Crazy Old Man
Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Romantic,
Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - He roamed the shores of a lake on an impossible quest. Everyone called him a crazy old man, but he never lost sight of his hope and his dream.
People around Lake of the Sky called him a crazy old man, but his name was Henry Addison. Folks said that he was crazy, because he had wasted his life on an impossible quest, when he could have been making a place for himself in the world. They said that his explanation, about why he kept watch on a certain parcel of property near the lake, was another indication that he was crazy.
Most people never took the time or put in the effort to get to know Henry, if they had they might have had seen him in a different light. If you ask me, Henry was no crazier than you or I. Oh, his story was strange, you might even say it was weird, but from the day I first heard it, I've held a deep down conviction that it actually happened. Strange are the workings of this universe, and that which is impossible one day, turns out to be accepted fact the next. When all is said and done, modern man's knowledge, of the some things in this world, is very limited, and when those things manifest themselves, we tend to deny the facts. Henry Addison was not one to deny the facts, however strange they were. Then again, he had good reason not to deny them.
Whenever the winter wind blows wild, shaking the windows with powerful gusts and filling all the sky with snow, I think back to the last time I saw Henry. I remember the look on his face. Watching the snow, I think about his story and his lifelong quest. For I last saw Henry Addison, on a stormy winter night at Lake of the Sky, and when I left him my mind was filled with amazement, and my heart was filled with joy.
It was over a year ago, when I first met the man. I had sought out sanctuary at Lake of the Sky, from the wounds of a painful divorce. The provisions of the divorce called for the equal division of all the assets, which my wife and I jointly owned. Luckily, we had no children, so the issue concerned our house, our business, and our savings. In the end, I was left without a wife, but with a fair amount of money.
After the divorce was final I managed to discover another business, which I was interested in buying, but found out that the owner didn't want to sell until the start of the spring. I agreed with the owner's terms, and we sealed the deal, which left me with an autumn and winter to kill before I could take over the business, which was just as well, because I was still stinging from the divorce and wanted to get away for awhile. A friend of mine told me about Lake of the Sky, a resort area about eighty miles east of the city where I lived. My friend's family owned a cabin there, which he said they would be willing to rent to me through the winter. The money that they wanted for rent was very reasonable, and after my friend took me up to the lake one weekend, I decided that it was the perfect place to lick my wounds.
Lake of the Sky is located in a small valley surrounded by mountains. It is reached by traveling over a thirty-one mile long winding dirt road, which wiggles its way up the sides of various mountains, until it reaches the south shore of the lake. The first thing that one sees, after coming around the last corner of the road up the mountains, is a small store, cafe, and a post office, which sit at the edge of the lake, where the road forks to the left and right, on its way around the valley. A high, craggy, mountain of granite dominates the scenery at the north end of the lake. The other mountains, which surround the lake aren't quite as high, but are thickly covered with pine trees. The lake is high enough up in the mountains to get snow during the winter; however, most years the snow rarely gets over a couple of feet deep and doesn't stick to the ground for more than a few weeks. The surrounding mountains receive a greater amount of snow, and their peaks remain covered until late spring. The weather usually turns could enough to freeze the surface of the lake around the shoreline, but the deeper waters of the lake remain free of ice.
The lake is mainly a summer resort area, having a large campground on the lake's eastern side and many cabins, which dot the shore. However, a small population of year around residents makes the area their home and they send their children down the mountain to school. To supply the residents, the store, post office, and the cafe stay open throughout the year.
I had made the acquaintance of the owner, of the store and cafe, when I first came up to the lake earlier in the year. He had a pamphlet that he made available to tourists for free, which told a little about the history of the area. The pamphlet explained that the name of the lake was a loose translation of what the original Native American's called the place. It seems that the Native Americans considered the lake and the valley to be sacred land. The tall, granite mountain north of the lake, was named Storm Mountain, and it was known for the unusual amount of lightning strikes, which struck it during summer storms. The phenomenon was not lost upon the Native Americans, who saw the lightning on the mountain, to be an indication that the spirits of the dead were restless. They believed that the valley was a special place, where the spirit realm, would at times, intrude upon the world of the living. Unfortunately, most of the Native Americans died from a smallpox epidemic, and the valley fell under the control of the white man.
