Sese’s Conundrum

by Beverly Bly

Based on Portrait 1 & book title: Daddy Long Legs

As Sesé opened the door to the study to have tea with Aunty Nelly and Uncle Bert, she heard Uncle Bert utter the words she feared most. “Nelly, it’s time for Sesé to go to Paradise. We can no longer hold her back.” “Well, I suppose you are right, Bert. Sesé, with her long legs and inquisitive nature will jump at the chance to go on an adventure. I just wish she could stay with us.” Aunty Nelly was teary eyed. “It breaks my tender heart. I am not ready for Sesé to leave.”

Sesé gasped and was horrified! “Paradise, is that not the place where people go to meet Jesus, when they have “passed on” as the adults say? Where the angels live and where the streets are paved with gold?” Sesé was not ready to “pass on”. She decided that there was no way she was going anywhere near this “Paradise” place at the tender age of nine. She burst into the elegantly decorated study, nearly knocking over the tea service, grabbed a couple of apples and ran through the French doors straight into the back garden. She continued running toward Lady Eaton’s residence on Dufferin Street. She ran as fast as her little long legs would move. Aunty Nelly nearly collapsed as she watched Sesé tear through the garden. “My word, what has gotten into that child? Bert! Hurry up and bring her home before she ruins that beautiful gown!”

Sesé stopped to catch her breath when she thought she was out of her Aunty and Uncle’s sight. Thankfully, the trees were dense in the back garden. She was able to hide as she pondered her next move. She wondered how she was going to get out of this “adventure” to Paradise.

Sesé decided to follow the old railway line to King Road. She was familiar with that route as she and her Aunty and Uncle used it to go to the red brick church with the stained glass windows in Temperanceville. She began to feel tired and hungry but her excitement grew when she saw her favourite place at the church – the stable! She mustered up her energy, ran to the stable, opened the latch and called out to Daddy Longlegs, her favourite horse. True to form, Daddy Longlegs perked up and neighed with delight when he saw Sesé! She loved Daddy Longlegs because he, like Sesé, tripped over his long legs on occasion. Hence his name. The adults constantly teased Sesé and Daddy Longlegs about their legs. Well her long legs sure came in handy today!

Sesé heard footsteps approaching the stable as she was feeding Daddy Longlegs slices of the apple that she swiped from the tea tray. She ducked into a corner behind a few bales of hay. The Reverend must have noticed the open stable door. Sesé tried to stay silent as the Reverend peered into the stable. “Hello, is anyone there?” He noticed an apple core and a bonnet, that looked strikingly similar to little Sesé Gray’s bonnet. She was Daddy Longlegs’ greatest admirer. “How did that get in here?” Sesé tensed up and waited for the Reverend to leave. She sighed in relief when she heard the stable door close. Suddenly she felt sleepy so she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Sometime later, Sesé opened her eyes and stretched, but something seemed off. The stable was gone and she was at the station house at Eversley. “How did I end up here?” She heard scuffling behind her and saw Daddy Longlegs standing beside an old maple tree. Sesé looked around and was in awe of the beautiful flowers and stunning landscape, filled with birds, squirrels and feisty raccoons. “I’ve never seen such vibrant flowers so early in the season.” Sesé felt so free and calm that she wondered if she was in Paradise. While Sesé felt refreshed, she also began to notice the sky darkening overhead. It seemed that a spring storm was approaching. Sesé worried about getting back to the stable before the storm hit, and before the Reverend missed Daddy Longlegs. She could not use the station house for shelter because the township abandoned it after the trains stopped running on the Schomberg line.

Sesé untethered Daddy Longlegs and led him along the railway line, hoping to find the way back to the stable and church. Again, she began to feel extremely tired. She needed to rest so she found another maple and tethered Daddy Longlegs. “Don’t worry; we will make it back before the storm comes.” She leaned up against the maple tree and gathered her gown to make a blanket. She closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

Sesé awoke after what seemed like a long while. She began to panic when she heard footsteps approaching. As her eyes adjusted to the dull light, she realized that she had somehow managed to get back to the stable. She softly called out to Daddy Longlegs, to reassure her that she was not alone and that she was, in fact, inside the stable. He neighed in response and Sesé immediately calmed down because she knew that she was still alive. “Whew! I must have been dreaming about the station house.”

Sesé crouched behind the bales of hay, as the footsteps grew louder. She could hear voices that sounded like the Reverend and his wife, Mrs. Lizzie. She buried herself deeper into the hay as the stable door opened. “Sesé, are you in there?” called out the Reverend. Sesé knew she should respond but she continued to hide because she was determined to skip out on the ‘adventure’ to Paradise. Just then, Sesé felt the need to sneeze. She tried to hold it back but she could not stop. “Aaaaachoooo!”

“Cecilia Gray, is that you?” asked a worried Mrs. Lizzie. Sesé felt bad. Mrs. Lizzie sounded upset, especially since she used her full name “Cecilia”. Sesé emerged slowly from behind the bales of hay and reached for Mrs. Lizzie’s hand. She stood up on her wobbly long legs and burst into tears as she ran towards Daddy Longlegs. Mrs. Lizzie caught her and gently asked her why she was so sad. “Mrs. Lizzie, I heard the most terrible news today. I can’t bear to repeat it or even think about it!”

Mrs. Lizzie took Sesé by the hand and led her outside to the big oak tree to try to coax the terrible news out of her. “What troubles you my dear Sesé? Finally, Sesé blurted out “I’m going to die! Aunty Nelly and Uncle Bert were talking about it today, just before tea.” Aunty Nelly and Uncle Bert, who were waiting under the tree, looked shocked. Aunty Nelly spoke first. “Oh dearest Sesé, you most certainly are not going to die! We never said any such thing.”

Sesé explained that she overhead Aunty Nelly and Uncle Bert say that it was time for her to go to Paradise. The only Paradise she knew of was in heaven, so she figured she must be about to “pass on”. Everyone went silent until Aunty Nelly burst out into full belly laughter, so loud that it startled the Reverend and Mrs. Lizzie. “What a conundrum! Sesé, my dearest little bundle of imagination. You most certainly are not going to die! You have your whole life ahead of you. Your Uncle Bert and I were talking about how it was time for you to meet your family in Grenada; the beautiful island where you mother lived before she moved to Canada. You will be spending the next year at her family home, in a little town called Paradise.”

Aunty Nelly and Uncle Bert reassured Sesé that she would be coming back to Canada but that it was time for her explore Grenada and learn about her heritage. Sesé felt a great relief and began to get excited at the thought of the adventure. She would be travelling by sea. She learned that the ship would bring Grenadians to Canada to start a new life here after it left Grenada. It would also bring nutmeg, bananas and cocoa! Sesé was so relieved. She stopped to see Daddy Longlegs before she left for Grenada and fed him some special apples. “I will miss you so much but I will tell you about my adventures when I come back. I love you Daddy Longlegs!”

Seventy years later…

Sesé’s heart burst with pride as she sat with her grandchildren under the oak tree at Temperanceville and told them about her “Paradise” conundrum. She was excited about the thought of travelling to Grenada again, this time with her whole family. Her long legs had taken her on many adventures, tales of which she shares with her grandkids and their special horse, Daddy Longlegs the Third.