He had tried to close his mind to the idea of purchasing the property and the cottage, but something just wasn’t permitting that to happen. Time and time again he saw it in his mind…, the hill overlooking the lake with the cottage restored, nestled into a crescent shaped niche about halfway down the hillside. He would sigh, shake his head and try to push the image away.
Work was becoming more demanding as the staffing in his office had been cut and many were forced to perform the work of two or three people. He started to wonder how much longer it would be before more staffing cuts or corporate closed the location entirely. Rather than wait until he received a notice, he decided to start looking for a less precarious position. After some research online, looking at the newspapers, he checked in with a headhunter to start seriously circulating his resume. They came up with seven companies that had positions that met his requirements, and he met their needs. Now it was time to start setting appointments and interviewing. Good luck !!!
The first two interviews didn’t seem too promising. The first company was looking for someone with more multi-tasking experience and someone who could also help out in sales when necessary. This really didn’t feel like a good fit to him…, or them. He was trying to escape this type of work environment and not run to someone asking for more ! The second was a really small business and, while it looked attractive on the surface, it also, between the lines, showed signs of instability and no sense or promise of growing beyond it’s somewhat limited bounds. It didn’t seem worth the gamble to him. Several weeks passed without any further interviews and it seemed that there wasn’t any more to do but muddle along as he’d been for a few years now. It was, in a small way, discouraging. He had been looking forward to a change.
He came through the door, stopped to hang his jacket on a hook and kicked off his shoes. “It’s a jungle out there, Ghost. I don’t think you’d like it.” He dropped the mail on the kitchen table, drifted into the den and slumped into the old recliner. Ghost followed and hopped up to sit in his lap, looking intently into his eyes. “Ok, little girl…, what is it that you want? Just give me a few minutes and I’ll be right with you.” He propped his feet up, laid his head back into the cushion and was soon asleep. Dutifully, his faithful cat followed suit, curling on his lap. She was patient.
I just came to see if you were alright. You haven’t visited the cottage for some time now. Is something wrong? I know we each see it through different eyes. I see it as bright, new, and fresh. You see a ruined building, decaying and falling apart…, but I saw in your eyes that you liked something there… Please come to visit again and stay for a little while. Try to see it the way that I see it…, the way it could be again with the love of someone who cared for it. She caressed his cheek and was gone.
He woke to Ghost rubbing against his cheek and licking him. “Ok, little cat, I’ll get you some dinner…, and maybe some for myself too. He rose and went to the kitchen to survey what was available in the fridge and pantry, settling for a couple of hot dogs, some beans, and some potato chips. The Ghost received her usual selection of canned tuna in oil. The oil was supposed to be good for her coat. The caress had seemed so real in his dream, but then…, maybe it was just the cat.
The beans and hot dogs took only a few minutes in the microwave and he was soon sitting at the table with the kitty having her meal at his feet. He sorted through the mail, tossing all the junk mail into the wastebasket…, wait a minute, that last one didn’t look like the usual junk. It was from one of the companies with which he had hoped to interview. Instead of just ripping it open he took the time to use a letter opener and removed the enclosed letter.
“Thank you for your interest in employment with our company. Your resume has been reviewed by our personnel staff along with other candidates. You were not qualified for the position for which you applied, but we would like to interview you for another upcoming opening more in line with your interests and qualifications. If interested, please call…..”
He sat back and reread the letter, wondering what they had in mind…, and why they found him not qualified for the job he’s applied for. At any rate, he was interested enough to be calling them first thing tomorrow morning. There were still a couple hours of daylight so he decided to take a walk out through the woods. He seemed to think better out there away from any distractions. He wanted to see the lake again anyway. He grabbed a bottle of water and a flashlight and set out down the trail, taking the cutoff that led to the lake…, and coincidentally, the cottage.
It was late October and he noted that much of the forest was filled with the bare skeletons of trees, leaves having already fallen after several early frosts and he kicked through the detritus that covered the forest floor. As he rounded the curve and turned at the fence he noted that the trees around the cottage had also shed their color, making the cottage look even more forlorn. He wandered around the outside and around the remains of the implement shed, poking through the rusted remains. He found a couple of rusted ax heads, a hammer head, and an old block plane that was marvelously intact. He carried them over and deposited them on the front porch. Wandering around the back of the house he found what could only be the entrance to a root cellar or some kind of underground storage. He carefully moved boards that had once been a door and cautiously eased down into the abyss, switching on the flashlight. It was a cellar for storing vegetables and food along with anything else that couldn’t be stored in the house. There were several crockery urns and water jugs, an old sauerkraut cutter, a very worn butter churn, and a collection of butter presses, all made of wood, but well preserved in the dry air of the cellar. Back in another recessed area he found an old walnut closet and a chest, both containing what looked like very dated, antebellum, men’s clothing. They were covered in dust but, otherwise, not in bad condition. At the bottom of the chest was an old military uniform…, gray wool with silver braid, buttons, and captain’s bars pinned to the collar. Beside the uniform was a cavalry sabre and a holstered revolver. The belt on the uniform had a large silver buckle, engraved with the letters CS.
Whomever had worn it had been a captain in the Confederate cavalry. He reverently replaced all of this and covered the chest with some worn canvas he found nearby. Twilight was approaching and he wanted to take another look inside the house. Replacing the boards over the outside entry, he went around front and inside. It was like he knew exactly where he wanted to go… As he entered he went immediately upstairs to the bedroom, looking through drawers and the closet. He started to remove the necklace from the crystal bowl, but instead, placed the locket he’d found with the necklace and put the bowl on the bed. In a small box he found some tintypes, not pausing to look at them, he put the box in the bowl also. This was enough for now. It was starting to get dark and he wanted to get back to the house while there was still some light.
Returning to the house, he deposited the bowl on the table and went to start a fire in the fireplace, Ghost complaining all the while. His absence was not part of her evening routine and she was very vocal about it. As the warmth spread through the room, he retrieved the bowl and sat down near the fire to examine his finds. The necklace was the same relatively simple cameo that he’d seen before. He was more interested to see if there were any pictures in the locket. His curiosity was rewarded. The interior revealed another picture of the young woman in the picture he had on the nightstand. On the other side of the locket was a picture of a young man in uniform. There was something so familiar about the soldier that he could have sworn he knew him, but this was absolutely impossible. This picture had to be over almost 150 years old. It hit him then….., the cottage, the clothing, the tools and all were relics from another era. He was stunned.
Ghost was clamoring for attention. He pulled her up into his lap, stroking her and scratching her behind the ears, which she loved. Her response was to promptly curl up and go to sleep. “Need to rest up so you can sleep when we go to bed, eh”? He ruffled her coat and leaned back into the cushions. He, once again, felt the pull, the urge, to examine the idea of buying the property. First, though, he wanted to know some of the history of what he was considering…, the property, the cottage, the people. He needed to know more. This was northern country. What was a Confederate officer doing here? With that question in his mind, he drifted off to sleep.