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Now, as they gather in their old family home, the two ...
Now, as they gather in their old family home, the two men and three women wonder if this will be the last time fate will allow them to enjoy each other's company and conversation. Each has succeeded and moved on to careers within the framework of the contemporary world of politics,
greed, and war. But Edward's position in covert intelligence with the Secret Service places him at extreme risk. During the family gathering, he receives two cryptic messages: "We will come for you in eighteen hours," and "We will meet in
The intense bonds between the Gordons have never weakened, but they are tested to the extreme when they are informed that Edward has been captured by the
Taliban and is being held in the mountains of Afghanistan.
This final challenge threatens their deep family connections.
Elizabeth Gordon sat alone outside in the still dim light holding fast to her vigil. She had been the first to come. Throughout the night she had lain awake listening. Three cars had come, only three. Only briefly had she closed her eyes for in her mind the questions repeated again and again, "Where is he, Asia, the Middle East? Will he come; will he come?"
Now alone on the deck that overlooked the lake she again cast an anxious glance across the great sweep of lawn that extended from the house north west to the distant tennis courts at the edge of the forest where the cars were parked, then to the lower kitchen where a light burned. "Samuel," she thought.
She had seen him late the evening before. She had asked, "Samuel, will he come?"
"Yes, Elizabeth, he will come," had been the quiet reply. He had been confident. Clinging to the reassurance and flicker of hope given her by the man who had served with the family for forty years she turned again to the silent and glowing wonder of the dawn before her and waited.
"How many times have I watched her and seen her hoping and anxiously waiting like this ever since we were children," thought the man whose gentle and kind eyes were watching Elizabeth from an upper window. "It has become more intense, so much more. He knows it too.-It must change; it must."
Turning from the window Francis Gordon spoke softly, "Always the uncertainty, the doubt; I must soon go down to her. He may not come. -One of us should be with her."
It was then that it happened. At first Elizabeth couldn't be sure; it was but a sound in the fog. She could scarcely breathe. A moment passed. It became unmistakable, louder, the pulsing beat of an approaching engine. Not yet was it visible. Springing to her feet and sprinting to the edge of the deck, Elizabeth saw it first as a formless movement in the fog silhouetted against the rising sun. In a breathless instant the helicopter burst into view rising from the fog like a phantom ascending to the sky.
Radiant with tears of joy, Elizabeth Gordon raised her beautiful face to the sky above and cried, "He has come."
After glancing toward the helicopter as it came to rest on the deep expanse of lawn south and west of the house, Elizabeth called again, "Oh, Frank, for an instant I saw him; he just got out. He'll be out here with us soon."
A moment later Elizabeth smiled in silence as she watched the helicopter immediately lift off and once again take flight banking to the north over the vast expanse of Lake Superior. Beaming and turning back to her younger brother she spoke again, "Now it is only we who are here. Oh, do come here, Frank, let me see you, let me hold you in my arms. Isn't it wonderful; I thought the time, our time would never come?"
Francis Gordon, a trim five foot ten with light brown hair and blue eyes stepped forward onto the deck smiling and relieved. He continued his approach from the doorway until he was only steps from his sister when he paused. There for a moment he stood still smiling and gazing in silent wonder at the incomparable vision before him.
"Frank," Elizabeth laughed flushing slightly, "you embarrass me. Why are you staring at me like that?"
"The truth is that I am admiring my sister who at this moment is surrounded by a golden glow from the morning sun which is now rising above the fog. Your shining hair is black as ebony; on your lovely face there is only your joy. Never have I seen you more beautiful."
"Oh, Frank, always so loving and wonderful," Elizabeth murmured hugging her younger brother.
Stepping from their embrace, brother and sister moved to the deck table set with five places. Seated and smiling Elizabeth was first to speak. "Oh Frank, I can't believe we are all here at last. As you came down did you see the others?"
"I heard sounds of life, but saw no one. They'll be here shortly, dear; you can be sure of that."
Having come from the lower kitchen of the sprawling white Cape Cod home a smiling Samuel had just placed a tray of coffee and juice on the table when again the door to the south wing opened. For a moment the smartly dressed petite young woman standing in the doorway waved, smiled then paused and looked behind her before she stepped forward onto the deck.
"Oh, Frank, there she is; did you see that smile?" Again Elizabeth cried, "Oh Cynthia, hurry over here; I want to see you and hold you."
