Early the next morning, beyond the chained iron gate of the mausoleum, Devlin aroused from his spiritual slumber and crossed over into the physical world. Realizing the perils of disclosing his true identity, he paced back and forth, and toiled over an explanation for Chantal about his incessant departures from Brooke Manor at nightfall.
“Where do I begin?” he asked himself. “Chantal’s patience has dwindled. How do I tell her I’m doomed to roam Brooke Manor forever? Unless…”
“She dies for you,” said the voice of a man who appeared as an outline of a dark human silhouette behind Devlin.
Blindsided, by the unexpected visit, Devlin turned to face the visitor. “Amaethon, my soul longs to rest in peace. Why do you torture me so?” he asked.
“Torture?” asked Amaethon. “Pardon the pun, but the origins of your predicament are dead and buried. The established practice of generations past included bargaining with anything for economic success. Many have reached back into the annals of the Lloyd family history and summoned me, the Welsh god of agriculture and controller of the seasons. Your grandfather requested calm weather on the high seas for his shipping business in Wales. Then, your father bequeathed his first-born son for optimal weather during the tobacco planting and harvesting season of May through September.”
“What do you mean? What are you saying?”
“You were a pawn for the precious tobacco farm of Brooke Manor.”
“I am not the first-born son.”
“You’re the first surviving son, but as I stated earlier, you can rest in peace on one condition.”
With an outraged look of disbelief, Devlin walked over to Amaethon and said, “Now you listen and listen good, I will roam the earth for all eternity before I let Chantal give her life for me.”
“Careful lad, you’re too close for comfort,” said Amaethon.
Devlin stepped back.
“There is a reasonable explanation about the fate of your circumstances. You can profess to love another woman or…”
“Or what?” asked Devlin.
“You can tell the truth.”
“The truth, you can’t be serious. She will think I’m insane, and if I tell her there’s someone else, she’ll hate me. Either way, I will lose her forever.”
“It’s a dilemma, but at least she’ll live.”
“Not if her heart is damaged beyond repair,” said Devlin.
“What do you mean?”
“Chantal has a weak heart. The stress may kill her.”
Amaethon appeared to meditate on Devlin’s revelation.
“Don’t you understand?” asked Devlin.
“Therein lies your answer,” said Amaethon.
“I’m appalled. What you are implying does not differ from me killing her with my bare hands.”
“I concede your point, but be prudent about this. The operative word is stress.”
“I’m no murderer.” In a fit of anger, Devlin walked over and grabbed the chained gate.
After regaining his composure, he turned around to face Amaethon.
“Alas, he’s gone,” he said.
Then, he heard the voices of strangers in the cemetery.
“The headstone is beautiful,” said a woman.
“Mother, was dad alone when he died?” asked a younger woman.
“No dear, your father passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family in the nursing home.”
“I’m sorry I could not get a flight out of Paris before the funeral and burial.”
“Don’t worry sweetheart. He knew you loved him and he loved you. He would have wanted you to dance in the ballet. Your first lead role was all he talked about in his last days.”
“Thank you mom, now I have closure.”
“Come, let’s go home.”
Devlin watched from a distance as the mother and daughter walked away holding hands.
He thought to himself, that’s it. I will tell Chantal that I visit my uncle in the nursing home, at dinnertime in the evenings. I’ll explain, as his only living relative, I’m responsible for making all medical decisions for his treatment.
“There is a way out,” he said to himself.