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Chest of Hope Ch.18

The house was receiving the last roof timber as the field crew finished the water line. Martin was amazed as the plank was fitted into place and the dowels were set. The truck had delivered the eight sky light windows, along with the round port hole style windows for the front and rear portions of this structure, earlier that morning. The framing was a strenuous job, but all was complete now, as the wooden peg was hammered down. Now, the next faze, would begin the painting of the clear coat finishes over the outside and interior of the house. Five coats in all, one after the other, until the wood would be saturated and preserved. The crews had already brought the fifty five-gallon drums up to the house and were now getting everything ready to start as the afternoon break bell sounded. “Thirty minute rest. Meet at the lake. Mista Odie wants to talk to ya'll.” Jim called, from the side of the barn.

The breeze picked up slightly and dust whirled abound the men's feet as they ambled to the lake. The men gathered at the lake as before, Mister Odie stood towering before them. “How many of you would like to live here?” Mister Odie asked. Out of the original twenty-two, only eleven held up a hand. Among them were Jim and Willie, most of the others were black also. “Out of the rest, if the opportunity should arise, how many of you would live out here?” “What's the count foreman?” Mister Odie asked, and waited for the count to be completed. “Close to fifty I reckon Mista Odie.” “Good, in the morning have a crew plot out fifty lots and mark them. We will hold a drawing to see where each will live. If some trading is needed that can be worked on also. Men with families will draw first.” Mister Odie said, smiling. “Let me say this. You all have made a fine house, one to be proud of. With each other’s help, you can do much better. You now have the knowledge and skills. You also have the base materials and the tools. All you need is the strength and will to see your dreams achieved. “For the rest of you, I will back any loan you will need to make this dream take place. I have started the job that you need to finish. By next week you will begin the last, and the largest project on this farm.” “Last project? What's that?” Willie asked Jim. Jim shrugged and returned his attention to Mister Odie. Mister Odie smiled, and motioned for the Douglas brothers to come forward. “Tell them about this project, and thank you for not speaking of this before now.” “You're welcome Mister Odie.” Ken answered. “Men, Mister Odie wants us to build him another house. The work will be hard and it should take about ninety days.” “Another house?” “Ninety days?” “Where?” The questions erupted from the crew in a mixture of disbelief and awe. “It only took us ten days to build the first one, and now we're a team.” Bob Rogers called out. “That's true Bob, but this house is not like the small A-frame we threw together.” John said, with a chuckle. “Threw together?” Martin asked, taken aback. “Wait a minute! Hear us out. The house is going to be one hundred by fifty-five by four stories.” Ken said loudly, so that he could be heard over the crowd of voices. “That's just a little bigger than the other one, except the height.” A man called, from the back of the crowd. “The measurement is in yards. It's going to be the size of a football field.” Ken said, bringing complete silence to the group. “Yards!?” Another man said, not believing his ears. “Yes yards. You see it's to be a meeting hall, a gathering place for all to come and talk. More will be coming here, and they will need a place to start. I have given you the beginning you needed and now you will give them their's.” Mister Odie said, loud enough to be heard by everyone. “This place will also have a garden to walk in and a place for children to play. Across the road, in the heart of that tree stand, a Long House will be constructed, as the first was, by men who want to build something of simple beauty and of great craftsmanship.” “It will stand as long as one man, woman, or child finds comfort, there. If more men are needed, they will come from you. Your words will bring them. Your strength will help them in the start. All of this will be done by the foreman and the committee you will form.” “It sounds like another church to me.” Orin Michaels, called out. “No!” Mister Odie's thunderous voice, stunned the crowd. “It is a meeting hall. No religious dogmas circulated within its walls. If that need arises, you may build your church upon the foundation amongst the honored dead. Nevertheless, remember how it was found when you first arrived.”

