Tothelea: Chapter 4
Trevor lay in bed for a long time, his mind racing, before sleep took him. So
much responsibility, dumped on his shoulders, and in so ungentle a fashion!
Trevor railed inside at the injustice, the sheer unfairness of it. But, there
was nothing he could do about it now except do his best to shoulder the
burdens. He finally fell asleep, making lists in his head of things that
needed to be done.
Trevor slept fitfully, and awoke early the next morning. He glanced to
Harmony's bed, and was relieved to see her still sleeping peacefully. The sun
was just beginning to paint colors in the east, and the world had that special
kind of tranquil peace that exists in the moments before dawn. Trevor savored
the moment after the chaos and agony of the previous day. He dressed, and had
a quick breakfast of bread and cheese.
Trevor wanted to get to the dock early, before anyone else showed up for work,
to look at the rope again. But Harmony was still sleeping, and he was loathe
both to wake her and to leave her alone. Still, no telling how long she might
sleep. Trevor paced around the house a bit, weighing the options. He decided
to do some simple chores around the house, in the hopes that she might wake up
soon. But no sooner had he picked up a broom and dustpan than he put them
back down. No, he had to go! He had to be the first one back to the dock.
Harmony would be all right on her own.
He slipped out the back, checked quickly that his father lay undisturbed on
the cart, and ran to the dock. With relief, he found the boat house deserted.
It looked like Carlu had cleaned up a bit before going home himself-the bits
of wood were gone from the dock, and the blood had been scrubbed away. The
rope, thankfully, had been left alone. It still ran from the winch, down over
the dock, and into the water. Ah, he thought, so the mast wouldn't float away
with the tide. Carlu couldn't hoist it back up here last night by himself.
The south side of boat house was open to the sea, but even so enough of the
dawn's light entered for Trevor's purposes. He traced the rope from the winch
all the way to the edge of the dock, inspecting every inch of it.
When Trevor was satisfied, he swore to himself. Why was everyone blaming
Harmony? What really happened? Well, no time to figure it out now. Too much
to be done today, and he didn't want to be seen here again when people started
arriving for work. He left, and hurried back home.
Harmony was awake, and ran to hug him when he came inside.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you where I was going, Harmony," he said. "You were
sleeping, and I knew you needed the rest."
She reproached him with a gentle shove and a pout.
"I went back to the boat house. I looked at the rope."
Her eyes went wide, demanding more.
"I checked the rope. I needed to know for sure. To convince people it wasn't
your fault, Harmony. I don't know how this happened, but we need to convince
everyone else it wasn't your fault."
She smiled, and hugged him again. Trevor hated to spoil her moment of relief,
but it was necessary.
"Harmony, we have to bury Papa today. Come help me choose the best spot."
Her eyes clouded over, but she took his hand and together they went behind the
woodshed. Harmony balked at the sight of the cart, but Trevor said "It's all
right," and she didn't bolt.
"How about here?" Trevor indicated the space next to his mother. She would
be between her husband and her first daughter. His mother would have liked
that, and therefore, his father would have liked that, too. Harmony nodded
agreement. There really wasn't any other option, and Trevor knew it, but he
wanted Harmony to be involved in this. He knew that some part of her needed
to, even if she couldn't say so herself.
The two plots Harmony had tended so well were lined with small stones. "Why
don't you gather some more stones, Harmony. I need to start digging.
She nodded, and wandered off into the field behind their house, bending now
and then to pick up a stone. Trevor fetched a shovel from inside the woodshed
and began to dig. Tears came to him, then, as he worked alone. Why am I
crying, he wondered. I cried plenty with Harmony last night. Then he
understood. He hadn't been crying with Harmony. He had been crying for her.
His father was dead, and was at least not suffering. But oh, how Harmony had
suffered yesterday. Trevor wished more than anything that he could start
yesterday over, go with his father to the dock, and stop the whole thing. As
much to spare Harmony the ordeal she went through as to save their father's
Now, alone, unwatched and unashamed, Trevor cried for his father. He would be
expected later, at the funeral, to be strong. To be a man. Now was his
chance, and he took it. He dug, thinking about how he had helped his father
dig the previous grave. How it had been difficult then, to force the shovel
through the soil, and how easily he managed it now after working for Yun these
two, almost three, years. Maybe I am a man, he thought. Maybe. But then,
why don't I feel like one?
