To The Lonely Seas And The Sky -- Part 5
The fictional tale of lighthouse keepers in the 1880's, tending a Lake Michigan lighthouse. The characters in this story are completely fictional, while the lighthouse is quite real and still in use. The details of its function, while not necessarily specific to this exact light, are consistent with the general function of lighthouses in this era.
Liesl descended the stairs just as Ellie was returning to the kitchen via the front hall.
"How was the inspection?" Liesl asked, joining Ellie in the kitchen.
"About as one would expect." Ellie replied, taking the dishes to the wash basin, mixing the boiling water from the wood burning stove with the cold water in the basin and adding the lye soap. She tied her apron, pushed up the long sleeves of her dress and began to scrub. "I showed Mr. Nichols the lens and the lamp, and initially, he seemed pleased, then surprised, and then perplexed. He exhibited the same series of reactions in the same order at each point of the inspection." Ellie noted, her eyes flickering up to Liesl's, who stood beside her at the rinse basin.
"Ah," Liesl said, looking up as she tied her apron, understanding in her expression. "Could it be the gentleman was unconvinced that two women could maintain a light in such a clean and orderly fashion?"
"That was certainly the impression of his unwilling host." Ellie said, her sly smile catching to Liesl's lips.
"I suppose in due time, he'll be equally surprised that we can correctly predict the weather."
Ellie laughed. "You ought to have seen him look out over the lake, surmise that the rain--if there were in fact any rain in those dark, building clouds--was easily half a night away, and set out on his journey into the dunes." Ellie shook her head. "I know you've told tales of Mr. Nichols before, but I did not believe your description was without exaggeration until I encountered the man myself. How is a man of that nature still living?"
"Quite by accident, I'm sure. It is only by the grace of God that he, in a moment of 'genius', hasn't 'thought' himself into an untimely death."
Ellie could no longer contain herself as she recalled the interaction. She burst out laughing, the memories running fresh. "'Well, Mrs. Kappel, the life and endeavors of a lighthouse inspector are never easy'..." Ellie straightened her back, stared down her nose at her sister and spoke with the unmistakable pace and tone of the infamous lighthouse inspector.
Liesl joined in, following suit. "'It ought to be a pleasant stroll, what with the weather so agreeable for November'." She mimicked haughtily, her nose toward the ceiling.
Ellie and Liesl had stopped cleaning the dishes and had dissolved into laughter, clinging to the counters for support. Liesl was both surprised and delighted to see Ellie laugh so heartily. It had been many years since she had seen such a sincere expression of humor from her normally severe, stoic older sibling.
"Oh, what a pompous twit." Ellie wiped tears from her eyes and slipped her hands back in the dishwater.
"At very minimum, indeed, and from the very start." Liesl agreed, beginning to dry the dishes she had rinsed. "Samuel noticed during the first inspection with Mr. Nichols that he had barely asked any questions about the light and mechanisms. I'll have you know Mr. Nichols has no working knowledge of lighthouses at all--he was appointed to his post because his father is some politician in Chicago and familiar with the secretary of the treasury.
"Samuel, with only an honest desire to assist the new inspector, decided to go into some detail about the function of the light and the specifics of the keeper's routine in an effort to augment the new inspector's rather limited expertise. And augment, he certainly did! Samuel did all of that only to have Mr. Nichols ask him on his next visit the very questions Samuel had taught him the visit before. And you can rest assured that Mr. Nichols explained those questions to the minutest detail, as though Samuel were unfamiliar with the particulars of his own lighthouse."
"He didn't!" Ellie exclaimed. "And what did your husband say?"Last edit by AN Admin Team on Feb 20, '17
From 'The Great White North'; Joined Mar '10; Posts: 2,234; Likes: 7,022.Jun 19, '14I just started reading this wonderful story tonight; I was pulled in from the very beginning. I am enjoying it so much that I hate to have to stop and go to bed! But it is well past my bedtime!
I look forward to picking it up again tomorrow.
SoldierNurse22, you are one jam up writer! Thank you so much for posting this!Jun 21, '14Hey No Stars, thanks for the comment! Glad to hear you're enjoying this story. You're arriving at an ideal time--the end is in sight! Always glad to hear your thoughts as you go. Happy reading!