“The Long House is a neutral ground that families can be as they are with no one, telling them they are wrong or right, black or white, weak or strong. The only thing to be spoken within the walls is the truth. No matter how hurtful that truth may be.” “The truth is eternal, it will last throughout the passage of time, for only you can know what the truth is as it is spoken from the heart.” “But, what is the truth, Mister Odie?” Adam asked, in a small voice. “If all of you believe it to be so, then it is, Adam.” Jim said, to his son. “The entire world's scholars and churches said, that the sun moved around the earth and that here, was the center of the universe. Was that the truth Jim?” Mister Odie asked. Jim didn't know about such things so he remained silent. “The entire civilized world, believed the black man had the mark of Cain on him and he was no better than a beast of burdens. Was that also the truth?” Mister Odie asked, again. “No suh. That be a lie. We be as good as any men, no mater what his color.” Jim said, then had to draw in a deep breath, to calm his anger. “Jim, you said yourself, that if all believe it, then it’s the truth.” Mister Odie said. “I doan believes it, so it ain't so.” Jim said, and Willie nodded in agreement. “That is the point of the Long House. No one knows what the truth is, about anything. It is only an opinion. Even if you all agree that your opinions are true, there is still the doubt, that you are all wrong.” “How you decide, these things reflect on every one of you. So beware of the trap, it is always in front of you. Remember the quaint old saying of King Solomon, Judge not, for you shall be judged.” Mister Odie finished, and then waited with his hands crossed over his chest. He didn't have long to wait. “Why, that's from the bible Mista Odie.” Willie said. “In your opinion, Willie. No one knows for sure who said it first. Ever since the first cave man drew on a wall with charcoal, writers have been plagiarizing each other's work.” Mister Odie said softly, and they all took his point to heart.

The men talked for the rest of the day about the meeting that they had attended earlier in the day, and the much needed work still to be done, building the new house. Some were pleased that they still had good paying jobs, for now, and some said they were grateful to be learning things that would help them out later. The day's work ended as the now revered, A-frame, was completed and water ran from the spout by the woods. “What you think he'll have us doin next, after we built that house of his?” Willie asked Jim, as they ambled home. “It be hard to say brother, maybe a bridge to the moon over yonder.” Jim answered. “Can’t be done Jim, that's crazy talk.” Willie said, studying the full moon that was rising. “In your opinion, Willie.” Jim said, dryly and the brothers laughed together and turned onto East Avenue. Somewhere a chicken was being fried and the smell floated around them. “In my opinion, I'm hungry as a wolf.” Willie said, as they neared their walkway. “I agree with yo' on that.” Jim said, laughing as they walked to their front door.

The men gathered Monday morning on the corner of East and Main. As usual, waiting for the last few to show up and make their way to work. A police car was parked at Goldberg's Market and the deputy was closely watching this group as it started to walk, jog, ride bikes, or drive their way to the south. The deputy wrote again in his log book and thumbed back throughout his entries. He noticed that all the time slots were from between 4:30 and 4:45 a.m. He knew that sun rise, this time of year, came about five or 5:15 every morning until mid September. What he didn't know was the reason for this detail, he was assigned, by the now out of work, Jake Thomas. Even so this detail was not pulled from the work roster. The deputy followed his orders and kept his reports up to date. Let the acting sergeant take the time to keep up with these. He thought as the last of the workers went out of sight. He started the patrol car and rolled to the north to complete another tour of New Hope. As the men came off the pavement and onto the dirt country road, the first rays of sunlight sparkled off a spire of silver that jutted into the air above the farm. The men crossed through the yard and then noticed a second pole behind the first. From them dangled white nylon ropes with bright polished brass snaps. The crew-chiefs gathered with Jim and Willie to go over the day's work plans as Mister Odie walked from the barn. Mister Odie carried something under his arm and as he passed without a word, they wondered what he held. Mister Odie stopped to the first pole and attached a triangle of white cloth to the rope. He turned to Jim and motioned him forward. Jim came up and was handed the cloth in one hand and the rope in the other. With this done, Mister Odie went to the other pole and again attached another white cloth to the line. With a nod to Jim, they pulled the ropes quickly. As the cloths raised, a breeze opened them to full size. The ropes were secured and the men admired the flags. “Whose flags be those?” Willie asked. “The first is the blue and white cross of Iceland. The other is the first flag of Scandia.” Mister Odie said. “I thought Iceland was Scandia.” Adam said. “Iceland is a small island country, northwest of Ireland, on the arctic circle. Scandia is a region of Northern Europe. It stretches from Russia to the east and Greenland to the west. Scandia does not have political borders, which are placed on maps or elected officials, who sit and talk about the problems that people must face every day.” “Scandia is an idea of working peoples of different walks of life. Only one thing holds them together. That is the truth of things. They don't try to change nature for themselves. They change themselves to live with nature and live with each other the same way. Help each other when needed and leave each other alone, when it's called for.” “This is their flag, a Black Raven over a field of neutral white.” Mister Odie explained. “Jim, I will need about ten men to unload a truck around nine. Have the men put the furnishings in the house, which should be done in an hour. Have the crew’s rework the water lines and run the power cables to the house. The rest can follow me to the lake, we will be there most of the day, should we be needed for anything.” Mister Odie instructed, fully.

