Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Crystal Ball


Professor Tanner arrived as scheduled checking into Watson's B&B. He had missed his ward. It was quiet in his house without the presence of Cody and his friends. In all his travels he had never visited Camden Corners but could see why Cody wanted to stay for the summer. It was quaint and charming he could only imagine what it looked like in the winter covered with snow.
Cody was anxious to show the professor around town and thought he might like to visit Miss Dawson who was now Mrs. Crowley. The professor was happy to hear that his good friend had found happiness in her later years. The pair dropped by the antique shop and were greeted by owners Emily Patterson and Lily Kramer who had left Greensboro almost two years ago to open their own antique shop.
Professor Tanner was impressed with the shop and happy for two of his favorite students. They were both glowing and the reason, he later realized, were the two Crowley fellows who were just as smitten with them.
Nettie entered the room with her arms outstretched. The old friends embraced and Melvin could see Camden Corners and those Crowley men brought out the best in all three of them. Nettie invited her friends to dinner that evening and said Ethel and Jonas Fulbright, more Greensboro natives, would be returning this afternoon from Pleasantville where they were attending an auction.
The Fulbrights had come to Camden Corners shortly after Emma and Lily bought the antique shop and were becoming very serious scavengers.
Cody and the professor continued on their tour of Camden Corners. The professor couldn't believe how many people Cody had met and become friends with since his arrival just days before. They stopped by Doc McMillan's office to meet April Hawthorne. April's face lit up when Cody walked through the door. The professor suspected his ward may have more of an attachment to Camden Corners than just the scenery. The last stop before heading back to Mrs. Watson's was a visit to Tempting Treats Bakery where Professor Tanner was introduced to Iris. He had only met Mavis Short one time but this beautiful little girl was the spitting image of her mother.
Nettie outdid herself with a special company meal. Polly was learning to be a wonderful cook too. She loved helping Nettie with the cooking and cleaning to show her gratitude for giving Faith and her such a lovely home to live in.
Polly was starting courses at Middleton Normal school in September. She was looking forward to becoming a school teacher and only hoped she would be as gifted at teaching as Nettie had been. Polly and Randy Burke had become close friends. Randy was instrumental in saving Faith from her birth father, James Philpot. James had taken advantage of Polly by arranging a phony wedding ceremony thinking her father would give the couple his land as a wedding present. Polly was in the family way when James informed her that they were not legally married and never would be.
Marlin Cooper sent his daughter off to be with an aunt until the baby was born and deposited in an orphanage. Polly escaped her aunt's house with newborn Faith and found her way to Camden Corners and her dear friend Nettie. Randy had fallen in love with Polly and Faith shortly after he met them but he knew Polly needed time before she would be ready for another relationship. Randy was a patient man and it was paying off. Just the other evening, Polly put her hand on his and told him how grateful she was for his friendship. She then kissed him on the cheek. It wasn't much but it was a good first step from a young woman who had been betrayed by someone she thought loved her.
The dinner party was progressing well. The guests were all chattering and laughing. Iris who had come with her parents was playing with little Joey and Faith on the floor by the grownups.
Ethel told of the Fulbright's adventure in Pleasantville. The estate sale they had gone to was in an old Victorian mansion. They were able to bid on several beautiful pieces including a chandelier that they almost couldn't fit into the wagon for the ride home. As they were about to leave, a fortune teller's crystal ball came up for bid. Jonas wanted to leave but Ethel was intrigued by the lights shining on the ball. She bid a few dollars on it and won the bid. Jonas told her she had wasted her money but she thought it would be a good conversation piece for the antique shop. The wagon hadn't been emptied yet and Ethel insisted on bringing it in so everyone could see it.
Jonas walked into the house with the ball in hand and placed it in front of Nettie. The sun suddenly went under a cloud and the dining room became dark with only a light from the crystal ball shining. The light lit up Nettie's face just like a fortune teller.
“I am Madam Crowley” chuckled Nettie “I see a future of many marriages in Camden Corners starting with several at this table.”
Oscar Crowley glanced at has sons lifting his eyebrow as if to say it was about time for both of them to pop the question.
“I see a number of babies being born before the first snow of winter.”
Emma Patterson glanced over at Diana Taylor just in time to see Joe smile at her and squeeze her hand.
Nettie looked down into the crystal ball again, the ball suddenly turned dark and just then the sun came out again and brightened the room. Nettie had an uneasy feeling. She was not a superstitious person but there was something about that crystal ball that sent a chill up her spine. She placed it on the coffee table and proceeded to pour more coffee and brandy for those who wanted it.
Joe looked at Diana and she nodded. He then announced that at least one of the crystal ball's predictions would come true. He and Diana were expecting a baby in the fall. Everyone at the table was happy for the couple. They thought at one time they were not going to be blessed with children. Just about the time Iris came into their lives, Diana discovered little Joey was on the way. Iris was happy to hear she was going to be a big sister again.
The group started talking about the Founder's Day picnic that would be held the following Sunday. April was excitedly telling Cody all about the celebration.
“Each year on the Sunday following the summer solstice the whole town gets together to welcome the season. Everyone brings a picnic lunch, we make ice cream and have a pie and cake auction, a three legged race, we play croquet. Oh Cody, it is so much fun. I hope you will still be visiting in Camden Corners then.”
“I will if you will be making a pie so I can bid on it. My favorite is blueberry.”
“Oh yes Cody, I will make a blueberry pie. I hope you will be my partner in the three legged race.”
April had never made a blueberry pie in her life but she was determined to make one for the picnic.
Nettie said she hoped Melvin would be staying for the picnic too. He told her he was enjoying his stay in this lovely town and thought he might think about staying for awhile. The table was abuzz with talk of the picnic. It was obvious to the newcomers that the people of Camden Corners enjoyed spending time with their neighbors and were looking forward to getting to know more of the townspeople.
The party came to an end and everyone was getting ready to leave.
“Don't forget your crystal ball Ethel”.
Nettie went to pick it up and it slipped out of her hands crashing to the floor and breaking into pieces.
“Oh Ethel. I'm so sorry, How clumsy of me”.
“Don't worry Nettie, I think Jonas was right. It is a rather strange item. I don't know why I bought it in the first place”.
Nettie picked up the pieces to put them in the trash and she was filled with fear and trepidation.
“What's wrong dear, you look as though you have seen a ghost.” exclaimed Oscar.
“I'm just being silly, I know but that thing gives me the creeps”.
“Let me take it out to the trash now and it won't bother you anymore.”
As Oscar lowered it into the trash barrel, the thing lit up with a flash and then darkness. Oscar thought his imagination was working overtime but decided not to mention his experience to Nettie. He did feel the need for another nightcap when he came back into the house and wasn't surprised when Nettie joined him.

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