Trevor dug for a while, and had established the shape of the grave when Yun
came and found him.
"Oh, Trevor, I'm so sorry," he said as he approached. Trevor stuck the shovel
into the small pile of dirt he had made and stepped out to meet his boss. Yun
wrapped Trevor in an unexpected hug, saying "He was a good man. A good man."
He released Trevor. "Thank you." Trevor didn't really know what to say.
"You know we played together as boys, Dannel and I." In fact, Trevor did
know. When Trevor had gone to work for him, his father had told him some
stories about himself, Yun, and a couple of other boys when they were kids.
Like the time they borrowed a rowboat and set out to sail all the way to
Merlon, but being kids, forgot to take anything useful with them, like food.
Trevor nodded, and mentioned the anecdote to Yun.
The big blacksmith laughed at the memory, saying "We kept arguing over whose
turn it was to row. We were back home before dinner, probably didn't make it
more than a half a mile down the beach."
They were both quiet again, then Trevor said "I'm sorry I didn't come back to
"Oh don't you be sorry! Ambany told me. Gods, lad, I would have sent you
away if you had come back! What a thing. And Harmony's fault, too, she-"
"It was not her fault!" Trevor barked. Trevor explained in heated tones about
the rope and the shoes and how she couldn't have been responsible.
"All right Trevor, all right. Only, there's a foreign fellow staying at Widow
Nell's who says he saw it, that it happened while your father's crew was
working on his ship."
Trevor felt the yesterday's hot anger rise up in him again.
"He's a liar."
Yun pondered his words for a moment before answering. "Well. You've always
been an honest lad-"
"Just like my sister," Trevor interrupted, feeling the need to insist on that
"-and I have no reason to think you're lying now. I believe you. But you
should be prepared. There's not many in town who do. Your father's men,
they're not saying much, out of respect I imagine, but that foreign fellow
surely isn't holding his tongue. He's going to be some trouble, mark my
Trevor snatched up the shovel and stepped back into the hole, stomping the
blade into the ground.
"Listen, Trevor. I'm going to close the smithy for today. I need to go take
care of a couple of things, but I'll be back for the funeral. Is there
anything I can do for you, lad?"
"No." Yun's kindness cooled Trevor's temper. "Thank you. I'll ask if I
think of anything." Yun nodded, and left Trevor to his task.
Trevor dug down through the rich, dark topsoil, and into the rocky clay
beneath. The pile of earth grew beside him. He dug down, and down. The
exercise calmed him. It was different than his work at the smithy, and he
began to ache in ways he was unaccustomed to. But his hands were tough and
calloused, and did not blister against the shovel. He made the grave deep,
straight and square. A hole his father would have approved of. When the hole
reached mid-thigh deep, he stopped, and tossed the shovel aside.
He sat down, resting his back against one side of the hole, surrounded by the
cool earth. The grave's sharp edges framed the sky. A clearer sky than
yesterday. It would be sunny and warm for the funeral. His tears had
stopped, and he wiped the salt from his cheeks with dirty hands.
He climbed out of the hole and went to check on Harmony. Somehow, she had
left a neat pile of small stones at the foot of the grave, without him
noticing. Harmony. Even after all these years, she could still do that to
him. Trevor chuckled to himself. If he didn't know better, he would swear
she had magic to her.
He found her inside the house, preparing him a lunch. The sun had risen high
while he dug, and the smell of food reminded him of his hunger.
"Smells good, Harmony. Let me go wash up, ok?" She nodded, and he ran out to
the pump to wash his hands and face.
They sat together at the table to eat. "I saw your stones. They're perfect."
Harmony passed him his plate. "What kind of flowers will you plant?"
"Same- Same kinds. All kinds, grow together. Same like Papa, Mama, Trea."