As she released her younger sister from a loving hug, Elizabeth turned again to her brother. "Oh Frank, this twin sister of yours gets prettier every time we see her. Look at those dark curls, those big beautiful hazel eyes and perfect little figure. Darling, you're just plain exquisite, and it's so wonderful to see you. When you came out the door you turned; did you hear anything from the other bedrooms; were they coming?"
Her eyes sparkling Cynthia Gordon Kelly again smiled and glanced over her shoulder at the door, "He and Honey were at the top of the stairs behind me; they should be out here any instant. I believe that they just stopped to speak for a moment."
A minute had passed when Elizabeth rose, turned her eyes to the south wing doorway and near breathlessly gasped, "There they are."
None of the three at the table could find words as the two approached. Before them was a golden haired, blue eyed, dazzlingly pretty young woman, their sister Susan Gordon. Beside her was a man six foot two, lean and muscular with black hair and green eyes and a smile on his handsome face; he was the last of them to come, their brother Edward Gordon.
The emotional moment of reunion and renewal of the five Gordon siblings passed in near silence. As they all stood with tears filling the eyes of the three sisters the only words spoken were those murmured by Elizabeth as she embraced her brother Edward, her twin, "You're here; you came." Gathered about the table, seated and still holding hands the time together of the five Gordons had begun.
Only Frank Gordon saw it; the momentary lock of Susan's eyes upon those of Edward an instant before she began to speak. He knew in that millisecond of time that once again words of significance had passed between them. A realization came instantly to his mind, "I have seen it before; Honey is acknowledging what he has told her. -It is she who always knows. No, I am not mistaken; it's in his eyes. I know that there is more to come, much more."
Turning to each of the others and smiling, Susan Honey Gordon spoke.
"Now we are all here. How long will it be before we are all together again?"
"How wonderful it is to see each of you," Edward began as he smiled at the four faces before him as he leaned back in his chair and quite evidently began to relax. "Ever since the Winter Holidays when only some of you could be present, I have thought every moment of every day how much I've missed all of you and how hopeful I have been that we could have this time together."
Having said those words, and after again smiling at his brother Frank and his sisters Cynthia and Susan, Edward turned to Elizabeth seated at his side, "You're smiling and you're happy, and all of us know that there is no other time when your voice is more lovely. There is so little time and so much for all of us to say and do in our time together, but we can't begin nor should we until you sing for us." With his hand pressing lovingly upon that of his twin sister he added softly, "Please, dearest, you know our favorites."
Flushing slightly and smiling, Elizabeth rose, walked the few steps to the front of the deck where she paused looking over the lake for a moment resting her hand on the railing before she turned back to face her brothers and sisters. The others at the table, as Frank had earlier, found themselves spellbound by her beauty as she stood there in the morning sun smiling adoringly at them.
"Oh dear, you're embarrassing me just the way Frank did earlier," Elizabeth laughed with another flush and a slight toss of her head and its crown of black curls. "Now since Joseph, Cynthia's wonderful husband is of Irish heritage and darling Mary Claire, Frank's wife is of Scottish, it means that both, after all, are Celtic. Yes, and since both graciously let their mate come for this week we must honor that with the appropriate songs. Would Danny Boy and Amazing Grace do for this treasured time?" Elizabeth knew the answer.
A morning breeze had freshened and beyond her the fog had lifted as the sun continued its ascent in the morning sky. To the distant horizon there was only the endless blue of the lake sparkling beneath the morning sun. Across the lawns, at the kitchen door where Samuel McKay stood with tears filling his eyes and before her at the table there was no other sound but that of Elizabeth's voice with its lyrical perfection and sublime beauty as it once again reached deep into the hearts and souls of her brothers and sisters.
At the table there followed only the hush of silence until well after a minute had passed when Edward took Elizabeth's hand as she again took her seat; he then looked across the table at Cynthia still drying her eyes. "The real truth is that your voice this morning surpassed all other times that you have graced us with its beauty. Look about you; you can see it in their faces and their eyes. Have you ever seen them more moved?"
After pausing for an instant, Edward again looked at the others before surveying with his eyes the stunning beauty about them of the high bluff upon which their grandfather had built Birch Cliff, their summer home. He then turned his sight to the long south lawn that flowed from the deck to the crest of the birch and spruce-covered steep slope and to the incomparable view of the lake that it afforded them.
