Amy hummed as she worked. From time to time the hum was interrupted when she remembered and reminded herself, sotto voce, of a task still waiting to be finished or an appointment to be kept. Occasionally she was reminded of a person, when she broke off to voice a prayer; very occasionally to make a telephone call. Then the hum picked up at the appointed place and continued.
She poked her head round the door of the study. Gregory’s head was bent over a batch of papers on the desk. The waste basket at his side was full. She decided to leave the dusting but to empty the waste basket. As she turned away with the basket in her hand Gregory threw his pencil down irritably.
“Amy, I wish you wouldn’t hum!” His eyebrows were drawn into a vee above his nose.
“I’m so sorry, Greg, I didn’t realise I was humming.”
“You just don’t listen to yourself, Amy. You think you can hum in here and hum out again and I won’t even notice that you’ve been. But I can’t, Amy, your humming gets into my head and it interrupts me. I am trying to concentrate on facts and figures and getting them all in a proper sequence, and ...” He stopped, seeing the tears gather in her eyes. “Forgive me, love. It’s not your fault things aren’t going as they should.”
Amy smiled her forgiveness. “Shall I put the kettle on? It must be nearly time for a tea break anyway.”
Gregory laughed. “Your panacea for all ills, Amy. Yes, put the kettle on. I’ll be along in a minute.”
Busying herself in the kitchen with kettle and tea tray, slicing a fruit cake and adding a chunk of cheese to the platter, Amy hummed contentedly. She carried the tray through to the table beside a deep armchair that was Greg’s favourite. Greg came in as she set his cup down within easy reach. The hum broke into words.
“What’s the problem, Greg? Writer’s block?”
“No, it’s worse than that. The wretched thing wants to take over and write itself into a story and it is not supposed to be a story. It is a subject for serious study. I simply cannot waste all that research and all those facts and figures on a story.”
“But Greg, doesn’t that make sense? All the early teaching was by story-telling and singing. That was the way people remembered things and learned right from wrong.”
Greg shook his head. “We don’t live in the dark ages any more, Amy. And besides, writing came pretty early on, too. Look at your Bible, for instance.”
Amy nodded happily. This was familiar ground. “But even with the written Scriptures, Greg, we remember the teachings through the stories more than the facts and figures. Go through the books of Chronicles and tell me how many people can remember who begat who; but nearly everyone remembers who killed Goliath, and the story of Ruth has been retold countless times.”
Gregory laughed. “Okay, I won’t argue with that. But before you start on the singing, just tell me where that bit you were singing yesterday comes from – the one that goes: ‘Let the words of my mouth ...’”
Amy picked it up: “’And the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord.’ I think it is one of the Psalms – perhaps Psalm 19, I was reading that earlier this week. That is such a meaningful prayer it goes round and round in my head until I can’t help singing it.”
“Just so long as you don’t hum it. When you hum I can’t follow the tune and I don’t know the words, and that is what gets to me.”
Gregory laughed again; easing the tension of his words. He set his cup down and wiped the crumbs of fruit cake and cheese from his fingers with his handkerchief.
“Thank you, love. That was exactly what I needed. Now I must go back to the war with the facts and figures. Hopefully the story will allow me to develop the subject my way.”
He dropped a kiss on the top of her head and walked away humming the tune of “Let the words of my mouth ...”
Amy smiled as she gathered the cups and plates onto the tea tray, singing softly “...and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord.”
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