During the late eighteen hundreds, despite the long and difficult journey to reach it, the area began to attract campers during the summer. At the start of the 20th century, the first permanent cabins, which housed year around inhabitants, began to be built. However, it wasn't until after the Second World War, that real estate in the area began to boom and cabins began being built all around the lake. The original camping area was improved and summer tourism increased dramatically. During the first years of the 21st century, the price of real estate at the lake sky rocketed, when it could be purchased at all.
In preparation for winter, I made several trips to and from the lake, to ensure that I would be well prepared, for any contingency, which might arise during the winter. While I was assured that travel was usually possible throughout the winter, I didn't want to take the chance of being caught unprepared. I laid in a good supply of food and made sure that I had a plenty to drink, in case something happed to stop the flow of water from the well. I had been warned that often the electricity to the area would be cut for anywhere from a few hours to a week, or longer; therefore, I stocked up on a supply of lanterns, wood, kerosene heaters, and kerosene to last me until the spring.
It was still early fall, when I completed all my preparations, and I was able to relax. The evenings were still fairly warm, and I loved to sit on the porch of the cabin enjoying the grandeur of the scenery. I would watch the gentle waves, of the lake, lap at the shore, not more than one hundred feet from my cabin. I would watch as daylight would fail, and the sky would slowly pass from deep blue to almost purple, while the western peak of Storm Mountain would glow, with the last rays of the setting sun. The frogs were still out, and their croaking voices filled the night. Whenever I stepped out of the cabin, I could smell the clean, fresh odor of the water of the lake.
About a week after I had made my last trip down to the lower lands, I started noticing an old man walking along the shore during the early mornings and evenings. What his exact age was I could not guess. While he walked with a noticeable limp, his body was otherwise unbowed from age. His hair was completely white; he had a strong chin, a wide mouth, and stood just less than six feet tall. I would watch him come from the trees, in one direction and enter the trees further down the shore, in the other direction; then, a little over an hour later he would make the return journey. Often times, in the morning, I would be sitting out on the porch, when the man would make his first trip of the day, and I would nod to him. After a couple of days, I started to wish him good morning as he passed. He would smile and wave and bid me cheerful good morning in reply.
One day as I watched the man make his morning trip I called to him. "How about coming in and having some coffee? I've got plenty."
The fellow smiled as he walked toward me. "Say, that doesn't sound half bad. Guess I had better introduce myself. My name is Henry Addison, and I live back over through those trees a few hundred yards."
I rose and shook the man's hand "Henry, my name is Russell Todd, and I'm planning on spending the winter here at the lake. I take it that you live here."
"Yup, for over fifty years, it is a great place. Mind you, it's not as wild as it was, but it sure beats the hassle of the city. I don't think I could take living in a city; I'm just too used to being out here where a feller can have a little privacy."
I nodded my head in agreement, as I led him into the cabin. In a few minutes I had a fresh cup of coffee sitting before him, on the table of my small kitchen. "That's what I'm looking forward to, peace, quiet, and some time to think. I needed to get away for awhile to get my thoughts focused. I needed some time to think. You know, ponder the meaning of life and that sort of thing."
Henry smiled at me, his blue eyes twinkling like the water of the lake at noon on a clear day. "Well, young feller, you came to the right spot and at the right time of the year. Almost all the tourist clear out of here after the start of September. There aren't a whole lot of people that live here year around and most of them live on the other side of the lake. You should be left pretty well alone, if you don't count me traipsing through here, every now and then. I'll keep down by the shore and won't be any bother."
I quickly wanted to reassure Henry he was welcome. "Oh, that isn't a problem. In fact, to tell you the truth, I really would like it if you stopped by in the morning for coffee. I could stand the company."
His smile widened, and he nodded to me, as we walked out onto the porch. "I just might do that. Thank you for the coffee, it really hit the spot. I've got some business to look after, but don't be too surprised if I take you up on your offer about the coffee again tomorrow morning."
