As Ronald stood at Vincent's threshold, he laughed to himself, as he then chided his friend, “Hey Vincent...I was waiting for you in the community chamber, what’s going on here buddy? The last couple of mornings, I have had to come and wake you up!”
Ronald then mentioned to his Romeo friend, “If you get moving, we will have just enough time to get our workout in before breakfast.”
Reluctantly, Vincent opened an eye, and then the other, and squinted them shut again, as he took a deep breath, he rose from his bed, and said, “Yes, yes Ronald I am up, come on in. Just give me a moment to gather my wits.”
Ronald scooped the curtain aside as he came in and he asked, “I have never seen you tired before! These late nights with Catherine must be catching up with you?”
Vincent pulled on a shirt, and as he looked at him, he softly said, “Perhaps so Ronald. I find it so difficult to part from her at the end of the day. Although because of the wide eyed adolescent girls keeping tabs on my comings and goings, Catherine has insisted I leave her chamber at a decent hour. It is when I return here, I either catch up on my writing, my reading, or just lay here thinking about her, about us.”
Ronald smiled as he raised his brow in an understanding manner, as he said, “Hmmm, I wonder what the solution could be for that problem?”
Vincent, bowed his head, and said, “I have a solution in mind Ronald, I am merely waiting for the right time.”
Teasingly, he offered, “Maybe the time is already here! You can’t go on like this for too long Vincent.”
An exhausted Vincent, with a stretch and a yawn, huskily said, “I must wait until I know it is the right time for her.”
Ronald smiled, and said, “Vincent…unless you are blind, anyone can see the time has been right for Catherine!”
He then added, “Meanwhile, we all eagerly await for you to get up the courage!”
Vincent stepped to his friend, and said, "I have the courage, it is perhaps the nerve I am lacking.”
Ronald laughed, and then thinking about Vincent's attack yesterday, asked him, “How are you feeling today?”
With a glint in his eye, Vincent replied, “Fine, I am more and more convinced it must have been the fumes from the old kerosene, that had affected me so.”
As Ronald settled in at Vincent’s writing table, he sincerely answered, “Good, I sure am glad that is all it was.”
Absent-mindedly he then picked up Vincent’s quill, and began fiddling, as he then focused deeply on the writing instrument!
As Vincent observed Ronald, he thought he seemed to be a little too absorbed into the inner workings of his pen! With a tip of his head, he asked, “Something on your mind Ronald?”
Ronald looked up surprisingly, and said, “Uh, ah no Vincent…not really. Just a little confused I suppose.”
Vincent pulled his other chair out, and sat beside his friend and asked, “What weighs so heavy on your mind?”
Ronald shook his head in puzzlement, and asked, “I don’t know…I suppose I am wondering…well I wonder, if two people, who are so different, who exist and live in these two separate worlds…these worlds that are set so far apart, can really form a relationship from the basis of a core attraction? I mean is it a waste of time to even try?”
And so with a bit of humor, Vincent asked, "And you are asking me this question?"
Realizing he had just described Catherine and Vincent's relationship, Ronald laughed and said, "You know what I mean!"
Back to a more serious demeanor, Vincent then asked, “So…tell me, what is causing your hesitation?”
Ronald stood and paced, and said, “Well I mean look at me Vincent, I am not a sophisticated man! I like to dig into the dirt, I like to smell the earth, and celebrate in all it can grow! I mean I have never even been to a Ballet! Yet…I feel as if there is something between us. I feel like a young boy when I am near her, I blush and say silly stupid things, I wonder how I look to her, and then I am charmed by her feminine ways! We are so different and yet something happens when I am near her, and she has intimated that it is the same with her!”
Thoughtfully, Vincent said, “There is sometimes no explanation Ronald, what attracts one to another! There is no scientific proof on the chemistry that can exist between two people!”
Ronald shook his head, and as he stopped in his tracks, he admitted, “Yet somewhere in the back of my mind, I find myself thinking about Jennifer! Sweet goofy Jennifer!”
Vincent nodded understandingly, “Yes now Jennifer, is a unique girl, a true treasure as well.”
Happy to be understood, Ronald shouted, “I know…and Catherine had hinted to me Jennifer has feelings for me!”
Vincent put his hand on his friend’s shoulder, and said, “Let’s go work out, and we will talk about it on our way.”
With a hint of a smile Vincent then teased, “I am afraid if you don’t work on that stomach you are getting, you won’t have to worry about either Jennifer or Lisa, as neither one will bother to look your way!”
To which, Ronald protested, “These abs are tight! I challenge you to a sit-up contest this morning my friend, let’s see who can do the most!”
Meanwhile, Catherine laid in her bed, thinking about yesterdays events. Her connecting with Samantha, then Vincent falling ill, and his recovery, and then finding Anna's journal and photographs! It truly was an emotional roller coaster ride for them both.
And she thought of how finding Anna's writings, took Vincent back to a boyhood state, finding long awaited acceptance, and love. Seeing him so vulnerable touched her heart. She wanted to hold, protect him, and love him. What a complex man, so strong, and yet, at the same time, owning such a boyish quality.
As Catherine finally got up out of bed, she gathered her things, and met up with Laura, and Jamie, as they were leaving their chambers for the Bathing Chamber too.
Cheerfully, she greeted them, “Good morning girls, how are you both?”
Laura and Jamie looked at each other, totally exasperated! And then Jamie said, “Not so great! It was our turn to read to the children last night and they would not settle down. We are on the roster for tonight too!”
Laura nodded, and added her 2 cents worth, as she signed, “I don’t know if I am up to it!"
Catherine smiled, and spoke as well as signed, and asked, “How would you like it if I took your turn tonight?”
The two smiled at each other, and Jamie said, “Oh yes! Would you Catherine?”
