Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Silver Chalice

Will, Kate, Alma and Melvin were enjoying one of the few remaining summer nights on the porch of the vicarage. It had been an eventful day. Will and Kate had become engaged and were going to be married this coming Saturday. Two orphaned boys were sleeping soundly in the bedroom upstairs. Will was sure it was the first real bed they'd ever slept in.
Kate spoke aloud “I can't help but wonder if somewhere the boy's mothers aren't frantically looking for their children.”
Melvin spoke up “From what little Billy said tonight, I don't believe anyone is looking for them. I am under the impression that the boys are from New York City. New York is a fascinating and exciting city but the poverty is overwhelming. The wealthy have a tendency to believe that if someone can't take care of themselves they deserve the life they live. There are more children like Butch and Billy than we can imagine. Some whose parents have died from industrial accidents, illnesses or the bottle. Some who simply have too many children at home and abandon the older ones because there isn't enough food to feed them all. Many of these children's mothers are mere children themselves. Butch and Billy are both intelligent boys. Most of these youngsters are not as well spoken as either of them. I would guess it is Billy who is the observer and recognizes the proper way of speaking and conducting himself. I believe, in spite of his questionable beginning, he has the promise of a brighter future. Of course, that would be more easily attained if he were to be adopted by the two of you.”
Kate's heart was breaking for all the lost children. She knew she couldn't solve all of their troubles but she was determined to make a difference with the two boys upstairs. She and Will walked to the bedroom and watched them sleeping soundly. Kate pulled the covers up over Butch. She knew Billy considered himself too old for tucking in but she gently patted his head. She thought she saw him smile and hoped he was having a nice dream. A tear rolled down her cheek as Will gave her a hug. He knew he had found his very own angel and she would soon be his wife.
While Butch and Billy were sleeping peacefully, Angus Keefe was frantically searching the passenger car he had been riding in since he left New York City. The train pulled into the station in St. Louis an hour ago. Angus couldn't believe he had lost the chalice. His chalice. After years of hearing about the Mount Keefe Silver Chalice he was finally bringing it to it's rightful home. His home, Angus Liam Keefe. Direct descendent of Liam Shamus Keefe. The chalice was given to Liam by the artist in the late sixteenth century. His brother, Cain persuaded Liam to donate it to St. Patrick's Church in Dublin and there it had been all these years. Angus firmly believed the chalice should be his and traveled to Dublin several months ago. He spotted the chalice and at just the right moment, grabbed it out of the Father O'Connor's hands as he was celebrating holy communion. He ran from the church to his rented room, placed the chalice in the satchel he carried with him and was on the boat headed for New York before nightfall.
When the ship arrived in New York, he boarded the train for his home in St. Louis. Everything had gone so smoothly he was celebrating his success with a bit of port. The satchel was strapped to his arm but he found it difficult to eat his meal without the use of his right hand. He removed the strap intending to place it back on his wrist after dinner but was so enjoying his port, he fell asleep with the satchel unsecured.
“I've been robbed” Angus shouted.
Early the next morning Alma was in the kitchen stirring pancake batter. Ham and bacon were frying on the stove. The Vicar, still sleepy from a late night, wondered how Alma did what she did. She wasn't a young woman anymore and here she was bright eyed and busy as a bee.
“Good morning Will, did you sleep well? Kate was up with the birds this morning, she has gone to the telegraph office to wire her parents about the wedding. I hope you aren't disappointed that it won't be a big, glamorous affair?”
“As long as your granddaughter becomes my wife, I don't care what kind of wedding it is. I just hope it isn't a disappointment to Kate.”
With that Kate entered the kitchen. “I would think the mother of two would have more things on her mind than a big fancy wedding. I just want to marry my sons' father.”
They all laughed including Oscar Crowley who Kate happened to run into on her way home.
“I've told Oscar all about the boys and he wants to talk with them. He thinks, if the boys agree, there shouldn't be a problem adopting them. He knows the Judge who would hear our case and thinks it would go smoothly. Oh Will, I hope you haven't changed your mind. I have already spoken to Nettie and she has offered to tutor the boys so they will be able to attend school in just a few months.”
“You have been busy this morning, haven't you? No, I haven't changed my mind. In fact, I haven't thought of anything else all night. Now, let's go wake up our sons so we can all sit down to this wonderful meal Great Grandmother, Alma has prepared.”
Upstairs, two boys were waking up
“Hey Butch, what did you do with that satchel you swiped from that guy on the train?”
“Golly Billy, I forgot about that. I think I dropped it when we jumped off the train. It was just some dumb old cup anyway. I thought it was the man's lunch and I was really hungry. Billy, I think I smell bacon.”