I smiled and shook his hand. "Great! If you don't see me out on the porch, just give a knock on the door."
Henry Addison impressed me as having a very strong personality. He seemed to have some sort of inner fire and drive. I thought to myself that he had to be a person with an interesting life story. Little did I imagine just how interesting his story would actually be.
Henry stopped by again the next day, and I when I found out he would be passing by the house every day, I convinced him to drop in for coffee every morning. Over the next few weeks we established a pattern, where I would have coffee and hot rolls waiting for him, when he knocked at the door. In return for my hospitality, Henry invited me over to his house for dinner.
His house was only slightly bigger than the cabin I was staying in, but was as neat as a pin and well maintained. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Henry was an excellent cook and had prepared a meal of gourmet caliber. Over dinner, I found out that the reason he walked with a limp was due to an injury he received in World War Two.
"It wasn't quite a month after D-Day, on the 4th of July no less, when my track career came to an end. We were in one of those little villages, which have names that are pronounced a whole lot differently than they are spelled, when it seemed there were Germans everywhere. I had three of them in front of me. They were shooting at me and I was returning fire. I was lucky and got the Germans, but not before they shot the shit out of me. Most of the holes in me could be fixed, but the one in my knee took me out of action for good.
"It was 1947 when I first limped around this valley. I guess I was sort of like you, wanting to get away from it all for awhile. I thought I'd spend the summer in the great outdoors. I always did like camping, and in those days you had to camp when you came here, there were only a few cabins and they were all taken. So, I set up camp at the old campground and did a lot of thinking.
"Well, I found out that a good part of the valley was up for sale. In those days real estate around here was cheap. It seemed to me, that an opportunity of a lifetime was waiting, for the right person to come along and grab it. I knew that a whole lot of people were settling down and starting families, and I figured it would only be a matter of time, before those families would be looking for somewhere to go on vacations.
"As luck would have it, I had a few bucks stashed away, and I bought up most of the land that was on sale, including the campground. As time went by, I built my house here and I've been living on the money from my various properties ever since."
I filled Henry in on the details of my divorce and my plans to start another business. By the time the evening had ended we had built a strong bond of friendship between us.
It wasn't too long after I had dinner with Henry that I had to do some shopping at the local store. The store and the cafe beside it were owned by a man named Nate Tatum and his wife, Lilly. Nate was a small man, whose wide eyes gave one the impression that he was always startled; the impression was made even stronger by the round, wire rim glasses, which he always wore. His wife was a heavy woman, who stood a good six inches taller than Nate, and who seemed to always be happy. Nate ran the store while Lilly ran the cafe. The Tatums were newcomers to the area, having taken over the two businesses only a year ago. Both Nate and Lilly were very friendly. If I was having lunch in the café, and no customers were in the store, Nate would pop in through the open doorway, which separated cafe from store to talk with me. I finished with my shopping and went into the cafe to grab a sandwich and cola. I was the only customer in either place, and it wasn't too long before Nate dropped in and sat at my table. During the course of our conversation I mentioned that I had gone to dinner at Henry's place.
Nate listened and smiled. "Henry is a great guy, both Lilly and I like him. Some of the residents around here though don't have a very good opinion of him."
I looked at Nate with obvious disbelief showing on my face. "What's not to like about the man? He is one of the kindest, friendliest people I've ever met."
Nate motioned with one of his hands and shrugged his shoulders. "I totally agree and so does Lilly. However, some people, who have been around here for years, call Henry a crazy old man. They think he's nuts to take his walks every day of the year, rain, shine, snow, or otherwise. Then again, Henry does tell a strange story about why he's out there walking. I guess that got a lot of people wondering about his mental condition. Now, Lilly and I aren't like that. I mean, everyone has little quirks, don't they?"
I could only shake my head. "What are you talking about? What story does Henry tell?"
Nate looked embarrassed. "I sort of thought he had told you, what with you having dinner with him and all. Henry told me all about it a few months after we came here. He said that it was better if I heard it from him rather than from someone else. Gee, Russ I don't feel right saying too much more about it. His story never did bother me, and I don't think any less of him for having told it, but I think you need to ask Henry about it rather than pick it up second hand from me."
