Book Series: IRISH BLUE Author: Sheila Willar Copyright: 2021 Sheila Willar
ISBN #: 978-0-9867101-4-8
Book Title: THE CHAPEL Chapter #: 05 - THE CHAPEL
Erin told Kelly about the note from Mrs. Mancinni and said that she was anxious about the visit.
“Why don’t I go with you?” offered Kelly. “I’ve been trying to contact her anyway.”
“Why?” asked Erin.
“Because she’s invited to the wedding but hasn’t replied.”
“And you want to ask her personally?”
“Well, we’re practically going to be family,” answered Kelly.
“What do you mean?” asked Erin.
“Maggy is marrying her grandson,” Kelly explained. “Peter is Mrs. A’s grandson. He doesn’t like talking about it. He only sees her now and then.”
“Does she know that I’m related to Maggy?” asked Erin.
“Maybe. I doubt it though. Peter says she barely knows he exists.”
Early the next morning a sleek black car drove Erin and Kelly into the country, and after about an hour they stopped in front of a large iron gate that was closed across a secluded driveway. The gate opened automatically and they drove up a winding path through a tunnel of lush trees, with hints of dappled light shining through the dense canopy.
They stopped in front of a large stone house and Mrs. Mancinni was already outside to greet them. She was dressed in bright flowing layers of lemon and lime, and she was not alone.
“This is my grand-daughter Errin,” announced Mrs. Mancinni.
They all laughed that Erin and Errin had the same name, except for the “r’s”. The two even looked alike.
Mrs. A quickly corralled Erin to herself and asked her grand-daughter to take Kelly to see the horses at the stables. Erin dearly loved horses and wished that she could go with them.
Mrs. A began to explain why she had asked Erin to come to her estate. She said that her husband John was away with her son Alexander, circumnavigating the globe looking for stone and new quarries to buy. She was determined to have her absentee husband return home long enough to renew their marriage vows, and she wanted Erin to help with a restoration project in their chapel.
“Come with me, I’ll show you,” declared Aster.
Mrs. Mancinni led Erin along paths that were lined with hydrangeas, rhododendron, asters, dianthus and phlox. They meandered through herb gardens dotted with cedar topiaries, and by raised beds of tufted, powder puff flowers meant for drying.
Erin wanted to stop and literally smell the roses but her host had other plans, as Astor rushed them through a maze of trails as if they were late for a meeting. Eventually they came to a stop when they reached a tall, vine covered rock wall with a weathered wooden gate in the middle.
Mrs. A smiled and motioned for Erin to go through first. Erin opened the door and her mouth dropped open. The sweeping view revealed a vast hillside meadow of amber wheat grasses that grazed a sapphire blue summer sky on the horizon.
In the centre of the meadow almost hidden by tall oak trees, stood the most lovely stone chapel that Erin had ever seen. Its profile was so low that it could almost pass as a root cellar, but the central spire gave it away. Erin couldn’t hide her excitement and asked if she could run ahead.
“Go on!” encouraged Mrs. A with a visible sigh of relief.
When Erin reached the chapel it flickered in the light from the trees, and wild flowers were everywhere. Yellow buttercups were spread randomly throughout the chapel yard and patches of ocean blue forget-me-nots filled the shadows that lay under the eaves. A gentle breeze made the whole image sway back and forth as if to say “welcome.”
She had never seen such a beautiful example of a country chapel. It was shaped like a cross and had been built from large, heavy grey, granite stones that looked as if they had been tumbled to soften the edges. The window sills, cornerstones and mouldings were also of a large scale and gave a solid feeling to the structure. It looked as if nothing could unseat its grip on the land, or maybe the lands grip on it.
The weathered V-shape slate roof sat with grace under the soft shade of the oak trees that criss-crossed their limbs above its peak. In its centre stood a weathered wooden cross with a petit bell tower at its base.
Mrs. Mancinni made her way to the chapel huffing and puffing and said, “It was all brought here from Ireland. Every piece of it.”
Erin followed Mrs. A into the chapel, and they walked down the centre aisle to stand at the crosshairs of the four sets of doors, one on each side.
“Look down,” urged Mrs. A. “This is why I brought you here.”
Beneath them lay a circular shaped layer of Irish Blue limestone that had seen better days.
“I need you to repair it,” said Astor simply, as if Erin was up to speed with her intentions.
“Repair what?” asked Erin, still not getting the whole picture.
“The Irish Blue of course,” stated Mrs. A. “It’s the original flooring that was brought over from Ireland. It’s damaged and needs to be fixed. Right away!”
Erin gazed at the stonework and immediately knew what Mrs. Mancinni was talking about. It looked as if the foundation under the stone had become loose, and as a result some of the tiles had broken, and others had obvious fracture lines and were about to break.
“I need it done now,” repeated Mrs. A in earnest.
Erin had no idea how to make the repairs, and was about to say so when a monk, dressed in a brown robe with an ivory rope belt, walked into the chapel from a side entrance.
Mrs. A sang out, “Oh Fenton. How are you today?” and “Did you get the tea that Lilly left for you?”
Erin thought, “Why shouldn’t she have her very own monk?”
Without so much as a nod, Mrs. A and Fenton disappeared out the south entrance and spent the rest of the day planning her wedding.
Mrs. A and Fenton had met at a funeral just outside of Rome a few weeks ago. She had chipped away at the armour of his life and managed to talk him into returning with her to New York, and into performing her wedding ceremony.
Erin reached for her phone and began to take notes and dozens of pictures from varying angles and vantages of light.
Then, as she was ready to leave, a wisp of dust fell on her nose and she heard a voice pronounce, “Look up!”
In a reflex response she peered up through the centre of a chandelier and for one immeasurably small instant, she thought she saw a perfect white light. It was so bright and pure and almost “living” that she wanted to scream out loud but caught herself and held her breath instead.
She was shocked by the intensity of the moment and ran out of the chapel, and kept on running until she reached the rock wall at the bottom of the meadow. Then she picked her way back to the main house by remembering the gardens and sculptures that she had seen on the way. When she caught a glimpse of the weathervane on top of the stable she felt a sense of relief, in hopes that Kelly and Errin would still be there.
Friends and horses were exactly what she needed to soothe her rattled soul.