Across the Frozen River

"We followed the bells, did we not, old man," my grandfather now spoke with  growing ease that I had learned of this misty world of old men and old oaks.

"Yes, it was the bells, the bells from abbey that drew us," spoke the voice of the old man in the oak, but now the old man in the oak seemed to be everywhere, as if he had become the mist itself.

"From across the river Chateguay, they rang and rang and we crossed that frozen river, through the wintry winds and over the newborn snow and midst the cold moonlight, casting shadows at our side, leaving trails in our past."

"To the abbey," I asked.  I was sure that they were speaking of the Greyfriars Abbey that had long been abandoned, neglected, forgotten by most except the ancient ones.  There were not many of the ancient ones left.  They all seemed to die away, one by one, as did the friars who lived behind the tall, grey stones and crawling ivy.

"Yes, to the abbey.  I am surprised you know of the abbey, at least by its name.  The stones are still there, wearing down in time, but what makes an abbey an abbey is no more.  The breath is gone from the place, no chants escaping the walls, no bells filling the woods."

I answered the old oak with an eager desire to make myself relevant, "But I have heard the bells, I really have."

"But young one, the bells have stopped ringing, even the echoes are gone.'

"No, I have heard the bells, at night, from the upstairs bedroom window, after you have smoked your last pipe of tobacco on the porch below, ater you have turned off the light, and closed the door on the day.  Really ... I have heard them in the night, far away."

There was a waiting in the stilled voices of the old ones.  And then ... as if there voices were somehow intertwined, "but have you ever crossed the river?"

"I have not, the river has always been too wide,' I answered, sensing fear ... no ... sensing secrets nervously hiding, nearby.

The End

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