The Proposal (part 16): The Stranger
Hope and Charity stepped through the huge wooden doors of Canterbury Cathedral and stared in awe at the massive structure. After looking and reading a bit they came to the Martyrdom. There four Knights of King Henry II assassinated the Archbishop. It was not exactly what Hope had imagined. But in a way it was more.
There was no understating the trek to the tomb of Thomas Becket. A tour guide said that the stairs were worn down by an inch or two by pilgrims crawling on their knees to the tomb.
What impressed Hope the most was the fact that people of faith would start to build and finance a project that wouldn’t be completed in their lifetime and maybe not even in the lifetime of their children.
When they were through touring the crypt, as a last stop, Charity asked: “Where would you like to go next while we still have some time?”
“The castle.” Hope answered.
“Excellent choice!” Charity exclaimed. “Right this way.”
When they got to the front gate there was a box in front of the door with a slot in it. A sign that said to put the entry fee into the box and take a brochure for the self-guided tour. The pair of girls complied.
The castle was fairly new at the time of Chaucer’s writings, but now it was mostly a crumbling ruin. In the last hundred years it had fallen into disrepair and disrespect. It had been used in the 1800s as a gas company and there were pipes impaling the majestic structure’s walls.
Trapped in the Castle
The two women wandered around the castle for about an hour and returned to the front iron gate to find it closed and locked. “We need to call somebody.” Charity said.
Hope stopped her friend and said. “How many people get the privilege of being locked into a creepy old castle. It isn’t our fault we got locked in, so let’s make the best of it. We can always call if it gets too spooky.”
Charity agreed enthusiastically and they continued their exploration as it started to get dark.
They were in an upper room of the castle when they heard the distinct sound of a cough below.
They decided to investigate and after a few twists and turns they found a young woman taking pictures.
Startled she said: “What are you doing here?”
Charity answered: “We got locked in, what are you doing here?”
She said: “I’m here to take measurements, a few sketches and to take pictures. My dream is to restore this old place to its former glory.” It was clear the young woman was eager to tell her newly found audience all about her project.
“Tell us about it.” Hope said.
With that the young woman went to a corner and picked up a large portfolio of what appeared to be drawings. “Here are the sketches I have done so far.” She showed them images of the crumbling walls and pipes that were haphazardly bursting through the ancient walls.
Then with each drawing she would overlay her interpretation of how the structure originally worked.
She explained that her dream was to completely tear it down and catalogue every flint rock and piece of mortar. She said that a lot of material from the original walls could be found in houses and businesses in town.
The Stranger’s Plans
“I would replace what we can’t find. But the most interesting part is what I would do with the mortar. I would grind it up and mix it with new mortar that is similar in composition. That is when I would do something magical.”
She went on, “The reason the walls are crumbling is because the mortar is failing. It has been for centuries. I would mix polymers with the mixture of old and new mortar. The failure of the old stuff is because of the tiny gaps in the material. Rain and freezing, fluctuations in temperature and humidity are the enemy of this old castle because it gets into the gaps and causes the mortar to crumble. What the polymers do, is fill in the gaps in the mortar. If there are no gap there is no water penetration. If there is no water, there is no ice. No ice, no expansion and contraction. In simple terms, the mortar between the stones will be as strong as the stone itself.”
When she had exhausted her audience on the subject of rebuilding the castle, she pulled out her iPad and showed them other ancient castles and buildings.
She said: “Because I plan to build them from the ground up, I plan to mix the old with modern conveniences: Plumbing, electricity, internet, air conditioning and heating – the works. All of the infrastructure will be housed inside the walls and the castle, or building as it were will look just like the original in every way.
They sat and talked to the woman completely absorbed in her plans.
Previous Installments of The Proposal
- The Proposal (Part 15): Hope’s Consiglieri?
- The Proposal (part 14) Chapter 2: Hope and Charity
- The Proposal (Part 13): The Changing of the Guard
- The Proposal (Part 12): A Secure Connection
- The Proposal (Part 11): Where It All Began
- The Proposal (part 10): Secrets of Ancient Soldiers
- The Proposal (Part 9)
- The Proposal (Part 8)
- The Proposal (Part 7)
- The Proposal (Part 6): Listening to Destiny and Fate
- The Proposal (Part 5): Twist of Fate
- The Proposal (Part 4): Destiny’s Place
- The Proposal (Part 3): Close Shave with Mr. Destiny
- The Proposal (Part 2): Continued in London
- The Proposal (Part 1): A Short Story Mystery