Captain Tory

March 22, 2008
By Megan Arnell, Chesterfield, MO

February 12, 19—

Dear Diary,

Mother is getting so sick now. Miss Alice, the maid, looks worried all the time, and she’s strangely nice to me. She’s not muttering about me as “the child” and scolding me anymore. And, I heard Dr. Cranwell talking to Papa.

“Better prepare yourself, sir,” he said in a low voice. “And you’d do well to give your boy a warning. For such a sensitive child, he’ll need it.”

What does the doctor mean, Diary? Surely Mother can’t—she’s not in great danger, is she?

John Owen woke up with a start as he heard a weak voice come from the bed.

“John,” Mary called softly. “Please come.”

“Mary. I’m here. Don’t worry.” John hurriedly lifted himself from the chair and walked the room’s length to his awakened wife.

“John, you must know what I know. It is time.” As he started to interrupt, she lifted her pale finger to his lips. “John, please. Let me speak.”

With fear in his eyes, he nodded.

“I—.” She was cut off by a fit of violent coughs. John worryingly watched, holding her hand tightly.

After a long moment, she continued. “I love you, John. Tell Daniel that I love him. Don’t feel terribly when I pass. I’m not going to be sick anymore. I’m glad. I’ve had a good life—and these past twelve years with you have been wonderful.” Then a wistfulness filled her dark eyes. “But I will miss you two so.”

“Mary,” John cried desperately. “Mary, don’t leave me. You can live still! Oh, please, Mary!” He pulled her head into his arms, stroking her black hair. “I love you. Please,” he finished gently.

“I love you too, John. Dear John.” Fading away, her eyes slowly closed, and her hand lost what strength it had.

Long into the night, a broken-hearted man, overcome with despair, sobbed, still clutching the lifeless body of his love.

Over the next while, the small town buzzed of the news. The mayor’s daughter—the one that had run away with “that poor farmer” twelve years previously –had died. A sensation was made that rippled and traveled from the mayor’s office all the way to the small farms miles away.

Not a day had passed before the first visitor came. Mrs. Potter—known to all of the city’s inhabitants as “Mrs. Mayor”—waddled from her “high-falutin’ aut-mobeel” (as Miss Alice, who had never become resigned to poor life, called it darkly) and knocked crisply on the door. Miss Alice promptly opened it, and murmured, “Yes’m?”

“Show me,” Mrs. Potter said in a loud, commanding voice, “to Mr. Owen.”

Miss Alice curtsied and led the way to the small parlor, though it may be suspected that her thoughts were not as meek as were her actions.
No one knew Alice’s last name—not excluding herself. She was simply “Miss Alice” to old and young, male and female, though it may be admitted that only a select few knew of her first name, or of her existence at all. Alice was thin and angular, and looked much older than her twenty-eight years. Her coarse yellow hair unceasingly was held in a high bun, covered by a frilly white maid’s cap. She sported a long, very red face with squinted, brown eyes. She was wont to mutter to herself out of her tight lips as she fulfilled the duties of the household.

Crisply, she announced Mrs. Potter to her Master Owen, and was dismissed from the room.

Once sure that the servant girl was out of hearing, Mrs. Potter began talking to Mr. Owen.

“John,” she addressed her son-in-law, “do not worry. I forgive you absolutely and completely for my daughter’s death.” In her forgiveness, she unmistakably let John Owen know that in her opinion, he was responsible for his beloved wife’s sickness. “I harbor no hard feelings.”

John, feeling obligated to say something to this audacious declaration, finally managed, “Thank you.”

Mrs. Potter acknowledged her nobility with a curt nod, then continued. “To get directly to the point, John, I have come to take your boy Daniel to live with me.”

A long, astonished silence followed this pronouncement.

“S-sorry?” John finally stuttered.

“John, you cannot possibly raise the boy without a mother. He needs proper upbringing and education. The mayor and I have decided to raise him to be a politician, a respectable and stable career. Don’t worry about finance, for we have quite enough to be getting along with, and you will be free to travel and work wherever you may wish. We will take the boy tomorrow, Mayor Potter and I have determined. You may tell him tonight, and we will pick him up at noon.”