While Jim divided the men into work crews, Mister Odie went in the barn and emerged with his axe slung over his shoulder. “Shouldn't take more'n about twenty men to finish the house? Course we need to dig a trench for the power line. Luke can do that in a couple of hours, with four of five men layin' the line, and covering it up behind um.” Jim said, to the Douglas brothers and Orin Michaels. “I think thirty-five men total should be enough.” Ken stated, and Adam was already putting marks by names to be called. “That leaves about sixty men for the lake crew. I wonder what Mister Odie has for them to do over there?” Adam probed. “What I have, is a hard day's work for all of them. Add five dollars an hour to each of their rates for today's tasks. They will earn every cent and then some. Bring ropes, axes, shovels, and trash bags, all of which will be used to the fullest.” Mister Odie said, from behind the group, as he turned and headed for the lake. The crew gathered their equipment and started for the lake also. The first man stopped and stared. Others came up and also began to gawk and whisper. “What happened to the lake?” One man gasped. Before them, were the contoured ridges of where the lake had been. Now the water was gone. The only things left were assortments of muddy cans, bottles, old tires and assorted trash. Over on the far side was what remained of a rusted out old truck sitting at an odd angle as it slowly sank deeper in the muddy bottom. Numerous rotting tree limbs and stumps were scattered across the wide depression. “Spread out along the side and work to the middle. The ground is slippery, so mind your footing.” Mister Odie called, from behind the skeleton of the antique truck. Mister Odie hefted his great axe, the head flashed as the sun reflexed off the blade that nearly blinded the onlookers. With a mighty swing, it cleaved the bed of the truck in half. The crack was almost deafening as the axe started its job dismembering the long forgotten hunk of steel. The second crack of the axe severed the useless engine from its frame. The men worked along the lake bed. Picking up trash and debris and placing it in bags. Some pulled the bigger pieces onto the shore and started a pile to be burned later. One man started a bag for fishing lures only, to be sorted out later at Mister Odie’s request. Ropes were used to pull out limbs and branches that were too large to be lifted. The men made short work of these with their store bought axes. “Leave no stones unturned!” Mister Odie called out, but knew this crew would do a fine job without being told, as they knew what their boss wanted.

