He stared out the bay window. Ajar French windows lay to the left. Fresh air might clear his head of the phantom he had just seen. He stepped out. A cool wind was blowing, and autumn leaves like old blood were drifting onto the cream tiles of the veranda. He thought of Birdie’s sanitary pad. Would he ever think of blood, and not think of that foul thing?
He walked a few meters along the veranda. Two voices were being borne on the wind from an open window.
“Aye, Alex Gordon’s his name.”
That was Henry’s voice. Another quieter voice said something he could not catch. It was a guy’s voice, and he was in the room. It was no phone call.
“He’s interested in the Stone of Destiny, but there’s more to it than that. This is a driven man. He’s hungry.”
He crept nearer the window. He heard Henry chuckle.
“I like that, man. Yes, just like Shakespeare put in the mouth of Julius Caesar, “This Cassius hath a lean and hungry look”.”
The quieter voice replied, but, again, it was inaudible.
“He’s from Alexandria, Virginia, and claims he met me, there. But he didn’t. I’d have remembered such a striking looking man. I’d better get back to him. You do what you have to,” Henry ordered.
It was, certainly, not Duncan Henry was talking with. Duncan, for sure, would never be able to quote even two words of Shakespeare.
Did Henry know of the harp stone? The guy was so nuts about the Stone of Destiny, and, in his younger days, would have been tracking anything to do with it. Had Henry, a long time ago, found the gully with the Giants and the harp stone, and left it all in peace? If so, Henry might suspect or know he had found the gully, and taken off with the harp stone. Henry might be the note-writer. But the note-writer had been at Meadow Cottage before he had found anything. Henry did not seem to be a guy with supernatural gifts but one that pivoted on hard fact and controlled imagination. But he could be a guardian being informed by other sources. Was Henry pouring whisky down his throat to loosen his tongue, as he was doing to him? One thing was clear; he would have to step lightly.
He loped back to the library, and had just settled in his armchair, when Henry came in.
“Hope you haven’t been bored. Just had to get that business call out of the way!” Henry boomed.
Doubt about Henry deepened. The overheard words could have been innocent, but why had Henry faked a phone call?
“Any ideas where the Stone of Destiny might be?” he urged, knowing full well any answer would be Masonic dynamite.
Henry dropped like a stone into his chair, and took a few moments to answer.
“The minister of St Columba’s Parish Church in Dundee via the 1320 Club linked to Baillie Robert Gray of Glasgow was involved. Aye, and folk somewhere had plotted to place the fake Stone in Arbroath Abbey. That was on 12th April, 1951.”
“Then, the minister will know.”
Henry, again, sat in silence, for a few moments, and he had the smarts not to interrupt whatever it was Henry was thinking about.
“He died. Aye, that was John Mackay Nimmo of the Knights Templar, may his soul rest in peace. The Knights picked up the alleged real Stone in 1965 from Edinburgh’s Parliament Square,” Henry, eventually, said.
Had Henry been involved? A flow of words from him had to be kept going.
“Didn’t the authorities rumble this?”
Henry plunked his glass on a side table. Whisky splattered out. The spillage formed two golden butterfly wings.
“They did. Columba’s Kirk was sealed up as dangerous by the Ministry of Health and Safety because of all kinds of lies. But some Knights Templar rescued the Stone. They were chased in their Range Rover all over Scotland, and every true Scot cheered his head off. The entire nation had the radio on.”
He leaned forward in his armchair.
“Throw me more about the Ezekiel prophesy. You know, the overturns in relation to the Stone of Destiny. What and when were the overturns? You’ve, probably, told me already, but I’m real confused,” he said.
Henry tapped his glass with a yellow fingernail.
“The first overturn was when King Zedekiah of Jerusalem from the Pharez branch of the tribe of Judah was conquered by the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar.”
“This sounds like a tale from ‘The Arabian Nights’, Henry.”
“But it’s real, Alex. As I’ve said, Zedekiah’s daughter, Teia Tephi, took the Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny, to Ireland. There, she wed Eochaidh Mac Earc, the High King of Ireland. He was from the Zarah branch. Ach, in the 6th century B.C.”
Henry’s eyes began to wander around the room.
“The other two overturns?” he pressed.
Henry sucked in air. Something that, long ago, had been a craze but had waned was flooding back with vigor. It was the rebirth of a gulping passion.
“The second was when the Stone of Destiny was brought from Ireland to Scotland in about 500 A.D., overturning the Throne from the Kings of Ireland.”
“And the third?”
“When the Stone was removed from the Scots, and taken to England in 1296.”
“But that was not the Regal.”
“It wasn’t. The Bible tells us that, at the third overturn, the Throne shall be overturned no more until Christ comes. If you look at Genesis 49:9-10, you’ll see the scepter won’t go from the line of Judah until Christ comes.”
“And that hasn’t happened yet.”
Henry looked wan, and he felt guilty. He hated riding this old guy, who loved history and the Stones just like himself, but had Henry met a dead-end, or did he know some fantastic truth? Were there folk about that knew it all, but either dared not speak of it because of comebacks or other reasons?
Henry let out a long sigh like wind in trees.
