Monday, January 24, 2011

Simplicity by the Fire

Concord, Quatsino
February, 1705

The snow was thin and icy, and the wind blew cold and crept in around the edges of the door and window of the little house where Simplicity sat by the fire with her sleeping daughter in her lap. She heard him knock, and answered "Come in" as quietly as she could. As the door opened, she put her finger to her lips to hush him. Silence was bundled against the cold, and had a big load of wood on his back, but he stopped, smiled, and tapped the snow off his boots as quietly as he could.

Silence, she thought, was well named: noiselessly he put the load of wood by the fire, and then removed his boots. Then he put his other load in the kitchen area: potatoes, carrots, bread and butter, eggs and milk...

At last he came and sat by her on the bench, and kissed her ear and neck. Still the baby slept. They spoke no word, but sat together quietly, enjoying the warmth of the fire and of each other.

"How are you doing?" he whispered at last.

"Well enough," she said. "The days are long without you."

He smiled sadly and did not answer.

"Don't worry," she said. "It will be easier for me in the summer, when I can get outside more."

He nodded. "Is she keeping healthy?"

"Oh yes," said Simplicity.

After another period of silence, she asked, "Do they talk about me in the village?"

He shook his head. "It's as though they simply want to forget you," he whispered.

"How about Mother? And Justice?"

"They don't speak of you," he said. "And I cannot talk about you, because -- "

"Hush," she said. "I know."

They sat quietly a while longer, touching and kissing gently, enjoying the warmth. At last he said, "I have to get back."

She nodded, and he slowly stood up. But this woke the baby; her eyes opened and focused on him. "Dada," she said, beaming.

Silence smiled and picked her up. "How's my darling?" he said. "But don't call me that, beautiful. I'm Silence." He said to Simplicity, "She mustn't call me that."

"She will learn," said Simplicity.

"See that she does," he said, and handed her back. Without another word, he kissed Simplicity, picked up his things and left the little house.

A half-mile walk down the mountain road through the snow and freezing rain brought him to his own house, much larger and better-built. He came in, stamped off his boots, and joined his wife Justice by the fire.

"Welcome home, dear," said Justice, and they kissed.

Silence sighed as he sat. "The boys asleep?"

"Yes," she said. She picked up her knitting again. "How is your sister doing?"

"Well enough," he said.

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