That evening, he sat in his family’s home – much changed from the home he’d left – sharing glasses of fresh spring water, enjoying the company of Hank, the dog, and they told him their story.
“After you left, life went on as it always had,” his father Horace told him. “I continued to cut wood, your mother continued to make clothes and take care of the house, and Helen continued to go to school. Hyram continued to be Mayor, doing it the way he’d always done it, and that was that.
“Until, one day weeks after you left, a young man came to the village. He told us that his name was Hal, and that he’d spent some time traveling with you, after you met in his village of Drear. He said that he met his wife, Rachel, while traveling with you. He said that they spent some time in Rachel’s village of Wait, and then felt that they had to share what they’d learned.
“According to Hal, they visited the villages around Wait, teaching others the things you’d taught them. After a while, they met another Huddler who was also traveling to other villages, who told them that those who were sharing what they learned were being called Lamplighters, and that you were being referred to as the Lightbringer. (You can imagine our surprise on hearing this!) And he taught them how to make lamps for the village, and other things that the Lamplighters were spreading.
“Hal and Rachel decided, once they’d learned about the lamps and the Lamplighters and you as the Lightbringer, that they needed to travel to Drear and then to Dusk, as the first places you’d been.
“In Drear, as in Dusk, not much was different. Hal and Rachel began to teach and to spread the teaching. While they were there, they were surprised to have another Lamplighter visit the village. It seems, they said, that Lamplighters had taken it upon themselves to travel about the land of Dank and share your teachings. And that in each place that they went, others embraced the learning and adopted the calling of Shadowpushers. So some villages had been visited by Lamplighters – those who had traveled and learned with you – and others by Shadowpushers.
“After spending some time in Drear, Hal and Rachel came to Dusk.”
At this, Horace paused and Ham looked up to see Hal and Rachel standing in the doorway of his family’s home.
Hal cocked his head to the left, smiled, cocked his head to the right, winked, and then looked straight at Ham and said “Welcome home, Lightbringer!”
Rachel shrugged her right shoulder, shrugged her left, and said “We’ve missed you, and have done our best to share what you taught us.”
And while Ham sat there tongue-tied and emotion-bound, Hank put his paws on Ham’s chest, gave his cheek a big sloppy lick, and then curled up on the ground next to Ham.
************** THE END ****************
or the beginning?