Meantime, while Vincent was above, Brigit called on Jacob. So as she stood at
As Jacob looked up from his writing table, he expounded, "Of course Brigit,
come in, to what do I owe this pleasure, I should think you would be preparing
for the celebration!"

With a nod, Brigit said, "Aye, I am jist aboot to, but I needed to give you this."

And as Brigit presented the note from Peter, she said, "Catherine had come by
while ye were restin', so I consented to pass this message on fer her. She told
me the message holds some good news from yer friend...Peter."

To which Jacob regretfully replied, "I am so sorry to have missed Catherine,
most unfortunate indeed...I would have liked to have spoken with her."

To which Brigit replied, "Aye, she was disappointed as well, but Catherine didn't
want to disturb ye."

Then as Jacob shook the disappointment of missing Catherine, he then
thoughtfully unfolded the note, and said, "Hmm, let's see what this good news is
from Peter..."

And after reading the note, Jacob happily said, "Ahh, Peter's nephew is doing
better, and Peter will be able to join us tonight after all!"

In reply, Brigit kindly said, "I am thrilled fer ye Jacob, it's nice yer good friend
can come to yer celebration. Well I better go and get spruced up a bit."

Jacob thanked Brigit and then thought to ask, "Ah Brigit, before you go, I'd like
to ask, do you happen to know if Catherine spoke with Vincent when she was

With a shake of her head, Brigit answered, "Fraid not Jacob...Catherine told me,
that Mac told her, Vincent had left the tunnels to escort Lin back home. Oh
dear, sounds a bit like he said, she said...bit no they didn't see one another,
unfortunate timin' fer sure."

Resignedly, Jacob said, "I see, and yes, unfortunate indeed! I was still hoping
they would have a chance to clear things up, and well perhaps Catherine would
be in attendance tonight along with Peter and her father..."

Oh boy! Because Brigit hated being a bearer of bad news, she carefully relayed,
"When I spoke to Catherine, she did say, though her father may be comin' with
Peter, she would not...I am sorry Jacob..."

With a tragic smile, Jacob responded, "I see...well Brigit, thank you for bringing
Peter's message, and I will see you soon my Dear."


Meantime, Vincent re-entered his world...and he felt so empty, as the
reconciliation with Catherine did not happen, and now all he had left, were the
sweet memories of how she once loved him.

As Vincent walked past the Library, he could hear Rolley and the children,
rehearsing a song for Winterfest. It was a song from one of Rolley's favorite
musicals, "The All American".  

As Vincent stood listening, to the children's clear innocent voices, his heart
broke as he heard the words, thinking of how this song seemed to portray all
that he had lost.

The children sang
"Once upon a Time"

Once upon a Time
A girl with moonlight in her eyes
Put her hand in mine
And said she loved me so
But that was once upon a time
Very long ago
Once upon a hill
We sat beneath a willow tree
Counting all the stars
And waiting for the dawn
But that was once upon a time
Now the tree is gone
How the breeze ruffled through her hair
How we always laughed as though
Tomorrow wasn't there
We were young and didn't have a care
Where did it go?
The world was sweeter than we knew
Everything was ours
How happy we were then
But somehow once upon a time
Never comes again

Silently he walked away to return to his chamber, knowing once upon a time, he
had his chance at sweet happiness, and that perhaps he was being naive, to
believe he could have it again.

As Vincent removed his cloak, he searched for Catherine's Winterfest Candle,
and because it was no longer there, he realized he must have lost it while in the
city above.

And so, Vincent, with a sense of fait-accompli, sadly thought it was a fitting end
to his and Catherine's love story, he had not only lost Catherine, but he had lost
the candle he was to present to her too. the hour came to prepare for the celebration, Vincent broken-heartily
thought it hardly felt like a night to celebrate...but he knew he had a role to
fulfill, and out of devotion for his Father, he would be there for him, and the
rest of the community.

And so Vincent carried on, moving about methodically, as he readied himself for
the yearly event.

And so after Vincent dressed in his finery, he then prepared to leave his
chamber, by putting out all, but the one auxiliary candle, which he left burning.