“Mrs. Mayor!” John exclaimed. “I cannot leave my son!”

“Now, John,” she said sternly. “You know that you mustn’t refuse this opportunity. After a while—a couple of years perhaps, you may be ready to take him back. At the present time, however, your options are limited. We will take the boy tomorrow. Good day.”

And with that, the woman flounced—or did what was as close to flouncing as a waddle can be—out of the room and out of the small house.

February 15, 19—

Dear Diary,

I’m leaving my lovely house. Miss Alice told me tonight that I am going to live with Grandmother and Grandfather Potter. Why is Papa letting me go? I’m so afraid.

According to Mistress Potter’s schedule, Daniel was picked up at noon the following day. Before he left, his father gave him a quick, strong hug, but did not explain anything. He simply said, “I love you Daniel. Your Mother loved you. Never forget that.” Then he rushed with his head down to his bedroom.

Daniel was fully convinced that his heart was broken. He has run out of tears the night before, but he was a miserable as any boy of eleven could be. His face was pale, emphasizing the darkness of his sleek, combed hair. Miss Alice had seen that he was impeccably dressed for his sophisticated grandparents. He wore his best trousers, a pressed white shirt, and his only pair of shoes, freshly polished.

At three minutes to noon, Miss Alice ushered Daniel to the parlor with his light trunk of clothes and other necessities. She managed to lecture him on manners and behavior until a crisp knock sounded at the door. Once again, Mrs. Potter followed Miss Alice into the room where Daniel sat in fright.

Well, he looks like there isn’t much to him, thought Mrs. Potter to herself when she saw the child. She hadn’t seen her only grandson in a fair number of years. He doesn’t seem quite like political material, but then, who could be as wonderful as my husband? His eyes are green—not a good sign. Green eyes always are mark of a dreamer. No, matter, we’ll stomp that out of him. Pointed face. Hair like Mary, though. I may be able to make something of him after all.

Through this silent inspection, Daniel said submissively, and took the chance to also inspect his relative. He thought quite innocently that she was rather large. Her gray hair was elaborately crimped, and her dress was overpoweringly magnificent. She held her head in a way that would have been regal had she been slender and tall, but that seemed more ridiculous than superior in reality. Daniel, by the end of his observations, was even more intimidated than before, and more miserable at the idea that he would live with this woman.

After the observations of both woman and boy, Mrs. Potter started to speak quickly and frankly.

“Daniel, you are coming to live with Mayor Potter and myself,” she said. “You of course know that this is a privilege, and you must live up to it. You will be required to be good and respectful. You will not complain, and you will follow orders immediately. You are expected to keep neat and clean, stay on top of your schoolwork, and take your part of the chores at our house. Understand?”

“Yes ma’am,” Daniel replied quickly.

“You are to call me Grandmother Potter, and my husband Grandfather Potter. You needn’t be afraid of us unless you break a rule that we set down. I intend to have you taught good manners and I’ll get you a proper education. Now, follow me out to the car. I assume the boy has already said his goodbyes?” she directed the last question to Miss Alice, whom replied affirmatively.

“Very well,” said Mrs. Potter. “Come.”

An hour later, grandmother and grandson arrived at a large, brick house on Main Street. Daniel stepped out after Mrs. Potter. His first drive in a car would normally have been an exciting experience. Somehow, he didn’t enjoy it very much. Part of the time, he spent studying the chauffer. The instant Daniel saw the man, he felt he had found a friend. The man wore a black hat, similar to one soldiers wore. Under it was thick gray hair and a kind face. His skin was tan and leathery, but his smile and eyes were full of light and laughter.

Now, the man had come out of the car and handed Daniel his trunk. Before he turned to the automobile again, Daniel was sure he had winked and smiled.
“Wait,” Daniel called. The man turned back. Daniel continued, “What—sir, will you tell me your name?”
The man smiled slightly, then answered before turning back. “Edward. Edward Tory.”
Suddenly, the eleven-year-old boy felt more cheerful and prepared for the obstacles ahead of him. And, deep down, he felt instinctively that the man would play an important role in his life.