I could only nod my head. "Okay, I'll ask him about it."
Later that evening, as I sat staring into the fire blazing in my cabin's fireplace, I thought that something was crazy, and I was fairly sure it wasn't Henry Addison. So he went for walks twice each day. So he had told people some sort of tale that had them thinking he was nuttier than a fruitcake. So what? I know for a fact that a lot of people (my ex-wife being first in line) think I'm nuts. To my mind, it all smacked of the sort of thing that made up a witch hunt. Once upon a time, people would look at some poor old, lonely woman and call her a witch, for no other reason than she may have been a little eccentric. Oh, the stupidity of humankind!
The next morning, when Henry stopped in I had some fresh, hot rolls, jelly and coffee waiting for him. "You never believe the stupid thing I heard."
He spread some jelly on one of the rolls and smiled. "Been hearing some stories about me, have you? I was wondering when you would."
My mouth fell open in shock. "How did you know?"
Henry took a bite of the roll, followed by a sip of coffee and softly laughed. "I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before you started hearing things. I'm afraid you'd never make much of a poker player. The minute I walked in here, I knew something was bothering, and when you said you had heard some stupid things, I figured those things had to be about me. Well, I suppose you are wondering if they are true."
I shook my head and drank some of my own coffee. "To tell you the truth, I don't know exactly what you are talking about. All I've heard is that some of the people around here call you crazy."
A loud laugh broke from Henry's lips. "Well, I guess that part just might be right. At least I don't fall into the category, which most people consider to be normal. I mean, I live out here by myself and well away from the comforts of civilization. No malls, no movies, not even a television, and probably the worst thing against me—no cell phone. However, I imagine that what you're referring to, has more to do with what I've told people, about the reason why I wander through the trees and along the shore."
"I don't care what you've told anyone, Henry. I don't know why people would call you crazy, but I want you to know that you are my friend, and you are going to stay my friend, no matter what anyone else has to stay about you."
Henry looked me straight in the eyes. "I appreciate that, Russ. I consider you a friend too. I held off saying anything to you before, because I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize that friendship, but I see that was a mistake. I should have come right out and told you everything, and then you could have made up your mind, if you wanted to associate with this crazy old man."
"Henry, nothing that you could tell me is going to change me from being your friend. I wouldn't care if you said that you saw the Lock Ness monster swimming out there on the lake."
He chuckled and shook his head. "No sea serpent, but something almost as fantastic. It is something that happened to me a long time ago. It isn't some sort of fantasy, it actually happened, and I'm not ashamed to admit it, even if people think I'm a little on the peculiar side.
"I'll tell you what let's finish our coffee and these rolls. Then, you can come with me on my walk and I'll explain the whole thing. I think it will help if you see where it all took place as well as hear about it."
I poured some more coffee and took another roll. "You've got yourself a deal."
Twenty minutes later, we were outside heading through the trees, which lined the lake shore. Henry set a fast pace despite his age and stiff leg. As we walked he began to talk. "We've got a little way to go, so I may as well start telling about it as we walk along. I've decided to tell you the whole story. I've only told part of it to other people, but I feel you deserve to hear the entire tale. It may help you to understand why I've acted the way I have over the years."
Henry's story began shortly after he first came to the lake. He set up camp at the campground and after awhile began buying up property. One of the first places, which he purchased, was land where he built his house. At that time, there was an old, rundown cabin sitting on the property; however, he liked the location and decided that it would be the prefect place for him to build a new home. He would go around the lake checking on places that were for sale. There weren't very many cabins around, in those days most of the land was totally undeveloped. There wasn't much in the way of a road going around the lake; it was a dirt trail, which was little more than two ruts. In fact, the road was so bad that Henry would often decide to park his car and walk to where he wanted to go.
One day, he decided to check out a few parcels of land, which were for sale and within walking distance of his cabin. It was a cool, clear October morning when Henry set out to find the property he wanted to see. A chill wind blew down from Storm Mountain. There had been a wild storm a few days earlier; lightning and thunder filled the night as the sky unleashed a steady downpour of rain. The ground remained damp, but the underbrush dried out. As he passed through the trees, every now and then he would catch a glimpse of the lake glimmering in the early morning sun.