As Vincent arrived at his Father's chamber, he stood tall at the threshold, and
softly asked, "Are you ready Father?"

Upon hearing Vincent's voice, Jacob proudly looked upward, and said, "Yes my
Boy...I am."

And then as Vincent descended the steps, he noted, "You are looking well rested
Father, am I to assume you had a peaceful rest?"

With a nod, Jacob with regret, replied, "Indeed I did, however sadly it was ill

Needing clarification, Vincent asked, "Oh?"

Hesitantly, Jacob explained, "Upon my waking, Brigit gave me a message from
Peter, a message which had been delivered here by...Catherine."

Taken aback, Vincent repeated, "Catherine? Catherine was here?"

To which, Jacob with an apologetic tone, said, "Yes, you see, Catherine came
while I was resting and because she didn't want to disturb me, she entrusted
Brigit with forwarding Peter's correspondence to me. And unfortunately at the
same time, were above escorting Lin home."

Though Vincent was saddened he did not see Catherine, he was curious about
Peter's message. And so Vincent asked, "May I ask what Peter had to say to
you Father? Was it anything about Catherine?"

In response, Jacob said, "Unfortunately no...nothing about Catherine, but I am
happy to give you a bit of good news, due to his nephews recovery, Peter will
be attending Winterfest after all."

With a nod, Vincent replied, "This is good news..."

Jacob then paused a bit before he expressed, "I suppose since Catherine was
here, even if you had decided to reach out to Catherine while up top, you
couldn't have, not even if you had tried."

In reply, Vincent sadly answered, "In truth, I did try Father...and at the time I
did so, Catherine was indeed home...however, unfortunately...she was not

Tragically, Jacob looked downward as he empathized, and said, "I see Vincent.
So you never had a chance to present Catherine her Winterfest candle, inviting
her to Winterfest..."

To which Vincent relayed, "As fate would play a hand, after seeing Catherine
with her ex-fiance, I lost her Winterfest Candle, so now...there is no way for
Catherine to ever know of my intention to invite her to Winterfest."

Wanting to give his support, Jacob then hobbled toward his son, and resignedly
he said, "Well, it appears we have our work cut out for us then tonight Vincent.
We must be festive for the others who look to us for guidance. It is difficult, I
know. With our circle so badly broken,because of Catherine's absence, it WILL
be hard...however somehow, for the others...we must try."

To which Vincent nodded, and sadly said, "I will put my grief away, the best I
can for the festivities."

Then Vincent  assuredly conveyed to his Father, "However, do not be mistaken
Father...I DO have much to be thankful for, and I will celebrate my good
fortune tonight. If it had not been for your vision of another kind of an
existence...I often wonder where else could a lost child such as myself, live life
so freely..."

With much emotion, Vincent then added, "...and if it had not been for your kind
heart, reaching out to accept me as your son...well, yes Father, I am thankful to
you and to our helpers, who make our life here possible."

Vincent then elegantly, presented his arm to his Father, and said, "We should go
Father, everyone will be waiting for us to begin the Winterfest Pilgrimige."

In reply, Jacob shakily smiled, and tearfully said, "Thank you are
a remarkable son."

Jacob then accepted his son's aid, and they then walked arm in arm, out into the
Tunnel Main. was customary to gather first, in the Dining Hall. The designated
meeting place, where the walk to and through the Chamber of the Winds, and
ultimately into the Great Hall, would begin.

So, as Jacob, and his son turned the corner, they crossed paths with Brigit who
was escorted by Pascal. And needless to say, Brigit's Emerald Green laced dress
design, put it mildly..."Eye-popping!"

And although both Jacob, and Vincent, managed to retain their "Gentlemanly
Air" by NOT lowering their gazes to Brigit's cavernous cleavage, Poor Pascal
was not so successful, because he was so enamored by this flamboyant Irish

So as Brigit gleefully greeted Vincent and Jacob, and included Pascal too by
saying, "How wonderful ye three look, all polished and shined up! Tis a magical
night here in yer world, and I am so pleased to be a part of it!"

