Chapter Two (Everything is Clear)

The moon shone like a blade of frozen blue ice as Elijah and Tayla exited the train. They bid the conductor goodbye, thanking him for the care he had taken during the long journey.

He had begged Elijah to stay in touch, saying that he would need new friends as well as old ones since he was coming home.  Elijah had agreed mildly, and had exchanged a little information should the conductor wish to contact him.

Elijah wished to relax for a little while once he got to the old place and the conductor, while friendly and concerned, seemed to be a bit wiry and hyper for Elijah, who needed to take things at a slower pace. If the conductor wished to call on him, fine, but Elijah did not expect him to remember.

Frankfurt had been wonderful. There were so many new things that had captured Tayla's attention. Elijah smiled, remembering how fondly she had tugged at his hand, begging him to show her just one more  thing before they had to go back on the train.

After Frankfurt there had been stops in Manheim, Nuremburg, Ingolstadt. . . and many other small cities, countless places  whose names he could barely list. It was wonderful that Tayla was so ecstatic. Running around, showing off her mother's charms in such a beautiful, childish way that it enchanted all who saw her.

"Papa, papa! The roasted chestnuts you told me about!" Tayla pointed to a stand nearby, which as she had said, was selling roasted chestnuts. Elijah remembered the first time Ada had gotten him to try them. . .

Ada.

He could see her now, standing off in the distance, holding her arms open to embrace him. The wisps of her curly auburn hair blowing in the wind, her beautiful eyes smiling at him, her kissable lips enticing him. . .

Elijah remembered the way she always marveled at the magnitude of the stars at night, wondering how big God was if he could make something so massive. How she held his hand tightly, as if afraid to let go. How they had walked together down these very streets, always trying something new to discover together.

With a shiver of delight still running down his spine, Elijah suddenly realized that he had missed Germany as much as he missed Ada.

Germany was a great place. It had a lot of history (with plenty of its own mistakes, but what was a country without an interesting past?). Munich would be a wonderful place for Tayla to grow up. Elijah suddenly felt glad that Ada's last request had been that, if God was happy with it, Tayla could enjoy what they had had in Germany.

"I want our angel to grow up in Munich. Your family deserves to know her, and you have the right to live in the place which you love. I know it may be hard, but you must try. . .to give her what we had growing up."

As usual, she was right. Ada and Elijah had left to escape Ada's family, to live in peace. But Herr Hulchst did not know of Tayla. He would never. . .

Would he?

Elijah looked up, then shook his head. It couldn't be possible. No one knew of their coming but his family.

In the crowd, wasn't that. . . .

Maybe it was nighttime shadows playing tricks on him. Maybe it was lack of sleep. To try and wake himself up, Elijah rubbed his eyes and then looked a second time.

Standing there, leaning on his cane in a passive manner, was Herr Hulchst. Ada's father.

"Dross!" Elijah snapped under his breath as Herr Hulchst caught his eye. It was possible after all.

He felt his pulse rising, and his cheeks heating up with anger. How had Herr Hulchst found him so quickly? Why was he even bothering  to look? That old coot had only cared about keeping Ada away from him. Yet Elijah had had the courtesy to send word of Ada's death, though he didn't reveal where she was buried.

"Papa?" Tayla looked up, gripping his hand with a sudden surge of fear. "What's wrong?"

Elijah sighed. He would have to make this quick. "Nothing, little angel. Here," he slipped out of the crowd and searched for a moment before finding a rust-colored door. The same door which he and Ada had  once hidden behind to get away from a crowd during the annual fair. "stay here, and wait for me. Do not move. I will cont to you soon."

"Promise me?" Tayla asked, her voice suddenly filled with worry for her Papa.

"I promise, angel. Stay here."

"Yes, Papa." Tayla stood resolutely, determined to obey.

With that, Elijah pushed through the crowd, keeping his eyes on his father-in-law.

"Young Herr Smythe." the old man greeted him from a short distance, and walked to meet him. "I have not seen you for almost ten years now."

"It has been a long time, sir. May I inquire after your health?" Elijah almost slapped himself for using that tone of hopeful respect, which he had only used, during time when he had been courting Ada, to try and win Hulchst over. It had never worked.

"You may. I am well enough." Hulchst replied. "And yourself? Where have you been hiding all of this time?"

Elijah shrugged his shoulders in what he hoped was a casual manner.  "Here and there, sir. Many places."

"Come now, Herr Smythe. You know me well enough." Hulchst said, his tone dripping with false warmth. "Leave this wish-wash way of speaking behind. When I ask a question, I wish for a reliable answer." He glared at Elijah. "Where have you been, and what have you hidden from me since you eloped with my beloved Ada? And where is she?"

Elijah exhaled sharply. He knew this would happen. "France, mostly. I have relatives there. After that, too many places to name. You received my letter regarding Ada, did you not? I am sure that I sent you that letter, Herr Hulchst."

"What letter?" the old man snapped. "You never sent me a letter! No one sent me any sort of word."

"Then you didn't get it?" Elijah asked, surprised. Did Hulchst think that Ada was still alive? "You never knew?"

"What do you mean I never knew? What has happened?" Hulchst demanded, his eyes glazing over with worry. "What have you done with my daughter?"

"I never did anything to harm her. There was sickness in France, five and a half years ago. Ada didn't survive."

"What?" Hulchst gasped, putting a hand to his heart.

"Papa, you said you would come to me!" Tayla ran up to her father, tugging on his sleeve. "I stayed like you said, but why are you taking so long?

"Tayla-" Elijah gasped, and lunged forward to catch Hulchst, who had collapsed from shock.

"Papa?" Tayla dropped the chestnuts. "What's going on?"

Elijah grunted under the weight of his father-in-law. He couldn't explain all of this to her now.

"Papa, who is this man? Is he sick?" Tayla asked.

"Sir, can I help? I am a doctor." a man rushed forward and helped Elijah to support Hulchst.

"We must take him to a hospital. I don't know what's wrong with him."

"I know of one close by." The doctor said. "I can take you in my car."

"Thank you." Elijah managed, swiveling his head around to call for his daughter. "Tayla, follow me closely!" he ordered.

"Papa-" Tayla looked like she might cry. "I'm scared. Who is this man?"

"Now, Tayla! I will explain this to you later."

"But, Papa!"

"You must, my angel. Hurry. This man-"

Elijah didn't know if it was out of sympathy, or if some part of him still hoped for approval from Herr Hulchst, but. . . .

Mein Gott, I hope that this is what you want.

"This man is Mama's father, your grandfather, Taylor Hulchst. We named him after you. Now, hurry! He is hurt!"

Even so, perhaps things had changed.

The End

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