Author Topic: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 4  (Read 2322 times)

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Offline AnnieUK

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A Leap of Faith - Chapter 4
« on: December 20, 2010, 03:25:28 pm »
August 1118 – November 1118

Brendan was an active child, early to crawl and to walk – always wanting to be in the thick of whatever activity was taking place.  Nothing left lying around was safe from him, and he enchanted the maids with his mischievous ways from only a few months old.  He still favoured me, although as his features changed I fancied I could see a look of Bran about his nose and mouth – enough to prove him a Coris.

It was when he could walk and begin to talk that Bran began to enjoy him properly.  Once when Brendan was fourteen months old and toddling steadily I entered the nursery to find Brendan riding on his father’s back, holding a little wooden sword aloft and crowing happily.  Bran was in more danger from the toy weapon than any imaginary foe, but he grinned sheepishly and said, “Look, Richenda, the future Earl of Marley begins his training.”  It was good to see the two of them playing together, and Brendan idolised his father.  If he were ill or tired, though, it was me to whom he turned, and I knew he was my boy too, for all he loved his father dearly.

We visited Rheljan as often as we could, and my parents were besotted with their little grandson.  During one of these visits, with Brendan about sixteen months old, I was shocked to see that my mother was still suffering periods of breathlessness and occasionally she would complain of tightness in her chest.  At these times my father would go into rapport with her.  If she panicked her breathing got more laboured, so he helped her to relax, and gradually the seizure would pass.  I could tell she was getting worse – her skin had taken on a greyish hue instead of the healthy pink I remembered, and she had started to walk with a stoop, as if protecting herself from the tightness she kept expecting.  I was distraught to see her that way – she looked old to me all of a sudden.

“Have the physicians seen her, Papa?”  I could tell that my father was desperately anxious for her.

“Yes.  They have her drinking peppermint tea and we are to add wild garlic to her food whenever possible but it isn’t helping much.”  He shook his head wearily.  “The attacks are coming closer together now, and each one takes more out of her – and me.   She is enjoying having Brendan here, though.  She is in better spirits than I have seen her in for a while.”

“He is such a boisterous lad.  He never sits still, and Bran encourages him – says he will get strong from running about.  But Bran doesn’t have to deal with him every day, and he wears poor Joan out, I’m sure.”

“Your brother Murdo was just like that, and look at him now.  As fine a man as you’d hope to see, and to be knighted next Christmas court.” His shoulders slumped. “I hope your mother lives to see it.”

“She’s not that bad?  Surely not?”

“I don’t know, child.  Each seizure that hits her I wonder if it will be the one that takes her away from me.  I can’t imagine that she’d be strong enough to travel to Rhemuth anyway, the way she is, but I don’t know how she’d manage if I left her here.  She is having her attacks more frequently now, and I just don’t know if she would get through them without me here to help her.  I just can’t think what to do for the best.  All the preparations are made for Murdo’s knighting and I don’t know how the king would look on it if we asked to postpone.

“I wish that you could be there -you’ve not managed a Christmas court yet, being unable to travel the first year and then Brendan being too small to travel such a long way the next.  Do you think you could get there this year?  Would Bran let Brendan travel now he’s bigger, or could you leave him at Marbury for a while?”

“I’m sure Bran could arrange for me to come for Murdo’s knighting, but I’m not sure that Joan would want to be left alone with Brendan.  The poor dear, she has children and grandchildren aplenty, but I don’t think she’s had to deal with one quite as energetic as Brendan Coris before.  I should have known he’d be like that – he kicked enough before he was born to serve as a warning, after all!”

“Ask Bran for me, will you?  It would mean the world to us all.  Especially if –‘’ his voice broke, but he gathered himself and carried on, “especially if it will be the last time we are all together.”

A few weeks after that conversation came the letter that I had dreaded.  My mother had had a massive seizure, and had died in my father’s arms.  

I was faced with a dilemma.  My courses were late and I feared that if I told Bran that I thought I might be with child again that he would not let me return to Rheljan.  I was prepared to take the risk rather than miss my own mother’s funeral, so I delayed telling him.  I did ride in a litter there, using Brendan and the inclement weather as an excuse, and that was a miserable experience.  It was stuffy with the heavy winter curtains closed and the swaying made us both uncomfortable, but I had to go to say goodbye to my mother.

 When I arrived I went alone into the room where she was laid out, to say my own farewells to her.  I could see how much weight she had lost in her final few weeks.  She looked thin and drawn, but serene, and I took what comfort I could from her being at peace now – I knew how much the attacks had taken out of both her and my father.

My father was lost without her, for they had grown to love each other dearly over the years, and we consoled each other as best we could.  My brothers had returned home for the funeral, and they loved seeing their little nephew, who kept everyone entertained, but it was a hard time for us all.