March 4, 19—
Dear Diary,

It’s been a couple of weeks since I arrived at Grandfather Potter’s house, and it is really much better than I thought the first night. I’ve only seen Mr. Tory a couple of times, but I still feel as if he is a good friend. I’ve also become friends with the cook, Hannah. She is a plump, cheerful woman, and she’s told me a lot about my new guardians. She said that Grandfather is actually quite a good man, even if he was foolish enough to choose Margaret Manning for a wife. I’ve seen Grandfather several times, but I haven’t talked to him a lot. He is a great deal skinnier than Grandmother, and quieter and kinder. Hannah says he was just brokenhearted when Mother ran away, but that he couldn’t stand up to Grandma. He’s only in politics because she tells him what to say and what to do, Hannah told me. I feel very sorry for him, and I think I like him more than Grandmother. Hannah says that he had the idea to care for me, but than Grandmother takes the credit.

My room is neat and small and lonesome. But I have you, Diary, so it isn’t very bad. Also, I am busy with chores and schoolwork for a large amount of the time. In my free time, I talk to Hannah, I walk in the garden, and I write stories. I suspect that Grandmother wouldn’t approve of writing stories, so I haven’t told her about them.

And I think of Mother and Father. Thinking of Mother isn’t so painful now—just sad. I know that she is happy and in a golden land, but I miss her. I feel badly for Father. He must be even sadder than I am, but he has nothing to distract him. I still don’t understand why he sent me here, but he must know best.

Grandfather is making a speech—which Hannah said Grandmother wrote—by the river tomorrow. I am extremely anxious to hear it, and I love looking at the boats traveling along. I can imagine them sailing far away, even if it is only a few miles in real life.

Always in my dreams, I sail to England. Father said that his Father sailed from England to America when he was a young man. Grandfather Owen died when I was only two, and Grandmother Owen died when my father was born, but Father still tells tales of England passed down from his father. He says that in the country, everything is a beautiful green. There are rolling hills, and when the sunshine steals over the horizon in the morning, you feel as if you are the sun, and you can do anything—even fly.

The next evening, Daniel was brought to the cobblestone road beside the river. A mass of people was there to hear their adored mayor speak. Grandmother Potter had to stand by her husband, and had brought Mr. Tory to watch Daniel during the speech.
“You may take him home afterward, and ready him for bed,” she ordered the chauffer. “No doubt the mayor and I will be busy.”
Mayor Potter gave a stirring call to patriotism in the painting of the county hall, a matter of enormous importance to a small town. Daniel thought it vastly inspiring, and was proud of his kinship with the mayor. After the oration, as Mrs. Potter predicted, the Mayor and his wife were mobbed by citizens whom desired handshakes and offered praise, and were rather busy.

Mr. Tory and Daniel decided to walk by the riverside on the way home. Daniel watched the dark water as small and large boats sailed down. On both sides of the water, lights burned in the twilight from buildings and homes. Bridges spanned the gap between lands every few hundred yards.
Edward Tory was a quiet man, but he emanated a sense of quiet strength and love. Daniel felt that and began to talk easily. As he and Daniel strolled along the road by the river, Daniel voiced his dreams and fears, and found a sympathetic listener. Daniel was sure, while he was in Mr. Tory’s company, that he could become the famous writer he wanted to be. He could achieve all of his goals.
And after Daniel had fallen silent, Mr. Tory began to tell thrilling stories of tempests at sea, of pirates and mermaids, and of faraway places. He spoke of the African desert, Indian jewels, Chinese emperors, and of English monarchs.
Daniel listened in awe
as Mr. Tory traveled through the history of the world. At a pause, Daniel asked eagerly, “Have you seen those places, Mr. Tory?”
Mr. Tory smiled. “I have traveled all around the world. I have seen different times and places galore.”
Daniel frowned. “How?” he asked.
“I’ll show you.”

Mr. Tory led Daniel down the street. The sky had grown dark now, and Daniel felt his spine tingling in excitement, aware that something magnificent was soon to happen. He strived to keep up with Mr. Tory’s quick pace. Abruptly, Mr. Tory stopped walking. They were still by the river, separated from it by an iron fence. He turned to Daniel, holding a lighted lantern; from whence it came Daniel had no idea. It was small, black, and radiated with a dim glow.