The crew was half way across the lake bottom when a horn blasted behind them. Martin turned to see the silver Subaru’s with two occupants. As they stepped out, a look of stunned amazement filled their faces and they gaped at what had been Taylor lake. “Where’s the lake, Mister Oh?” Paul called out, locating the huge frame and flaming hair immediately. The silver flash and crashes of the axe on metal stopped momentarily, as Mister Odie waved them over and then continued with his work. Paul and Tamry walked around the piles of trash and bags that contained items that couldn’t be burned on the shore and nodded in approval at the area that was already cleared. “What happened to the lake?” Tamry asked Paul, as her gaze never strayed from the diligently working crew. “I don’t have a clue, but if this is what was here before, I’m glad it’s gone.” Paul replied, as he approved the difference of then, and now. The pair came around the embankment and upon the rusted hulk which laid in pieces scattered by the great axe. Mister Odie stopped and greeted them both as he made his way out of the crevice of the lake terrain. “What brings you two out this way?” Mister Oh asked, as he stood atop the bank. “Seems like Tamry doesn’t have a job for a while and I . . . , I mean we . . . , should go apartment hunting before Saturday. If you’re not too busy, care to come along?” “No job? Why not? Something happened to the bank?” Mister Oh asked. “Not the bank, the Holmes.” Tamry began to explain. “The sign on the door stated the bank will be closed for a week. Paul and I drove by the Holmes’ house and the movers said they were picking up some boxes for them and they were to be taken down to New Orleans. The house had a For Sale sign on the front lawn. We called Mister White a little while ago and he told me to take a week’s vacation, with pay. A new president, with staff, would be here by the time I got back. By the way, where’s the lake?” “Anything else, out of the house besides those boxes being moved?” Mister Oh asked Paul. “Not that I could see, not even his desk and computer were being packed. Seems they left everything but their clothes.” Paul answered. “Where’s the lake?” Tamry tried again. “Did you like any of the furniture in that house? I could arrange for you to have first choice of it if you do.” Mister Oh stated, cheerfully. Paul pondered a second about the desk and computer that he’d seen as Tamry lost her composure. “WHERE’S THE LAKE?” Her small siren voice, erupted on the pair standing there. “It’s in a safe place, should be back tonight. Don’t worry about it.” Mister Oh spoke softly, with a smile. “We could go and look over the whole house right now and you two could pick out what you would need.” “We need to look for a place to live first. I thought we would stay at my father’s.” Paul turned to Tamry and the disgruntled expression on her face, told the rest of the story in plain enough terms. “I don’t want to live in an oversized castle with servants, no matter how nice it is. The place we need should be small enough for us to start. Then we’ll look around for a place big enough to raise our kids.” Tamry said flatly. She still wondered about the lake, but thought it better not to bring it up again, at least not now. “It seems to me that when Paul and I drove around the other day, I saw a place that would suit your needs. Come let’s see if it’s still available today.” Mister Odie said, and started to walk around the embankment. “Martin, can the crew get along without me for a short time?” Mister Odie called. “You bet Mister Odie. Should take about two more hours for the small stuff and we can have Luke come over with the tractor and pull those pieces out by this afternoon.” Martin called back. “Sounds right to me. Take a break and get some more water over here first. The sun is getting higher and hotter.” Mister Odie boomed, as he walked away from the lake with the couple, as they tried to keep up with his great strides. As the trio got to the car, Tamry couldn’t take it any longer and stood in front of Mister Oh. Placing her hands on her hips, she said with exasperation, “For the last time. Where’s the lake?”

Mister Oh gently grasped her by the waist and lifted her high into the air above his head. “Do you see any lake?” Do you smell any lake? Do you feel any lake? Do you sense any lake?” Mister Oh asked, and then placed her in the back seat of the car. “No, I don’t sense any of those things.” Tamry said, with a huff. “Then you won’t believe me, if I tell you the lake is still there, will you.” Mister Oh said, as he and Paul got in the car. “What do you mean? The lake is still here?” Tamry asked, and looked to Paul for support. “Just because your five senses can’t detect a thing, doesn’t mean that it’s not there. It just shows that you can’t perceive everything around you.” Mister Oh answered Tamry. “You want me to believe, that those men are at the bottom of a lake, cleaning it, and not getting wet or having any trouble breathing?” Tamry asked, as she observed the workers casting more bags onto the shoreline. “Men have worked in mines for centuries, without the knowledge of the gasses, that slowly killed them. They couldn’t detect them either, and continued working.” Mister Oh said, as Paul drove the car from the lake front. “That’s different. That was gas. This is water!” Tamry tried to make her point. “The combination of oxygen and hydrogen has the same effect, as carbon or sulphuric gas in a mine. If you neutralize the bonding factors of either, they have no harmful effects on mort . . . ah, anyone.” Mister Oh answered, as he motioned for Paul to drive to the farm yard. “How does anything neutralize the bond?” Tamry asked perplexed. “Your question was, Where’s the lake? I said that it was still there. Now you want to speak of quantum physics? I thought you were looking for a house to raise a family.” Mister Odie said, with a smile as Paul stopped the car. “This sounds like it’s going nowhere, on a run away train. Let’s look for a house.” Paul said, as he looked into the rear view mirror and saw Tamry’s disgruntled expression. He turned in the seat and issued a wink with a shrug.