Henry told me how he was relying on an old map of the area. A realtor had marked off the various properties that were for sale; however, the map was old, and Henry wondered if how accurate the markings on it actually were. He found and checked out several places as he walked along, including the area where the cabin I was staying in would someday be built. After awhile, he came upon a narrow road that wound through the trees toward the lake. According to the map, there was some property for sale at the end of the road. He followed the road until it suddenly came out on a clearing overlooking the lake. Much to his surprise a small house sat in the center of the clearing; moreover, smoke was rising from the chimney of the house.
His map had given no indication that the property had a house, and the realtor had made no mention about someone living in the area. He was not too surprised by the inaccuracy of the map it had been wrong before, and it probably contained other errors. Henry walked up to the door of the house and knocked. After a short delay, the door was opened by a young, attractive, red haired woman.
The woman looked at Henry. "Yes?"
"I think I've probably come to the wrong place, and I wonder if you might be able to set me straight. I'm thinking about buying some property in this area, and according to this map, this place is for sale."
The woman glanced at the map and then back at Henry. "I'm afraid you have come to the wrong place. I own this property, and it is definitely not for sale. I don't know where you got your map but it is wrong."
Henry nodded and smiled at her. "Yeah, I sort of figured that out when I saw your house. I'm sorry to disturb you, but I was wondering if you knew there was anywhere else around here that might be for sale."
She shook her head and returned Henry's smile with one of her own. "I haven't heard of anything. We're a bit out of the way in these parts."
"Yes, I know. I just bought a place a mile or so from here. I love this valley. So, I guess that makes us neighbors. My name is Henry Addison."
"Henry, it is good to meet you. My name is Mrs. Etna Dodd. Welcome to the Lake of the Sky, and I hope you continue to enjoy the area. I really wish I could be of more help, but I'm afraid that I don't hear much news about what is happening in the valley. Good luck on locating the place you're trying to find."
"Maybe, you could ask your husband if he has knows of any place for sale around here. I'd be grateful if you did. I can come back later and talk to him."
"I'm a widow, and now, if you will excuse me, I've got something in the oven that I've got to check on. It was very nice meeting you. Perhaps, you can drop by another time."
He nodded his head and turned away. There was something about the woman which fascinated him. He found the woman to be extremely attractive, and at the same time, there was something odd about her. Her red hair, the freckles on her small nose, her green eyes and bow like lips had made his heart leap. However, her dress was something, which his mother might have worn when she was young. Henry realized that some people in rural areas were very conservative, and they often were reluctant to give up the manners of the parents; however, he could not help feeling that the long dress, with its high neck, was doing a disservice to the girl, who was hidden beneath it. As he walked back toward his cabin he became more and more convinced that he had found the best scenery in the valley.
For the next few days, Henry busied himself with checking out property around the lake, but he could not get Etna Dodd out of his mind. He could not explain why she exerted such a forceful attraction upon him, he only knew that he had never met anyone, who so captivated his thoughts. Finally, he decided that he had to go back and pay her a formal visit.
When he had talked to her, she had seemed uneasy with his presence, and he hoped that it was only because she was not used to having someone come knocking at her door. Henry realized he would have to do something, which would reassure her that he did not present a danger to her welfare.
As Henry approached the house, he felt more and more uncertain about what he would say to the woman. He suspected, that if he came out and asked her if she needed any help, or if he could pick up something for her at the store, she would tell him no. Any woman living alone, in this fairly remote area, would have to be very independent and self-reliant. If he said things the wrong way, she might become offended, and he would end up doing his cause more harm than good. Still and all, he knew he had to try something to get to know the woman better.
When he approached the place, he noticed that at one side of the house, was a pile of log rounds, cut to various lengths, a block for chopping firewood, and two piles of stacked chopped wood. One of the piles had pieces of wood, from ten to twelve inches long, and the other pile had pieces, from eighteen to twenty four inches long. He went over to the where the rounds lay and saw that a splitting mall, an axe, and several splitting wedges were neatly stored in a sheltered area, which had been built on the side of the house. He decided that actions would speak better than words. So, he took off his jacket, grabbed the splitting mall and started to work on the smaller length rounds.