Trevor took a bite of food and chewed, pondering. Then caught her meaning,
and grasped what he had never quite been able to see about her flowers. "You
mean, the same kind that are there now. The ones that belong together because
they grow together out in the field." Harmony nodded
"Because in the field, those flowers are family. Mama, Papa, and Trea are all
family, so he should get the same flowers too." She looked up at him, a
beaming smile showing that that he had understood.
He returned her smile. "I know Papa's grave will be beautiful too, Harmony."
After they finished lunch, Trevor helped Harmony pick out clothes to wear for
the funeral. Ordinarily, she would wear her nice dress, but under the
circumstances that seemed a poor choice. Someone knocked at the door.
Trevor opened it. A boy, younger than himself by a few years, stood there
holding onto a cart containing Dannel's headstone. "Oh, uh, hello," Trevor
stammered. "Just, just put it around behind the house, ok? I'll get it from
The boy stood there for a moment, trying to peek into the house. To get a
glimpse at Harmony the killer, Trevor thought.
"It wasn't her fault! Go!" he shouted at the boy, slamming the door. Yun was
right. This was going to be a problem. He needed to convince everyone that
this was just an accident, that Harmony was not to blame. People thought she
was odd enough as it was. She-and therefore, Trevor-wouldn't be able to stay
in White Sands if they thought she was a killer, too. Accidental or
He heard the boy wheel his cart around the house, and felt the thud of the
headstone being dumped on the ground. He did his best to hide his worries
from Harmony as they dressed and prepared for the funeral.
Pious Jagob arrived, bearing a roll of parchment and the burial shroud.
Trevor greeted him, and paid the customary fee for the shawl and the Pious'
prayers for his father's soul. After the formalities, Trevor said "He's on a
cart behind the woodshed. Next to the other plots."
"I will go make preparations," said Jagob, taking his leave with a subtle bow.
Other people began to arrive soon thereafter. Most of Dannel's men came, Yun,
of course, and many other people from the village. And Hui Weilin.
"What are you doing here?" Trevor demanded.
"I come to pay my respects," Weilin answered in his odd accent.
Trevor wanted to tell the man to get lost, to leave town and never come back.
"You can do that by keeping a civil tongue in your head, then." Tervor turned
his back on Weilin and made a show of greeting the other guests and thanking
them for attending. Harmony, Trevor was not surprised, was nowhere to be
Jagob seemed to take forever with the preparations, but at last he announced
that the ceremony was to start. Trevor rushed to find Harmony, who had taken
refuge in the woodshed from the crowd and its accusing eyes. He led her out,
and they took their places next to Jagob.
Jagob had wrapped his father in the shroud, and laid him on the ground at the
head of the grave. The three of them stood there as well, Dannel's body at
their feet. Jagob began.
"Every life is a thread, which winds and weaves, touching and turning around
many others. But every thread and every life has an end. We, who are here
today, our threads have all been touched and wrapped up with Dannel's. I am
moved to see so many people here, seeking one last contact between our threads
Jagob continued, but Trevor wasn't listening. His mind was too busy. How did
the rope come loose? Had someone set it up? Someone here? Why blame
Harmony? He looked to the faces in attendance. Many were bowed in solemnity,
but Trevor caught more than a few sneaking furtive looks at Harmony,
accusations written plainly on their faces. Weilin's eyes, Trevor saw, were
fixed on her. He made no attempt to conceal his stare.
Harmony took his hand. Trevor heard someone mutter "you know she did it." He
tried to see who it was, but couldn't. As the ceremony progressed, there
quips and comments grew. Suggestions that people "always knew something was
wrong with her," and "should have expected," and "weird girl, never trusted
her." This couldn't continue. Trevor couldn't bear Harmony to hear such
things, when he knew they weren't true.
He put his hand on Jagob's forearm to silence him. The muttering died as
well, and Trevor said loudly "Excuse me! We're supposed to be here to honor
our father, not to condemn his daughter! It was an accident, it was not her
fault. She didn't do anything, so quit blaming her!"