Mister Oh exited the car and surveyed the A-frame. The crew had installed the windows and sky lights upon the roof. The power lines had been attached at the rear. A shout announced from inside, let everyone know the water lines were also working properly. “Shall we look inside?” Mister Oh asked, and held the door open for Tamry. The couple came away from the car and through the front door. The interior of the house was bare except the kitchen area under the loft. The only furnishings were the new refrigerator, stove, and a chest freezer. Tamry inspected the highly polished parquet floor, which caught her reflection. A wide staircase ascended to the loft. The couple admired the large span as the pair of sky lights produced arcs of sunlight to sparkle off the newly polished wood floor of the loft, the other two cascaded a rainbow of colors to the lower living quarters. Mister Oh stood by the rail with his hands folded across his massive chest and a mysterious expression on his bearded face. “Mister Oh, you certainly have a beautiful home here. When the fireplace is installed, it will be perfect.” Paul said, as he walked down the stairs. “What is your opinion Mistress Tamry?” Mister Oh asked, as she came down the stairs. “It’s very nice. It needs a woman’s touch, to be a home, but it’s still very beautiful.” Tamry answered, as she turned slowly, taking in the details again. “I think. I have the perfect woman for the job. She could do wonders with the decor in about a week, I imagine.” Mister Oh spoke, as he opened a side door in the kitchen, and showed them another bathroom. “I’m sure. Lady Sif would do a fine job with that.” Tamry said, as she opened the refrigerator. “Oh no! Lady Sif would never consider living in such a small abode as this. She has needs of a greater space, to enjoy herself. Walls seem to pin her down too much for her liking.” Mister Oh said, and turned to face the couple. “My visions suggest you, Tamry. You and Paul could find great happiness here. The price is set right for newlyweds. It’s My Bonding Gift!” Mister Oh spoke honorably, with a short bow to the couple. “Of course, you would still have to pay taxes and utilities.” “Here? This house? Us?” Paul stammered as Tamry stood with a dumbfounded expression on her face. “Unless you want something else. We can go into town and look around.” Mister Oh said, dryly and started for the front door. “No! Don’t go. Wait a minute!” Tamry squeaked as she found her voice. “It’s perfect . . . it’s beautiful . . . it’s . . . it’s . . . oh thank you!” Tamry rushed up to Mister Oh and tried to wrap her arms around his waist. Her tears of joy fell on his strange belt buckle. His roar of laughter shook the house and echoed outside through the hole of the fireplace setting. “Now, let’s go to the other house, and see if you want anything else brought here.” Mister Oh said, and gently removed Tamry from his waist. Paul wrapped his arms around her and whispered, “Care about the lake now?” “Lake? What lake?” Tamry answered, with a watery smile, kissing him and turned to follow Mister Oh out the front door. Paul laughed as he brought up the rear.

Jim stopped Mister Odie to relay the news that Orin would be finished running the rest of the electric lines through the house in a few hours and wanted to know when the fireplace bricks would be delivered. “The fireplace is already here, Jim. Have the Masons take down the foundry, and build a grand hearth for this new home of Paul and Tamry Hart.” Mister Odie announced, proudly. “I thought this was your home, Mister Odie.” Jim said, as his eyes went from the couple, up to Mister Odie. “Always Mister Oh. The doors will never be closed to you.” Paul said, and Tamry nodded. “We must go and shop for furnishings now. If anything is needed to finish, have it delivered today.” Mister Odie said, and turned for the car. “That be no problem, Mista Odie. Matt can order all we need, when we tell him on the radio.” Jim said, and started to go for the Douglas brothers. “The what?” Mister Odie questioned, as he stopped. Jim remembered, that he had forgotten to tell Mister Odie about the base station and units. “Sorry, Mista Odie. I was fixin’ to get to it, but I been so busy that I plum forgot. I had the men get us some of them radios, so’s we could be talkin’ to each other as we work.” “Two of them big ones’ are in town. One at my house, and the other’s at Matt Stone’s. Just in case we be needing a doctor an’ all, or even the fire department.” Jim said, as he pointed to the antenna on the barn roof, and held out his hand unit that he un-clipped from his belt. Mister Odie held the small black box and pondered its function. He handed it back to Jim with a puzzled look. Jim depressed the side key and spoke. “Martin, dis Jim, give me a check.” He released the key, in seconds, a voice crackled to life. “Jim, Martin here, read you clear. Any new instructions?” “No, not yet. Just showing the stuff to Mista Odie.” Jim replied. He released the key and replaced the radio to his belt. Mister Odie thought for a moment and then smiled. “Saving time from walking and talking. Aids the works, as ‘Runes’, mark safe or hazardous ports. It is a good thing Jim, good indeed.” Mister Oh stated, with a pat to the shoulder, before heading for the car. Jim walked over to the Douglas brothers with a grin from ear to ear, as the car drove off to town, Jim thought, RUNES, what is that?

