kiss. Rachael clapped her hands to get people’s attention and said, “Hoy! Center box still has to go up and O’Hannigan still hasn’t gotten that last station. Less jumping… more work!”
Eleanor stretched herself and then nodded an acknowledgement to Rachael who still smiled when she looked at Eleanor. Simone, however, lined herself up in rigid attention, snapped hand in salute to her head and said, “Yes, Cap’n.” Eleanor caught the airship and turned off the motor. Eleanor and Simone lugged out the center cabinet. That box would control the ship and set the stop locations for the airship. It had motors that helped control the ship and it also played a tune as the ship travelled.
The afternoon passed as Eleanor and Simone made adjustments to one station or another while Rachael directed. Eleanor ran the airship again and now it came to a stop a corner music box and stopped. A figure came out of the corner box and bowed. Rachael viewed it with narrow eyes and then said, “I think we’re close. Let’s clean up the place a bit.”
In this, Liam could help without direction. He moved tools back to the box and started sweeping the floor. Rachael moved around cleaning the counter or adjusting a clock or music box put out of place by their work. Eleanor and Simone collected the crates that had held the parts and moved them out to the wagon. With the place nearly back in order the door opened, but the door chime had not been reset. Eleanor heard Millicent’s voice, “Are we on time?”
Liam leaned on a broom and said, “Aye, Ma’am. Rachael has been workin’ us right brutally.”
Rachael snorted and said, “That’s just because you don’t know what hard work is.”
Liam struck a dramatic poised with his hands up, “I have been wronged. Wronged! Miss Eleanor. Miss Simone. Surely you don’t agree.”
Eleanor smirked and said, “I was raised on a factory floor. You’ll get no sympathy from me.”
Liam looked pleadingly at Simone. Simone smiled and shrugged, “I was so fascinated by all the mechanisms, I hardly noticed the effort.”
Liam looked over at Mordechai who put his hands up in the air in an apologetic fashion. Liam said, “Mad women. And your daughter is leading them.”
Millicent put her hand to her mouth hiding a smile and then managed to say, “You can always appeal to Charles.”
Liam harrumphed and went back to sweeping vigorously. Millicent slipped out of her coat as Michael and Felicity came in. Simone greeted Felicity with a hug. Eleanor climbed down off the ladder and said to Millicent, “I didn’t know you would be coming.”
Rachael spoke before Millicent could reply, “The bell has a bit of everybody in it. So I’ve invited a few people to see it.”
Mordechai poked his head out of the back and said “Come in the back. There is tea.”
Michael moved in that direction rubbing his arms shivering, “I could go for that.”
Eleanor stayed at the base of the ladder as Millicent came over and asked Rachael, “Are you sure about this?”
Rachael looked around the room and then stared at the ball waiting to be released on the track, “Is anyone? You said I would work wonders and I find that a bit scary.” She smiled a bit and then looked at her legs and the wheel chair. She said to her feet, “I have to wonder what my life will be like when you leave.”
Millicent said, “You would not want for money.”
Rachael turned around and faced Millicent, “No. ‘spose not. But there are only so many ramps I can make. And I don’t like the idea of father lifting me in and out of the chair. Truthfully, I am better off with you now.”
Millicent looked around at the new piece and then said to Rachael, “Does he know?”
Rachael put her hands in her lap and said, “He suspects but changes the subject if I bring it up. Now I think he wants me to stay.”
Eleanor, who had been cleaning a piece of glass said, “He almost lost you once to fate. That can change just about anyone. ”
Rachael rolled her chair and said, “We’ve switched places. Now HE doesn’t want me to go.”
At that moment, Liam poked his head through the door and said, “Hoy, when do we get to see this beast?”
Rachael said with a small break in her voice, “Father and I always waited until a customer came through.”
Michael came through the door holding a cup of tea and asked, “It’s near on 5:30. Who do you suppose would come to a clock shop at this time?”
Eleanor could see Millicent hide a smile behind her hand and Rachael said with a smirk and a twinkle in her eye, “Oh I’m not worried. Now everyone get some tea and biscuits.”
Millicent pointed to a basket and said, “I brought something stronger.”
Rachael looked around and said, “After it goes off, I think.”