To which Catherine sincerely said, “Yes, I would actually love to. Are you still reading Jungle Book?”
Jamie answered, “Yes, we should have finished it last night, but the children would not listen!”
Mary met them at the crossroads, and told them, “Morning!! Oh, I have such an exciting project for sewing circle this morning, I trust you three will be present!”
Catherine enthusiastically said, “I will be there Mary, Heaven knows I need all the help I can get when it comes to sewing.”
Jamie and Laura looked at each other, and raised their eyebrows, as each shared the same thought! Which was, sewing did not sound fun at all! They tried to get out of it by saying, “Well, we did have to…help Father I think it was.”
To which Mary inquired, “Are you sure it was Father?"
Timidly, Jamie looked to Laura, and back to Mary and replied, "Well, pretty sure."
Happy to outsmart the girls, she announced, "Hmmm isn’t that interesting, as he will be joining us at sewing circle as well this morning!”
In a motherly tone, Mary then scolded, "Now you two should be ashamed of yourselves."
Guiltily, Jamie spoke for them both, saying, "We are Mary. We are sorry we told you a fib. We just can't get into the sewing thing!"
With a knitted brow, Mary stressed, "It is important to learn some of these rudimentary skills. And even though you don't enjoy sewing, well think of it as a survival tool. Sewing garments and the like can be beneficial and a matter of necessity. Now I expect to see you there."
To which Laura signed, "I guess it won't be too bad if Catherine and Father are gonna be there."
Questionably, Catherine then asked, “What inspired Father to come do you suppose?”
Mary nodded, and answered, “Well, I was merely informing him of the aprons we would be sewing, and mentioned he would like to sew one as well!”
Catherine giggled, and said, “Oh Mary, Father at sewing class sounds too cute to miss!”
Mary touched Catherine’s arm, and brought her hand to her mouth to hide her stifled amusement, said, “Yes, this should be a treat. In all the years we have held our sewing circle, he has never once joined us!”
Jamie and Laura laughed aloud at the thought! Then Jamie gleefully offered, “Don't worry Mary, we will be there too! We cannot miss this!”
Meanwhile, Vincent and Pascal met up at the dining Hall for breakfast, and stopped to talk to Jacob, who was standing guard at the threshold.
And then Vincent asked, "Have you seen Catherine as yet Father?"
To which Jacob replied he had not, and then Pascal anxiously suggested they tell Jacob about the tapping they heard on the pipes last night.
Since he was in absolute agreement, both Vincent and Pascal went on to explain the incident to Jacob. Ultimately, they all agreed the messages were of grave concern, and would definitely be monitoring the pipes for any more activity, and of course the three of them speculated on who was doing the tapping.
Meantime, even though Vincent was in mid sentence voicing his suspicions, he suddenly turned to witness Catherine as she turned the corner.
With curious urgency, Jacob asked, “Yes Vincent you were saying…Vincent…"
And then as Jacob spotted Catherine approaching, he noted, "...oh here comes Catherine...he’s a goner, and will be of no use to us now."
With a chuckle Pascal nodded, and then Jacob went on to note, "Although I must say Pascal, their connection is an amazing thing! Vincent sensed her coming, even before she was in sight…did you notice that?”
Pascal nodded and whispered, “It has always been that way with them Father…always.”
Jacob turned to Pascal, and said, “Well Pascal, hopefully YOU will tell me who you both believe is doing this tapping! Even though I suspect I already know...”
With a knowing nod, Pascal replied, "Indeed, don't know who else! Unless some renegade top-siders...but seems doubtful Paracelsus would allow anyone else to gain a foothold."
Meanwhile, as Catherine approached, she said, “Good morning Father, Pascal... Vincent.”
After greetings were exchanged, Vincent offered Catherine his arm to escort her into the Dining Hall.
He then asked, "Do you have any plans for your day?”
Catherine excitedly said, “Well, as a matter of fact, I do.”
As Catherine smiled at Jacob she said, “I will be attending Mary's sewing circle, and I just found out, Father is too.”
Vincent turned to Jacob and asked, “You have developed an interest in needlework?”
Jacob bashfully smiled as he offered, “Well I have always been in awe of the craft, but to say for sure I will enjoy it or not is another issue!"
And with a knowing look between them, Jacob continued, “However, joining Mary’s sewing group is one way to begin my quest to find out!”
Vincent knowing Jacob really meant examining his and Mary’s relationship, agreeably said, “Yes, I would say attending Mary's Sewing Circle is a good place to begin.”
Cluelessly, Catherine continued, “And Oh yes, later tonight I plan to read to the children. I told Jamie, and Laura I would take their turn.”
Her last comment piqued Jacob's interest greatly, and so he sternly asked, “Are the girls shirking their duties and enlisting you Catherine?”
Catherine quickly explained, “Oh no Father, I offered, it was my idea. I love reading to the children.”
Suspiciously, Jacob said, “Well as long as they didn’t ask, I will allow it this time, but they really need to adhere to Rebecca’s carefully drawn up schedule.”
Happily, she said, “Thank you for allowing it this once.”
Vincent tipped his head as he noted, "Then it sounds as if you will be free in the late afternoon."
Happily, Catherine replied, "I will be. What have you in mind?"
To which Vincent said, "I hoped to finish our reading assignment together then."
With a smile, Catherine said, "Sounds perfect."
And so long after the days activities, Catherine and Vincent settled into her chamber in an attempt to finish the first three chapters of Wuthering Heights before supper!
Catherine started reading, and as he closed his eyes, he critiqued the manner in which she did so. Vincent absorbed the warmth, and was emotionally moved, as Catherine's voice softly swooped in and gathered him within its resonance. He thought of how beautifully she read, and of what wonderful inflection she owned as she did so.