Will tapped on the door telling the boys it was time to get up and come down for breakfast. They arrived in the dining room and saw Oscar Crowley. He greeted them in a deep voice. For an instant Billy was afraid Will really did call the sheriff on them but he saw the smile on the old gentleman's face and sat down folding his hands and bowing his head waiting for grace to be said. After breakfast, Oscar, Will and Kate called the boys into the parlor. Oscar wanted to know how they would feel about staying with Will for the next few days and Kate after the ceremony on Saturday.
“On Monday morning we will go to visit with a judge to see about Will and Kate being your new mother and father. Do you think you would like that?”
Butch was beaming. “You would be our Ma and Pa? Billy, did you hear that? It's even better than what you asked God for.”
Billy, didn't say a word for a few seconds. He glanced around the room and then said
“You know what Pa, you were right about God, you can't see Him but you know He is there.” Everybody hugged and cried and laughed.
Oscar was beaming as he entered the Antique Shop.
“Sometimes things just work out as they should” he told Nettie.
Nettie was beaming herself. “Richard and Robert stopped by this morning. They asked us to join them and Emma and Lily tonight at the Trattoria for an early supper. The girls have been giggling all morning. I hope it's what I think it is and they have announcements to make.”
“It's about time” grumbled Oscar. “If I dragged my feet with their mother as they are doing, they never would have been born.”
Everyone was right on time that evening. Rosa had a bottle of champagne waiting for them as they sat at the table. Richard began the conversation by saying they would like Oscar and Nettie's help in planning a double wedding ceremony for them. After congratulations, handshakes and hugs, Lily said they thought a Christmas wedding would be nice.
“Christmas!” cried Oscar. “That's three months away. Haven't you kept me waiting for grandchildren long enough and you want to wait another three months?”
Nettie put her hand over his trying to calm him down.
Emma thought for a moment and then said “Would the first day of autumn suit you any better Father?”
“Now, here's a girl who makes sense. I'd rather the wedding were tomorrow but I suppose I can wait one more week.”
Everyone laughed at Oscar's impatience but they all agreed the sooner they were married the happier they would be.
After dinner, Oscar and Nettie excused themselves. They thought they'd head home to check on Polly and Faith. It was only a matter of time before Polly and Faith started a new life with Randy Burke. That was what Nettie wanted for the girl who had become like a daughter to her but she would miss them terribly.
The young people decided to take a walk along the beach before heading home. Richard and Robert were reminiscing about their Dad while they were growing up. Although he was an extremely busy attorney and the only one within 50 miles back then, he always found time to be with his family. Both boys looked up to him and were very happy when some of Oscar's old clients compared them to father.
“The least we can do for the old man is give him a houseful of grandchildren.” Robert said with a twinkle in his eye.
“I'm all for that” replied Lily, her eyes flashing back at him.
Richard noted that Emma looked a little sad. “What's wrong, dear? You aren't having second thoughts about marrying me are you?”
“Don't be silly Richard. I can't wait to marry you. It's just that I don't have any family anymore. I was thinking of how happy my grandfather would have been to have a great grandchild.”
Lily spoke up. “Emma, there are so many people in Camden Corners who think of you as family. Nettie would be so hurt if she heard you talk that way, you know she thinks of both of us as daughters.”
Emma shook her head in agreement and was a little ashamed to be sounding so selfish. Richard squeezed her hand. At that moment, she began to fall. Richard grabbed her arm to catch her. She had stumbled on something half buried in the sand. She picked it up.
“This looks like a silver chalice and by the feel of it, I suspect it's quite old. There is some kind of writing on the bottom but it's too dark to make it out. Let's take it back to the shop, I'm curious as to what it says.”
When they entered the shop and turned on the light Emma realized the writing was in Latin.
“Nice to have an attorney around when you need one. Let's see how much of your Latin you remember.”
Richard read the words COK.ME.FIERI.FECIT.ANNO.DOMINI. 1590. Together the Crowleys translated the words into English COK had me made in the year of the Lord 1590.
Emma and Lily knew they had found a very valuable work of art. It would be a busy day tomorrow what with planning a wedding in just a couple of weeks and researching this silver chalice that they stumbled upon.
Still ranting and raving over his missing satchel, Angus was close to strangling the conductor if he didn't tell him who could have stolen his property. The conductor did remember chasing two boys off the train and he may have seen a satchel flying through the air when they jumped. Finally he remembered it was just as they were coming into Camden Corners. He warned the Camden Corners station master, Lionel Cotton that the boys might try hopping on the next train and to keep an eye out for them.
Angus was at the ticket counter within minutes. He would track down those ruffians if it was the last thing he did. After all his hard work getting the chalice back to its rightful owner, he was not about to lose it now.