To which Jacob said, "We are honored to count you as one of our new friends

In reply, Brigit said, "Oh my! Tis I who is honored Jacob, here I am Brigit
O'Donnell a wee lass from Ireland, in this enchanting place, befriended by three
grand Gents....oh trust me...I've been many places and met many people, but it
dinny git any better than this!"

So because it was time, Jacob asked, "Well, shall we venture onward?"

And so as they then entered the Dining Hall, the community cheered, as they
were all eagerly awaiting Jacob and Vincent to lead the way!

Yes, they were the Tunnel's royalty, the Father and Son. And they in turn,
graciously received everyone, happily greeting Helpers they had not seen in a
while, and warmly embracing their tunnel community as well.

So as Jacob and Vincent stood talking to their old friends, Lou and Sebastian,
Mouse came up, and said, "Vincent come help William with the pot of potatoes!"

After Vincent excused himself, and left with Mouse, it was then all the ladies
arrived in their
Winterfest dresses. And yes because of Lin's generosity, they all
looked beautiful and quite colorful!
Look over to see the Ladies Arrival and click on this link

So as all eyes were on the Tunnel Beauties, Mary stepped forward, and when  
Jacob saw her, under his breath he murmured, "Mary..."

To which Sebastian quizzically asked, "What was that Jacob?"  

In reply, Jacob politely asked both Sebastian and Lou to excuse him for a
moment, and as he approached Mary, he said, " look...well lovely is
the only word that comes to mind...truly lovely."

Shyly, Mary looked downward, and said, "Thank you Father. You look very
nice as well."

Look over to See Father and Mary

She then inspected his tunic, and as she smoothed out the lapel, Mary said, "I
have always admired this garment on you Father..."

Just then Samantha, Heather and Natalie came running up, to which Jacob
shifted his attention to comment, "Oh my, don't you girls look like little
princesses tonight!"

Happy to be wearing such pretty dresses, they twirled, and whirled around while
they said, "Thank you Father!"

And it was then Samantha pointed as she noticed, "Oh look Father! Peter and
Catherine's Dad are here!"

As Jacob turned to the threshold, he noted, "Ah so they are!"

And then asking Mary, "Won't you excuse me, I should welcome them."

With a wave of her hand, Mary said, "Oh yes go! You must!"

So as Jacob stepped up to welcome Peter and Charles, he warmly conveyed
how happy he was they were there, and then said it sure was good to see
Charles was back in the pink after his food poisoning!

To which Charles replied, "Thank you Jacob, I feel like I've bounced back
pretty good, and thanks too for inviting me tonight."

With a chuckle, Peter relayed, "Yeah poor guy, couldn't figure out what or
where this mysterious Candle came from! And when I showed him my
Winterfest Candle, and it was then he realized it was his invite."

Jacob chuckled too, and said, "I dare say, perhaps we should include some sort
of instructions on them for newcomers."

And then on a serious note, Jacob voiced his disappointment...Catherine would
not be coming.

To which Peter then said, "Yeah...too bad Vincent's message of atonement
didn't change things between them."

And so upon hearing Peter's terminology, Charles knitted his brow, and asked,

To which Peter nodded, and said, "Yea, in the message that the nurse passed on
to Cathy..."

As Peter looked back at Charles' who was hosting a very baffled demeanor, he
wrongly deduced that Charles didn't know the whole story. And so he said, "I
can see I have to fill you in on all that happened around here, north of the
equator. You see, Vincent was actually on his way to apologize to Cathy the
night you had your Swordfish saga! So we figured one way for Vincent to let
Cathy know he realized he was wrong, was to send her a message at the
hospital, via the nurse on duty! But unfortunately, Cathy never responded to his

And then Jacob down heartedly, added, "Yes...evidently, his apology came too

And because Charles knew what the note had said, he then clarified, "Wait a
minute here, the message Cathy received from the nurse, was no apology! In
fact it stated the opposite, it actually reaffirmed his stance, and that was why
Cathy didn't respond!"

With the pall of another unfortunate "OOOPS" dawning upon the group, they
began to realize that somehow, something must have gotten mixed up!"