After another silent moment with his eyes fixed on the distant horizon, Edward began, "Perhaps it is the moment, the time for us as we have done before, to reflect upon how very fortunate and privileged we are and have always been throughout our lives. Grandfather's and father's industry and success with mother's ever present support and wisdom gave us the wonder of this home and the glorious summers of our youth here and all the cherished memories. Later we had our opportunity for the finest in education, and the chance to follow in our lives our own pathways to personal happiness and fulfillment. Ever present, never diminished was our sense of family, our commitment to each other; the bond unbreakable for life that again has drawn us together."
Again Edward paused; his expression for the moment was pensive and enigmatic; his thoughts were distant as witnessed by the others whose eyes were upon him. "Before us is this great lake, blue and clear; the forest so near behind us is in the full lush foliage of a glorious summer. About us is life renewed in its countless forms. For us as well it is a time of renewal in our lives."
Then smiling, his thoughts and mood perceptibly changed, he continued. "Among our many privileges we are to honor Cyn's and Frank's birthday today, their twenty seventh. We must and we shall make it very special. Samuel and I have already spoken about it; and he assures me nothing will be spared. At this very moment our treasured Mr. McKay approaches with our breakfasts; let's enjoy them, and then let us begin our time together As I remember saying earlier there is so much to do, so much to say."
In the thoughts of Susan Gordon, there were other poignant words of Edward's that she alone recalled. He had also said, "There is so little time."
After pausing to laugh lightly she spoke again, "Always at moments like this when I see you, I think back to when we were children and little brother Frank gave you your name. He was three and you were five, and he preferred to think that your hair resembled more closely what he wanted on his toast than it did gold."
"What more could I ever want than to have a big sister who always complements me and a dear little brother who gave me a name I have always loved," Susan Gordon replied.-"Let me also say this; these two fellows sitting here, our brothers, both look pretty fabulous too. Now, speaking of Cyn," Honey said turning her smile to her younger sister, "Since it is yours and Frank's birthday today, I believe that suggests to me that one of you should be first in bringing us all up to date. Let's begin with the life of Cynthia Gordon Kelly."
After quickly glancing about the table, Cynthia began, "Since I'm first, maybe right away I'll give you an update on Father's and Mother's travels while we are here alone enjoying our time together. They should have arrived in Quebec City today and, of course, will stay at the Chateau Frontenac. With the interest that they share in history I know that they are planning to visit the Plains of Abraham and the site of the battle between Wolfe and Montcalm. From there they are going on to the Maritimes and Prince Edward Island. Both of them have always wanted to know more about the Acadian Culture on the island."
"Cyn, by chance did you give Dad and Mom some tutoring in French?"
Turning to her brother Frank, Cynthia replied, "Yes, as a matter of fact I tried. Mom and I spoke only French; Dad just struggled along. I know I'm certainly not as fluent as Honey or Edward, but we did our best. They'll do well enough I'm pretty sure."
"How about you personally, Cyn?"
"Frank, It's not only wonderful to be here, but I confess it's a relief in a way too." After looking away for a moment her dark eyes flashed, "Hate frightens me, and bigoted and hypocritical people disgust me."
Turning back to the others Cynthia continued, "Soon I must try a very difficult case; one that involves the profiling of those who appear to be Muslim. I just concluded a case that I'll never forget; fortunately it came out as I hoped. Never when I finished law school did I imagine that I would try a case that would anger me so or to which I would be so committed."
"Cyn," Edward asked as his eyes searched the face of his youngest sister, what you said about hate, bigotry and hypocrisy; I know that you are aware that you spoke for all of us. May I ask who the principles were in this case?"
Her eyes still flashing Cynthia replied, "Nothing I am about to say is a breach of client confidentiality as all is now both in the papers and of public record. It began when the leaders of a small Mexican immigrant organization came to me. In a recent public political debate one of them had heard a member of our firm speak about fairness in immigration and against discrimination. All of the members of this group worked for a store in the same large discount chain with which you are all familiar; the one well known for its wretched business practices and treatment of its employees. Inherent in their work was obvious and overt discrimination. Compounding the concerns was the personally demeaning treatment of the workers especially the women by those who served in management. I might add that all of these immigrants had green cards."
Excerpted from THE FAMILY GORDON by Edwin G. Rice Copyright © 2010 by Edwin G. Rice. Excerpted by permission.
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