5 — Abigail’s gift

Chapter 21, pages 89-91

The next day Walter put out a little more mash for Abigail. I hope she’s not still miffed at me from yesterday, he thought. Realizing how much he was projecting his fantasies onto the duck, he laughed. I guess I might as well have a fantasy to keep myself entertained. It’s better than most TV shows nowadays. Abigail appeared right on schedule, waddled straight to the porch, and leaped up with two flaps of her wings and a mighty push from her legs. She stopped to eat most of the mash before going to the towel and settling herself.

Satisfied that everything was copacetic with the duck, Walter settled in, too. His thoughts drifted to what Susan had said about her religious beliefs. She believed in God, but not necessarily the kind of God defined by any particular religion she had yet come across. In reviewing his own religious training, or lack thereof, Walter found himself in a similar situation. Digging deeper, he realized he really hadn’t explored much, because religion simply hadn’t been a concern in his life. He had gone along with what had been presented to him, and that was all. It hadn’t grabbed him. When the presentation stopped — when the evangelists went away — he forgot about it.

Susan, on the other hand, had apparently become more infected with the religious itch, and when the scratching of one church/doctrine/faith had failed to soothe it, she had looked elsewhere. He now found that idea appealing, so he began to identify his options. One, he could try one of the churches in Bonanza. Most likely, they would reprise the indoctrination he got at the Air Force Academy, but he wanted to make sure. Who knows? What I’m looking for might be sitting right in front of me, and I’m just too blockheaded to realize it. He decided to attend services at a local church later in the month. Two, when the subject of meditation had come up, both Susan and Mac had acknowledged some experience there and had offered guidance. He could follow up on that with both of them, ask them to recommend a meditation course or center or group where he might speed up his progress. So much for my retreat into isolation and contemplation, he thought. If I do all that, I’ll be a regular social butterfly, flitting all over the place but really going nowhere. On the other hand, if I don’t explore many possibilities, if I just latch onto the first one that comes along and seems ‘good enough,’ it won’t work out in the long run. He lapsed into a momentary funk — confused, frustrated, even feeling a little sorry for himself.

He looked around to Abigail, as if expecting her to provide some guidance. The duck’s response was to get up, flutter off the deck, and waddle out of the clearing. Humph! A lot of help she is, he grumbled. Then, out of the corner of his eye he noticed something on the folded towel where she had sat. He turned, looked, and there it was: a beautiful white egg, right in the middle of the towel. Of course! he thought. I gave her a nest, and she responded just as nature told her to. But what the hell am I going to do with it? He pondered the situation briefly, then picked up the egg — it was still warm — and, cradling it in his hands like a newborn baby, walked down the path to Ted’s house. Ted was nowhere to be seen, so he went to the front door and rang the bell. He heard the sound of hurried footsteps from somewhere inside, which he surmised was Lottie running for cover, then a woman’s voice, followed by heavier footsteps approaching. The door opened, and Ted said, “Hi. What’s up?”

Walter handed Ted the egg. “I brought you this.”

“What is it?”

“An egg.”

“I can see that,” said Ted. “Where did you get it?”

“Abigail laid it for me.” Ted looked confused, so Walter added. “On my front porch.” Ted looked more confused. “She’s been coming down to my cabin every morning for the past week or so. She just sits there while I meditate.” Walter wisely chose not to mention his courting of her with a little food, much less her timely comments on his ruminations. “I put an old towel down for her to sit on, and she laid an egg.”

“Congratulations! You’re a father, sort of,” Ted said, grinning. “Why are you giving it to me?”

“She’s your duck.”

“Yes, but she laid the egg on the nest you provided for her. She obviously wanted you to have it.”

“But she’s your duck, and it’s even your cabin, so it should be your egg.”

“Well, that’s your logic. But according to her logic, she lays eggs for us here when she wants us to have them. We find them in various places where she likes to nest, and Lottie uses them in her cooking.”

“I understand that. But I don’t want to use this egg in my cooking.”

“I didn’t know you’re a vegetarian.”

“I’m not. I just don’t want to eat this egg. If I want an egg, I’ll eat one I buy at the store — but not Abigail’s eggs.”

“Well, that’s very considerate of you, but it still doesn’t square with the fact that Abigail laid the egg — this egg — for you.”

Walter sighed. “I accept that, and believe me, I’m grateful. But she doesn’t have to know I gave it to you.” He looked around nervously. “I don’t think she saw me bring it down here.”

Ted was beginning to have trouble keeping his mirth under control. “No, I don’t think so — and I won’t tell her.”

“Good. Thank you for understanding.”

“And thank you for the egg.”

“Don’t thank me. Thank Abigail,” Walter said.

“If I did that, she would know.”

Walter was now completely flummoxed. He backed away from the door, turned, and trudged back to his cabin, from where he was unable to hear the prolonged laughter inside Ted’s house minutes later….



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