Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Treasure Recovered

[From JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL: Meg Worley finds the gold cross her lover gave to her twenty years ago. ]

         It’s mine, Will,” she whispered, “That cross is mine!”
         Parker opened his mouth in amazement, stared at her, and then at the cross in his hand, as if he were trying to understand her meaning. Then he closed his mouth firmly and tucked the cross into one grimy palm. “Oh, no,” he said craftily, “This here is a solid gold cross, and I found it. You got no proof it’s yours. This came off a dead man three score miles from here. It don’t belong to you, but If you want, I’ll sell it to you.”  He folded his arms across his chest and grinned. “Name me a price.”
         “You bastard!” Will’s fist caught him off guard, and he fell backward against the wall of the storehouse. Before he could recover his footing, Will hit him again, knocking loose one of his front teeth. Spitting blood and clutching his chin, he watched speechlessly as Will searched in the grass for the cross, which had flown from Parker’s hand in the assault.
         “Here it is!” Will knelt to pick it up, to give it to Meg. Gently, he took her hand in his, and with the other he pressed the cross and chain on her upturned palm and closed her fingers around it. Then, for a moment, he held on to her hand tightly with both of his. Looking down, she saw that one of his hands was skinned and bleeding from his having hit Parker.
         “You hurt yourself,” she said numbly.
         “No matter.” . . .

         Then at last she opened her hand and looked at the cross. With one finger, she touched its four points, then she traced its width and length. She moved her hand so that its angles caught the noontime sun, and watched its burnished surface gleam.
         “Do you want to put it on?” Leaning over her, Will took hold of the ends of the chain nnd brought them up slowly, like one performing a religious ceremony, and fastened them around her neck. “There,” he said softly.
         She stood up, turned to face him, and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said. She said no more, and he did not ask her.

--Virginia Bernhard, JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL A Story of America’s Beginnings (2014)

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