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WHERE THE WOODBINE TWINES

Click on the cover to see Chapter One.

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Excerpt of "The Excursion" from
MARIAH OF THE SPIRITS

When the bus pulled away she realized she was all alone in fog thick as she-crab soup, in a place without a single landmark she could see. And with evening coming on! She might be standing in the middle of the street, for all she knew, but a street without any traffic she could see or hear. Once the last sounds of the shuttle bus died away, she could hear water slapping hard against a shoreline…

So she was near the harbor! Or near some body of water, anyway. Her suitcase in one hand, her pocketbook in the other, Mrs. Oliver walked blindly a few feet in what she thought might be the direction of the water, and then a few more feet forward, until finally she saw a small dome outlined by very dim lights….

Straining her eyes through the fog, she could see that it was a gazebo. She was able to make out, as she walked a little closer, that there was a boat dock beyond the gazebo, and past that, dark, liverish, choppy water. Where in the world was she? It certainly wasn't City Pier, or any dock she recognized, but there was nothing so unusual about that. There were many public docks she knew nothing about, and there must be hundreds of private docks in and around any port city. She could be anywhere!

The fog thinned for a moment, like a curtain held back from a window, and she could see people standing under the domed roof, huddled against the dampness. They were men and women, many at or around her age, she guessed…. Most were white-haired like herself, well-dressed tourists, as best she could tell.

Oh, she was so thankful to see somebody, anybody, now that it was getting so near dark. She was as excited as if she'd just run across old friends. She noticed a thickening in the gray distance, a boat or a ferry with lights that shone dim through the foggy, deepening night, moving slowly toward the dock. A harbor tour of course! To Fort Sumter? No, it was much too late in the day for that. She'd heard about moonlight excursions into the harbor and always meant to go on one. Were they waiting for the tour boat? Little chance for moonlight this evening, not in this thick fog...She started across the boardwalk to the steps leading up to the gazebo.

She heard little snatches of conversation. Maybe the heavy fog would lift during the passage, someone said. Wouldn't that be lovely? A full moon over the harbor! Could be a rough ride over the choppy water, said one anxious voice. It might be, another voice said, that the attractions on the other side will more than make up for a less than perfect journey. Mrs. Oliver started up the steps thinking she might just stay and chat with them until their ferry arrived. They certainly seemed like pleasant enough people, and she was genuinely curious to find out just where it was they were all waiting to go.

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