The crowd quieted, shamed to be called out on their gossiping. Except for
"Yes, I saw it. Her fault. She kill her father, damage my ship."
"Shut up," Trevor said.
"You Hardal folk, you are weak. Your laws weak also. In Tithora, she locked
up already, wait for..."
"Shut up," Trevor repeated, stronger.
Weilin groped for a word, couldn't find it. "Wait for law man. Law man find
what happen. Law man punish her. Girl kill her father, it is death for her
That's it, Trevor said to himself. He checked the distance. Yes, Weilin was
close enough. "She didn't do it!" he shouted.
He cocked his fist and this time, let it fly. Who could blame him? His fist
shot towards the foreigner's jaw. Weilin didn't flinch. He just stood
Trevor felt a pull on his arm. The blow missed Weilin entirely What? Weilin
hadn't moved. No one had moved. The pull on his arm twisted somehow as his
fist passed by Weilin's head, and took his balance. What was happening? I'm
going to fall into the grave, is what's happening, he thought. Trevor gyrated
wildly to restore his balance, to avoid the fall, conscious of everyone's
Harmony held on to Trevor's hand, and he regained his balance. He stood
straight, his face flushed with embarassed rage and confusion. How had he
missed?. There was an awkward silence.
Weilin said, calm as ever, "How do you know, boy? You not there. I was
there. Many others. Many people see, but not you. You don't know."
Trevor knew he had gone too far. He might have convinced the crowd, but now
he had lost them. Weilin's infuriating argument was turning their minds
against her. The crowd's voice rose up again, calls of assent with Weilin's
argument. Nevermind that half of them weren't there to see what had happened
either. Calls of "he's right!" and "she's a killer" and "what if it's one of
Trevor began to panic. Why did Weilin have to come? He had to try to
"Shut up, everybody! That's enough!" Trevor shouted them down. His eyes
were wild. He looked in the crowd for Carlu.
"How much did that mast weigh?"
Carlu stepped to the front of the crowd. "Oh, six, maybe seven hundred
"So it must have been stretched pretty tight, then?"
"Aye, it would."
"Look at her! All of you," Trevor demanded. "She can't weigh more than a
hundred pounds, if that. She couldn't have just happened to trip the rope off
of that cleat. It would have been too tight."
"Well you're not blaming me, are you?" piped up another man. Trevor
recognized him as one of his father's workers, but didn't know the man's name.
"I looped the rope onto that cleat. Are you saying it's my fault? I looped
it on good and proper!"
Trevor continued, "And even if she had tripped over the rope-which she
didn't-her foot would have had to been over the rope. It would have had to!
The rope would have flipped her clean over or hurt her foot or at least
scuffed her shoes! Funny none of you mentioned that happening yesterday.
Now, her feet are both just fine, and I went back this morning to check the
He spoke quickly, as quick as he could, to deny anyone the opportunity to
interrupt him. "She polished up her shoes before leaving home yesterday. Pa
wanted her to look nice. For him!" He pointed at Weilin. "I checked her
shoes last night. There's not a scuff on them. I checked the rope again this
morning. Every inch of it! There's not one bit-not one smudge!-of shoe
polish anywhere on it. Use your brains! She can't have done it. She can't!"
Trevor stopped, his breath coming hot and fast, waiting to see whether they
believed him. There were a few nods, mutters of "that's true," and "could
Then Hui Weilin spoke. "You not there. You make up story, try to save your
sister. But was there. I know what I saw. She kill him."
And Trevor lost them again. Why did they believe this foreigner? It made no
sense! It was completely unfair! Why wouldn't they just listen? Trevor
didn't know, but neither could he argue it any more. Not now. He was
ashamed, he had made a shambles of his father's funeral.
But maybe that could work to Harmony's advantage.
Trevor demanded quiet again, and said "She didn't do it. You all came here to
pay your respects to our father, and I appreciate that. But I won't have
anyone blaming my sister for something she didn't do. Not here. Not now. If
you want to stay, then stay. But if you believe Harmony killed our father,
then get out. Just go."
