Muriel and Miranda, part 4

Note to the reader: the simplest way to find the other episodes is to go here. They appear on the linked page in order of publication and recommended reading order.  

Muriel was pouring tea from the three-legged black pot which Miranda had bought for her study. They had left a fire burning in the wood stove and Muriel apparently had stoked it since their return and heated the tea. Miranda gratefully accepted the dark green cup Muriel handed her. She was surprised to see that Muriel had chosen, for herself, the rose cup from the cupboard next to the stove.

Miranda’s arms and shoulders ached. Although relieved to be home, she felt uneasy and uprooted. She reassured herself by touching the soft leather of her chair, reaching over to touch the fabric of the one Muriel had been sitting in and then the wood of the table where the globe sat.

As Miranda’s eyes rose from the table up over the surface of the globe to the outline of the island, her attention was drawn to the details of the island. She had drawn only the beaches, one of which they used for landing, and the cliffs which they had rounded as they sailed along the island’s shore. Now green filled the lower left corner of the island, rising up from the beach where they had landed and stretching inland. A large rocky ridge appeared at the top of this line of green. She turned away from the globe, looking quizzically at Muriel.

Muriel responded, “Just as I said, the island has filled in partially. You can see it will take several visits or an extended stay to fill in all the detail.”

Miranda was calmed by Muriel’s reply. Muriel’s display of power on the island had convinced Miranda that no matter how strange the events they had experienced were she was safe in Muriel’s company. There were too many questions to ask. She chose to continue with the quest instead.

She asked, “When we opened the scroll, you said you’d show me what we’d do with it when we got back here. Will you do that?”

“Yes. Are you finished your tea?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Good. Come over to the table, here.” Muriel motioned for Miranda to join her beside the globe.

“Where is the chest anyway?” Miranda realized she hadn’t seen it since they were in the boat.

Muriel pointed to the ledge by the window. The boat and the chest were there. Muriel sensed what Miranda was puzzling over and produced the key from her pocket.

“Muriel, we didn’t draw in the cougar or Honoba or those other animals. Where did they come from?”

“The island is a real place. So is the whole globe you’ve created. We just can’t see it until we visit. We don’t have to do anymore than provide the outlines. And those, my dear, are inspired in a way I can’t explain.”

“A lot you can’t explain.” Miranda muttered.

“Yes. But you must accompany me on these journeys.”

“What about Honoba calling you a mage and me an apprentice. I’m not sure I want to be that kind of apprentice.”

“Ahh.” Muriel bowed her head as if searching for the best response. When she looked up she asked, “But you do want to travel there again, don’t you? You want to understand the secrets of this chest and the other secrets of the cave? Maybe find Honoba’s theatre? Don’t you?”

“I’m fascinated. Is this dangerous? I didn’t expect you to take me on this kind of journey or any kind of journey for that matter.”

“I wouldn’t have called myself a mage. I have seen that you have special powers and somehow you enhance mine. You must trust me. I’m sure we’ll be safe. I’m also sure our encounters will be. . . . No, . . . . Take that back. I’m not sure what exactly they will be. I’m just sure that you and I must go through them together.”

“Muriel, I do trust you. My feelings brought me here and gave you permission to furnish my study and now my feelings tell me to trust you and to follow your direction.”

“I don’t know who Honoba is except a powerful old woman. We’ve obviously invaded her territory and now have acquired some of her power. I think we were meant to do that. She’s old and weak and has hidden much in the cougar’s cave. The cougar is benign and he led us there. I think we can come and go to that island safely now. That reminds me—the scroll. Get it out, Miranda, and let’s have a look at it.”

Miranda opened the door of the chest which covered the three drawers and opened the drawer which contained the scrolls. She could see at a glance which it was since it wasn’t rolled as tightly as the others and it wasn’t sealed in the same way as the ones she and Muriel had not examined.

She took it to the table where Muriel stood and opened it carefully. Miranda was surprised by Muriel’s next instruction, “Now what you must do is copy this onto the island on your globe, Miranda.”

