116 ‘Binnorie, Oh Binnorie’

“How do you get the holes in this, Mrs. James?” Poppy fingered the doily in one of Mrs. James many workbaskets. It was Saturday morning, before their trip to the library. “When we get holes in our stuff it’s wrong but this is on purpose holes. I want one for my thumb. Like this.” Poppy pushed her thumb through a buttonhole to demonstrate. “But in a scarf.” Chapter 116 Binnorie

“If you intend to make a hole, then you first wrap the yarn around the hook, before you insert it, and then make the stitch. The more times you wrap it around, the larger the hole becomes. I’ll show you, next time.”

“O.K. But I can do it, too?”

“Yes, if you pay attention. Pansy, when you said ‘Sisters’ for the list, what did you have in mind, do you know?”

“Kinda. Mom and Gina are sisters, and we’re sisters and sometimes we fight and other times we’re best friends. Is that what happens to other sisters?”

“You’re very lucky. I never had a sister, only an older brother, so I have no real answer. But there are lots of stories that do. Stories, and poems, and songs. When I was your age, my mother made it my chore to wake him up in the morning. She didn’t have the time, she said, because it took him so long to get up and he was a bear when he finally did. So I used to hide behind his bedroom door and read a poem out loud. It was a poem about two sisters. He hated that poem. But when he started to throw things across the room at me, to get me to stop, I had the door to protect me, and I kept right on reading.”

“Do you remember it, now?” said Pansy.

“The refrain, anyway. ‘There were twa – that’s two, to you – sisters sat in a bower, Binnorie, Oh Binnorie.”

“What’s a bower?” said Pansy.

“What’s a bin…ory?” said Poppy.

“I remember being pretty confused about all that myself, at the time. We’ll look for a copy of it this morning, and I’ll read it to you some morning when you don’t want to get up, how’s that? But the gist of the poem is that two sisters both loved the same man and what happened when he chose one of them. I don’t want to give away the ending – it’s a surprise. In the meantime, a bower is a little bench in a garden, all surrounded by beautiful flowers. And Binnorie is the name of a place in Scotland, where the story happens, with a large body of water, with a dam and a mill at one end of it. It’s time for us to get going, though, to catch the bus.”

That afternoon, after lunch, and upon request, she read them the poem. It was often sung to a lively folk tune but she wasn’t quite up to that. She omitted some of the many repetitions of the chorus that made the song so long. It told the story of two sisters, and of the suitor who chose the younger for his truelove. In a jealous rage, the older enticed the younger to the water and pushed her in – by the bonny mill dams o’Binnorie – and watched her sink, even though the younger and fairer sister stretched out her hand to her older sister and pleaded for her life. The girl washed downstream and was found dead by the miller at the dam, and laid out on the bank – by the bonny mill dams o’Binnorie – where she was mourned by a passing minstrel. Years passed – by the bonny mill dams o’Binnorie – and when the minstrel returned, it was to enter a musical competition sponsored by the King. The musician passed by the grave of the maiden and retrieved her breastbone, for a harp. At the castle, as his turn came, his harp played of its own accord, sighing out a dirge for the lost lady, and naming the sister, now the Queen, as her murderess.

“Oh Mrs. James, that’s so sad. I’d never let Pansy drown, no matter how much I hated her. I mean, was mad at her.”

“Let us live in that hope.”

“I might pretend to let you drown, Poppy, if I got really mad, just to show you. But then I’d save you.”

“Do sisters always fight over other people, Mrs. James?” said Poppy.

“Not in my experience, no. But it can happen that they both care for the same person, as we just read. You’ll come to learn, though some people never do, that there are different ways of expressing love, and hate.”

“Could that actually happen, Mrs. James? I mean, that somebody’s bone could be just lying there and be a harp, and sing a song to get somebody in trouble?” said Pansy.

“It’s called a legend. It’s a story that lets us think about our feelings, or our past experience. So no, the details aren’t as important as they sound. But, is it better to save someone, and figure out later on why you did it, or to let someone get hurt because you think you know they deserve it?” The phone rang. It was Greg.

“Afternoon, Mrs. James. Coming to collect them now, please. And we’ll keep them for the rest of the weekend, if you could organize that.”

After their departure, over which she’d heard nary a scheduling word, she had a think about Sunday; whether she’d prefer to accompany Betty out to hear Rod Thuss in action mode at the church and betray herself throwing thirty pieces in his collection plate, or to handle his heavy files and collect from him, instead. She almost heard R.T. laughing. She called her new employer.

“Mr. Thuss. Ivy James. I have an opening in my schedule this weekend, as it turns out, and have a few hours available this afternoon, and tomorrow, too. Would that be convenient for you?”

“Excellent, yes. Wonderful. I’ll be here for awhile. Do please.” She packed up her purse, though she could hardly imagine what she would be needing, except her wits or possibly a back brace, made excuses to Mull, who merely stretched a paw out into the sundialing afternoon sunsplash, and made for the elevator.

A penthouse occupies the top floor, or floors, of a building of whatever number of storeys. Condo prices typically go up per floor in units with similar floor plans.gher floors

A penthouse occupies the top floor, or floors, of a building of whatever number of storeys. Condo prices typically go up per floor, even in units with similar floor plans.

A few hours into the job, and alone in the penthouse, she took a little stretch herself, and a quick look around. Across the hall from his office room, there was a bathroom. It was the first time she’d ever worked in an office with a whirlpool bath. Perhaps if she got tense or a sore back from lifting, she could stop everything and jump right in, to relax. She’d been invited to use the kitchen, carte blanche, enjoy anything she wished, and she went in to discover the tea making potential, before her next stint. She wandered upstairs, finding self-contained, glassy suites of bathrooms and bedrooms, complete with mini-bars and refrigerators, entertainment centers, and other, to her, unusable luxuries. A guest might spend days before having to descend. But she was a worker at heart, not a fleeting Goldilocks, and returned to the office.

It had all been fairly straightforward, so far, and the hardest part was to find a space to pile the preliminary sort out. She’d spread horizontally, into the hallway. She left Thuss a note explaining that this was temporary, and to please not disrupt the stacks. Once she’d carved out an operable space, she’d put them all back, and in order. She’d return in the morning, and request a key, to permit her to freely come and go.