3. The Present

“You were up pretty late last night, huh? Probably shouldn’t have told you that story, otherwise you would have had a good night’s sleep until the ringing of that bell. Though . . .” Matthew paused as he glanced out the window at the church. “That bell hasn’t been rung in years.” He glanced back at Quincy, “Interesting that it should ring on your first morning in the cabin.”

Quincy shrugged, “Maybe bells like me. I’ve always had a fascination with bells, I guess this one realized how lonely I felt and decided to wake me with what it thought was a lovely good morning.”

Matthew laughed, “It’s quite possible. It certainly surprised us. Sorry, though, for not going into more detail about the bell and all, but that was seriously the first time it’s been heard for several years, didn’t quite expect it to start ringing this morning.”

“Yeah, well, neither did I.”

“Say what?”

“Um, I mean, no one’s been inside of there for years now, right? Bells can’t actually ring all by themselves. Someone must have been inside the bell tower this morning to ring it.”

“Yes, quite true, but then, who could it have been?”

Quincy shrugged, “You got me, I was still in bed.”

Matthew smiled, “I know, but if it happens again tomorrow morning, we’re going to have to stake out the church on the following night and see who’s doing it.”

“Uh, why? I mean, three times a charm, right?”

“Precisely, we’ll need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Quite the joke, don’t you think?”

“Maybe, but, I was thinking that, maybe after the third time, whoever rang the bell this morning wouldn’t do it again after three times.”

“Oh, you never know. And if that is the case, why do it just three times? That doesn’t make sense, especially for a lot of children’s games. Maybe an adolescent, or an adult, but why the number three? Why are they practically obsessed with it?”

Quincy shrugged, “Well, if the bell rings again, guess we’ll just have to find out.”

Matthew nodded, “Quite possibly. Well, I should probably let you get back to bed and get some sleep. You don’t know if you’ll be getting another ‘good morning’ tomorrow.”

Quincy nodded, “Very true, and I do have another dinner party tonight, so, I should get some more sleep between now and then. I don’t want to miss it.”

Matthew chuckled, “No you wouldn’t want to miss that. Well, good day, glad you’re having a bit of excitement already. Really helps to make you feel like a part of the town.”

Quincy chuckled, “So it would seem. Thank you again, for checking up on me.”

“Oh, it’s no problem whatsoever. You just be sure to get enough sleep so you can be awake before the bell rings . . . if it rings again tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll be sure to do that.”

“Good, you have a splendid day! I’ll be by to check up on you again tomorrow,” stated Matthew as he walked towards the door.

“Thank you! You have a splendid day yourself!” smiled Quincy. Matthew nodded before walking out the door. Quincy let out a sigh of contentment as he sat back in his chair, and dozed off. He woke up around mid-afternoon, and quickly readied himself for dinner at the Gordons.

Upon his returns from the Gordons, Quincy took a quick glance at the clock, it was only nine o’clock. He had just enough time for a quick nap before he needed to be out at the church. As he laid in bed, waiting for sleep to overcome him, he thought on his own past, and a few things began to click into place. Now he began to understand certain events in his life, he was Agnes’ true love, God had been directing his steps to this place to break the curse on Agnes. A soft smile played on his lips as his eyelids slowly drooped into sleep, God was in complete control and knew what He was doing, even if Quincy couldn’t see it at first.

He awoke as the clock chimed midnight and quickly threw on his coat and shoes. He walked briskly towards the church and a question popped into his head, what did they know about Franco’s son? Where was Franco now? Where was Mr. Fletcher? Maybe Esmeralda could tell him more. After all, Franco could still pose a threat to Agnes’ future and might even try to make her fall in love with him again. There was no one in the church when he entered, like the night before. Thinking Esmeralda would come up behind him like before, Quincy walked to the coffin. Agnes looked as lovely as ever, perhaps even lovelier, as Quincy noted there was more of a red in her cheeks. He smiled softly, she was looking better now, healthier, soon, she would awaken. But, what about Franco? What would happen if he found out that the curse was broken?

“Hello there,” came a voice from behind him. Quincy blinked in surprise as he turned to face the newcomer. This wasn’t Esmeralda, this was a woman of about thirty with dark brown, almost black hair, and green eyes.

“Where’s Emeralda?”

“Oh, are you referring to the girl you spoke to yesterday?” Quincy nodded. “She only takes care of the first night, there’s three of us. And all of us have the name Esmeralda.”

