It was not to be doubted that young Heath, a bookseller running his father's shop, did truly love his lady fair. Indeed the pair had been described as "madly in love" by anyone you would care to ask, and the town was buzzing with the rumor that Heath had asked the young lady for her hand in marriage.
The girl in question, Blanche, was a wealthy lady for her youth, having inherited the fortune of her parents. Blanche was a lovely girl, fair of hair and skin with a kind face and intelligent green eyes. She resided with her uncle, (who had been her legal guardian since her parents had passed away.)
Mr. Mayfield was a very peculiar man, to put it politely, but the reality was that he was completely mad. He often made absurd statements that sounded more like the ravings of the village idiot than the wise words that would be expected of a man of his age and stature.
Nevertheless, it seemed necessary to Heath, being the proper gentleman that he was, to ask this eccentric person for permission to marry lovely Blanche. Heath was perhaps not a timid man, though he was quiet and thoughtful. He was perhaps a little comical in his appearance, in that he was very pale, preferring to spend his time reading a book than walking out in the sunshine… or eating for that matter, for he was rather thin as well. His dark hair was cut short and neat, and he was clean-shaven. The peacefulness of his nature made him seem timid, though this was not the case. He simply believed there wasn't a point in words without thought.
That day when he arrived at the huge old house with it's carefully tended garden and neatly trimmed hedges, he could scarcely conceal the violent trembling of his knees. Truth be told, Mr. Mayfield terrified him. The man was not aggressive, nor in any way dangerous, but sometimes the things he said made an odd sort of sense that made him uneasy. He dreaded seeing Mr. Mayfield every time he stepped through the threshold of that house.
He glanced through the door when Blanche opened it to him, and cautiously followed her into the foyer where the withered old man sat in a large armchair next to a warm inviting fire, with an old plaid blanket on his lap. He looked up from a book on his lap, which he had lost interest in a long time ago, and smiled when he saw Heath standing there before him.
"Ah, William, my dear brother," he greeted him with a crooked grin, "Look at you! You don't look a day over twenty, and here I am an old man." He chuckled to him self.
Blanche leaned down to whisper in his ear, "This isn't father, Uncle. This is Heath, our dear friend. He has something important to ask of you." Her voice was quiet, but confident as she spoke to him.
"Something important, you say? Well out with it, then, young man," said Mr. Mayfield, nodding his head as he spoke.
Heath choked and struggled to find the words he needed, "Sir, I… I have come to ask you to allow my greatest dream to come true, "he began, "I have long known that I will love Blanche forever, and I want to be with her for the rest of my life. I came to ask if I have your blessing to marry your niece."
Mr. Mayfield's eyes were closed and his head hung low. It looked as through he had fallen asleep. Blanche was about to tap his shoulder to wake him when he opened his eyes and looked into Heath's, now completely coherent and thoughtful, rather than bored and empty as they usually were. He smiled crookedly and laughed, pointing a finger at Heath, almost touching his nose. "You speak of your dreams, do you?" he asked. "You speak of dreams…" his voice trailed off in the thought for a moment, his eyes seeming to look at something behind Heath, rather than at him.
"Yes… it is my dream to be married to Blanche," he answered, his hands grasping each other nervously.
"It is hard to understand and realize your own dreams, but even harder to understand and realize the dreams of another. Do you know what Blanche's dream is? Have you seen what she sees when she sleeps at night?"
Mr. Mayfield interrupted him, "When you can tell me what she dreams, come back and I will give you my blessings. But before then, I will not allow you to see my niece. That is my request."
Poor Heath was at a loss for words, and he looked to Blanche, asking her what he ought to do. He wasn't sure whether he ought to confront Mr. Mayfield, or whether he ought to leave, and humor him, come back another day when he might be a little more tolerable. But there was nothing in Blanche's face to indicate that he was to do anything different from what her uncle had told him. He was so completely confused. He stood up and looked at Blanche. "May I speak with you for a moment in private?" he asked her.
Mr. Mayfield wouldn't hear of it. He tapped his heavy wooden cane on the floor angrily and shook his head, "No! You must do as I say before you may speak with her again. Go now and come back when you see Blanche's dreams."
Heath looked once again for some sign of advice from Blanche, but her face was blank. Nothing to be seen there but lovely empty eyes and still features. He went out the door, and didn't even bother to try to catch a cab. He walked down the streets in the rain, getting soaked to his bones. Was this some sort of test of his love? But it was such a ridiculous task…
A few days went by and Heath could think of nothing but how to see Blanche again. He wanted to ask her what this was all about, how he was expected to see her dreams. He hadn't slept at all since that day and he began to become desperate. He wandered through the streets until he came to a very small little shop that he had never really noticed before. It was a fortune teller's shop, and on the door was painted a five-pointed star inside a perfect circle in black and white paint. He opened the door and stepped inside. The room was almost completely dark except for the lights of two oil lamps and a few scattered candles. It smelled strange.. like fresh herbs, flowers and smoke. At a table in one corner of the room sat an old woman, her gray hair tucked under a brightly colored silk scarf. It seemed she was blind in one eye, as if was grayish-blue and cloudy. She wore a long, wide skirt of vibrant shades of red, purple, gold and orange, and at her waist was a heavy metal belt that jingled when she stood and walked over to Heath.
