Bertie took his time to think, but at the back of his mind something he had a sensation something may be amiss, “I don’t know, something is not right to me, Algie, and I don’t want to hear my friend got hurt trying to help a friend. What made Charlie contacted you after all this time?”
Algie wanted to ease his friend’s concerns but Bertie said what he had thought since he got the letter, “You voiced what is on my mind, Bertie; why me and why now? We were distant friends at school, no more than polite greetings. I thought if he wanted to contact either of us, it would be you with your money and the connections.”
“I’m pleased your desire to find acknowledgement for your writing has not overtaken the caution needed to enjoy the pleasures which it shall bring, far better to wait a while and get proper acknowledgement than rush into something and come out looking a fool.”
Algie walked across to the door as Bertie opened the door to allow him to enter the room, as he did the first object to catch his eye was the globe, standing resolutely in the far corner next to the bookcases with the surface polished by years of rubbing. On entering the room, Algie went to view the globe, “Are the areas in which your company is mining shown on here, Bertie,” he asked.
After closing the door behind him, Bertie joined Algie at the globe, “No, for now all there is, is a huge emptiness where the land is undiscovered and natural; people reported seeing tribes which are man-eaters in these areas.”
Algie glanced across at his friend and replied, “Do you think the reports are true? Are there man-eating tribes in these areas?”
Bertie walked over to his drinks cabinet and poured a whisky, “What’s your drink, Algie?”
Algie replied, “I’ll take a shot of Whiskey too, if you can spare one, thank you.”
Bertie poured the second glass and walked over to where Algie was reading the titles of some books in the case nearest to him, “Here you are. To answer your question, yes I do think these people exist, the reports are in reputable papers not disposed to cheap headlines for sales.”
Algie stood in awe, looking at the number of books by authors in the case, some he had read and others he had not heard about; all the time he thought, “Is this worth it? All I’m getting is a few coppers if I’m lucky.” The vast array of topics covered and the variety of styles ranging from romances to adventures and from plain covers in paper to beautifully embossed covers, which Algie assumed meant the writer is better placed in society than some.
Algie stood in the shadow of the cases and viewed their beauty, all the cases had glass frontages and plenty of room for new editions, as he turned to speak, Bertie said, “Before you ask, I do think you will get a book printed and although you may not be famous, you will be well read and liked.”
“How did you...”
Bertie walked over to his friend and patting him on the back he said, “How did I know what was on your mind?”
“Yes, I had only thought of then the second I started to ask you.”
Bertie gave a gentle laugh and replied, “Algie, since you came in, you have been looking at the cases; the question waiting to be asked, it wasn’t a case of would you, so much as when would you,” Bertie said as they clinked glasses.
Bertie showed Algie to a chair by the table which overlooked the gardens at the rear, here they sat watching the birds, seemingly lost in their thoughts; Algie kept turning the glass and fidgeting, finally he said, “How can you be so sure?”
Bertie twisted his moustache and beard and replied, “Because, I read your work and you are the equal of some and the better writer of a few of the writers who sell books these days.”
Algie watched as the Moorhens plucked at the reeds and pulled something from the water’s edge, after which he continued, “The main difference is they went to big schools and got learning, whereas I needed to find a job and neglected my writing for years,” he sighed, “besides that from what I see it takes time to get established unless you are in contact with somebody who can pull in favours to help.”
“On the first score, you already possess what many of them lack, Algie,” Bertie commented.
“What is that?”
“They may be better educated, but you have imagination and lived a life full of experiences which they may never get to enjoy and on the second point, you are in contact with somebody who has the power to get your work to a publishing house.”
“I agree with your first point, Bertie, but on the second point, as much as I value the offer I can’t accept your kindness, my old friend.”
Bertie sighed and said, “I know, you need to make your work be read for its own value and although this will hold you back significantly, I admire you for doing this your way and you’ll savour the joy more, when you get work published.”
The friends were enjoying the late afternoon breezes drifting across from the ponds, the aroma reminded Algie of days by the sea, hunting cockles in the muddy waters and of days spent sat watching crab pools, “How nice to go back,” he muttered.
Bertie who had been dozing in the chair opposite got roused by Algie’s comment and replied, “Go back to where?”
Algie hadn’t thought his friend heard him, the utterance was so low but he replied, “Not a where but a when, Bertie, to a time of innocence, when simple joys were all we required to be happy.”
“If only we could, Bertie, and take with us the knowledge we gained since those days.”
“Algie, that would change a lot of things and probably we would not gain the knowledge we took with us. Think about the situation, you go back in time and your knowledge changes things so you don’t get born; in that scenario, how can you go back?”
Bertie laughed with his friend and replied, “Your mind may be miles from us at times, but your logic is honest and true, if time travel was possible – which it isn’t – what would be the point?”
The friends sat in silent repose for a minute or two, and Algie continued, “A toast to here and now and may the time we are granted last as long as we wish.”
Bertie rose from his chair and seconded the toast, “Here, here, old chap.”