He had only finished splitting two rounds, when Etna Dodd came around the side of the house. "What are you doing?"
Henry smiled at her and hoped he was doing the right thing. "I sort of hope I'm helping you out. I saw these rounds lying here just crying out to be split up and this being such a nice day, I couldn't resist grabbing the mall. I really enjoy splitting wood. Why, sometimes that is just about all I do, all day long, at my own place."
She looked at him like he was crazy and his heart sank. Then, she figured out that he was kidding her and she grinned. "You love splitting wood, do you?"
"One of my all time favorite things to do; it is a lot of fun."
She nodded her head as she rubbed her hands on the apron she was wearing over her long dress. "So, I'd actually be making you happy if I let you keep on splitting?"
Etna laughed. "Well, wouldn't want to disappoint you, knowing how your heart is set on splitting up this wood. So, you can be my guest and split away to your hearts content. I've always thought splitting wood was a lot of work, but there is no telling what makes some people happy. Don't let me stop your fun. You can get back to splitting; I've got work to do in the house. I'll check on you after a bit, just to make sure you haven't collapsed with joy."
She turned and went around the corner of the house, leaving Henry to congratulate himself that his actions hadn't gotten him kicked off her property. In fact, it appeared that Etna had a good sense of humor. He picked up the mall and returned to his attack upon the wood.
An hour and a half later, he had added two rows of split short wood and one row of split long wood to the wood stacks; however, he was beginning to feel that splitting wood seemed a lot like work. At last, the final log round was spit and stacked. He leaned against the firewood to catch his breath.
"Looks like you're about ready to fall down from being so happy. Well, come in the house before you do, I've some pie and cider for you."
Henry turned around at the sound of Etna's voice and saw her beckoning to him. She led him into the house, and she worked the water pump while he washed. Then, she had him sit at the table and sat a glass of cider before him and a small plate, which had a slice of apple pie on it. After fixing herself some pie and cider, the woman sat down opposite Henry.
"Thank you for helping me out with the firewood. Unlike you, I hate splitting and it really needed to be done before the weather worsens."
Swallowing a bit of pie, Henry raised his glass to her. "And thank you for the pie and cider. They are well worth splitting a little bit of wood to get."
"Ha, it is nothing at all. In fact, it is the very least I could do in return for your help. There aren't many people that stop here, and I've come to depend upon myself for just about everything. Mr. and Mrs. Winslow bring me things from the store. They brought me those log rounds. The wood is supposed to be dry enough for burning, but I hope it wasn't too dry for easy splitting. I'm afraid that I should have split them up a long time ago, but I'm terribly lazy."
Laughing, Henry motioned toward her, as he finished the last of his pie. "Somehow I doubt that. I don't think you know how to be lazy. Everything about your place here tells me that you keep very busy. Is there anything else that I can help you with?"
"Oh no, that would be asking way too much of you. I'm sure that everything is fine."
"I really don't mind helping. I hope you won't mind if I drop by again and if you can think of anything that need attending to, you can let me know about it the next time I see you."
Etna hesitated a few moments before she spoke. "I appreciate your efforts, but I'm fairly sure I don't have anything, which needs to be done that I cannot do. However, I will think it over and let you know."
Henry finished the last of his cider and stood up. "I had better be going. I've had so much fun splitting wood today that I can't wait to go home and collapse. I'm only half joking, I really didn't mind helping with the wood and I certainly enjoyed the pie and cider. Being a bachelor, I don't get much in the way of home made pie."
The sun was rapidly sinking toward the western mountains as Henry walked back toward his cabin. He was tired from the day's exertions but contented that he had managed to get to know Etna Dodd a little bit better. At least she hadn't told him straight out not to show up again, and he thought that had to have been a good sign.