“The whole thing?”

“No, silly, just the outline. The details will follow and of course you don’t need to copy all the script.”

Miranda was still dismayed at the thought of copying the detailed outline of the garden from the scroll to the globe. She took a fine pen from the drawer and began to draw. Somehow she knew where to place the garden on the island. She followed that instinct. The drawing progressed more easily than she expected. Muriel watched and murmured approval every now and then.

When Miranda had finished she asked Muriel “Will we visit there now?”

“Not today. Haven’t you had enough?”

“Yes for today, but we will visit it?”

“Certainly we will.”

“Do you think the other scrolls contain outlines we must draw on the island?” Miranda asked eagerly.

“That and more, I suspect. We must deal only with one at a time I believe. Reverence, caution, steady pace are required.”

“What about the seeds and that powder and the liquid?”

“Don’t rush Miranda. All in due course. What we should do with these things will become clear to us as we proceed. The same with those three metal figures. Right now, they are a complete puzzle to me.”

“Will we go back to the cave?”

“We must and I have a feeling we can go there directly next time. I haven’t decided yet whether we’ll go there first or to the garden we just drew. You think about it too.”

Miranda nodded slowly.

“I have an impulse to plant some of those seeds here. They are obviously seeds, don’t you agree?”

“Yes, for sure.”

“I think we should wait a bit though. Some other idea may come to me or to you.”

Miranda felt she added “or to you” only to be polite and to give Miranda a feeling of active participation in the odyssey upon which they’d apparently embarked.

“Are we going to explore this whole world?” Miranda asked with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

“Perhaps.”

Miranda wished Muriel would tell her everything. She wasn’t satisfied with the vague answers she was getting.

Muriel yawned. “I must get to bed. I’m exhausted and I have chores to do before I can crawl in.”

Muriel excused herself.

Miranda was tempted to open more of the contents of the chest. She reprimanded herself severely at that thought. She could of course study the scroll that was already open. And there was the chest to play with. When she thought of that she decided against it too. She didn’t want to open that secret compartment unless Muriel was present.

Miranda wondered if she should take the scroll into the house. Choosing caution, she decided to leave it, go into the house, make herself dinner and then return to the study to examine the scroll.

She hadn’t asked Muriel about the script. How could they hope to decipher that? Probably Muriel would just have said, “in due course”, or some other expression calming and slowing Miranda.

After dinner, Miranda felt very drowsy herself and decided to leave the scroll for another day.

That night Miranda dreamt of Honoba. Honoba was shuffling cards. Then she held one up toward Miranda. Honoba cackled as she held the card face forward. Miranda recognized the card as Death from the tarot. Miranda fought an impulse to turn and run from the woman. Honoba stopped laughing and spoke in a very deep voice “Your words are you guide.”

Miranda woke from the dream with Honoba’s words echoing in her mind. She half expected to see Honoba standing at the foot of her bed speaking solemnly to her. When she recalled the card shown to her and Honoba’s cackling laughter, she was disturbed. She tried to go back to sleep. She turned from side to side. Finally, she decided to get out of bed and try to write. She started by recording the dream. Once finished that task, she found she could not go on. She felt agitated, even fearful. She would have to put in the time until morning when she could go to see Muriel.

When the clock turned to seven, Miranda thought it acceptable to go to see Muriel. As she came in sight of Muriel’s property she saw Muriel outside working in her garden.

Muriel looked up as Miranda came up the driveway. “So early, Miranda?”

Miranda nodded meekly.

“I’m afraid I have quite a few things to get done this morning. you are welcome to stay here but why don’t you go back and write. I’ll come to your study when I’m ready to visit.”

Miranda was disappointed but she didn’t feel any annoyance with Muriel. “I’m so revved up I’m not sure I can write.”

“Study the scroll then. You may find you can direct the energy you feel from it into your writing. Try to collect that energy and then control it.” Muriel’s voice was firm yet gentle.