Without hesitation, Weilin turned and walked away. Trevor stared the rest of
them them down, daring them to take the foreigner's side. For a moment, he
thought it might just work. Then Ambany shook his head and followed. Carlu
looked torn, but kept with his brother. In ones and twos they vanished
without so much as a word. In the end, only Trevor, Harmony, Yun and Pious
"I'm, I'm sorry," Trevor stammered, after everyone had gone.
"No, lad," Yun comforted him. "You're right to stand up for your sister.
It's just a shame this had to happen today." Yun glanced down, to the body
that still lay at Trevor's feet.
"That foreigner, he- He just makes my blood boil!"
"He has no tact, I'll grant you that," Yun agreed.
"We should proceed," Pious Jagob said.
Everyone nodded, and the ceremony recommenced. Jagob committed his father's
soul to Aramanamoa's keeping, and saying holy words over the body, Trevor and
Yun lowered the shroud-covered form into the grave. They all, Harmony
included, took turns shoveling the soil back into the hole.
When it was finished, Jagob took his leave. Trevor thanked him, and the Pious
began his walk back to the village. Harmony wiped tears from her face,
leaving a muddy streak as she ran back to the house. Trevor had one more
favor to ask of Yun before he, too, went home and left Trevor and Harmony
"Yun, would you help me set the headstone?"
"Of course, Trevor. It would be my honor."
Together, the two of them carried the heavy stone from where it had been
dumped unceremoniously by the side of the house, to Dannel's grave.
Remembering how his father had done this before, Trevor started on digging a
narrow but deep ditch in the now loose soil at the head of the grave. They
talked as they worked.
"You know, Trevor, the gossip isn't going to stop. Not after word of today's
doings gets out. Which it probably is already."
"I know. It's my fault. I shouldn't have lost my head like that."
"You're young yet, Trevor. At least you know what you have yet to learn.
Some men twice your age still don't understand the value of mastering
themselves in that way."
"Still, I'm not looking forward to going into town tomorrow. All the stares,
and whispers behind my back. Maybe I can just tell everyone I was upset.
Apologize." Trevor judged the ditch deep enough, and set down the shovel.
"Aye, and they'll probably accept that. But it won't do Harmony any good. I
think it will be a long time-" He paused while they tipped the heavy headstone
upright, into the ditch. "A long time before she can show her face in town
again. If ever she can."
"Yun," Trevor began, as they packed soil and rocks around the root of the
headstone, holding it in place. "There's something else."
Trevor was reluctant to mention it. He hardly believed it himself, and if Yun
didn't believe him about this, he might stop believing him about Harmony, too.
"When I threw that punch. I didn't miss."
"I mean, I did miss, but I shouldn't have. He wasn't that far away from me.
Something pulled my arm aside, threw me off balance."
"Hm..." Yun scratched his chin, listening.
"Do you think he, I mean, do you think he might be a magician?"
"I don't know, Trevor. I've never met one, myself. But I always understood
that they had to move their hands and say words and such to make the magic."
Trevor nodded. Yes, that was true, wasn't it?
"And he never budged. Just stood there," Yun continued.
Tervor finished the thought. "Like he knew I couldn't hit him."
Another thought came to him. "Yun, I think he did it. I think Weilin killed
my father. I know Harmony never touched that rope, and if he can do magic to
keep me from breaking that smug jaw of his, he could just as well have slipped
the rope off of that cleat."
Yun thought about it. "Aye, that could be. But be careful what you go
accusing him of, Trevor. I've met men like that before, men who people just
naturally follow, right or wrong. Most people don't think about things, not
like you do. They'll believe whoever they feel smarter to believe, you
understand? It's already not safe for Harmony, and don't think these people
won't turn on you if you go accusing Weilin of outright murder, just because
they've known you your whole life."
Yun was right. It rankled him terribly, so he said nothing in reply, but
Trevor had to admit that Yun was right.
They worked in silence for a few moments more, and then it was done. They sat
back, brushing the dirt from their hands.
"Why would he do it, though?"
"I don't know, Trevor. But I'm sure he'll deny it if you ask him."