It was then, Jacob recapped, and sadly summarized, "So, it is because of this
misinterpretation of Vincent's message, that Catherine has decided to move on,
and she has since, reconciled with her ex-fiancé'."

In reply, Charles scoffed and said, "Moved on, and reconcile with Steven?
Nothing could be further from the truth. She has resumed a friendship with
Steven, only to help him cope with his terminal illness."

The three Amigo's united once again, all felt helpless, as they wondered how to
correct all these misconceptions, but ultimately, Jacob said they must tell his son
this news.

Meantime, Dr. Wong, Lin, and Henry also arrived, and not so surprisingly, Lin  
looked anxiously about for Vincent, until she finally spotted him helping William.

And so Lin told her husband, "I will be right back Henry...I need to speak with

So meanwhile, William slapped Vincent on the back, and gratefully said,
"Thanks Vincent...I couldn't have lifted the vat of potatoes into the cart without

To which Vincent with concern asked, "Won't you need help wheeling the cart
to the Great Hall?"

With a shake of his head, William declared, "Nope! I have a couple of
volunteers to help me transport the food. But thanks for asking."

So as Vincent nodded, indicating William was welcome, he started to walk back
to re-join his Father, when Lin approached him. And she could tell without
asking, that a reconciliation had not taken place between he and Catherine.

And so as they walked back together, Lin sadly said, "You don't have to tell me,
I am sorry Vincent..."

In response, Vincent tried to lesson Lin's sadness by saying, "Events unfold Lin,
both good and bad, serving as stepping stones to our destiny."

With a tear filled voice, Lin said, "But Vincent..."

Affectionately, Vincent cut Lin off, as he asked, "For me Lin, try to smile
tonight. Our community has come together to celebrate, and I promised
Father...I would be festive tonight..."

And then to thank Lin for her generosity, Vincent spanned the Hall, and noted,
"And how could we not feel festive? Because of your gift to the women, they
have never looked more beautiful..."

As Lin stifled her emotions, she then took in the site of the tunnel ladies, and
with a hint of a giggle in her tear filled voice, Lin noted, "Or more colorful..."

With a nod, Vincent replied in agreement, "Indeed..."

And as they approached Dr. Wong and Henry, Vincent warmly greeted them,
and after some conversation, Vincent noticed his Father waving him over. "

And so Vincent explained to his three friends, "If you will excuse me, it appears
Father needs me. Until later..."

So as Vincent stoically stepped up to ask his Father what he needed, it was then
he saw both Peter and Charles! And so with a welcoming embrace to Peter, and
a gallant nod to Charles, he noted, "How good it is you are both here..."

And after the greetings were expressed, the three wanted to fill Vincent in on the
news of Steven, and so Charles began to say, "Ah Vincent...I, that is WE felt
you should know something in regards to Steven...the only reason my daughter
is speaking to him, is because he is terminally ill, and he needs help with..."

Meanwhile, the crowd was getting restless, and so Mary efficiently stepped up
to Jacob, and said, "Father, it is time to begin the procession."

To which though Jacob felt torn wanting just a moment more to help explain
things to Vincent, he compliantly nodded to Mary, and as he asked for
everyone's attention, he then said, "It is now time to begin the Winterfest
Journey to the Great Hall!"

Kindly Charles along with Peter whispered to Vincent, "We'll continue this
conversation later on."

With a thankful nod, Vincent accepted this news about Catherine would have to
wait, as Winterfest was beginning!

With elegance, Jacob put his arm out for Mary, and gallantly asked her,
"Mary...may I escort you to Winterfest?"  

To which Mary gracefully accepted, by saying, "Yes Father."      

As he looked over to his son, he asked, "As per tradition Vincent, won't you
lead us?"   

Humbly Vincent said, "Of course Father..."

And so as Vincent stood tall before the community, it was then when
suddenly...a gasp could be heard throughout the Hall!

Everyone turned to the back entrance to see what had caused such a
reverberation through the crowd!

And as Vincent himself turned to look, he brought his hand up to his heart, and
he huskily whispered, "

To be continued
Chapter Nineteen
Master of my Heart!
Chapter Eighteen
By Sharon Holtz