June 16, 2022

The Waterfall – An Enticing Feature Captivates them

By aarondkey

They walked along borders, through mowed lawn paths and fruit trees in various stages of blossom, interspersed with white beehives of the same design as the ones spotted by Mr Philips – ages ago it seemed in Stolid’s garden.

Until passing through another gateway in the far side of the wall they found themselves wandering towards a dark squat wooden building straddling another river.

“The mill, which provides all the electricity we use,” Stolid said, dismissively as if he would like to pretend it didn’t exist.

“This is our new moat,” Yan announced, looking at a line of softened foliage like water spray from a vigorous waterfall. As they grew closer they could see the shallow line of reflected sky in the perfectly blue indigo water. In the distance along the line of the moat people bent down, planting more of the feathery plants.  

Turning away from the valley, they followed the line of a stone ridge interlaced with flowers and grasses, where butterflies floated and bees crackled in the dry air.

“I don’t understand how you are so far ahead of us in the season. It feels like very late spring or even summer here but spring had just begun when we set off.” Paris voice carried from her elevated position on one of the large limestone rocks.

Yan was leading her on a more interesting route.

“I didn’t understand that either,” Stolid admitted. “But you just have to accept that the climate is what it is and somehow you get on like that. I plant things and hope they’ll grow and on the whole they do.”

Stolid followed Paris onto the slope, leaping up a limestone rock like a giant’s step.

Timonthy followed him determined not to be outdone and found himself instantly in a warmer, drier atmosphere. It felt mediterranean and he relaxed subconsciously like stepping from a plane into a warmer place after leaving Britain gripped in an icy winter.

He could feel lizards looking at him from between cracks in the rock and the hum of insects was as relaxing as a Buddhist chant. Heat rose all around him making the scene shimmer.

Timonthy felt suddenly overcome with a powerful emotion he couldn’t define. It had no relevance to him but he was suddenly close to tears, as if the place had made him relax so much that the tension leaving him moved him to release pent up anger or fear – built up over years of self-repression.

If he had been alone he might have sat down on a rock and wept until there was no more liquid in him and all around him plants would send tendrils of roots to collect his tears and grow stronger but as it was he jutted out his chin further and smiled a determined smile.

They were all following Yan now, gradually working their way up the slope. From below the planting had looked messy to Timonthy’s eyes but as he walked among the plants he could appreciate their delicate aroma, the noise they made as he brushed against them, the way their colours mingled with the colours of the stone to look completely natural, perfectly co-ordinated.

Timonthy concentrated on his feet as he climbed but when he reached a plateau he turned around.

The estate and buildings from this height reminded him of the time he had flown over this area on the computer.

He couldn’t understand why he hadn’t seen anything like this then. Surely a whole valley, mountains, lakes and riversl couldn’t have hidden themselves away from the satellite.

Yan and Paris were racing on ahead again. Stolid had fallen behind to wait for him.“He’s taking us to the waterfall,” Stolid laughed, looking ahead. “I’m not claiming credit for that. It was here before me.”

“Why did Peter pick you, Stolid?” Timonthy asked. “How did he know that you would have been capable of all this?”

He gestured to the landscaped grounds below.

“I don’t know,” Stolid shook his head. “But I’m glad he did and I think he is pleased with what I have done.”

“Are you related to Peter?” Timonthy persisted. “That’s what Miss Gregg thought, like father and son, she said.”

Stolid grunted a laugh.

“I’m not his father, if that’s what you think. He’s only ten or twelve years younger than me, you know, though I know he’s wearing a lot better. How’s McGregor doing without me?”

Timonthy felt frustrated because that had been his last hope for an explanation he could believe in. Peter was Stolid’s son and Johnathon had given him the castle he’d inherited and money. It would explain Peter and Elena’s evident affection for the man.

But if Stolid wasn’t lying about Peter’s age, and he tended not to lie when he didn’t need to, that was a stupid explanation.

“She’s fine: waiting for her invitation to visit,” Timonthy said smiling.

“Oh God,” Stolid replied guiltily, ”I remember promising that. I have a terrible habit of throwing myself into tasks to the extent of forgetting everyone around me.”

“I noticed.”

Yan and Paris were up ahead of them, teetering on the edge of what looked like a sudden drop.

As they came closer Timonthy saw that the drop was safer than it first looked. Dropping a few feet to a ledge with stunted trees and grass, then another, and another.

This view was soon forgotten as he looked to the right. Here the air was filled with rainbows dancing in sunlight above gentle mist released by the fall into the lake below.