The crowd was there, as had been promised by the Entertainment Council, and this was both exciting, and nerve wracking, to Harry Prescott. He was a Tale-Bearer and had found his way to Shiloh to read his books to these entertainment starved people in exchange for room and board. He was joined by Andre Johnson, who was the Historian of the pair. Earlier that day he'd gone through Shiloh, talking with the elders and watching with amazement as their eyes lit up while speaking of their past. Now it was Harry's turn to help the people forget about their present. He had chosen several books to read, each a chapter at a time, to give the illusion of an evening of television programming. The list of authors was extensive; King, Montgomery, Michener, Hill, and Roberts, to name but a few. And, of course, there were the kid friendly writers, ready to entertain the children of Shiloh on Saturdays. Now, Harry stood ready, shaking slightly, a colony of butterflies making their presence known in his stomach. But, as the old saying goes, the show must go on, and it did.
"Good evening, this is HBC." Harry always got a laugh from that, his play on television call letters. "And this evening HBC brings you the classics." Harry, still shaking, in voice as well as body, opened the first book to the first chapter and began. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." His nervousness began to lessen as each and every face turned their full attention upon him and listened intently to his voice. He went through Dickens, then into Melville. From there he tackled 4 more chapters from King, Montgomery, Kipling and Michener. The crowd laughed, cried and screamed, and for a few precious moments, it was as if the Climate Wars had never taken place. Upon the completion of that evening's entertainment the two Town Criers appeared and 'The Shiloh News at 10' began. Andre and Harry retired to their Conestoga Wagon and settled down to sleep.
The next day their noses were greeted by the smell of ham, eggs and coffee. Coffee!? Andre was the first to jump up and peer out from the canvas covering.
"That is coffee we're smelling!"
"How?" Harry asked, perplexed. Coffee was an extremely rare treat since the Climate Wars. Who'd have coffee? He scrambled to his feet and peered out alongside Andre. Standing by the breakfast fire was a lovely redhead with flashing green eyes and a figure that could stop traffic. She was in a Conestoga as well, and her companion, a raven haired beauty with fair skin and blue eyes, stood nearby. Harry took a quick breath and spun around. "Let's hurry up and get dressed!"
"So we won't miss the coffee?" Andre asked.
"So we won't miss the girls!" As the boys, cause in their teenage attitudes they barely resembled men, grabbed their clothes they overheard the women talking.
"What's another Conestoga doing here?"
"I have no idea. Should we make ourselves known to them?"
"Let's!" Before the women made their way around the fire Andre and Harry made their appearance. They extended their hands in greeting and, what with the women's undeniable beauty, they giggled. Turning red from embarrassment they quickly stepped back and stuck the toe of their boots in the dirt, not unlike overgrown kids. At this the women, now acting a little like girls themselves, laughed, and the four sat down to a wondrous breakfast.
"I guess we should tell you our names." The redhead announced. "I'm Anna Smith and my friend here is Kelsey Mahl. We read romance stories and relationship advice manuals from place to place in exchange for room and board. Of course," Anna added, with a sly smile towards Kelsey, "we often get offers of room and board with no stories needed." Without thinking Harry responded.
"I bet!" Amazingly all laughed at this and breakfast was consumed in a nice, kind and gentle atmosphere. As the talk edged ever closer to romantic the four split off into pairs, the Historians with each other and the Tale-Bearers likewise. Soon a plan was hatched to meet up that Sunday morning to listen to Reverend Shepherd read from the King James. As the four parted ways they each announced, in unison.
Sunday was the one day of the week where things were, even if for just a few hours, as they had once been. The religious dressed in their finest and the none religious slept in. Some folks even used reel mowers to mow their lawns. After church several food truck type eateries served homegrown versions of the food once enjoyed by the holy after church. In the tent the benches that acted as pews were often only half filled, and so there was plenty of room for Andre, Harry, Anna and Kelsey. They found a middle bench and sat down just as Benjamin Shepherd made his way to the podium. He cleared his throat and launched into the Book of Matthew. It was a long service, but an enjoyable one, and all four received quite the blessing from it. On their way out they stopped to shake hands with Ben, who gave each of them a NKJV New Testament.
"I'm very thankful you all could come." Ben declared.
"So are we, Reverend, so are we." Harry responded. "You have a very nice voice. You could be a Tale-Bearer!" All four agreed wholeheartedly but Ben just raised his hand.
"No thanks. I Bear God's Truth, and that's enough for me. Though, I will be there this evening to hear the next chapters. You read exceedingly well, friend." Ben and Harry shook hands and all four left.
"I'll be there tonight as well." Anna said with a smile. "I've got to support my man." Harry reached down and rubbed his stomach. Anna looked at him with a worried expression on her face. "Is my man feeling ill?"
"No, just feeling butterflies again. I may be jittery thinking of you, out there, your lovely green eyes on me."
"Awww! I love you. Now praise we weak Tale-Bearers."