They traveled back across the broken neighborhoods till they returned to Dreamer’s Garden.
There Lucinda and the little ones had spent the morning rubbing down the iron gate with rags and a pot of water. Joshua set his new utensils aside and inspected the metal bars now clean of any dirt.
“Excellent,” he said.
He and Heathcliff hefted the gate over the rectangular of bricks he’d laid out the previous night.
“I also found these,” said Lucinda.
She showed Joshua several small metal pots all covered in dents. One pot had half a dozen small holes in the bottom.
“Are they any good?” she asked.
“It’s all perfect. Do you still have the salt?”
She handed him the small pouch, now nearly empty.
“Can you get more?”
Lucinda dropped her head.
“I don’t know.”
“Not to worry. I’ll get us some more,” Heathcliff piped.
He fetched his reed pole from beneath the rolled up quilt.
“What are you going to do with that? Fish for salt?” Joshua asked.
“You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Is there anything else you need me to get?”
Joshua had a million questions he wanted to ask. Where was Heathcliff going? What was he thinking? How could this possibly work?
Instead he shrugged and said, “Yes, I need some cooking oil. Olive oil if you can get it. And flour. Not much. One bag.”
Heathcliff slid the reed pole across his shoulders.
“I’ll be back a wee bit.”
He trotted off and whistled.
“What do you think he’s going to do?” Lucinda asked.
“I have no idea.”
“Should we go with him?”
“Leave him. We have to gather some fire wood.”
Heathcliff knew exactly where to go; he’d been there just yesterday. Along the river, downstream from the coal docks he’d found the clean water and plenty of fish. Poisonous fish, yes, but he’d still found them. And this spot lay within site of Vistamar, the point where the great river emptied out into the sea. There was the harbor. At that harbor were ships loaded with goods from the entire world. And there were warehouses and stores with everything one could imagine. Surely there was a bottle of oil, a container of salt and a bag of flour to be had somewhere amid all that.
Heathcliff whistled a tune as he walked. Making it up as he went along, the tune went this way then that, high then low, leisurely then fast.
He passed in front of Jane’s Bridge which led to the Old City, Royal Square and Hightown Street. Constables were always on guard at this end of the bridge to keep the riff raff on their side of the river. Heathcliff gave them a broad smile and a wave as he passed.
“Some day,” he said to no one in particular.
“Some day I’m going to stroll right on by you and you’ll just nod.”
The constables glared at him but stayed at their posts as he passed by.
Sophie told Heathcliff the story of Jane’s Bridge while they had waited outside the precinct station for Joshua.
“There was a young girl named Jane who was of noble birth but she fell in love with a common seaman. Her parents tried to keep them apart but she decided to run away one night and join her lover on the seas. But on the very night she escaped from Royal Square, a terrible storm hit the harbor. Jane was half way across the bridge, called simply The Bridge back then, when she saw he lover’s boat in the harbor tossed about in the waves. The boat sank before her eyes. Rather than live without her love, she threw herself from the bridge and into the river.”
Heathcliff said, “That’s a sad story.”
Followed by, “I sure hope it was the right ship she saw.”
That’s when he learned Sophie could throw a punch. Heathcliff rubbed the bruise she left on his upper arm.
When he reached Vistamar, he found a low wall he could shimmy up. From there he could hoist himself to the roof of a shop. He walked along it’s ledge till he came to a corner where he sat down and viewed the crowd below.
There were stacks of everything. He didn’t see any cooking oil or flour but he sat and waited. A cart rolled by pulled by mules. On it, Heathcliff saw dozens bags of flour. No one watched and he could probably have snatched a bag and gotten away clean.
But Heathcliff was no thief.
No he could wait for the right moment.
The cart moved again. It jostled and a small bag rolled off the back and landed in the middle of the street. People walked around the lonely bag without seeing it or caring that it was there. That was the moment Heathcliff had waited for. He cast his reed pole and snagged a bag. Then he reeled his prize up the side of the shop and into his hands.
Then he waited for the salt and olive oil to roll by.
He had no doubt they would.
Heathcliff always found what he looked for. That’s why he never worried. He had a relationship with the world. If he reached out his hand what he truly needed would be there. It had been that way since the day his father left him on the streets of the city. Abandoned by his old family, he needed a new one. He hadn’t taken a dozen steps before Joshua and Lucinda and the others were in front of him. He knew it didn’t make any sense, but he had never been that good at making sense and planning and thinking. Heathcliff left those things and the worries that went with them to Joshua and Lucinda. He’d trust whatever force he was sure guided him and his friends.