It seemed incredible to him, that a lovely woman like Etna could be found living alone, almost like a hermit. Her mode of dress and the contents of her house seemed imply that she was a person who wanted to live in the past. Why she had turned her back upon both civilization and the modern world was a mystery. However, he felt that the death of her husband must factor into the matter somewhere. Still and all, she was a fascinating woman; one he was determined to get to know even better.
Two days later, he found himself knocking once again upon Etna's door. He gave her a big smile when she opened the door. "Say, lady do you have any work for a poor guy down on his luck? I'll be glad to work for something to eat."
Laughing she shook her head. "I can't think of anything. Wait, I know something, but maybe you won't want to do it when you find out what it is."
"Lady, I'm mighty hungry. I'll do just about anything."
"Well, Mr. Addison, you may sing another tune when you see what the job is, but follow me and I'll show you."
She led him out of the house and around the back, to where a small wooden shed stood. She opened the door and pointed in to some brushes and cans of paint. "I was going to paint the trim around the windows, but to tell you the truth, I just hate painting. Well, it isn't the painting that I hate; it is the clean up afterward that bothers me. I always end up covered in paint."
"Say no more, as you wish, so shall it be. I'll get started on this right away and should have it done before to long. Trim is the easy part of painting if a person is careful. I like it a lot better than painting an entire house."
She laughed again and backed away from the door to the shed. "Then have at it. The painting of the house won't be required until next week."
She left him to his work. He began by opening one of the cans and stirring its contents until they were well mixed. Then, he grabbed one of the small brushes; a couple of rags, the can of paint, and a small can of turpentine, and went out to begin painting. He moved with great care, making sure that he didn't get any paint on the glass of the windows; yet even so, he managed to get the job finished by earlier afternoon.
Etna came up to the storage shed just as he was putting the paint back. "It looks like you're done and from what I've seen, you have done a good job. I know it is a messy job, thank you for doing it. Come up to the house when you have everything put away."
Ten minutes later Henry was knocking on the front door. After a moment, the door opened and Etna motioned him in to the house. He watched her as she moved across the room to the area that served as a kitchen. She lifted up a wooden box and turned toward him. "Here is some cake that I baked. Consider it as a partial reward for your work. If you want the rest of the reward you'll have to show up here tomorrow at 5:00 pm. I will have dinner ready for you."
Henry took the box from her. "I'll be here at 5:00 pm sharp. Is there anything that I can bring?"
"No, you don't have to bring anything except an appetite. I hope you like ham."
He assured her that ham would be fine for dinner. She showed him out of the house and he made his way back to his cabin. That evening, as he ate the cake, his thoughts were about the remarkable woman, who chose to live an isolated existence by the shore of Lake of the Sky.
The next day, Henry went to the store and bought a bottle of wine for the coming dinner. As he checked out he spoke to the store clerk. "I got an invitation to dinner, and I want to bring a little something to show my appreciation."
"Wine's a good choice. You can't go wrong with wine; unless of course, the host has taken the pledge."
Henry looked at the clerk and then down at the bottle. "Gee, I hadn't thought of that. What if she doesn't drink? I don't want to offend her."
The clerk laughed and shook his head. "Don't let me worry you. There aren't many people around here that don't drink and believe me, I'm the one that would know."
"Well, then maybe you'd know if Etna Dodd likes wine or not?"
Putting the bottle of wine into a paper bag the clerk looked up at Henry. "Etna Dodd? Etna Dodd? I can't say that I've heard that name before; I don't think that I can say that I remember her coming in here. I know just about everyone in the valley, but I don't know Etna Dodd."
"She lives by herself about a mile from my place. She has a house in a clearing overlooking the lake. I don't think she goes many places. She doesn't have a car; although, I remember that she did say something about a man and his wife who would do her shopping."
A big smile crossed the clerk's face. "Oh, well that explains it. There are several folks that never come in here. They either have someone else do their shopping, or they go into the city for their supplies. Heck, they don't even get their mail here. Do you remember the name of the couple that does her shopping?"
