Monday, February 16, 2015

Notes From My Knapsack 2-19-15

Notes From My Knapsack 2-19-15

Jeff Gill


A Body in the Well (pt. 2)




"What is going on with Mister Mirk?" asked William Gavit.


Sarah Gavit almost jumped into the fireplace; she had been married to the man for almost thirty years, but was still not used to how quietly he could move through a creaky timber frame house. She put it down to his youth spent at sea, in the waters around Long Island Sound, but it was disconcerting even so.


Rising up from the kettle by the hearth, she turned and answered "It's no story I know yet, but will be his to tell when he returns. Someone west of the village had a mishap, and they sent a runner to bring him there."


William rubbed his clean-shaven chin, a chin cleaner shaven than it had been since Hezekiah Mirk came to town, as many would say now about his skills as a cutler and barber. "I thought I heard a clamor in the street clambering onto our porch. So he's gone already?"


"Yes, with the boy who raised the outcry, all out of breath. Hurried off without me offering him even a bite of cornmeal mush and maple syrup."


Gavit smiled at his wife. "That is indeed unlike you."


He kissed her cheek as she turned back to her cast-iron kettles, and walked on out onto the porch of his home and tavern, an occasional creak marking his passage, no matter how light-footed the big man might be.


This home was not even as old as the village, less than ten years, but William knew it needed work, if not replacing. Brother Case and old Warner were looking to build in brick, but these fresh cut planks and beams were some of the first and proudest work of the original mill for the community, over on Clear Run, and he liked it right down to the creaking. It reminded him of how much what he had here was the work of his hands, unlike back in Massachusetts where so much was borrowed or leased or owed upon.


With the sun's light now rising clear of Orchard Hill to the east, the porch was downright warm, not that Gavit had any plan to sit and bask in the glow. His guests had left for the road, his boarder was away on business he'd hear of soon enough, and it was time to sit the children down in the big front room, once Sarah was done with the dishes, and begin lessons. Their older children were already apprenticed around the village, but the youngest three had their tables and telling to master. A schoolhouse was in place, catty-cornered across the public square, but Gavit was of no mind to wait until a new teacher made it to town in the spring.


He glanced over to his right, and saw the heavy canvas bundle rolled out at the porch's southern end, Mister Mirk's files and rasps and other tools laid out and gleaming in the sun. Once William had asked his boarder about securing his tools, to which Hezekiah Mirk had answered with a wry smile "And whom would steal these, and to what end? All know they are mine, only I know their use in full, and to sell them no one would have coin or specie to trade."


When Gavit nodded slowly at this, Mirk added "As well, each has an H and a K struck into their tang or handles. Only a fool would steal these."


"True," Gavit replied, "but there are more fools arriving in the west country every day."


Then, Mirk had shrugged and went back to his work of sharpening other men's blades. Now, Gavit thought about rolling up and tying up the bundle of tools, but after these last few weeks, he still didn't feel he knew his boarder well enough to handle his tools without permission, whatever his intention.


Leaving them in place, he went back inside and called his children down from the loft. Time enough to take the measure of this still-newcomer to their village.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him what you'd like to learn about Granville history at, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.

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