Paul slowed to entered the Holmes’ driveway and parked. “How do we get inside?” He asked, as he opened his door. “The key is under the matt.” Mister Oh stated, and got out of the car. Tamry followed the pair, to the front steps. Mister Oh bent to retrieved the key, then held it, to show Tamry that it was exactly where he said it would be. Mister Odie unlocked the door and they entered the house. They spent the next two hours agreeing on what they wanted as Paul made a list. “Now Paul, I want you to place a price on all that you want. Tamry as soon as the bank is reopened, transfer the cost from my account, to the city treasury fund that you’ll find with this code number.” Mister Odie said, as he quoted the numbers to Paul. “Call the movers, and have them bring the items out tomorrow. You hold the key until Tamry can place it in the bank. I am sure the new president’s staff will have a Realtor to take over the position vacated by Margaret Holmes.” Mister Odie said, as the three sat in the car. “What happened to the Holmes?” Tamry asked, and after seeing Mister Odie’s face, refrained from asking anymore. “They’re repaying a past due debt.” Mister Odie replied, and left it at that. “You will still need a bed. Any ideas on that?” Mister Odie said, to change the subject. “I’ve always wanted a waterbed.” Paul said. “What about you Tamry?” The memory of the lake crossed Tamry’s mind and through a smile she said, “That would be nice, but would the loft hold the weight?” “The house is built of solid oak, by fine craftsmen. The weight of another house could be brought to bear upon it. A waterbed, will not even make the timbers creak.” Mister Odie stated, as a mater of fact. “We believe you, Mister Oh. Let’s go to Baton Rouge and find us a, love nest.” Paul said, and started the engine. Paul’s right ear burned from the flick Tamry gave it with her finger and Mister Oh laughed.

By the time they came back to the farm, the sun was low in the west, and the workers were coming back to the yard. Paul parked next to the house and they walked to where the Douglas brothers were standing. Mister Odie was pleased to see the old stones of the foundry in place next to the house. The chimney was only half complete as it stopped halfway up the structure, but the supports for additional stone were already inset. “We ran out of material at the midpoint, but we should have enough tomorrow to finish. Some brothers of ours in Arkansas, have the correct stones to make the match. They are coming down with a truck load in the morning. I think they also want to see what we told them we built here.” Ken told Mister Odie. The sounds of breaking glass caught Paul’s attention. “What’s that all about?” Paul asked. “We’ve decided to try something new on the hearth. We have heard that a glass base would hold heat longer and would be easier to maintain. With all the glass bottles brought back from the lake bottom, it seemed the best use, for that kind of trash.” John Douglas explained. The group went inside to see for themselves how the work was progressing. Two workers had a burlap bag filled with bottles. They were crushing the glass with hammers. The glass that had already been placed into the pit formed a multi-colored shelf as it was being tamped into place by a third man. “After a few good fires in there, it should melt all together, and form a pad.” Ken said, to the group. “Then the hearth will keep hot almost throughout the night.” John finished, his brother’s thought. Tamry touched Paul’s shoulder and pointed to the black conduit wire with black boxes, along the baseboards of the house, with a questioning look. “It’s the only way to run the lines for the outlets. That oak is too hard to cut into, and the sand won’t let us run it through anyway.” Orin said, as he came down from the loft. “It will be just fine as is. Set that low, the furniture will make it blend and nobody will even notice it.” Paul said, and patted Tamry’s side. As they walked around the rest of the house, it was true that the cable did become unnoticeable against the swirls of oaken veins that formed patterns of their own. “It’s going to be just beautiful at that.” Paul said.

