“Lazarus? Lazarus, sir?”
The figure on the hammock did not move from its quietly slumbering position. There was no answer.
“Lazarus? ...Grandfather Lazarus, please! Will you speak with me before supper?”
This time there was a definite change in the breathing rhythm of the figure.
“You need something, Girl?” A mumble.
“Well, yes, sir, Lazarus. I have a question to ask of you.” The young woman pulled a short wooden stool over to the hammock. “I would like to have you help me think about something.” She waited. The figure in the hammock moved itself to a more comfortable position, quieted.
“Lazarus? Will you talk to me?”
Small movement from the hammock. “I have it all written down someplace, Girl, can you read?” The old voice was clearly annoyed at this disturbance of an afternoon nap.
“Well, yes, sir. I can read very well. Maybe you can recall my scholarship to the University, but...” She hesitated, choosing her words. “Well, I would like to talk to you about something I have been thinking--”
“You are thinking?” The voice interrupted gently, prodding her.
“..Er, yes, sir,” she said, pulling her stool nervously closer to the hammock. “I am thinking quite a lot lately. It is about this Family of ours... about the relationships between us... the way we live.” She was rushing now to make her thoughts take form quickly yet still be clear to him.
“I understand the freedom we give one another,” she was into it now and her voice strengthened, thoughts building upon thoughts. “We each make our own choices,” she continued “and no one person interferes with another, but...” She hesitated again, almost tipping the stool as she leaned toward the only person she could ask for a reasonable answer to her question.
“But what, Girl? What confuses you?” The voice was beginning to drift back into a mumble.
“Well, you know that I respect you. ...I respect the ideas you teach. ...I cannot imagine living or being any other way, but I just sometimes wonder about how we live. How do we live, Lazarus?” Relieved that the thing was said, she scooted her stool back into a more respectful position.
“What do you mean, ‘how do we live’?” This time the voice was sharply attentive.
“Just that: how do we live?” She found her voice had gained in courage as she asked, “Who puts the money into the Bank where I get mine, where my sisters get theirs? Where did it come from? When is it put there? What does anyone do, just in this one house, for example, to be able to put money into the Bank? I have lived here all my life, even if it is only seventeen years and I have never seen or heard any one of the Family talking about money, how to get it, or anything and I just wondered if you help me think about all this?” She was flushed after her effort to be understood.
“It is not important, Granddaughter.”
“It would be if we did not have any!” Stubbornly.
The figure on the hammock had not moved during the conversation. “I do not understand your confusion, Granddaughter. Have you had problems at the Bank?”
“No, Sir, no problems at all. I mean, I can take as much money from the Bank as I want at any time. Yet I have little need for it, living here in this home. I was just wondering where it all comes from...” She stopped, looking inward to her thinking.
The silence from the hammock was still, quiet, yet alert.
“Grandfather Lazarus, Sir, are you sleeping again?”
“No, Girl. I am not sleeping. I, too, am thinking.”
The girl sat quietly watching the shadows move, longer, deeper, leaving the hammock in shadow.
“Lazarus? Are you still thinking?”
“Yes, Girl, I am still thinking. I told you I would think. That is what I am doing. You wanted to know how this Family gets the money it uses,” the voice continued. “I have given you a great deal of my time today, telling you how it is done.”
She stared, unbelieving. “How? ....Lazarus, I do not understand what you told me. You have told me nothing at all,” she wailed.
“You are old enough now, my girl, to understand. I’m thinking that maybe I ought to worry about you, but I won’t, not yet. You want to know how this Family gets the money it uses,” he patiently repeated. “You want to know where it comes from, so to speak. Well, I have carefully told you, no, I have shown you. Now you have two things to think about, Granddaughter. First you must understand what I have just said to you. Then you will be able to know the answer given you regarding the question you have put to me today. Please, just sit there for a bit of time, think about it.”
A quiver of the hammock gave little indication of immediate movement. The voice had long faded into slumbering silence. She sat, slumped on the hard little stool. What had he told her? What had been shown to her? Suddenly she sat up straight, excited by a thought.
“Lazarus? Lazarus! I think I understand,” she shouted. She touched her still sleeping grandfather gently on the shoulder. Leaning more quietly toward him she said, “Grandfather, I believe I have this problem solved. You have told me today that when I think about anything, I am creating a kind of image, a mirror of the result, the idea, the creation... that the thinking itself, the concept– this is most important!” She was pleased with herself. “Have I understood you, Lazarus? Is this what you have been saying to me this afternoon?”
The old man finally rolled over, looking appreciatively at his young red-haired granddaughter. She was a pretty good specimen of the Family, he decided. She would gain strength in maturity. For now the willow suppleness of both her body and her mind would get her through these young years. Her face was glowing with excitement, already anticipating his response. He rolled back in the hammock, adjusted a wrinkling of fabric, satisfied. She understood enough. Maybe she would have to ask again, but until she did, there was no need to worry.
She was thinking. That was a good beginning.