There was something unusual about Rose. She didn’t do or say anything unusual but whenever she was around, everything worked well.
Chapter 42: Om Mani Padme Hum
Farkas pulled his hood on and made a run for Ide’s front porch in the storm. He was picking up baby Lan-Lan. Ide had been able to keep the house that she and Farkas had jointly owned, at least, for now. The main elder of the Clinkers had decided to rent Ide’s large, front room. He was using it for meetings and private sessions and, occasionally, sleeping there. His tribe name was Salt, although, Ide’s teenage son, Christopher, had always referred to him as Magic Man. That is the name that stuck in Farkas’s mind. Although Salt was an elder, he was far from elderly. At seventy, he could run through the forest almost as fast as the young Clinker men and he could, certainly, outwit them.
As Farkas made for the steps, he heard the sound of chanting through the windows. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Farkas had heard their chanting before. It meant something about purification on the spiritual path but all the Clinkers seemed to say that it meant something different. It was a traditional Buddhist mantra. The Clinkers were not Buddhists but they had no qualms about taking whatever appealed to them from any tradition. They were not proud in that way. Farkas thought that, sometimes, they seemed to have no qualms about taking whatever else they wanted as well. He already knew about Salt renting Ide’s front room and wasn’t entirely supportive of the idea but his support was neither sought nor taken account of.
While standing at the front door waiting for Lan-Lan, Farkas looked through the partially open lounge room door. He could see Sri and Gloria from Vibes, the yoga studio. He saw other Waldmeer townsfolk, probably, brought along by Sri and Gloria. As Ide greeted Farkas, Salt glanced in their direction with calm, clear eyes. They were calm but there was a streak of something else in them. What is it? thought Farkas. Fierceness. Fierceness combined with a calm, determined mindset is a powerful tool. Farkas felt that he would not be easily getting near Ide again.
“How’s Magic Man going?” Farkas asked Ide.
Hearing the tone in his voice, Ide said defensively, “He’s fine, Farkas. Leave him alone.”
Farkas looked at Ide. She had bare feet and a long, flowing skirt. Her hair was loose and wilder looking than normal. He wasn’t exactly thrilled at the thought of his son being raised by a Clinker mother.
“Brother,” a voice said from behind Farkas. He turned to see Salt holding out a hand to him. Sensing the tension in the hallway, Salt had decided to intervene. “You are welcome any time you wish,” said Salt genuinely.
“Thanks,” said Farkas. “I’ve got Lan-Lan now.” He walked back to the car covering his babies head with his jacket.
Chapter 43: Mac Enterprise
“Who is that elderly lady with the long, white hair and walking stick that comes to your morning teas?” asked Teresa of Grace.
“She said her name is Rose,” said Grace.
“Where does she live?” asked Teresa.
“I’m not sure,” said Grace. “I presume somewhere in Darnall. It must be within walking distance.” They would see her slowly shuffling up the hill. However, they would not see her again anywhere around town. There was something unusual about Rose. She didn’t do or say anything unusual but whenever she was around, everything worked well. She made a point of sitting next to Grace at the morning teas and looked encouragingly at her. The morning teas were going well. Not only women came but the women, sometimes, brought their husbands and adult children with the promise of Grace’s yummy baking. Although generally, Thomas took no notice of the morning teas, today, he did. He had been having trouble getting people to sign up for his MacArthur Enterprise Educational and Life Improvement Courses. He knew his courses were good but he couldn’t seem to break through the barrier of getting the Darnall townsfolk to commit.
“I have an idea,” said Thomas to Grace when all her visitors had left except Rose who was sitting unassumingly. “Why don’t you get your people to come to my courses and bring their families?” said Thomas.
“Alright,” said Grace obediently.
Rose looked up and said, “I’m sure they would love to come and hear you speak, Grace.” Grace looked shocked at the thought of her speaking at Thomas’s event. Thomas looked annoyed at Rose for putting an unwelcome idea in Grace’s head.
As Thomas could not be anything but inviting in the situation, he said, “Yes, of course, Grace. You must say something.” He then added, “Not too long.”
With Rose’s help, Grace worked out a simple, authentic message. The evening arrived and Thomas, as expected, spoke impressively. He was an experienced motivational speaker and teacher. However, it was Grace’s, somewhat, fumbling talk that touched people’s hearts. The sincerity of her desire to improve her life and to reach out to others, along the way, was undeniable. At one point, Thomas looked at the small audience and saw their attentive and moved expressions while Grace was speaking. He felt humbled by it and reached for Grace’s hand as she faltered. It gave Grace courage to continue.
The next morning, Thomas came into the shop and said to Grace, “I have a brilliant idea about the name of the Enterprise.”
“It already has a name,” said Grace, “MacArthur Enterprise.”
“Mac and Mac Enterprise,” said Thomas proudly.
“Mac and Mac?” queried Grace.
“Yes,” said Thomas pointing to himself and then Grace. “MacArthur and Maclary; Mac and Mac.” Grace had kept her marital surname of Maclary. She had had it for so long and it was so intertwined with the business she had run with her husband for decades, Maclary Diary, that she couldn’t see the point of changing it.
“Mac and Mac Enterprise,” repeated Grace. “How about Mac and Mac and no Enterprise? It sounds more approachable.” And that is how Mac & Mac was born.
Chapter 44: Delicious
As Bryan was ambling through the Darnall Arcade, he saw the new sign above the old sewing school saying, Mac & Mac. Grace beckoned to him and pointed to her lemon and coconut cake. Bryan had been a few years ahead of Grace’s twins at school.
“How are you?” asked Grace. “Please have some cake. How are your parents?”
“Hmm, don’t mind if I do,” said Bryan. He was always hungry from farm work. After a little chat, Grace asked Bryan if he knew that Teresa and Amira had taken over the Curiosity Shop opposite.
“No,” said Bryan turning to look. Teresa had already seen him and was watching as much as was polite. She waved to Bryan and he waved back.
“Take this over to Teresa,” said Grace handing him a slice of cake. It seemed more of a motherly order than a request. Bryan gave Grace a kiss good-bye and walked the few steps to Teresa’s shop.
“I have to get back to work,” said Bryan to Teresa after a quick catch-up about nothing of much importance. As he reached the door, he turned to Teresa and said, “It’s nice to see you.” He wanted to add, I miss you, but didn’t.
“I know you have moved on,” said Teresa hesitantly, “but if you ever look backwards, I am ready to get married.” Bryan stood stock-still. “You drive a hard bargain,” continued Teresa trying to smile, “but I guess you want the security of the commitment or, at least, you did want it.”
Bryan thought for a moment, stared at her piercingly, and said, “In Spring.”
“At the Waldmeer Convent,” said Teresa. She added more definitely, “Family only.” It was a small concession for a big decision. Bryan smiled and walked out into the Arcade. Teresa made a cup of tea and sat down to eat Grace’s cake. It was even more delicious than usual.