One thing that is surprising,” Adam remarked as we drove back over the moors after tea, “at least many people find it so when they begin to investigate the geology of Scotland….”
“That it’s a land rich in gold.”
I smiled through my weariness. The words had a familiar ring! “I’ve heard tell of ghillies who lay sheepskins in streambeds and wake up rich men!”
“The problem is that the cost of extraction is uncommercial.” He pulled up on the brow of a hill. “Come with me, I’ll show you something.”
He took my hand, quite naturally, as though he were leading a child, strong and bent on a purpose I had no inkling of. Oh, where was he taking me over earth scorched last summer where the crofters had burned off the heather? On some fool’s errand? On a wild goose chase? There were no landmarks in sight. Not a tumbled cairn to be seen. But then, I heard a soft rushing sound as of distant harmony. “I can hear water, can’t I?”
The sound rang truer and the ground began to vibrate gently underfoot. And there it was! It poured out at my feet, spindrift flying over the rocks. “It’s lovely, isn’t it?” I cried, mesmerised by the sparkle and the ephemeral patterns chased by the flow. Our voices were snatched up into the music’s curvature and carried away down the glen.
“It is lovely,” Adam agreed, “but it isn’t what we came to see.” He pointed to a little basin where the water pooled and slid in fine strands over the brim. He plunged in his hand and picked out a pebble, smooth as a coin, and dashed it against a rock so that it broke in two. Inside he showed me tiny granules of glinting metal, a faint mustard-coloured sheen as of light diffused though a film of dust.
“No, the real McCoy!”
In astonishment I gazed down into the water and it seemed that my eye annexed patch upon patch of the same metallic lustre shimmering through the diffracted light there. “But there’s so much of it!”
“The last vestiges of a Golden Age.”
“Pity about the dross!”
“It will come again. We shall reach the bright point in the cycle and the wheel will stop for ever. What has been so dearly proved will never be lost again. By going forward, we shall find our way back. We must work….”
“But the labour….the sheer patience,” I foundered. Words failed at so daunting a prospect. But even as I spoke, I saw again running in the rock a dim nexus of arteries, pollen-gold with the germination of a new order.
“Anodyne toil,” Adam said. “Stones made bread. It is a way and a means, but no longer an end. I gave you a land where you never toiled, you live in towns you never built; you eat now from vineyards and olive groves you never planted.”
He spoke soothingly, as he might to a bewildered child. His voice was vibrant and full of lustre, a voice which knew its own range and its keynote and made full use of them. He was so unlike Jude, eager for despatch at all costs and never mind the friction it caused.
“Why did you show me?”
“Because you needed reminding….and so did I.”
Thin rays were coming through verdigris clouds, fanning out on the hillside. Tears slid helplessly down my cheeks. Reaching out, he drew me close, closer than I had been to anyone in my life, and let me drown in the comfort I had wanted and willed and cried out for. It was sweet to know the bedrock of another will. “What is it about you?” he murmured over and over. “You’re so strong in some ways, so defenceless in others. ….I love you.”
The sweetness soon hardened into guilt. All my craving for someone to lean on, a need so cogent it could not fail to invoke a response, was being charged to Adam’s account. It was he who was making ends meet for me. “Don’t….don’t love me too much.”
“It’s too late for that,” he said. I tried to think coherently but couldn’t, only let out a halting sigh. What arrogance it had been to protect Jude! I had distrusted the promise of Grace sufficient for every need. Only when I could bring myself to say what I had to say would I find absolution and the strength to help him cope. The world had seemed too frail a place to support the truth. But this was the fire in which it would be refined and proved and annealed. These were the very acts to usher in a New Heaven and a New Earth.
“And now I must take you back,” Adam said. “Come and see me tomorrow or the next day, if you can. Come through the garden by the lane at the back. Come straight in. I’ll leave the door on the latch.”
He bent down to pick a lone flower which he gave to me, grinning with boyish delight. “A wild pansy. An early one.”
I stroked its velvety face. “Heartsease,” I said. “How clever of you to spot it.”
Excerpt from new edition of my first published novel as a young writer.
Causes Rosy Cole Supports
World Vision, International Prison Outreach, Salvation Army, Emmaus Project, Poor Clares, DogsTrust, BUAV (against animal testing) WWT (Wildfowl &...