There was a pause, while neither man spoke. Then Yun continued.
"I think you need to learn more about him. More than you can learn from the
folks around here, anyway. You write down the name of his boat. Maybe you
can go up to Merlon, or Church even and see if he's been to those ports.
Maybe someone can tell you something."
Trevor immediately hated the idea. But I want to stay here, he wanted to say.
I want to stay where I know everyone and work for you and... But he didn't.
Again, Yun was right. They had to go. Trevor nodded slowly, his eyes meeting
Yun's. Trevor stood, and offered Yun a hand up.
"I should go check on Harmony," Trevor said, then added, "Would you like to
stay for supper?"
"Thank you, but no. I would, but I think she needs you right now and would be
grateful for the privacy. Come see me tomorrow, though. We can talk more."
Trevor nodded, and went inside as Yun made his own way home. They had a quiet
evening. A light supper, the usual chores, and then to bed. Trevor found
himself exhausted. Drained by the day's events. But there were too many
questions in his head for him to sleep easily, and he had answers for none of
them. Tomorrow, he told himself after tossing and turning and coming to no
decisions on anything, I'll figure it all out tomorrow.
Trevor was back at the boat house. His father stood on the dock with Weilin,
discussing something, but Trevor couldn't hear. Men went to and fro, busy
with raising the mast, turning the crank on the winch. Trevor rushed to his
father's side, saying "Pa, move back! The mast is going to fall!" His father
Harmony entered. Trevor started to warn her, then remembered that she hadn't
done anything. Dannel continued to talk, but Weilin was watching Harmony.
She approached the rope. Weilin's eyes narrowed, fixed on her. She stepped
over. The mast fell.
Trevor was standing at the empty grave. There were people all around, and his
father lying at his feet. Someone had opened the shroud, so his ruined body
lay exposed for everyone to see. It was obscene! Trevor wanted to bend down,
to cover him up. But Harmony had his hand, and he didn't want to let go of
it. If he let go of her, he would lose her, too. Trevor looked to the crowd.
Jagob's lips were moving, but no sound came out. The others had their heads
bowed in silence. But Weilin was watching Harmony. She was crying, the tears
making large wet patches on her clothes. Weilin watched each drop fall.
Weilin was enjoying her suffering. Trevor took a swing at him, and again he
missed, only this time it was Harmony who lost her balance. She tumbled
forward. Trevor grasped for her, but she fell into the grave Trevor had dug.
It was deep, so deep. Trevor wondered, why did I make it so deep? She fell
and fell into the darkness until Trevor could see her no more. Weilin
laughed, and said "Girl kill her father, it is death for her too."
Trevor awoke with a start. No light came through the windows. It was pitch
black save for the soft orange glow of a few dying embers in the fireplace.
Trevor's heart was pounding. He sat up in bed, the dream ringing in his
Weilin had done it. That was for sure. But it wasn't about his father. No,
Weilin had been trying to kill Harmony. It all fit. He had
pulled-somehow-the rope off of the cleat as she stepped over it. Pulled by
the weight of the mast, the rope could easily have torn her leg off, or her
foot at least. She would have bled to death. Only, he was a little slow.
Her foot must have been just past the path of the rope when Weilin pulled it
loose. Dannel's death had been an accident after all, but a convenient one
for Weilin. If his attempt to kill her directly failed, he could at least
blame her for Dannel's death and incite the rest of the townsfolk to finish
the job for him.
Trevor still didn't understand why everyone seemed so willing to believe the
foreigner's version of events, but that hardly mattered. Weilin was obviously
some sort of magician, so no matter what Trevor might say in Harmony's
defense, no matter how true it might be, one word from Weilin with a little
bit of magic behind it, and everyone would take his side. Trevor and Yun were
the only ones who seemed to be able to see the truth. Trevor, because he
loved his sister, and Yun because-because he was just too level headed. That
Only, one thing still bothered him. He had no doubt that Weilin was
responsible, but try as he might, Trevor couldn't think of a single reason for
Weilin to want Harmony dead.