“Really? Why is that?”

‘Because we thought it would be easier if we each went by that name. But you needn’t worry about us, your main concern is Miss Agnes Fletcher.”

“Um, OK, so, uh, what now?”

“Well, yesterday’s Esmeralda told you about Agnes’ past, did she not?”

“Yes.”

“Well, then I shall tell you what I know from where she stopped until this moment.”

“Actually, if you don’t mind, I do have a couple of questions . . .”

“Of course! Ask away, my friend.”

“Well, what do you know about Franco’s son? Where is Franco now? And what about Mr. Fletcher?”

Esmeralda laughed, “She did say you were rather inquisitive! But those are good questions. Now, let me think . . . Mr. Fletcher still resides in Ivy Hollow and is in pretty good health, despite the worries he has about his daughter. As for Franco and his son, both seem to have disappeared since the incident that put Agnes to sleep. Since then, Mr. Fletcher has found out that Franco’s son isn’t his biological son, but a boy he adopted and raised from birth. The boy was left on the stairs of the church in Ivy Hollow, and Franco saw fit to take in the boy as part of his duty to Christian charity. I don’t think Franco really loved him at all, I think he was only using the boy as a means to keep up his appearance as a good Christian. I don’t like it when people do things to make them look good instead of doing it because they are good.”

“They wouldn’t try to make themselves look good if they were good, now would they?”

Esmeralda smiled, “I guess that would be true, now, wouldn’t it? Only problem is, their charade falls to pieces eventually, which leaves them in quite the bind. And it’s not like God doesn’t know what’s going on either.”

“So, basically, those who do things to make themselves look good are only concerned with how the world sees them, while those who are truly good are more concerned with how God sees them,” pointed out Quincy.

“Quite true, you are rather wise, young man.”

Quincy shrugged, “Well, I have been traveling around for years, trying to find a place where I would feel welcome. You tend to notice things.”

“So I see. Perhaps your wandering had another purpose than just following God to Agnes?”

“Like what?”

“Like gaining wisdom, a wisdom that many your age would overlook.”

“Oh, um, wow, now that you put it that way . . . it’s very possible.”

“Very possible? I think that’s exactly what happened.”

Quincy shot her a soft smirk, “Thanks.”

“No problem, always happy to give a compliment where it is due.”

“Yeah, well, um, anyway, back to Franco . . .”

“Oh right, well . . . not much to say, really, like I had mentioned, he and his son disappeared not long after Agnes fell asleep. Where they went or what happened, nobody knows for sure.”

“Hmm . . . interesting. And no one has heard anything, or seen anything?”

Esmeralda shook her head, “No reports, not a sighting, not even a sound, has risen up about those two. Have you seen or heard something?”

“Not sure. What was Franco’s son’s name?”

“Phillip.” Quincy glanced down, should he say? “Did you hear something or see something?”

“Well, Agnes’ story was rather familiar to me, but it was some guy on the street who told me the story, he’s too young to be Franco, but it sounds like he was too old to be Phillip too. And he said his name was Louis.”

“Interesting. Well, there could be stories quite similar to Agnes’, I mean, there are several fairy tales that have some similarities to each other, so it shouldn’t surprise me that there might be a few stories that are similar to Agnes’ case.”

“Quite possible.”

“Oh my, would you look at that! Morning is almost upon us, we need to get up to the bell!” exclaimed Esmeralda as she bounded up the stairs to the bell tower.

“Oh, real quick, what would happen if a few of the townsfolk want to stake out the church to see who’s ringing the bell tomorrow?”

“Oh, that’s perfectly fine, it’s the last night after all. Just as long as you’re awake from midnight until the ringing of the bell while everyone else is asleep, you’ll be fine. Once you ring the bell, you’ll wake everyone up, as well as Agnes, and the curse would be broken.”

Quincy nodded as they reached the bell tower, “Makes sense. So I just have to make sure that everyone else is asleep while I talk to the last Esmeralda and ring the bell for the last time.”

Esmeralda nodded, “Exactly.”

Quincy let out a breath, “Alright, then let’s get this bell rung quickly so I can get back to my cabin before anyone shows up.”

“Wait a second, the sun’s not up yet.” The two waited in silence for a few minutes before Esmeralda nodded, “Alright, go for it.” Quincy pulled on the rope, ringing the bell to greet the morning sun.

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