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Authors: John Gideon

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Greely's Cove (61 page)

BOOK: Greely's Cove
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Carl blinked away tears and nodded.

“Robbie, where are you?” demanded Hannie. “I can’t see a beastly thing.”

“I’m here, sweet pea,” said the psychic, squeezing her hand and smiling gamely. “Been, here all the time. You need somethin’, all you gotta do is ask.”

“I don’t need anything, except to thank you once more. You’re a remarkable man, Robbie, one of the bravest souls I’ve met in the last thousand years, which I say without the slightest reservation.” Robbie’s smile faltered; he knew that she meant every word, and this moved him. He tried to swallow the hot lump in his throat. “What I want to tell you, though, is this,” she continued. “When a very old Sister of Morrigan dies, great energies are released. At the exact moment of her death, a Sister is usually able to perform one last act of major thaumaturgy, provided she’s conscious and not totally bereft of her senses. I fully intend to control my own passing, something I’ve made provisions for with my magic, and I intend to be in command of my faculties until the very end. So I’m offering you a miracle, Robbie.” She coughed and shivered, then fixed him again with her fading eyes. “If you’d like, I’ll take care of those legs of yours, give you a set of new ones. I’m certain that it can be done. What do you say, man? Would a pair of strong legs suit you?”

Robbie felt a great rush of heat into his face, the beginnings of tears. He gripped Hannie’s hand more tightly and took a deep breath to get his voice under control. “Darlin’, I don’t know what to say. All my life I’ve wished for good legs like other men, because I sort of figured you couldn’t be a real man without them. Well, I know now that it’s not true. If I had some real legs, I’d be somebody I don’t even know. I wouldn’t know how to act. If you can work a miracle, do it for somebody who really needs it, like a sick little kid somewhere. As for me, I’ll be just fine with the legs I got, so long as Katharine’s around to fetch my crutches now and then.”

Hannie reached up and touched his face, caressing it. “So be it,” she answered, smiling. She looked around for Lindsay and located the blurry outline of the young woman’s face. “Take good care of yourself, girl. You’re a fine soul, someone with principles and good sense. I’m glad to have known you.”

Then she shuddered again and gasped, looked startled for a moment. Her gaze darted to each of their faces, then upward to the brightening sky. The eyes that had seen a millennium of sunrises and sunsets closed for the final time.

EPILOGUE

They sat on the rough, wooden dock of Greely’s Cove Marina, their legs dangling over the edge, Carl under a pith helmet to protect his fair skin from the blazing August sun, Lindsay in sunglasses and a billowy flowered smock. A gentle morning breeze rattled the halyards of a spanking new Tartan 28 sailing sloop that lay in the nearby slip. A gangling boy with golden hair loaded aboard coolers, sleeping bags, and sacks of groceries for what was to be a long and unhurried cruise.

Six months had passed since the debacle at Whiteleather Place. Summer had come to Greely’s Cove, bringing robins and geese and blinding blue skies. With summer had come healing.

Lindsay stole a glance at Jeremy, who seemed oblivious to everything but the task he was doing. She smiled. “My God, that kid’s growing like a weed. It won’t be long before he’s as tall as you.”

“I don’t doubt it,” answered Carl with a proud grin. “As you well know, there’s a lot of height on his mother’s side. By the way,” he added, just above a whisper, “the orthopedist’s final report came in the mail yesterday. Jeremy’s hands are back to normal—no abnormal growth in the index fingers.”

Lindsay slipped an arm around him, pulling him close in celebration.

“Then the miracle is complete,” she said. “He’s just a regular, healthy boy.”

“I never used to believe in miracles,” Carl said, gazing out at the glistening waters of the Puget Sound, where sailboats and freighters lazed silently past. “Now I’m afraid
not
to believe in them.”

Hannie Hazelford’s final miracle had centered on Jeremy—of this Carl and Lindsay were certain. The old witch, in her last moment of life, just before her desiccated body evaporated into fuming ether, had cleansed the boy’s soul of every taint of Hadrian Craslowe. She had given him a new start. In a mere six months Jeremy’s mind had evolved from that of a newborn babe to the equivalent of an eight-year-old’s. The teachers at the school for special children in Seattle reported that his reading and writing skills were coming along nicely and that he seemed to have a special acuity in art, especially painting. The therapists estimated that in three to four years his mind would catch up to his physiological development, and that with special schooling he could look forward to a normal, productive adulthood.

Jeremy finished his chore and strode over to the spot where his father and aunt sat. He was clear-eyed and rosy-cheeked. He wore a red tank top over baggy white trunks with deep pockets.

“Dad, can I have a buck for a Slurpee? I loaded all the stuff, like you wanted.” His speech was boyish and very American. He seemed like a regular kid who happened to be big for his age.

