Didn’t all those Greek tales tell us a mortal man may only keep his goddess for so long? I’ve a gift for hubris, I suppose…but after all the death and danger I’d known, even on my easiest overland journeys, might I be forgiven for assuming I had found Paradise — and my Beatrice, my Eve?


Charlotte's mother died having her: she came into this world alone — fatherless, too. She was simply a child of the land, adopted first by a farmer's wife and later by a schoolmistress. Surely, that fine lady taught her reading and writing and figuring, but the land itself gave her its manners and its grace. She stood tall as those antediluvian Redwoods and she had a bright, nearly golden warmth about her, one that never shown too hotly to be overeager but never let a soul around her wander in a shadow or darkness of any sort.


She walked the San Francisco streets among those pioneers surely as a goddess goes. All who made it West had suffered for their haste and never forgotten that headway they had made. Charlotte knew no hurry. She was self-assured as the sea is in knowing its tides — all that waxes must in due time wane. She found no companion in the absolute. She politely let it barrel down the sidewalk where she would glide.


I would preach Manifest Destiny and she would gesture to the ocean from whence she came in her wandering cypress branch way and gently remind me that the Great Salt Lake once had been a sea. Perhaps because the tide was in her blood, she carried Time so lightly in her bones. Charlotte minded Time with the infinite grace and courtesy and patience with which she minded all she encountered and, in so doing, married a man impervious to all of her lessons.


I could never convince her that the very word “West” heralded far more than a mere cardinal direction! I sought The Other Side of the Frontier — not another goddamned ocean!


[He pauses.]


Yet, there it was: the last breath of the West gulped back into a waxing tide, a finite space a little broader on the wane. There lay Charlotte’s ocean.


[He looks down, dazed. Forgetting all his surroundings, he drinks. The fiddler handles this — musically and otherwise — as he sees fit — most likely playing “Charlotte.”]

Time, yes. Time!


[He claps his hands together and snaps out of his trance — the salesman has returned.]