This is the story of four seasons in the life of Charles Wenmoth, a twenty-seven-year-old apprentice blacksmith and Methodist lay preacher in Cornwall in 1870. Life is at its hardest; poverty is everywhere. Charles crosses and recrosses the raw, beautiful landscape, attending to the sick and... read more
“Though I have not seen it this year there is a pond on my mother's farm which often freezes. In the harder winters when I were a child my brothers and I were sent to break into it so the cattle could drink the icy water there. We took long sticks and smashed the clotted surface then carried and threw huge tiles of ice until our fingers grew numb. I remember the hard ache as they warmed so deep and persistent it seemed it would never leave.”
“Those days must mean something but I do not understand what and I am left to doubt the worth of my memories for they cannot bring back the happiness and every delight I have in them seems but a form of sadness and loss. They were glad days and I do not own them any longer. And then I wonder too how many such days there truly were fewer perhaps than I seem to remember but they burrow so deep.”
“Well I have ot had much time to admire the spring the week has been spent at work amid the smells of coarse smoke and now metal. it chokes me when I come in and burns away slowly. Takes an hour or two before I am breathing deeply again this last year has seen my lungs grow used to the heat my skin hardened by it. And I am accustomed too to the rote. I did not think I would have much liking for it but I have been shown again that I were wrong about my character. There is a rhythm of work that carries me through the day the heavy ringing note constant as a heartbeat patterning my actions and consuming my thoughts so that the day passes rapidly. It feels good. My attention taken up with it. Nothing else keeps in my mind but it is a noble state to be in it seems to balance my soul and set things right it is very rewarding.”
“And near the top of the hill when we were beneath the thickest cloud a short answer came over us it were a refreshing sensation these drops on our faces do a lot to remind us we are alive and part of the world composed ourselves from clay and heavenly breath. I know many people who will not go out in the rain they associate it with unhappiness but it is a mystery to me it causes me a very great happiness indeed swelling up from my stomach a bubbling sensation in my chest. With no good reason I laughed out loud I am usually alone and do not want to look too foolish but with James I were in excellent spirits and felt no need to restrain it. I think James were not so fond of rain as I am but he could not help but join my laughter. We were left a little wet but not drenched and not cold neither and our shirts would dry soon enough.”
“I have been unhappy to think of you suffering & I know it has brought you to doubting but I have great confidence that the path you walk is the Lord's & that His light be but briefly hidden from you. I have prayed for your swift recovery & will continue to do so. For though we have never been far removed from illness & death it has not ceased to be a mystery to us & God withholds the last of the knowledge of this world. & the remainder is left to our faith — A most powerful device — A small portion of it shall be sufficient for us all.”James
“The bells grew longer. Seemed for a brief moment that they had slowed and dragged time to slowing with them. That I might breathe of it and delay my breathing until I held time itself within my lungs that I could make it pause until I had found its measure and we breathed together. But the slowness of my breath were not enough and still the bells returned their toll strange and ghostly in the night the sound lingering like a wraith among the hills before fleeing. And then silence and the year were gone into eternity. It is a new one now.”
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