Eleanor followed the crowd into the back room and got a cup of tea. Rachael stayed behind and rolled around behind the counter to adjust more clocks and music boxes. Mordechai was helping everyone to tea. Simone touched him on the shoulder and said, “Mr. Weiz, Racahael’s out front. We’ll be fine. We can join you in a few minutes.” Eleanor felt her eyes get a bit wet as his shoulders slumped and he nodded to Simone. He hung up his apron and headed into the front room.
Eleanor whispered into Simone’s ear, “I hope you are as gentle when you deliver bad news to me.”
Simone pulled her close and said, “I hope never to deliver bad news.” The two stood together in the now cramped room as Liam described the installation and how slavishly Rachael worked them. After ten minutes of Liam’s claims of overwork and generally horrible work conditions resulting in much laughter, Rachael could be heard shouting through the door, “If you lot are finished gossiping, you’ll want to be here when someone arrives.”
Michael said, “She seems awfully sure.”
Eleanor smiled as Felicity said, “I don’t think Rachael leaves much to chance.”
The Door Chime is Tested
The crowd filed into the front. Rachael pointed and waved saying, “Liam, Rachael, Simone…behind the counter. You did more work than me.”
Liam looked embarrassed, but Simone squealed wildly and quickly moved behind the counter. Eleanor took a bit more time moving behind the counter. She could see both Rachael and Mordechai’s eyes were red and puffy. But his hand was on her shoulder and her hand was holding it in place. Eleanor took a place next to Simone and waved Liam to get beside her. Minutes ticked by as conversation continued about the installation. Albeit with less exaggeration and a few more technical details as Michael asked about mounting the boxes and cables. Still no one arrived and Eleanor wondered if Michael’s doubts were right this time.
Finally the door opened. The ball released to begin its circuit starting cuckoo clocks, dancing ballerinas, and marching soldiers. Eleanor’s airship began to move. Everyone, including the new arrivals, watched as the ship moved to the next station on the track. “Thou Bonnie Wood O Craigielea” played as the ship moved although it was hard to hear over the cacophony of clocks and other music boxes. The ball finished its path as the ship arrived next to a castle that looked remarkably like Hampton Court. Two figures came out dressed as Queen’s guards marching in time to “Rule Britannia”. One figure was very tall and broad and looking very much like John O’Malley. The other medium and a bit thin and there was hint of a smile under the bearskin hat looked like Liam O’Hannigan. A ramp lowered from the capsule of the airship and a figure in a wheel chair rolled and lifted her hat. The two soldiers saluted in return.
Rachael turned to Eleanor and hissed, “You changed the figure.”
Eleanor kept her eyes on the display and smiled beatifically, “I had help and I like this one better.”
Mordechai squeezed her shoulder and said, “Hush, I like this one better too.”
The music stopped, the figures disappeared and everyone one clapped loudly. The people who came in were Abigail, Alice and Athena. All three had rosy cheeks and Athena was jumping up and down clapping her mittened hands. She asked, “Ohh, that was marvelous! Can I open the door again?”
Mordechai rolled his eyes in mock frustration. But Alice put her hand on Athena’s shoulder and said in a loud whisper, “Maybe in a moment. I think there is a story to this amazing music box.” Athena squirmed a bit, but she managed to be as still as an eight year old could be and looked around.
Rachael sighed, closed her eyes and her voice rose as if telling a tale, “The midrashim tell a story at the beginning of time after the world was made but before God had made Man. God walked the earth to the four corners. And at each, in the east, and in the west and in the south and in the north God gathered clay. As God made this journey, the angels asked,’ why do you gather clay from the four corners of the earth?’ God said…“ Rachael stopped and her voice cracked for a moment. She took a ragged breath and continued in a rough whisper, “God said, ‘when I make Man, he will wander. When he dies, he will still be at home even as he wandered. For no matter where he wanders, he will be returning to where he came from.’” Rachael stopped and dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief already wadded and a bit wet.
Millicent looked at Athena, “The ship is at the Palace in England. Why don’t you open the door again see where it goes next.” Athena almost ran to open the door and the process began again, Mordechai, “Oy vey. Do I run a shop or an amusement?” The process launched again, this time the ship stopped in front of a palace of pagodas with soaring eves and a dragon on top. Two figures came out an elaborate gate who looked remarkably like Michael and Felicity. That music box played “The Water is Wide”. Again the wheeled version tipped her cap. This time the figures bowed deeply.
