Hello! Gather ‘Round and I will spin you a tale…
Coupled with a few fur pelts, my woolen cloak was superior in warmth compared to some of the odds and ends I took along for hunting trips.
Well on my way to Northwich and bundled up for the night, I thought of all those meals my mom missed because she wanted me to be strong.
I winced thinking about what this trip had cost my parents and did not wish to disappoint them. In much comfort, I drifted off to sleep.
Breakfast was light as I wished to conserve what mother had prepared and I moved on down the trail. The trip was uneventful.
With over ten thousand people, Northwich was the biggest town I had ever seen and as cringeworthy as it felt, I had to ask for directions to find the Northwich Congregation.
When I found it, I was a bit disappointed as I expected stained glass windows and elaborate decor. Instead, the building was a simple rectangle with doors and a steeple.
Pastor John Eli was elated to see me and welcomed me inside.
“Walter! So good to see you! Come with me!”
“Are you hungry?!”
“I won’t turn down food, sir!”
The Preacher Man led me to a table with proper loaves of bread, butter, dried fruit, and sausage.
“Help yourself, Walter, this whole spread is yours to eat.”
“Later, others will come to join you and we will get started!”
“Thank you, sir!”
Minding my manners so as not to offend my host, I carefully sliced a small piece of bread from the loaf. Notably, it was still hot and when I spread butter over it, it melted and soaked in.
To my delight, the butter was salted and forgetting my manners, I had another slice for I did not wish for it to grow cold.
John Eli’s wife came by and asked me if I needed to borrow clothing and I assured her my mother had sent me with a set for church.
Regardless, she took measurements and told me if I didn’t eat more, she would surely be offended.
I didn’t have to be told twice, and I am certain that I ate two loaves of bread, five dried apples, and all the sausage.
The church had a washroom, so I changed into my clothing and remembered city folk wear shoes. Reluctantly, I put mine on, a little embarrassed about forgetting.
Using a bit of rendered fat, I slicked my hair back with my hands, hoping it looked all right.
Other boys began to arrive, and I soon learned I had eaten for four or five, and the preacher’s wife had to go to the cellar and get more of everything.
I was ashamed and apologized profusely, but she wouldn’t hear of it, encouraging me to eat more.
I didn’t let her down, finding room for much more.
Feeling a bit outclassed by these confident, well-dressed teens, I listened to what they had to say, so as not to draw a lot of attention to myself.
The first classmate who approached me was Harper. Quite the extrovert, Harper came all the way from La Longi with his parents and brought instruments for the singing portion of the service. I was looking forward to him playing and told him as much.
Harper smiled and reaching into his bag, pulled out a strange instrument.
“I gotta get permission from Pastor John Eli first, but here is a quick one.”
The room wasn’t full, but Harper had everyone’s attention. They clapped and whistled.
He bowed and said thank you and we resumed talking.
I learned that Harper was friends with Melonie, my cousin-in-law, and inquired about her.
I was more than happy to update him.
“Melonie is a fine addition to the Berengar Clan. Why, on this day, a couple of years ago, my Grandmother died and she comforted me like I was her little brother.”
“That’s very nice! We have done some music together down in La Longi.”
“Oh, wow, I didn’t know that. Sometimes she is silly and sings kid songs. She did one about what a fox said for my last birthday.”
“How does Jabez treat her?”
“I think he treats her well. The other day I watched his brother Jacob while he took her on a picnic.”
Harper was puzzled. “Watch his brother?” “Jacob is older than you.”
“Well, my cousin Jacob…”
My sentence was cut off by a boy my age with immaculate clothing and perfect posture.
His hair was cleanly parted to the side and looked like he had never been dirty a day in his life. A well-preserved flower was affixed to his jacket and on his side, he carried a ceremonial sword.
“His cousin Jacob is a lunatic. When the moon is full, he loses touch with reality and it grows worse every passing month.
That is hereditary amongst the Backwoods Berengar types.”
I was a bit taken aback by the interruption but maintained my composure.
“Good day! Who do I have the pleasure of meeting today?”
“You can call me Mr. Orson Berengar, a true Berengar, unlike the riff-raff subsistence farming the countryside calling themselves such.
I stifled a laugh. “Orson, I am not sure I will call you “Mister “. That is a bit pretentious don’t you think?
I had never met Orson Berenger, but he apparently knew of us. He did not respond but instead kept looking me dead in the eye like we were about to wrestle it out.
I didn’t want to lose my opportunity here in the church or Northwich for that matter so I averted my eyes. Fortunately, we were called to order and the crisis was postponed.