"Have you come for an answer?" she asked him. Her voice was kind, and calm, her steps slow and shaky, her age visible in the way she moved.
"Well… yes," he answered, somehow intimidated by this strange old woman, "It's about-"
"A girl," the woman interrupted, "Yes, I can see it in your face. One that you would do anything for, I think."
"Yes… but you see-"
The fortune teller interrupted him again, "Money first, then answers," she almost snapped.
Heath was taken by surprise, and then handed her a few coins, "Will that be enough?" he asked.
She looked over the coins and turned them over in her palm as if she were examining gems rather than coins, and she nodded, "Yes… less than I usually ask, but you seem to be in great need, so I will accept this. Now tell me your situation."
"If you're psychic, shouldn't you know that already?" he asked, looking at her oddly.
A scowl crossed over her face, "Can you make bread without first having flour? Can you grow a garden without any seeds?" she asked him angrily, "You have to give me something to work with! Skeptics! The lot of them!"
"I'm sorry, ma'am, I meant no offence. I have never really had a need…"
"You never believed in fortune tellers until now and you're only here because you're desperate…"
"You knew that well enough," he pointed out.
"That's why they all come, dear," she said with a knowing smile, "They all come to me when they have no where else to turn but to insanity."
"I see… Well, my problem is that the guardian of the one I love has told me that I cannot see her again until I can tell him what she dreams. How can I see what Blanche dreams? It's impossible."
"If you believed that it was impossible you wouldn't be here, boy," she said, "It simply depends on how much you really love her, and the rest is in the hands of fate. Your problem is very simple to solve."
"Then how?" he asked, "I'm willing to do anything."
"Then that is all it takes. You simply have to mean what you say, and you will be able to see what she dreams. It is a question of your loyalty."
"But how am I meant to see them? How do I begin?"
"You can't see your dreams if you are awake, can you?" she asked, "How can you expect to see hers? I do swear people don't use their heads enough in this world. It's logical that to see a dream, you must first go to sleep."
Heath was still bewildered, but he took the advice and left the shop, receiving a few odd glances from passers-by as he stepped out the door. He went back to his home, and refused to eat anything for supper. He went straight to bed and, with the help of the two days he had spent without sleeping, soon fell into a deep sleep.
So exhausted was Heath that he had no dream at all. But then, there was the face that he longed to see the most. Blanche's soft features, lying against her feather pillow, her hair mussed a little from it, appeared before him.
As she slept there, something changed… it seemed that her hair was moving by itself, the locks of hair began to blow and twist, like so many tiny snakes into the roots of tiny trees and flowers, which sprang from the amber mass of hair like from the earth. And then, just as if it had always been there, a miniature house stood beyond the trees and flowers with some of the windows lit with flickering lights, and a lantern outside the door. The house was very old, and seemed somehow unusual, and crooked, like the way witches' houses are described in children's stories, leaning slightly to one side.
Not only were there plants and a house growing from Blanche's hair, but now, a miniscule man, the size of a beetle, was running along the balconies covered in soot and carrying a long-handled broom that was blacker than he was. The chimney sweep wandered in and out of the rooms from the balconies, looking lost, as if he couldn't find the mast of the house anywhere.
Only one other person was in the house, and though he could not be seen, Heath somehow knew that Mr. Mayfield, or a tiny version of him was watching him from the exaggerated spyglass that extended from the window of the attic.
When the morning came, Heath awoke so happy that he could do no more than hurriedly dress himself before he ran out of the house, and stopped the very first cab he saw. As luck would have it, the poor creature pulling the carriage was old, and tired, and could manage to move only at an amble, after which when they reached the house, the driver asked a ridiculous sum of money for the journey.
Blanche met Heath at the door when he knocked, and she smiled cheerfully, "Good day," she said, "My dearest Heath, I had the strangest dream last night…"
Mr. Mayfield's harsh cackle was heard from the parlor. "He already knows, my dear. He already knows. Well, young man. Do you have a date in mind for the wedding?"
Heath looked into the room where Mr. Mayfield was sitting, and in his lap lay the same spyglass from the dream… He was sure it was the same one. Mr. Mayfield gave the young gentleman a knowing glance and nodded his head. He had no idea how Blanche's uncle had done what he did, but at that moment he didn't matter. Blanch and he would be together, happy at last.