The Heart Collector

The house was far too large for its one old occupant, so he filled it with life - people he loved or hoped to love in the future. Philip Benn had never married, but had always love people and would have traded every penny for an evening of conversation with like minded people. The morning I arrived at my uncle's grand home, I found it unchanged since the last time I had visited.

'Darling Isaac. you have come back to us at last.' ancient Mrs. Baxter said, her voice, though whispery was shrill with excitment and pleasure at being the first to greet me. After a a brief conversation, she shuffled off at top speed, undoubtedley to tell her sister that I was here 'at last', to use her own phrase. After the trek up the winding front staircase, I came to the dusty blue study where my Uncle, a large rounded man whose silver hair had an unbrushed quality, sat waiting for me.

'Isaac, my dear boy, you have come to see me!'

'You knew I was coming! You arranged the whole thing.' I rolled may eyes; he always acted like this.

'I know, I know, just a silly old man's silly joke. Was the journey allright? They never are of course.' He chortled before continuing, 'I want you to tell me all your news, though of course, I know some of it from your mother.' Although I could not think of much to tell him, I sat down and talked with him until after dinnertime. Outside, the sky grew dark and frost laced the barren trees.

The next morning was bright but harrowingly cold; the street glittered with thin ice. I hate cold weather, but anyone would own that the city looked rather picturesque when covered in pale fairy dust.

'I have a letter from my friend Mrs Fletcher, who you saw last at easter. Can you guess what it is about? for I really haven't a clue.'

'Well, I have no idea either. Why do you not just open it?' He nodded, conceding that this was the most efficient way of finding out Mrs Fletcher's reasons for writing to him.

'Ah, she is inviting us to lunch. Her granddaughter Sofia is staying with her.' For some reason, Philip began to laugh, and when i asked him what was going on, he merely laughed harder. 'It has all begun now. From day one, you see, you have been the person she has desired for Sofia's husband!'

I tried not to think too badly of Mrs Fletcher and her Grandaughter, for I knew that the girl was an orphan and that Mrs Fletcher had had much trouble and sorrow in her life. Whenever we had met, I had percieved an underlying pain, despite her efforts to be merry. But how could I help feeling slightly irritated, as we traveled towards their house in Blegrave square? The way everyone had assumed how I would feel based on a few short meetings, and no doubt word of mouth, was simply intolerable. How, I wondered, would I kindly convey that I would not be influenced by anyone in this area?

My fears, however, revealed themselves to be unprecedented. Walking through the shabby house, I saw an unexpected vision seated in the spacious drawing room. A girl smiled at me across an oak coffee table, her symetrical face dimpling slightly as the cherry red lips spread in greeting. Her eyes were the lightest blue, and showed me no hint of what she thought. After the customary introdutions, I decided to be bold and make real conversation.

'What are you reading there?'

'A compilation of peoms by Tennyson. I was given it as a Christmas present.'

'The binding is exquisite' I said, looking at the soft red leather and gilt edges. The conversation blossomed from there, taking in every subject in which I had and interest. Sofia was well read and accomplished, and wished to learn more on every subject. And i took pleasure in teaching her, never before having been able to justify my studies so well.

The End

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