Chapter Seventy-Five "Additions"

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            There was a sudden onslaught of rain keeping me hidden in the tree house, although I could not remember how I got there.  As the wind grew stronger, I retreated deeper inside, only to find that the walls looks more like those of the library.  Suddenly it was rocking and when I went to the window I saw that my tree house was floating on the sea, very much like a ship.  I tried to look for land and saw my home in the distance, getting smaller and smaller as I floated away.  "Freddie!" I cried out, hoping he would be able to hear me, "Freddie, I need help!" 

            Then, as if my magic, he was sitting in his favorite reading chair in the corner, smoking one of Father's pipes, "How can I possibly help?"

            "What are you talking about?" I screamed at him, trying to stay steady, "The tree house is out to sea!"

            Freddie puffed on his pipe and looked out the window, "Indeed it is."  He returned to the chair in the corner and began reading a newspaper as if nothing was odd, "I told you, the sea is dangerous, but this seems to be a worthy ship."

            "Freddie, are you insane?"  I returned to the door and looked out over the rolling waves, "How are we going to get back home?"

            "Hmmm . . .  perhaps you need a map," Freddie said from behind the paper.  Then the tree house was hit by a rather large wave and water began seeping inside, pulling it down, "See, I told you . . . the sea is dangerous."

            I sat bolt upright in my bed, panting with my hand clutched over my heart.  "It's just a dream," I told myself, "just a dream."

* * * * *

            Leah was not pleased when I coaxed her from her room after breakfast, begging for a stroll.  It was not the want for a walk that displeased her, but the new company I failed to mention.  Honestly I thought it best to surprise her otherwise it just gave her another reason to hide.  Besides who could shy away from Mr. Nassar, he was warm-hearted and jubilant, not to mention welcoming.  I could understand his want for being with friends while he and Owen were in England, it seemed that his personality demanded it.  I also know I would count myself lucky to be among those he called friend.

            Mr. Nassar shared a few stories from his homeland, mostly of sticky situations that he and Mr. Stanhope found themselves in when beginning their business dealings.  Aside from the fanciful tales of their supposed adventures, I enjoyed watching Patience.  She was adamant that there was no way her father would be involved in such shenanigans, but there were a few things that caused her to laugh, citing that it indeed sounded like her father.

            The younger Mr. Nassar remained quiet and kept to the corner, shyly perusing his journal.  I would look towards him occasionally, wondering what other treasures were hidden within the pages.  It couldn't be only maps, could it?         

            Leah remained close beside me, being bashful among the new guests, but I did catch her laughing during one of Mr. Nassars more animated stories.  When he tired of telling tales, I suggested that Leah and I take a tour of the grounds.  A healthy dose of fresh air would do her good and I wanted to stretch my legs.  We excused ourselves and as I tied my bonnet, Mr. Owen Nassar approached us, "E-excuse me, ladies," he bowed courteously, "Would you m-mind if joined you?"

            I was about to agree when I felt Leah tug my sleeve.  I looked to her and she was timidly standing behind me, she shook her head discreetly.  "Oh," I stammered.

            "N-not to intrude, but to get an idea of the l-land," Owen inserted, "for my m-maps.  I can f-follow at a discreet distance . . . "  I noticed that he rarely made eye contact when he spoke and he kept fidgeting with his journal, moving it from hand to hand.

            Leah must have realized that he was on the sheepish side, much like her, because she  looked to me and gave a single nod.  "Your company is welcome," I answered with a smile.  He graciously bowed and collected himself while we waited outside.  "There is no reason for you to be coy around the Nassars, Leah, they are delightful."

            "I am aware," she sighed looking up at the sky.

            "But," I inquired, feeling as if there was more she wanted to say.

            "Did your sister bring him here . . . for you?" she lowered her voice and looked beyond the open door where Owen was making sure he had enough pencils.

            My eyes followed hers and I turned back to her with a smile, "Not at all, she was not even aware that the Nassars had a son.  Is that why you've been my shadow?"

            "I believe it was fate that brought you to us right when Isaac came," she rushed to me whispering urgently before anyone joined us, "I believe that you are meant to be together . . . but I know that your brother wishes you would choose Percival . . . and . . . and I wouldn't put it past your sister to . . . "

            "Add another?"

            "Yes," Leah looked down as she answered.  "I just want you to be happy and I saw how happy you were . . . "

            Owen cleared his throat as he crossed the threshold, "Shall we make the m-most of the light?" 

            Leah took my arm and became shy again.  "Yes," I agreed, "let's go through the garden and I will show you one of my favorite places."  I led the way slowly, giving them enough time to take in the beauty that I loved so much.  The colorful flowers that bloomed in a maze of intoxicating scents, the rolling lawns of plush green that lead to a small woods that was home to a variety of songbirds.  All of these things made this home to me, and then we came to my path, "You two are much too quiet to be worthwhile companions," I sighed, "I will take you someplace truly admirable."

            Leah followed my footsteps and Owen lagged behind even further, making hurried scratches in his journal as he kept looking about.  Several times we stopped and waited, I was almost sure he would misstep at some point, but his footing was always sure.  Then I thought if he spent his time drawing maps, this must not be new to him.  When he caught up to us again, I led the way down to the beach and watched as Leah's face lit up, "Oh, this is lovely."

            I pulled her along with me to the rocks, but she refused to climb up to my perch, stating that it would not be proper, especially with Mr. Nassar in tow.  I looked for Owen and he was quite a ways down the beach, sitting on the remnants of an old log, scribbling furiously into his journal, "What do you think of him, Leah?"

            "He's quiet," she nodded leaning beside me.

            "So are you."

            "Not always," she argued, "just around new people."

            "Well, maybe he is the same," I mused, "I think we should make friends with him.  I don't think he knows anyone else in England."

            She squinted up at me and then looked across the beach, "I suppose we could, but just friends."  I laughed at her assertion but the giggles soon turned to screams as a cold rain began pelting us and we ran towards the path again, waiting for Owen to catch up to us.

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