Paul and Tamry were so excited about their good fortune that they decided to pay an unexpected visit on both their parents. They first spent two hours describing the days events to her mother. With all the questions answered to Mrs. Greenwood’s satisfaction, Paul drove Tamry over to meet his father. Charles greeted them at the door and escorted them to the study. After receiving their choice of drinks, he left them in the Judge’s company. “So, this is the young lady, that has eyes for my son.” Judge Hart said, as he gazed over his reading glasses. “Yes, father. May I present your future daughter-in-law, Tamry Greenwood?” Paul addressed, his father holding out Tamry’s hand. Tamry felt that she was on display for approval and that was a feeling she wished would stop. “A pleasure to meet you, my dear.” Judge Hart spoke, warmly and took her hand. The Judge lead Tamry to his chair and motioned for her to sit. Paul was stunned by this, as he had never sat at that desk or in his father’s chair. “Now child. Tell me all about yourself and what do you see in this man.” Judge Hart asked, with a smile. The conversation lasted over an hour and three rounds of drinks were served by Charles when the subject of the house came up. “I hope, your passports and visas, are up to date.” Judge Hart stated, firmly. “What does that mean, Paul?” Tamry asked. “Paul should have told you. When you cross over the county road, you leave the U.S. and enter Iceland.” Judge Hart said, as he finished his drink. Paul explained what had happened with Luke Saturday and when he finished he said, “I thought that was just a dodge, for the benefit of Sheriff Thomas.” The judge walked over to his desk. Opening a folder, he then took a book from the shelf. “Read this, Paul. Then maybe you can make a reasonable decision on the matter.” Paul scanned the folder and then the highlighted passage from, the International Law text. When he’d finished both, he turned to his father. “It really would have been an act of war!” Paul whispered, and felt queasy about how close the encounter had come. “Yes, It would have. The sad part about it was, that he could have asked for our own military to back him, and received it without question. There’s still a treaty on the books from World War Two. I placed a call to the State Department and asked their opinion to this matter. They informed me that the property was indeed Icelandic soil. The ambassador had already completed the paperwork on the embassy. Your employer should have informed you to this fact Friday.” Judge Hart explained, as he swirled his drink and peered at his son. “What do I have to do? He says I’m his envoy. What does that entail?” Paul asked, as he found a seat. “Technically speaking, being his lawyer makes you an envoy to begin with. Nevertheless, seeing how he uses the language so well. He means for you to fill the entire dictionary definition, from lawyer to bookie.” Charles knocked on the door and entered to bring the Judge a fax that had arrived. He handed it to the Judge and left the room. Judge Hart read the paper and handed it to Paul. “This makes it official.” Judge Hart stated, grimly. “What is it, Paul?” “It says, that I now have duel citizenship for the United States and Iceland. My application has been approved and documents will be presented by courier in twenty-four hours. Agencies of the governments are being notified also.” Paul finished the message and sat down next to Tamry. “When did you put in for this, Paul?” Judge Hart asked, and reached for the fax. “I didn’t. I think you’re very correct about that envoy matter. I should go and speak with Mister Oh about this.” Paul said, in a low tone. “We can see him in the morning, at sunrise.” Tamry said softly. “No, I think we should go over now and find out precisely, what my job is.” Paul said, as he stood up and helped Tamry from his father’s chair. “You think he’s up at this hour?” Judge Hart asked, as they went to the door. By Paul’s watch it was a half past one. “He will be when he hears the horn.” Paul answered. “Will we see you this evening at seven, ah, informal I hope?” Tamry said, to Paul’s father. “Charles has been looking forward to this cookout. Something about that chef’s hat he likes so well. Still, lately there’s been no need to celebrate much. I’m sure that’s about to change.” Judge Hart answered, and wished them good night.