On the morning of the funeral we knelt at the front of the church, each sunk in our own thoughts, and Brendan mercifully quiet for once.  My father had his eyes fixed on the coffin in front of us, Murdo was resolutely studying the stained glass in the window, and William had sunk his head into his hands apparently in prayer.  I held Brendan’s hand tight, and Joan was on hand to take him outside if necessary.  The manor staff and the locals had filled the back of the church to pay their own respects.

The procession approached, and the service began, with Father Idris again performed the rites of passage for the FitzEwan family.  He had performed baptisms and a wedding already and now he was to bury one of us.  The priest spoke the ritual phrases and we joined in automatically, shutting away the grief that we were all feeling, although my brothers and I gently sent tendrils of reassurance and togetherness to each other.  My father remained resolutely shielded and none of us dared intrude in his grief to try to comfort him.  

After the service, and once the coffin had been interred in the crypt, Father Idris remained behind with my father, offering such words of sympathy as he could, while my brothers and I mingled outside, speaking to people and thanking them for coming and hearing so many kind words about our mother.  She had been well loved in Rheljan, and the people genuinely mourned her.  Joan took Brendan to let him run off a bit of steam beyond the church precinct – he had been so good during the service that he deserved a run.

When we all got back to the manor house, we were all drained.  The tension of the morning had taken it out of us, and we rested for a while until Murdo and William decided to release some of the stress with a ride.  They asked if I would ride with them but I declined.  They didn’t know my secret yet, and thought it was because I had left Willow in Marley, so Murdo tried to convince me to come.

“Father bought a nice grey a few months ago – she’s an easy ride – and of course there’s mother’s...”

Mother’s horse.  Yes, of course.

“No, I think I’ll just stay here.  Brendan is in a strange place, and if he needs me and I’m not here, I don’t know if Joan will be able to calm him.”

“Well, if you’re sure.”

The boys – men, I corrected myself – took themselves off to the stables and I went to find my father.  As I had expected I found him sitting in one of the armchairs in his study, staring into the flames in the fireplace and nursing a goblet of wine.  The door was half open, and I tapped gently on it.  He raised his head, a bleak look in his eyes, but when he saw me a flicker of a smile crossed his face.  

“Come in, Richenda.  I was just thinking.  Remembering.”

I crossed the room quickly, and stood behind his chair, putting my hands on his shoulders.  

“Oh Papa, I’m so sorry.”

“Where are your brothers?”

“They’ve gone for a ride.  I think they needed to blow some of the tension away.”

“Good.  They need to let it out.  How is Brendan?”

“He’s fine.  He doesn’t really understand what has happened.  Joan has him, and he should be ready for a nap soon.”

“And you?”

“I’ll be fine, but I’m worried about you.”

He took my hand and drew me round to sit on the arm of his chair.

“You look tired.  Are you looking after yourself?  Is Bran looking treating you well?

“Yes, Papa.”  I hesitated, wondering whether to tell him my news. “You remember we spoke about me going to see Murdo knighted?”

He brightened.  “Yes, has Bran agreed?  That would be wonderful.”

“I’m afraid I may not be travelling this year, either.”  I confided in him.  “I don’t know for sure yet, but I feel the same way I did with Brendan –tired and needing to take a nap in the afternoon just to get through the day.  So I think there may be another little Coris on the way.”

His face lit up.  “Well that’s some good news in amongst the gloom, anyway.  Murdo will be disappointed you’ll miss it, but you’ll just have to time your child-bearing better so you can be there for William.”

I hoped that my news would give my father something to look forward to through that first winter without my mother.  Murdo stayed at home with him, since it was only two months to his knighting, so I knew that Murdo was keeping a watchful eye on him and I was less worried than I might have been when I left Rheljan.  

I told Bran of the baby a few days after I returned, and he raised his eyebrows at the timing, as if he knew what I had done, but he said nothing more.  In truth, his excitement about another child overcame his suspicions that I had got the better of him in this, and he began looking forward to the birth of Ryan, for he was convinced that this would be another son.

When in due course this baby proved as active as Brendan had been, he became more sure, but I knew that this child would prove the undoing of his theory, for this was to be a daughter.  Chapter 5
« Last Edit: December 21, 2010, 01:45:11 pm by AnnieUK »

Offline Alkari

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 4
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2010, 03:43:07 pm »
Murdo will be disappointed you’ll miss it, but you’ll just have to time your child-bearing better so you can be there for William
Yes indeed she does - only not in the circumstances that she or anyone else would have anticipated!

Nice chapter, and LOL at her quiet determination to outwit Bran and be there for her mother's funeral.

Offline Evie

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 4
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2010, 05:07:28 pm »
Quite bittersweet.  Wonderful that Michendra had a little time to enjoy her grandson before her death; sad that she'll never know her granddaughter (and even sadder knowing how short that future daughter's life is going to be).  And yes, I also enjoyed Richenda's determination to be at her mother's funeral no matter what.  Sounds like her motto was "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission," at least on that occasion.   :D
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