DAY 37: Random Story #2 – Part II

Gardiner looked despondently upon is mother’s countenance and said, “I adjure you, Mother, do not refer to him in such a contemptuous way! Surely there can be exceptions to our hatred for Italians, and, now that I think of it, perhaps there is no need for our antipathy at all…”

“I will not stand to hear such words uttered in my household!” Mrs. Williamson cried hysterically. The corner of her mouth twitched violently in the idiosyncratic way that it did when she was angry, and she continued, “Leave us, Nathaniel! You are not welcome here!”

“Mother, please, I -”

“There is nothing you can say to defend this man!”

“He does not need defending! What has he done wrong!”

A heavy silence followed. Mrs. Williamson’s breathing was loud and strained. Nathaniel’s eyes darted between Gardiner and Gardiner’s mother repeatedly, as if following the ball at a tennis match. The air was uncomfortably still awhile, before Mrs. Williamson said, having regained her composure, “We have every reason to hate these people. Do you know what they did to us, Gardiner?”

“Other than show us kindness, what?” Gardiner replied edgily.

“They murdered your youngest sister.”

“Francesca was not murdered, Mother! She still lives; I can go get her right now if you don’t believe me…”

“No. You had another sister. Her name was Emilia, and she was the most precious little girl I could have ever prayed to birth.” A tear slid down Mrs. Williamson’s cheek, and she closed her eyes, saying with difficulty, “He was an Italian assassin. He said the murder was to augment the honor of Italy, and that her screams were like the tunes of mellifluous lays to his ears. Since then, I have harbored an intense hatred for all Italians; they have shown me nothing but a desire to harm others for their own selfish gain, or to appease their motherland’s greed for additional ‘honor’.”

Gardiner’s mouth was slightly ajar, and Nathaniel’s face blushed red with shame. Another silence followed, more painful than the last, wherein no eyes made contact with others. After a time, though, Nathaniel turned to face Mrs. Williamson and said, “I will leave, then, for the shame of such an action, conducted on the behalf of my people, burdens my heart.” He pivoted on his heel and started to leave.

“Mother, how can you blame all of Italy for the actions of one man?” Gardiner asked, stealing several glances towards the departing figure of Nathaniel.

“I have my ways.”

“The assassin was only one man…”

“How can you argue for one of his kind, when they took your sister from you when she was barely three years old!”

“Nathaniel didn’t do it! I implore you, Mother; surmount your prejudice, and give him a chance! Extend your hand to a man in need. He has nothing! He needs love, sustenance and some clothes on his back. Give him that much!”

Mrs. Williamson’s eyes wandered to Nathaniel, whose figure was silhouetted in the dying sunlight. She sighed and mumbled, “Bring him in for dinner.”

“NATHANIEL!” Gardiner cried, and ran to retrieve the vagabond.

The evening passed pleasantly, and though Mrs. Williamson was loath to accept the newcomer, she found a place in her heart for him, and learned to love him in spite of his nationality. Nathaniel came by once every week after that first meal, and grew to know the Williamsons very well over the years. When he laid down upon his deathbed half a decade later, Mrs. Williamson never left his side, and inundated Nathaniel’s hand with many bitter tears as he closed his eyes and went, as the passing of a soft wind, to be with his Father in heaven forever.



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