Surface Design & Glaze
August 1 – September 15
Mondays @ 6-8pm
Category: Historical Romance
Maggie Harrington is deeply in love with Jeremy Paull and they become engaged. Maggie feels as if she has found her prince.
Strong and protective Jeremy loves her to his core. It appears they are a perfect match and a long and loving marriage lies straight ahead.
I am looking in the mirror at the face of a guilty person. I see a face that is happy on a day it should be sad, and I’m feeling guilty about it. Today James Stetter is going to be buried, and I am feeling happy.
I have not liked him for a very long time–he took something away from me that I have been unable to forgive him for. It has been ten years since I have seen Tommie Stetter and looked into his beautiful brown eyes that glisten, that enter into me where I want them to be, and know me, Maggie Harrington, for who I really am. So, even on this sad day, when they are going to bury Tommie’s father, I am happy. I am going to be sitting in church once again with my beloved Tommie, but I feel guilty about it.
I look at my face in the mirror. It is the same face, the same blue eyes, the same girl that loved Tommie Stetter with all her heart when she was thirteen. I am twenty-three years old now, but I am the same little Maggie Elizabeth Harrington. I am a little taller, and my bosom is fuller, my hips are not as straight up and down, but I am the same, I am no different. I still live here in Central Mine with my father who works deep under the earth digging copper. I am a teacher’s assistant at the Central Mine School. I teach the first three grades, and I like teaching little children. They are pure, their minds are not as cluttered with things as adults’ are. So, unlike many of the people here in Central Mine, I am at least satisfied with my life, if not completely happy.
Ten years ago, when Tommie was sent away, I was sure that in two years when he finished school, he would return to Central Mine to work with his father as a mining captain and we would be married. I lived with that dream for two years. I walked with Tommie in my head; I talked with Tommie no matter where in the world he was. I was still with him, we were together. Two years later, I learned from my best friend, Annie, Tommie’s sister, that he was going to stay in the East and continue his education, he was going to college. But I am a very determined person, and I still believed that Tommie, my true love, would come back to me. I never gave up that dream. I never left the dream world that Tommie Stetter and I lived in, and I don’t think I ever will.
After graduating from high school I began to assist Mrs. Daume with the younger children. Eventually I was allowed to teach them by myself, and I have been teaching the first three grades ever since. I felt very fortunate, and I really liked Mrs. Daume. She continued to help me, taught me all kinds of things about literature and philosophy. I liked learning about people like Plato, who spent their whole lives thinking. After all, I believe that I have spent my whole life either thinking or dreaming. I felt I had a lot in common with Plato, who spent so much time thinking and talking about things like truth. In addition to teaching at the school, Mrs. Daume was the organist at the Central Mine Methodist Church.
Nothing much has changed in the church. Reverend White is still there, still preaching his sermons with great fervor, the sweat rolling off his temples, his voice screeching through the air, and all the people listening and saying “Amen.” No, nothing much has changed at the church.
But a lot has changed at the mine. About the time that I began helping Mrs. Daume the mine began to fail. The veins of copper that could be found were very deep, and poor, and you would hear a lot of miners talking about how they couldn’t make any money. The ore was poor, and they were mostly just digging barrel copper to be stamped. Then, in the fall of 1899, the Philadelphia Mining Company announced they were going to pull out. It wasn’t worth the investment; the return on capital simply wasn’t worth it. Central Mine was finished, going to be closed.
There were meetings, and lots of miners soon left Central Mine. Officials came out and closed down the office and work came to a halt. The winter of 1899-1900 would be a very dark and cold winter. A very frightening winter as the miners looked at their future. The mine had been operating since 1863, and up until then had always been profitable. But it was also very remote, and quite a few miles from the other mining ventures that still operated on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Of the mining families that had settled here, many of them knew little else. Many of the later arrivals, the French, and Italians, left, but the Cornish teams, the Cousin Jacks, that had been here the longest, they were the most settled. These were their homes and they continued to stay.
