I'm sitting here in rank silence.
The swirl of events that was the grange dance, the lead-up to it, getting there, being tested to the absolute max by a bevy of grange matrons on full display in the grove, being sustained against the hooves of assassin horses, then actually enjoying the dance and my time, is all so fresh in my mind that I am silenced.
I feel like I'm torn, to be honest, between competing, insistent impulses. Having passed the test, assuming there aren't others yet to come, I could very well be on my way to becoming a member of the Grange Brotherhood, if that's what I wanted. That would be a big step, because at that point I'd be a part of something vast, with underground connections, the long reach of organizational tentacles, and access to the mechanics of testing others. At this time next year I might be dressed like Spy vs. Spy and sitting in a tree with binoculars, flashing signals up the road.
Or I could withdraw from the whole thing -- which is what I believe Grandpa did -- and let them more or less forget me, melting back into city life, refusing to go back to the country. While the Brotherhood no doubt never forgets, even they are surely not forever rustling through their files looking for people to provoke. It has to be the same with them as with the rest of us, that in the course of time old grudges are pushed to the back burner. I know for me personally, something will seem crucially important one week, but then two weeks later it's forgotten completely, or at least the minor details.
With the Brotherhood, they are of course subject to mortality as are we all. Generations rise up and fall, and even many of their own sons leave. You'd think that'd give them some pause to reflect on pursuing others who may have lapsed, if they can't even keep the screws tight on their own children. I'm convinced of it. Maybe a grange master was very hard nosed in the '30s or '40s, back in Grandpa's heyday, when, they say, his reluctance to go to the country began, although I wasn't yet born and can't say much about it.
But grange masters come and go. I don't know who they've all been or even who the current master is. But they don't start out masters. So I assume they take on some of the same tone, perhaps unwillingly, of the society as a whole. In this day it'd be Live and Let Live, or aspects of that. It could be the grange master likes to keep up appearances only but is himself a very cool guy. The normal rough and tumble when he's acting officially, but laid back at home. I just don't know.
So I could join with the Brotherhood, or I could withdraw silently and forever shun the country.
The third option is obviously the one most fraught with peril, and that is to take on the Grange Brotherhood head on. After all, why should I have been subject to their terrible testing? Just because I went into the country? Just because I wanted the pleasure of a dance and perhaps a relationship that would lead to matrimony and child bearing? Who gave these guys the right to decide who lives and dies? Maybe I've been marked all along. It would explain a lot of the disappointments of my life. Let's say they had it in for Grandpa because of something that he did in the '40s. And so they've been following me, making my life miserable.
These are not the ways of an organization that have people's best interests at heart. These instead are the ways of an organization that is acting out of paranoia, the lust or will for power, and it's very reactionary. There's no legitimate reason why I should've been threatened with death a couple nights ago! I'm a man, not target practice for a horse.
What I will do ... is something for me to contemplate ... in the counsel of my own heart ... with the light and dark alternately rising and descending ... in personal silence and stewing ...