The stew was coming along nicely. The sun was setting through the haze. With no wireless set available, I had to make music in my head, accompanied by bursts of whistling, humming and scatting*. The wine may have inspired the musicality of the scene but it was ostensibly for cooking purposes… “a little wine for the stew, a little wine for me. a little more for me, so a little more for the stew.” Yes, the stew was coming along nicely.

I was in Quin’s quarters. It had been a week now that I had been waiting for him to arrive. There was a brief note that came by messenger, that he would be further delayed, but that was all. I had not yet answered the question I kept asking myself, “How long can I wait for this guy?” I needed to get back to Winterfell where I was just getting settled in to my cottage at Ebonshire Riverside, the writers and artists colony. I was in the midst of  multiple writing projects when Quin’s letter came and it was hard to break away. I never had expected to be gone this long but the trip’s purpose was too important to give up on lightly and I had come an awfully long way. But really! It was just as important to Quin – where is he?

Just then, the door opened and there he was.

“Greetings, Mr. Whitfield! My good friend, please accept my apology for keeping you waiting like this…” He dropped his bags and an armful of books and papers and shook my hand and went on about, “…how wonderful it is to see you after all this time…” and quickly through, “…so very glad you could travel such a distance to discuss a very important matter…” and back to, “…so sorry about my unavoidable delay…” then wrapping up with, “…hope you have made yourself at home and enjoyed exploring the surrounding area. Aren’t these ages beautiful?”

They are beautiful, of course. This is what we talk about as I pour Quin a glass of wine and then talk him through the recipe for the stew. “Oh!” he shouts and looks in the pantry and comes out with additional spices and herbs which I review and consider. Two of them are added to the pot.

Later as we eat the stew and bread and share the wine, Quin brings the conversation to the central reason he has asked me here.

His experiments in Illusion did not go well at all. He still seems in a bit of a shock about that. And the cost of it in hard cash! So he finds himself scrambling a bit to raise funds, as busy as he is investigating what went wrong and trying to continue his on-going work to “restore what was lost.” What he needed was a sponsor to underwrite his work here in Selenitica at his “study retreat” as well as someone to watch over the neighboring lands.

Dot Macchi had passed my letter on to him, at my request, so Quin had read about my recent life changes. He thought I might be interested in accepting both responsibilities as an opportunity to do a little exploring and still have a hand in overseeing land.

He was right, I was interested. I wasn’t sure what Quin was going to propose but on my way here I had pretty much decided to accept. Whatever it was, I knew it would be interesting and different and that was good enough for me right now, without even knowing the details.

But now that we’re here, what are the details? Quin went over his proposal, point by point. I would fund the hosting of Selenitica and the outer regions and, in exchange for that privilege, I would check on the lands from time to time, welcome and assist visitors and explorers and let Quin or Dot know of any problem that came up. And I’d have the run of the lands whenever I visited. I would pretty much keep them as is and wouldn’t develop the lands in any way, rather, I would cultivate them, gently and slowly. Not much work involved at all, really. Sounded good to me. I told Quin how I’d been using the room in the castle and the Japanese house up north. He was delighted. We discussed other details and the logistics of operating so far from a population center.

In addition to Quin and myself, Dot and some of Quin’s other friends and associates might come to work in the lands from time to time, so a land management group must be formed. What to call it? Quin offered, “It has occurred to me the name ‘Evergreen’ is available here.” He smiled. That sealed it. And me, as leader of the group? I used to be the Duke of Evergreen, what will I be here? Quin thought a moment. “You are the custodian of the ages, sir,” he said.

Custodian of Evergreen. Has a nice ring.

More wine was poured and the ages of Evergreen were toasted. Then there were stories about past explorations and experiments. Quin promised to fill me in on his current work over breakfast, a conversation to which I was quite looking forward.

In the morning, when I came down from my room in the castle, Quin was gone. An envelope, tacked up inside the castle door contained a note with his thank yous, apologies and a vague explanation. I smiled. Same old Quin.

After breakfast, I made a list of items I would need to have delivered here in time for my next visit, basic supplies and equipment and plenty of writing paper. I will have to go through my collection of machines that generate music. A standard wireless set would not do the trick here as it would be too far away from the transmitting point of any signal. I would need something from a slightly later time, possibly one of the gadgets I picked up in the 21st century, a personal music player. Must have something to keep me entertained in this remote place and time.

In the afternoon, I took one more look around and then packed my things and began the long trip back to Winterfell.

*Scatting –  A very hip word I learned  in my travels to the mid-20th century.

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