Miranda felt somewhat like a child who had been given her tasks for the day but at the same time the woman’s words touched something deep within her. She was almost certain that if she went back to her study she could write. “Thanks, Muriel. I’ll see you in a while. Please come by when you’re ready. I’ll be in my study.”

Muriel waved goodbye and immediately resumed the digging she’d been doing when Miranda arrived.

As she walked home, Miranda held the image of directing the energy, which she felt emanating from the scroll and its contents, all through her body into her arms and hands so that she could type out some of those feelings directly onto the page. By the time she opened the door to her study, she was ready to sit and begin to write immediately.

She hadn’t had much time to write the last few weeks since she’d been working on the construction of her study. She was out of practice but she felt so full of energy. If she could just tap into the energy, the words would flow. Mechanically, she took out paper and put it in the machine. She began to write something that had hung in her mind for a while. After the first couple of paragraphs, the power began to flow through her to her hands and the words poured out onto the paper as fast as she could type.

Miranda quickly became absorbed in beginning to tell her story. She was describing the landscape and relevant buildings of Fintyew which she had chosen as her setting. She also was beginning to introduce the main characters in the story. A number of artists lived in and around Fintyew. There wasn’t much of a town anymore, just a couple of businesses and a few ramshackle frame houses, only two of which were in good repair. Most of the people lived on three or four-acre parcels of land around the old community. Miranda admitted to the romantic attraction of the place, a writer coming to live in a community of artists. She hadn’t gotten to know any of the artists but she’d only lived there a year.

Muriel was an artist, of sorts, but not the kind Miranda had expected to meet. Muriel had designed her own house and contracted the building of it herself. As one might expect of a librarian she had a huge collection of books. Miranda had just caught a glimpse of some of the collection when she’d been there for tea the other day. The real estate agent had mentioned the librarian with the huge book collection who raised bees and who had designed and built her own house and designed an unusual garden around it. In the small community of Fintyew it didn’t take too much detective work to figure out that the agent was referring to Muriel.

Miranda was wrenched from deep concentration when she heard a rap at the door. She was irritated that someone had interrupted her and yelled out sharply, “Who is it!”

The door opened and closed very softly and Muriel’s face peered around the frame of the vestibule. “Now I’ve interrupted you, haven’t I?”

Miranda was greatly relieved that it was Muriel and by the time that Muriel walked across the room Miranda remembered she’d been disappointed not to have Muriel’s full attention only a couple of hours before.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to shout at you. I forgot. I can hardly believe it but I did forget you were coming.”

Muriel smiled. “I’m glad you were writing. You were, weren’t you?”

“Yes.” Miranda hesitated and then smiled back, “Thank you. Your suggestion worked. In fact, I didn’t study the actual scroll at all. Thinking about it was sufficient to provide the energy to get my writing flowing.”

“Good!”

Miranda was sure that Muriel had known that she’d sit down and write when she’d sent her away and probably knew she actually did it. She seemed to be able to see right into Miranda’s home with her telepathic eyes.

“I’m glad to see you didn’t do anything more without me last night. It’s best you not, not for now. I don’t know why but trust me.”

“That’s fine Muriel. I was tempted last night, I admit, but I didn’t have too much trouble restraining myself. Actually those metal figures in that secret compartment scare me. I want you here if I have to confront them.”

“Funny, they give me the same feeling. I don’t think they’re evil, just powerful. We’re not ready for them yet. We have a lot of exploring to do young woman.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Miranda grinned. Muriel was obviously rested and ready to embark on another adventure.

Muriel was standing in front of the globe examining the island and the garden Miranda had drawn on it the night before.

She motioned for Miranda to come and join her. “We must fix this in our minds, Miranda. I have a feeling that if we use the key we can go and come without using the boat. I think we should at least try that. We can travel in the boat again if we must. What do you think?”

Miranda took a short sharp breath and stammered, “I don’t know, Muriel. I guess what you say makes sense.”

The simplest way to find the other episodes is to go here. They appear on the linked page in order of publication and recommended reading order.