Letter from Hudson

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February 4

Dear Danko,

Was in the neighborhood so stopped into your new town. Sorry to have missed you but I had business in Caledon and was only in for the day.

Handsome little village you have there. Wandered through the buildings as most of the doors were unlocked. So you’re going through with that general store after all, eh? Brother Levon is all excited about it. He said to pass along that he will arrive in Winterfell in a fortnight. Found the shop, saw there were some mens clothing items for sale. Needed something appropriate for the trip to Caledon so I gave you a little business. Am I your first customer? Do I win something? Just kidding.

Walked down to the boathouse to see if there was a way to get across to your castle or the cottage but there was no one around. Went back up the hill and found a bench to sit on and enjoyed the view of the castle for awhile. Castle is very impressive, must be something to live there. Looking forward to the castle-warming party! Do Dukes do that sort of thing?

Stopped in your gallery and looked at the photographs of Winterfell. Very nice. I’ll have to come back when your exhibit opens. Used your office to change into the new clothes I purchased. Very attractive building. Saw another building under construction, what’s that going to be?

Caught the ferry to Cape Wrath and walked by the old family retreat. Wish you had talked with me before you sold it. Eh, probably dreaming there anyway, forget I mentioned it. After finishing my business in Caledon on behalf of the college, took the train down to SouthEnd and am sitting here in your pub, writing this letter and enjoying a pint. Funny, you have a town called Evergreen but your Evergreen Pub is in SouthEnd and the Emerald Inn will be in Evergreen. Shouldn’t you be moving this pub up there? Am I missing something here? Sure you have a good reason.

Well, must close now and catch the train for the trip home. Let me know if you have a grand opening or other festivities, would love to be there for you. Never thought I’d be related to a Duke! Don’t let it go to your head now m’Lord. Ha!

Annie asks if you have read the letters yet? You should write to her when you do. I know you know that but I promised her I’d nudge you. Don’t work too hard, Brother, get your rest. Don’t let this new town take all your time. Get out there and have some fun too. I’m sure there’s a lady friend or two who would be pleased to accompany you. You know what Uncle Manuel always says, take it easy…but take it.

Write soon.

Hudson

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Family Holiday

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Miss Annie Whitfield visits her brother for Christmas at The Castle

Although the holiday season was as hectic as usual, I was able to spend some quiet time in The Castle on both Christmas Eve and Christmas night.

Each night upon returning from holiday visiting, I walked through Absinthe, its snowy streets empty as the hour was very late. I cut through my neighbors’ properties and walked up to The Castle. I passed quietly through the hallway by the guest room so as not to wake my sister Annie, who had come to Winterfell for Christmas.

On Christmas night I lit the fire and a cigar and poured a nightcap. I raised my glass to the end of the Christmas rush. I drank, I puffed, I exhaled. It’s over. Phew!

On the table was my favorite newspaper, the Caledon Evening World. (It had become so after the favorable reviews it gave my speaking engagements in Caledon the previous year. Vain? Yes, I admit it. But ‘good press’ is nothing to shake a stick at.) I reached for the newspaper but stopped myself halfway. “No,” I said aloud. I sat back in my favorite chair. This is my quiet time, I thought. Not the events of this world nor the other will creep in tonight. I am off-duty. I kicked off my shoes and puffed and sipped away.

Quiet Christmas instrumentals played on the wireless. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. (Ulysses The Cat had already got them all.)

But then…footsteps…and a woman’s voice, “Danko?” It was Annie, of course. She reached the top of the stairs. “What are you doing up so late? Couldn’t sleep?” she asked before I could ask her the same.

“Just winding down from all the holiday hoopla and not in a rush about it either,” I replied. “And your excuse?”

“I have been going through the letters,” she said.

The letters.

I poured another drink. I looked to Annie and nodded toward the bottle in my hand. “Yes please,” she said.

I had been meaning to get to the letters ever since our brother Levon had brought them during his visit last August and September. But I had been so busy and I never had enough time to get into the right mood to do it.

The letters were those of our late parents. Uncle Manuel had found them in an old, scorched wooden box when he went through the old house to ready it for the renovations. He had put them in a satchel and dispatched Levon to bring them to me. I am the oldest and Uncle thought it my privilege – and responsibility – to be the one to go through them. But although I was honored by his gesture and quite interested in seeing what our parents had written, it had became more of a burden than a pleasure to have these letters in my possession.

When Annie arrived for Christmas she asked why I had not written her about the letters. She knew Uncle Manuel had sent them to me and had been waiting impatiently for me to write her with whatever I had discovered in reading them. I told her how difficult it had been for me to find the time and I showed her the satchel in my desk drawer. While I was out at a Christmas party with friends she had gone to my desk, taken the satchel and repaired to the guest room to begin the task.

“Well?” I said as she sipped her brandy.

“This is not my first drink tonight, Brother,” she started in a serious tone. “I made a pot of tea to begin with but I had to switch to something stronger as I read. I broke into your cabinet and stole your whiskey!” she said with a smile, though a slight one. I laughed softly. She took another sip of the brandy. I sat silently, waiting for her to continue.

“They are so beautifully written. I had tears,” she whispered. We both sipped our drinks again.