“Where--? Daniel began to ask, but Mr. Tory shook his head and placed his weathered hand on Daniel’s arm.
“Watch,” he said. Then he turned, looking at the flowing river. He swung his lantern three times and slowly the schooner appeared.
Daniel’s hair stood on end. He couldn’t believe that he was seeing what he was. A small dark boat had appeared slowly out of thin air in the river water. First, the bow materialized, all the way back to the bow.
Daniel, eyes wide, stared at Mr. Tory.
“What is it? How did you—did you just—how?”
Mr. Tory smiled. “This is my boat. Its name is Keherenan.”
“Kehe—what?” Daniel asked.
“Keherenan—that’s Indonesian for wonder. My—son—named it. He was always looking forward to our next adventure in Keheranan.” Mr. Tory’s eyes had suddenly turned sad, and he seemed far away.
“Your son?” Daniel said. “Where is he now?”
Mr. Tory appeared to return from his reminiscence.
“He died of cholera twenty years ago,” he said softly.
“Oh, I am so sorry, Mr. Tory.”
“Thank you, but I am very well. Memories of him are always sweet. You remind me of him, actually,” he said. “He had dark hair, and he was quiet but had an abundance of hopes and dreams. That’s the reason I wanted to show you Kaherenan.”
Daniel looked up at Mr. Tory in gentle adoration.
“Then let’s go,” he said, and slipped his small hand into Mr. Tory’s faded one.

The schooner was almost out of sight now, but Daniel wasn’t worried. He was sure that Mr. Tory knew what to do.
“Yes,” Mr. Tory said. “Let us go.” He raised the lantern in his free hand, and once again swung it three times. Daniel watched the golden light whip through the dark air. He immediately felt the most peculiar sensation; a warmth infused his soul, and he became blind to everything around him except the illuminated lantern. He felt nothing under his feet for a moment—
--and then it was done. Daniel was surrounded by light. It was night no longer, but daytime—glorious golden sunshine shone brightly in a sapphire sky. And he was on a boat. Mr. Tory was still holding his hand and the lantern, grinning broadly. Daniel felt a cool breeze and heard rushing water around him. When he glimpsed the water, he realized that he was not on a small river, but sailing in a vast azure ocean. They were standing on the deck of Kaherenan.
At Mr. Tory’s bidding, Daniel rushed to explore every nook and cranny of the ship. He saw books and pictures from everywhere in the world. He saw maps with lines following numbers of expeditions. Finally, he found a room with a sign on the door. The sign read, CAPTAIN TORY.
“Captain Tory,” Daniel murmured to himself.

Daniel found Captain Tory again on the deck, looking through a telescope.
“Come,” the captain said. “Look through here.” He motioned for Daniel to take his own position.
When Daniel pressed his eye against it, he gasped in surprise. He saw dolphins—perfect, shiny dolphins splashing and flipping through the air.
After a minute, Daniel straightened and looked at his friend.
“Mr.—Captain Tory, where are we?” he asked.
“Look once more through the glass, son,” he answered. When Daniel did so, Captain Tory gently turned the telescope. Daniel’s eyes widened as he saw land.
“I don’t understand,” he said. “What is that?”
“That,” Captain Tory replied, “is England.”

March 5, 19—
Dear Diary,

I have seen England! No, not in dreaming, but in an experience so amazing I can barely believe it myself. Mr. Tory—I knew he would be important—took me. Don’t ask me how he made time stop for everyone else. Don’t ask me how he transported me to the English Channel from our small-town river. There are so many mysteries, but I’ve decided to just accept what happened.

And it will happen many more times, so Captain (for he is captain of the ship) Tory has promised me. I will explore the world in our ship named Kahernenan, which means “wonder”. And then I will write about it.

I didn’t even expect the land to be so exquisitely beautiful. We stayed overnight, sleeping under the stars. The grass was lush and I felt as though I was as light as a bird. The wind gently blew my hair, and when the sun rose, I felt just as Father talked about—like I could fly. Indeed, I almost believe I was soaring through the sky. I was the sun, the clouds, the sea. I have never felt so wonderful.

Wonderful. Wonder full. Kaherenan.

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