Some blue peaks in the distance rose, and white against the cold-white sky, shone out their crowning snows.
“Where was this picture taken at, Uncle Tenny?” Madison help up the photo with the curtain of fog.
“Oh, just up in the mountains, a good day’s journey from where I was living.” He thought back to that time when he took the journey with Brian McCoy, wondering why the other man was giving him the thick pea coat.
“Was it cold up there,” she asked, taking her blue crayon to create the mountain peaks. “Did you think you would freeze to death, like that man in the wild who couldn’t build a fire?”
“Who has been reading Jack London to you? You should begin with White Fang. No, I wasn’t going to freeze to death. Our guide was very careful and I learned to follow his directions to the letter.”
“What does that mean, to the letter? Did he give you a letter with instructions, like the kinds Sherlock Holmes gets when people want his help?” She grabbed a white crayon and pressed hard against the paper, not that the color could be seen.
“Not exactly,” he told her, accepting the dark blue crayon to add to the mountains. He knew how to travel in such conditions in that region, so what he said was very important.”
Maddie nodded. “What did you do when you got to where you were going? Besides getting your picture taken? Oh, can I have this, too? I like how you look.”
He watched as she put the photo into her gold-paper covered box. “I learned about a few things there. Listened to some stories, sketched some pictures.”
“Ooh! Do you have them with you? I want to see them!” The white crayon was traded for gray with one hand while the other was held out expectantly for something he didn’t have.
“I’ll bring them next time, honest.” Tennyson had filled three books with images from that European travel. Usually he would have taken a page or two to mail to Kai, but he hadn’t that time. Neither did his parents receive the usual three-page letters once he left Australia.
“Why do you keep leaving all the time?”
He saw her dark eyes looking up at him and for a moment saw how much like her mother she was going to become. He smiled. “I like to explore. I’m curious that way.”
Maddie shook her head. “Someone once said that you are supposed to turn your fears into curiosity. Lucas showed me in one of his books.”
“Did he now?” Tennyson suspected it was the younger Lucas who took to reading the older classics too, no thanks to his father for instilling the behavior. “What else has your big brother shown you?”
Maddie sighed. “I’m not supposed to say. You guys will just get mad and you might go away again. I don’t want you to go, Uncle Tenny. Stay home until I finish school – like when I’m really old finished school, not just this year.”
He picked her up and sat her on his lap, wrapping his arms about her. “And how long do you think that will be?”
“When I become a doctor and so I can fix you.”
He frowned. “Fix me?”
Maddie placed a small hand on his cheek. “From your broken heart. Daddy says you and Mommy have one.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” he drawled. “I think my heart works just fine. I swim every day still and sometimes, I’ll run that trail around the lake.”
“That isn’t good enough.” As if the topic was settled, she kissed him good night, gathered her art supplies and treasure box then went to her room.