Athena stood by the door looking expectantly. Rachael said, “Perhaps we don’t need the track for the last two. Athena, if you flip the switch, we can see the next leg.” Now the tune of “Thou Bonnie Wood O Craigielea”. While there are no words, Liam and Felicity could be heard signing quietly along
Thou bonnie wood of Craigielea,
Thou bonnie wood of Craigielea,
Near thee I pass’d life’s early day,
And won my Mary’s heart in thee.
The broom, the brier, the birken bush,
Bloom bonnie o’er thy flow’ry lea;
And a’ the sweets that ane can wish
Frae Nature’s hand are strew’d on thee.
Thou bonnie wood o’ Craigielea
Thou bonnie wood o’ Craigielea
Near thee I pass’d life’s early day
And won my Mary’s heart in thee.
The airship traversed to another side of the room and stopped in front of a set of Egyptian Pyramids. The two figures came from either side. One was tall and thin and very, very dark in complexion. The other was shorter, lighter in complexion and a bit stockier. Both looked as if they were Egyptian queens with long dark hair and diaphanous dresses. The figure on the airship tipped her hat and the two figures leaned back and raised their hands to the heavens. The music box played “Blow the Wind Southerly”. Eleanor pulled Simone close as the sequence finished. Athena looked at the box and then at Eleanor and Simone and giggled. Eleanor muttered, “I’m hardly wearing anything. We are all glad that it is dark in that corner.”
Liam muttered, “Oh I don’t know about that lass…oof!” Eleanor stomped hard on his foot.
Rachael nodded to Athena who flipped the switch again. And the music began again. This time Liam and Felicity nodded at each other and apparently had figured out which verse to sing and began with an alto and baritone singing
Thou bonnie wood of Craigielea,
Thou bonnie wood of Craigielea,
Near thee I pass’d life’s early day,
And won my Mary’s heart in thee.
Though fate should drag me south the line
Or o’er the wide Atlantic sea
The happy hours I’ll ever mind,
That I in youth hae spent in thee.
Thou bonnie wood o’ Craigielea
Thou bonnie wood o’ Craigielea
Near thee I pass’d life’s early day
And won my Mary’s heart in thee.
Liam dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief this time. The airship arrived at a log cabin and an ox came out followed by a farmer who was reading as he plowed. The farmer was tall and broad shouldered. He waved his book to the figure on the Airship. The music played was “Over the Hills and Far Away”.
Millicent said, “Jason agreed to that?”
Rachael smiled and said, “It took a bit of convincing. There are some details that he added to make it more like him. He was a farmer’s boy so he agreed as long as there was a book. The house has lights on at night and when those lights are on, you can see silhouettes of a man and a woman. His parents? His aunt and uncle? I don’t’ know.” Rachael pointed to the figure in the chair retreating up the airship ramp and said, “that was supposed to be Millicent.”
Eleanor shrugged, “A few us decided this looked better. Besides, look at the front of the cabin in the ship.”
Attention turned to the cabin of the airship. Athena pointed, “I see her. Aunty Millicent is guiding the airship.”
Eleanor glanced at Millicent was looking at the ship and yet somewhere else. Millicent said quietly, “It is all so different now.”
There was quiet. Mordechai finally said, “No matter where you are, you will find home. And you will always have a place here.”
Eleanor said, “It is so hard to imagine. I’ve never been much farther than Epping. I’ve never left the country. Now…”
Simone held her hand looking at the airship, “But we will be seeing things no one else will have seen.”
Abigail coughed into her hand, but said nothing. Mordechai said, “The young should. It is what should be.”
Rachael waved her hands, “Enough of this maudlin mess. Michael, Felicity…I presume you have something proper drinks to celebrate with?”
Michael held up two bottles of champagne. Felicity said, “I’ve brought some fruit juice for people who don’t like champagne.”
Rachael, commanding everyone as she had with the installation said, “Everyone in the back for a proper celebration. Athena, you can sit on my lap and we’ll run the door chime another time and I’ll show you some of it’s tricks.”