A taste of Improbable Connections...
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 21 of Improbable Connections. I hope you enjoy it!
The afternoon sun was warm as Elisabeth hurried to meet Rembrandt. They usually met at the bakery, but yesterday Rembrandt suggested they meet at a park along the canal. He was waiting for her and waved when he saw her approaching. As usual, he had fresh bread with him. Elisabeth knew he must have brought it from home because today he had not stopped at the bakery. They broke off chunks from the loaf, savoring its aroma and taste.
“I can’t be long,” said Elisabeth. “My parents are expecting me at home. We still have packing to complete before we go to the canal boats for tomorrow’s journey.”
They both looked into the distance, then at one another. “I’ll miss you so much, Elisabeth!” said Rembrandt. “I hope your voyage will be safe – and you will enjoy life in the New World.”
Then surprising both himself and Elisabeth, he put his arms around her. He had never done that before. Elisabeth could hardly breathe. Should she be afraid of such closeness? What would her father and mother say? Yet the reality of leaving Rembrandt and all that was familiar in Leiden added confusion to the emotions she felt. She was grateful for Rembrandt’s friendship. He was kind to her, patient in teaching her to write and read, and so talented in drawing. While the voyage to America seemed at times like an exciting adventure, she felt a surge of sadness about leaving her good friend and all that was familiar. She felt an attachment to Rembrandt – and with his arms now around her, she knew he felt the same.
Too quickly, it seemed, the hug ended. Rembrandt reached inside his coat. He took two parchments from his pocket and handed one to Elisabeth. The one he gave her showed four detailed quill and ink drawings he had created. “Please take my drawings with you, Elisabeth, and when you look at them, you can remember our time together here in Leiden.”
Elisabeth looked at the drawings and gasped. Though they were small, she recognized herself in the four sketches – one with a smile she may have had when they watched the cats stalk each other; another with a look of anticipation she might have had when he told her about what he learned at Latin School; another with a sad look she might have shown when she told him of her parents’ plan to leave Leiden; and still another with a peaceful look she may have had in telling him about the gratefulness journal she had begun to keep.
“I’ll keep your drawing in my journal, Rembrandt. Each time I write in it, I’ll think of you.” She felt tears come to her eyes.
“I’m keeping one drawing of you,” said Rembrandt. “Remember when you were at our home for the Leiden Thanksgiving dinner – and you modeled the red dress and black hat Lysbeth gave you?”
“That was so much fun,” said Elisabeth, laughing. “I felt so special in that dress!” He showed her the other parchment. Elisabeth gasped when she saw it. The drawing was clearly one of her wearing the red dress and broad-brimmed hat.
“I’m going to use this drawing to paint a beautiful picture of you someday, Elisabeth.”
“Oh, I’d love to see your painting, Rembrandt,” said Elisabeth. After a brief pause, she continued, “When it’s done, you can send it to me in Virginia.” Her statement reminded them both that their time together was at its end.
They looked deeply into one another’s eyes, then they both put their arms around each other. Elisabeth felt warm tears flow down her cheeks. “I know we’re young,” whispered Rembrandt, “but I love you, Elisabeth.” Elisabeth’s emotions overflowed with a mixture of joy and sadness. Unable to speak, she stood on tiptoes and kissed him. Then she turned and ran toward home. The drawing Rembrandt showed Elisabeth was his first study for his eventual painting, The Girl in a Picture Frame.
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