“You must be right confused, Alex. The Stone of Destiny that left Arbroath Abbey on 11th April 1951 was a Scottish sandstone fake. Elizabeth II, who’s descended from the royal line of David from the tribe of Judah, was crowned on the fake, never crowned Queen of Britain in the eyes of God. Vision’s the first thing.”
The tinker had said vision was real important. Henry and the tinker had something in common.
Henry got up, and began to circle the room.
“George VI was the last British King to be crowned on the real Stone of Destiny. Aye, well, maybe. I’m just a human being trying to find things out that perhaps no man ever will be able to, and maybe no man ever should,” he said.
He, theatrically, drained his glass, and waved it at Henry. Again, self-loathing but answers to burning questions might be close, and he had to push hard.
“Don’t get this, Henry.”
Henry looked, exasperatedly, at him, and seemed not to notice the waving glass.
“I’ve told you the end. All that’s left is for Christ to come from Joseph’s seed,” Henry said.
He racked his brains. Something in his research was bothering him. A site had said that the final breaking of the Stone of Destiny would witness the end of the reign of the line of David and the transfer of the sovereignty to Joseph.
His heart started to thud. The students had broken the Stone. He had broken the harp stone in taking it from the gully. If the harp stone was linked to the Stone of Destiny, what had he set in motion?
“Joseph’s seed?” he said.
“Ephraim’s line, the English. For God’s sake, man, you know so little, and yet seem so riveted!” Henry exploded.
“I know zilch, but this is freaking me out. Can you fill me in on Ephraim? But if I’m tiring you, ditch it.”
“You’re not tiring me, man. I’m just a wee bit grumpy, when I can’t solve the whole puzzle. Ephraim was an Egyptian-born son of Joseph.”
Henry was looking paler, by the minute. He knew he would have to stop his questions.
“Real thankful to you for even spending a second with me. You’re the giver in this talk. It’s too much to grasp, at the moment. Going to have to stitch my thoughts together. Let’s call a halt to this,” he said.
“You’ve just started on the trail. I was on it when thirteen years old. It was, once, my life’s blood,” Henry said.
He looked out at the reddening leaves on the trees and bushes.
“Came to Scotland to research my family roots, but the Stones have stepped in.”
“Aren’t the Stones your roots? You seek it in family, but there’s much beyond that. There’s the whole impulse of a race. What’s more vital than the Stones? Stones last for eons. Some have seen the dawn of the world!” Henry yelled.
The Stones were chief. They were calling, always had, and always would. But they shaped human lives in some way beyond current insight.
“Tephi’s captured my imagination,” he said.
“And, once, mine. I fell in love with her, when I was a lad. I imagined her as tall, slender, black-haired, and utterly lovely, but that was before I met my Kate. Kate was dumpy, had mouse hair, and plain features, but, when I first saw her, she was to me the most exquisite woman in the world. It was like we’d loved each other in some past life.”
“Did you really feel that?” he said, remembering the tinker had said he had had a past life love of his own.
“Oh, aye, man. I dumped Tephi, but I never forgot her. Did you know there’s a Book of Tephi? In 1:1:
“Tephi, born in the House of the High Ones - Pharez - Princes of Zion, Zion loved of God, - home of the House of the “I AM”, our Lord, Daughter of David, shepherd in Judah, Tribe of the Lion, Queen over Bethel the Stone and Dan, where they be scattered abroad”.”
He had entered worlds upon worlds through this quest. He had so much to tell Saul. He gulped his whisky. He was using public transport, and could drink himself into oblivion.
The harp stone was eating him up. It was as if he, Alex Gordon from Alexandria, Virginia, was, now, a vehicle for some impulse. He thought on the dame he had seen waving to him from the gate of Meadow Cottage, the day he had met Sadie. That dame had been dressed in a simple tunic, had been as Henry had imagined Tephi. But would a rich dame wear such threads?
“Tephi sounds real powerful,” he said.
“Yes. But there’s the ‘Curse of Tara’. It was never her fault. That hellish stone, that phallic thing on the Hill of Tara, was wrongly named the Lia Fail. It’s really a pillar stone of the pagan Baal cult, and was upon the hill, when she arrived from Jerusalem in 583 B.C. It was used in the rituals of that vile satanic cult. It had a golden sun with the horns of Baal atop it.”
Henry threw his arms out.
“A meteor shower, man. Aye, Tephi had the Baal Stone buried near where the Mound of The Hostages was, later, built. She, then, replaced it with the real Lia Fail. That is, the Stone of Destiny that the Kings of Israel had been crowned upon.”
“So, why the curse?”
“The phallic stone was dug up, and erected on the Inauguration Mound at Tara, some time between 1839 and 1845, and, as I said, was mistaken for The Lia Fail. A few folk say it brought about God’s wrath on Ireland that included the potato blight.”
“Grub for thought. Many Irish came to America during the Great Famine.”
“Grub? Ah, a punning man. I like that. Aye, tatties were a staple diet of the Irish and others,” Henry said.
He thought of Dave’s punning, and Rose Muldoon’s Irish parents striking it rich in New York with Irish pubs awash with Guinness and mashed potatoes decked with what Saul called ‘evil pork sausages’.
Countless links were pouring in. Some would mean something, others zilch.