The fate of the village lay in the hands of a stranger in whom the townspeople learned to distrust. The years taught them complacency, growing comfortable in the wake of an evil curse. The stranger saw that he was needed to enlighten the people. But no one trusted him once they believed they were deceived.
Madeleine, a beautiful young farm girl, finds her chance to escape the throes of the village slipping away because of the demands of her ailing father and the lack of support from her two tenebrous sisters. And in the shadows lay a sinister being capable of destroying her life and sapping out what remained of the life of her ailing father.
Madeleine still believed in the stranger until she was tested. Even though her decision conflicted with the villagers, she wound up learning how to manage her father's impending end all alone.
She also learned to regret squandering her relationship with the stranger when she realized how much she needed his support at her father's funeral. She also knew she made a grave error that might be irreparable. Now she will have to face her mounting turmoil alone and deal with the gravest perils. She grew so stricken with grief that she didn't know how to behave or where she could derive the strength to face the calamity of her debilitating concerns and her repressive loneliness. Her father had been the key to her strength and now she needed to find new strength within herself, which baffled her because there was no one to reassure her that she in fact possessed it. It appeared to her that her father had taken that key with him to his grave. And, without the stranger, she faced yet another, horrible dilemma she never expected to ensue.
Excerpt from The Carpenter of Auguliere
The landlord woke up agitated. The thick morning fog had obscured his view when he tried to look out his window. He fumbled for his eyepiece as he mumbled to himself, “I have to find a way to stop this ogre from destroying Auguliere.” He marched around in pajamas, searching the big house for his black trousers and white shirt.
“Maybe I left them in the armoire,” he said. He walked to it, finding them draped neatly over the polished wood door.
“I must have hot tea before my arduous journey to the village.” He stuffed the hearth with kindling and hay, and ignited the pile with flint. In minutes, the fire came to life.
“Here, I must contemplate; I shall think of a way to snare this carpenter. How shall I do it? First, let me warm my spirits with tea.” The cat jumped onto his lap when he sat, purring loudly. “Produce your purr, sweet kitty. It shall be a reminder to me who will be the benefactor of Auguliere. Make no mistake, my feline friend,” he pointed, “I shall prevail.”
He stood, releasing the cat, then stepped closer to the hearth, stoking the fire, rubbing his hands together to keep them warm. “No beast nor man shall stop me from taking that which rightfully belongs to only me. All is mine by default,” he said, stroking the animal’s soft fur.
He picked up the kettle as it whistled and poured the hot beverage. He let his hands receive the steam, which radiated heat from the cup. The cat settled at his feet. “Hot tea
always leaves my spirits in fine fettle.” He walked through the house, admiring his lofty possessions. He stopped short at a shelf with a talisman. He picked it up. It brought back memories. “Mrs. Teivel.” This prompted him to say aloud, “I shall go to her…”
He looked up at the divine trinket, admiring it with special appreciation.
“She will have the answers I seek,” he said to the cat.
In another hour, he had hitched the mules to the wagon. Now he realized he had a purpose. He drove his wagon into town. When the wagon arrived at the street, he halted the team, stepped off the rig and tied the animals to the post. By now, the fog had started to lift, but the air was still murky and dank. He made his way to Mrs. Teivel’s shop. The shabby curtains were drawn, and the place looked dark. When he tried the door, however, it opened easily. Once inside, he let the spring pull it shut.
The door had barely closed when she looked up. Her face reacted mechanically. Mrs. Teivel quickly stood to acknowledge the landlord. She was totally silent, as though she already knew what was on his mind. He stood in front of the counter like a man with a problem. When the woman spoke, her speech was checked by her predetermined knowledge.
“The way of the wood be on your mind. A carpenter’s trait is hard to find.”
“I am afraid of the irreparable damage this carpenter can do to Auguliere,” the landlord confessed.
“Strength and character dominate your fear, a remedy is always near.” The landlord allowed a timid smile to pervade his stiff expression.
“I am the rightful heir to all the wealth of Auguliere. I have tried to extinguish him by foreclosure of his shop, water restrictions to stop his works, destruction of the speech-impaired boy’s shanty, and still he overcomes these obstacles.”
She looked at him with the good eye, pounding her fists on the counter. “Do your deed, get your man…take the devil’s contraband. Take your time, wait and see. One hundred rubles belong to me.”
“One hundred rubles?” She stared at him relentlessly, with the good eye, unmoving, making him step back.
“Either you pay or the carpenter shall play.” He grumbled, pushing his lips together and gritting his broken teeth. He reached deep into the slovenly suit’s pockets for the currency. From a purse in his garment, he counted out one hundred rubles in paper notes. He maintained an angry sneer and continued to grumble as he handed over the money.
Mrs. Teivel grabbed it like a hungry lizard, quickly counting it and stashing it in her cleavage.
She turned and stepped up on a ladder. She reached up to the highest shelf and pulled out a filthy old jar with something black moving inside. When she returned to the counter, the landlord strained to see the contents of the odd container, barely visible through the dingy film that had collected on the glass over the years. She poured out something into a smaller, flat vessel, and then placed it in his waiting hands. The landlord stared at the creatures with curiosity.
“With these beetles that I give…let them multiply to live.” She smiled with contentment. “Put them in the aspen trees, where they mingle with the bees.” She closed the landlord’s hand and said, “Softening the wood’s their deadly deed, preventing the growth in the carpenter’s seed.” The landlord stood frozen, a flicker of understanding on his face. When Mrs. Teivel returned to her chair, the landlord turned, gloating, and exited the shop.
The landlord drove his team to the town center, where he strolled into the park. Many of the older women who frequented the park were surprised to see the landlord lingering. Some turned their heads so as not to be recognized. The inhabitants of Auguliere always feared the landlord would suddenly ask for tax money anywhere and at any time; consequently, they shunned him. Mr. Robertson had a different agenda. Some women reported the landlord appeared as though he were enjoying the flowers and the plants by taking in the fragrance of their bouquet. Some saw this as a suspicious move. They speculated about what he was up to. They couldn’t see his devious plan as he kept the beetles concealed. He didn’t intend to frighten anyone or cause a scene.
In the park, the moment he released the creatures, they scampered away with remarkable speed, faster than he thought them capable, crawling up the bark and into the trees. They totally disappeared from sight almost instantly. When people saw him near the trees, they were too late to see his ambitious plan. No one saw any trace of insects. When the landlord saw his deed had been carried out, he smiled victoriously, and then quietly left the park.
He rode to Madeleine’s stable. Neither Madeleine nor Gilbert was around. The wagon was gone and the landlord knew Madeleine, Oleg and Pavel were in the market. The landlord saw his chance. No one saw him enter the barn. He strode up to the giant rack of toys and tools. He opened the flat container and allowed several beetles to escape onto the rack. They fled among the wooden toys. Once he had released them all, they scampered away, not to be seen again, until…
About the Author
Although he grew up in New Jersey, D. Wayne Dworsky was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1944. He recognized his love of nature at a very young age. In 1980 he graduated from Herbert H. Lehman College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and launched his career in education in 1984 by teaching mathematics, which would span 21 years. Between 1983 and 1984 he achieved recognition in the Mohonk Preserve in the Shawangunks as a first-class rock climber, which led to his conquest of the Matterhorn in Zermat, Switzerland in 1985. From 1978 to 1985 he served as editor of the newsletter put out by the Spina Bifida Association of Greater New York. In 1987 he received his Master's Degree from City College. In 2004 he retired from teaching and began to publish. He now resides with his family in New York City. more info ...