When James Stetter offered to reopen the mine under his own direction that spring the Cornish miners welcomed his offer. Work began that summer to pump the water out of the shafts and put in fresh timber. Mr. Stetter was respected and well liked by the miners. They worked hard, everybody remained in good spirits, and they began that fall to bring small amounts of copper to the surface. But the ore was not rich, and despite further exploration, they were unable to discover any large new veins.
For the last three years, half of the miners worked old shafts that still produced some barrel copper, and the money earned was shared with James Stetter to finance the exploration for new and richer veins by the other half of the miners. Things were not good, but everybody worked, and life managed to go on in Central Mine much as it has for the last forty years. Monday through Saturday under the earth, and Sunday mornings at the Central Mine Methodist Church listening to Mrs. Daume play the organ, the choir sing, and Reverend White preach his sermon.
I have been busy teaching children; doing the chores, and cooking dinner for my father, who was just as silent as before, just as quiet and hard as he has always been, but somehow it wasn’t as important to me anymore. I was happy working at the school, and dreaming of Tommie Stetter, knowing that someday he would come for me.
“Maggie, are you ready? It’s time we walked up to the church,” I hear my father say from downstairs. It made me feel no different than I felt those many years ago, when as a child either he or my grandmother would call me.
I looked at my guilty face in the mirror once again. Yes, I did feel guilty, but I was also happy. It has been so long since I looked into Tommie Stetter’s brown eyes that glisten, I couldn’t help it. I was happy and sad at the same time. I find that so strange. I never have understood how I could feel that way. But it is exactly how I am feeling this Sunday morning as I prepare to walk over to the church and listen to Reverend White speak about James Stetter. We will all pay our last respects, and then follow the pallbearers as they carry the coffin to the Eagle River Cemetery for the burial. And I know that at some point I will get a chance to see Tommie. I will get to look him in the eyes, and he will look at me, and we will know where we are, where we have been, and where we are going. I will know that my waiting was not the foolish daydream of a schoolgirl, that what passed between Tommie and me ten years ago was real. It was as real as all the things I dream about, and all the things I believe in, and all the things I live for.
This is what I am thinking as my father and I walk up the hill towards the church, up the street with no name on it, past the Stetter’s house. I look to see if anyone is there, but I see no one. I had hoped to get a glimpse of Tommie, or even Annie, before we got to the church. It has been many years since I have seen Annie, too.
Not long after we finished high school her father sent her to the university in Hancock to study business. Annie, being very practical, as I have always known, must have figured out rather quickly that she didn’t have a head for business. Less than a year after being sent to Hancock she married a young man called Edward Leiblein, whose father ran a large wholesale grocery in Hancock. It was a good practical decision by Annie. Edward, with help from his father, opened a store and warehouse for receiving and storing supplies in Eagle River, and Annie moved there. The following year Annie had a little boy, Edward junior, and a year later, another son, who she called James, after her father. I stopped to see her a few times after the children were born, but she was always very busy, and had new friends, and in-laws to contend with, and we drifted apart.
That made me sad, because she was my only contact with Tommie. It has been a long while since I have seen Annie, and I have not heard anything about Tommie since his first few years in college. I had assumed he was trying to get himself established in something else, being that the mine wasn’t doing very well. I was sure this was why he hadn’t come back to Central Mine. But I knew he would be here for his father’s funeral. I know he would come back to help his mother, and I am anxious to see him, anxious to see them all. I would like to walk with them, the three of us together, as we did so many years ago. Go back to that summer when we were all thirteen.
It is still so vivid in my memory, spending time with Annie, doing girlish things, growing up a little, and falling in love with Tommie. And certainly there were the wolves, my beautiful furry little wolves that I loved with all my heart, and that Mr. Stetter took away from me.
As I walk, my mind drifts back to that summer, as it often does, and carries me away in my dreams.
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