Annie told me the letters – at least the ones she had read so far – were from different periods in our parents lives when they were apart. The first was when they were young and Father was off to war. The second, when he was travelling with the band. The third, during Father’s days as a time traveller. The letters from that period were never mailed as it would not have been possible. But they had been opened. Annie guessed that they read each other’s letters when Father returned to our time.

But there was a fourth period when he was away for some reason Annie could not identify. “I remember that time,” I said. “I was twelve, maybe thirteen. Mother never told me why he was gone, just that he was ‘on a journey.’ I never asked Father about it, not even as I got older.” Whatever it was they did not refer to it in their writing but Annie thought it was something quite serious and sad. She said it was obvious they were not apart by choice.

“You must read them, Danko,” she said “you must. The love they had…and the struggle of being apart in those times…you will have tears too.” “I will read them, for sure,” I said. “I think I was reluctant…I don’t know…I was afraid they would make me sad.” “They will,” she said, “but you will smile too. They are beautiful. And the insight they give. Oh my!” Annie looked away to hide a tear. She sipped her brandy. I turned toward the fire to hide mine…and sipped.

We talked late into the night, not about the letters but about our memories. About Christmases past at the old homestead and New Years visits to Uncle Manuel’s farm. About brothers Levon and Hudson and cousins Robbie and Dylan and the family band. And about how our parents raised us and taught us to play music and about Father teaching the boys – but never his only daughter – about the science and secrets of time. And about the brothers teaching Annie all the secrets Father had taught us and how Mother knew what we were up to but never said a word! The conversation was happy and sad all at once. There were no more tears though, just smiles and quiet laughter. We never mentioned the fire…though it is always there.

We never speak of the fire.

Letter, August 6

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August 6

Dear Uncle Manuel,

Thank you for your recent letter. It was good to hear that things are going so well with the farm. Now that it all seems under control you can start making plans for retirement.

Thank you for the book on home remedies. I do promise to get to it just as soon as I have a moment. Things in Winterfell are quiet, other than a military attack in the territory just north of here. Have no fear, I was not in any danger. Unfortunately I missed the whole thing and had to hear about it from my friends and colleagues after the fact. As you know, my commitments in the other world and my health troubles had left me little time to be as involved as I would like here but I have been busy catching up with my work. The Seneschelf is quite understanding and has cautioned me to ease my way back into things slowly.

I was most tickled to hear that you are receiving such enjoyment from the wireless set I gave you on my last visit. I agree with your comment that it is quite rewarding to listen to music of a particular time period on a device that was made in that same period.

Is it the music that has inspired your thoughts of travelling to New Toulouse? I would not be surprised by that considering how musical this family has always been. Yes, I still maintain a home there and have for a little over a year now. But just recently, I sold the home I have told you about and purchased another. The old one was right downtown, amid the hustle and bustle and I did like it quite a bit. It was an easy walk to the galleries, jazz clubs and bars. (I live such a tough life here! Not, like on the farm, eh?) But the property was a bit too large for my needs so I have relocated to the outskirts of town in Jardin parish on a smaller parcel. It is a quieter neighborhood with stately Victorian homes. I can hear you chuckling now. You know how I am about the Victorian style. I am chuckling too.

A visit in autumn would be grand! It will likely take me that long to get the new house in order anyway. I have not had the chance to move in yet and it sits there, empty. Workmen have been hired to literally turn the house around as the builder put it facing the wrong way! I don’t care what century you are in, it is the same old story, you can never find good help. I hope to have the house reset in the next two weeks as the long-term weather forecast predicts a serious storm, possibly a hurricane, for mid-August or just after. I am sure you recall my letter about last year’s hurricane. I do wish not to go through that again but while I am tempted to stay here in Winterfell until the coast is clear, I think it best that I spend at least part of the storm in Jardin to keep watch on the house. I will send a quick note when the storm passes so you will know how I have made out.

In the meanwhile, do take care of yourself and let the forewoman continue to oversee the daily operation. I know it is difficult for you to see a woman work that hard but the lady can handle it. And yes, I agree, she is a looker. (Where did you pick up such a phrase, Uncle? I thought you were leaving time travel to the next generation? Rest up, man!)

Sincerely, your favorite(!) nephew,

Danko

The Wrath of Whitfield

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I have never told you much about my home in Caledon.

Whitfield Point on Cape Wrath is my escape by the sea. I have a two-story house on this spot on the western coast of Wrath. The sunset view from the grounds, the porches and inside the house are breathtaking. My main collection of maps is housed here. I love to spend time in my map room and listen to my favorite wireless set.

The public area has the ferry landing and a boardwalk-style deck.

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(handbill from the Cape Wrath Ferry)

A Brief History of Whitfield Point

Hudson Whitfield, great-grandfather of the present owner, was one of the first to explore this area. He built a cabin and established a fishing camp which his family and friends used for many summers. By the time the town of Cape Wrath was incorporated by Guv. Shang, the Whitfields had not used the land in some years.

In recent times Danko Whitfield, exploring his roots and looking for a seaside retreat, purchased the property. He erected a private home but desired to keep one of the three parcels that make up the property open to the public, allowing access to its spectacular view of the sunset over the ocean.

He invited the Cape Wrath Ferry Line to place a landing at Whitfield Point. The Caledon National Ferry Line also is available from the point.

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