Carl dug into his khakis for money, handed over a five, and reminded his son to bring back the change. “And don’t fill up on Reese’s Pieces, or you won’t be hungry at lunch.”

“Thanks, Dad!” shouted Jeremy, beaming. “I’ll be back in a flash!”

He turned and pounded up the dock toward Halvorson’s Grocery, dodging the crab pots and floats stacked here and there at the mouths of slips “He’s a beautiful kid.” Lindsay sighed, watching him go. “He’s kind, inquisitive, full of adventure. He’s going to make you proud someday, Carl.”

“Correction: He’s going to make
us
proud. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve got as big a stake in him as I do.” He leaned close and kissed her sun-browned cheek. “If you want to know the truth, I think
you
were the center of Hannie’s last miracle. Somehow she made you want to be with me. If that isn’t miraculous, nothing is.”

Lindsay gave him a peck in return, then leaned back on her hands.

“Maybe it was all part of her miracle,” she said, lolling her head to let the sun warm her face, “everything that’s happened to us since Whiteleather Place. I mean, think about it: You and I and Robbie were able to pick up the pieces of our lives without ending up in a mental institution, which is nothing short of miraculous. Your wounds healed amazingly fast, and your shoulder’s almost as good as new.”

“Except for the scars. I’ll never be able to take my shirt off in public again, which is a shame for the female population.” She gave him a good-natured punch on the arm. “
And
we were cleared of any wrongdoing by the investigation.” Whether this was indeed a miracle was debatable, Carl-the-lawyer pointed out. Stu Bromton, Hannie Hazelford, Ianthe Pauling, Corley Strecker, and Mitch Nistler had all disappeared and, like all the other victims of Hadrian Craslowe and the Giver of Dreams, had gone the way of their tormentors, leaving only their rags behind. Only the bodies of Mayor Chester Klundt and Stella DeCurtis attested to bloody wrongdoing, but the authorities lacked solid reasons for blaming Carl, Lindsay, or Robbie for it. Though the cases were still officially open, nobody seemed anxious to pursue them aggressively.

“Still, it’s hard to believe that things could turn out this well without some kind of magic,” Lindsay insisted, resting her cheek on Carl’s shoulder.

“You’re right, it is. But really, I don’t care whether it was magic or not—I’m just glad to be alive and kicking. It’s good to be a part of the twentieth century again. I like worrying about ordinary, everyday things like credit-card bills and the ozone layer, watering the yard and getting the car tuned up, instead of—” He cut himself off. For a bleak moment he endured the memory of a shrill voice, his
own
voice:


I’m one with you! You are one with me! As long as you live, I live!

“I know what you mean,” Lindsay said.

Jeremy was walking back toward the boat with a large paper cup full of a purple, snowy substance, sucking it up through a pair of straws. When he reached the boat, he swung smoothly over the lifelines and bounded into the cockpit.

“Let’s go, Dad!” he hollered. “The wind’s kicking up!”

Carl got to his feet, laughing. “The kid’s a born sailor,” he said, pulling Lindsay up. “The wind comes up, and you can’t keep him in port.”

“Buying that boat was a good move. It gives you something the two of you can do together.”

“I wish it were the three of us,” said Carl. “Sure you won’t come along? Jeremy and I’ll do all the cooking, cleaning, and sailing. You wouldn’t have to think about anything except tanning that gorgeous body of yours. Don’t forget, the San Juan Islands are great this time of year.”

“I’d love to go, Carl, but I think I’d better stick close to the grindstone for a while. Now that I’m back at work full time, I want to prove that I can carry a full load—which is exactly what I’ve got.”

“I understand. But I’ll miss you.”

“Miss you, too. It’s going to be a long week.”

They kissed tenderly and long. They would have kissed longer had not Jeremy urged them to get on with it.

“Time to push off,” said Carl, jumping aboard. “San Juan Islands, here we come: a couple of salty swashbucklers with money in their pockets and time on their hands!”

“I’ll call ahead and tell them to hide their daughters!” said Lindsay, laughing.

She untied the dock lines and threw them onto the deck, then helped edge the craft out of the slip. She stood and watched as father and son motored toward a gap in the breakwater, beyond which lay the dazzling blue openness of the Sound. Carl glanced back often to wave, or just to look at her, and Lindsay smiled after them. Too soon the boat rounded the breakwater and was gone, and Lindsay stood alone awhile, gazing at the summer water and listening to the cries of gulls.

“Dad,” said Jeremy, once the sails were set and the boat was driving nicely northward, “is Lindsay
really
going to call people and tell them to hide their daughters from us?”

Carl smiled and leaned back in the cockpit, steering with his knee.

“No, Son,” he answered, shifting his toothpick to the other corner of his mouth. “At least I
hope
not.”

BOOK: Greely's Cove
11.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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