Old Maggie waited for the outsider to gather her belongings and it took only a moment for them to be on their way. Each one took an end of the burlap bag while the young woman carried her light case with her other hand. As quickly as they left Paddington Cove, Old Maggie guided them on the most direct route to her cottage, something she rarely did. But this day required ease and expediency, and they arrived at her cozy, dry, warm home in half an hour.
Neither had spoken during their wet trek to the cottage and Old Maggie merely indicated the pegs on the wall near the fireplace as she laid the burlap bag on the large hearth and removed her cape. Her guest followed suit, hanging her pelisse beside the cape before nearly collapsing into one of the two chairs in front of the fire.
As Old Maggie added two more logs, she said, “You will need to dry those clothes, but now you are cold and I am guessing hungry. We will take care of those needs first. Then we will snuggle you into something dry and you can tell me why you are cark. Nothing good comes of discussing fretful anxiety when the body needs attention.”
With this admonition, Old Maggie left her brooding guest and went to work preparing them a midday meal that would chase away the cold. She soon brought a special brew of strong, hot tea, leaving her guest sipping its soothing effect while she retrieved the bowls of leftover potato soup.
The tea had already begun changing the course of the on-coming cough when Old Maggie’s guest was handed a large bowl of thick broth and a spoon. The crone sat down with her own meal and joined her visitor in staring at the dancing fire while they ate.The young woman was the first to speak.
“Why did you stop for me? Now that I think about it, I am not convinced you truly needed help with that bag.”
Old Maggie chuckled and responded with humor. “I thought you too thick-eyed to notice, but I am not displeased you could rouse yourself from your deep thoughts long enough to notice my nonsense. As to why I did not simply pass by… I never ignore serendipity.”
“Serendipity?” the young woman quizzed as she took the last bite of soup.
Old Maggie stood up and took her guest’s empty bowl and tea cup to the table, returning moments later with a plate of ginger cookies and another cup of the healing brew. She sat back down and took her own soup in hand, but she did not raise her spoon. Rather she explained.
“When a string of disconnected events weave together, I know my spirit is speaking to me. Today that happened with you. Though I do not know why we sit here together, I know with certainty it was meant to be. That in itself is reason enough, but there is more. In honoring the messages urging our connection, I am talking back to my spirit, letting it know I am listening and willing to be guided by its wisdom.”
Old Maggie dipped her spoon and sipped the soup until the bowl was empty even though the young woman had responded to her statement with another question. Neither one felt an immediate answer was required. This was a time for letting thoughts float and the older woman waited until the silence invited more reflections.
“I can not say if you also experienced serendipity for that is between you and our own spirit. Perhaps you will discover a pattern of coincidences around our meeting when you are more comfortable and have the peace of mind to look back, but for now, it is time to heat the water so you can have a warm bath to chase your troubles away.”
The older woman would not hear any argument and the younger one was too inclined to feel the cleansing relief of such an opportunity to gainsay the offer. She simply stood up to help pull out the soaking tub and fire screen and said, “My name is Lydia.”
“Do you sew?” Old Maggie asked.