Shaking his head, Henry had to admit that he had forgotten the name of the man and his wife. Paying his money he picked up his wine and left the store. As the afternoon progressed he started getting ready for the dinner. When it came time for him to leave he decided to walk rather than drive. Picking up the bottle of wine and a corkscrew he set out through the woods. Minutes before he reached Etna's house, he could smell the savory aroma of her cooking carried upon the gentle late afternoon breeze. Inspired by the wonderful scent of the food his appetite was raging by the time he reached the house.
The door opened in response to his knock, and Etna stood before him. She was radiant; clothed in a bright blue dress; a cameo around her neck and her hair done up. For a moment Henry could only stand looking at her, as if he had fallen under some sort of magical spell. Suddenly, he realized how foolish he looked, standing wide eyed in the doorway, and he went into the house. She had him sit down on the sofa in front of the fireplace.
He gave her the bottle of wine. "You certainly look very attractive. I like the dress and the way you have your hair. I hope that you like wine. I brought a corkscrew in case you didn't have one."
"Yes, I love wine, but don't drink it very often. I've always thought that wine was something for special occasions, and I haven't had any occasion, which could be called special in a long, long time. I think I'll have you use your corkscrew."
Standing up, he went over to where she had placed the wine next to the sink and quickly opened the bottle. Returning to his seat on the sofa, he watched her busily moving around the kitchen area. "I certainly consider being asked out to dinner a special occasion. I could smell the cooking as I was coming through the woods; it smelled wonderful. I just hope I don't disgrace myself by being a pig and gulping everything down at once."
"Well, I will correct you if your eating habits prove to be an abomination. Now, if you will get up to the table I'll start bringing dinner."
When he moved over to the table he noticed that it was set with fine china, crystal glasses and silverware; it was evident that Etna had gone out of her way to make everything perfect. "If I can help with anything, let me know; you know how I love to help."
"I think that I have everything, more or less, under control. If it is too warm in here, say something and I'll open the window a bit. I know it can get awfully hot in here with that wood stove going. I've been cooking with it all day long. We have ham, rolls, beans that I put up this last summer, potatoes, gravy, and a cherry pie for dessert."
He watched as she put the food on the table. "You know this is a real feast. At least let me cut the ham, and I'll fetch the wine."
Her eyes went wide as she slid back from the table. "My goodness, I absolutely forgot about the wine. Yes, by all means, carve, and while you do that I'll get the wine. Not too big a slice for me, but help yourself to whatever you can hold."
Henry found the dinner to be delicious and Etna to be a delightful and witty dinner companion. She had an infectious laugh and Henry found himself having more fun than he had experienced in years. All too soon, the dinner came to a close and while Henry offered to help with the dinner dishes, Etna would not hear of it.
"Etna, that was the best dinner I think I have ever had, and that is no exaggeration. The meal was done perfectly, and you were an ideal hostess. I only wish that I could return the hospitality and have you come to my place for dinner, but the fact is I'm a terrible cook. Oh, I do good enough to survive, but I wouldn't dare attempt a fine meal such as you prepared today."
She smiled at him and her eyes lit up at his compliments. "Thank you, I'm very glad that you enjoyed yourself. It was the least I could do to pay you back a bit for all the help that you have been."
He grinned and shrugged his shoulders. "Gee, I am happy to have something to take up my spare time. Why if it wasn't for you, I might run wild and get into all sorts of trouble."
"Sure, as if there is any trouble to get into around here. You can run, as wild as you want out through the woods, and no one will be the wiser."
Henry's face became serious and he motioned toward the window. "It is too bad that it isn't warmer weather, we could have a picnic. I think that I could fix us up something eatable for a picnic."
She looked out the window and then faced Henry. "Well, it is going to be a long while until it is picnic season, but I like to take a walk down along the shore of the lake in the late mornings. I suppose you could fix up your picnic things and we could eat here in the house. That is if you are dead set to have a picnic."
A wide smile crossed his face, and he tried not to let his voice show his eagerness. "I think that is a swell idea. Etna, will you go walking and picnicking with me tomorrow?"
"Not tomorrow I have something else I need to do, but how about the next day?"
Nodding his head he followed her to the door. "I shall see you the day after tomorrow. We shall have our picnic no matter what the weather decides to do."