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Yuletide Story Chapter 6 - Conclusion

Started by Jerusha, February 14, 2021, 12:43:47 PM

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Jerusha

Edited today to include the blessing revanne provided.  It has such a nice Columcil touch.


The horses stood saddled and ready in Caer Mariot's courtyard, while their intended riders milled about in heavy cloaks as they prepared to leave.   The original plan had been for the guests to leave closer to dawn, but no one had made it out of bed early enough. Yet it was still early morning, and those travelling to Rhemuth would reach their stop for the first night on the road well before dark. 

"We should be away," Sir Iain Cameron said to his brother.

"Aye," Darcy responded.  "The sky has cleared, and the weather looks good, but you can never be sure how long it will last."  Darcy reached out with his hand and they clasped forearms firmly. 

Washburn checked the girth of Fiona's saddle for the fourth time. "If you will allow me, Fiona?" Washburn asked, and Fiona's lovely smile was all the answer he needed.  He helped her to mount and then arranged her cloak behind her across her horse's rump.

"Do you think Washburn is trying to impress me?" Iain asked in a low voice.

Darcy chuckled.  "Nay, it's not you he wants to impress!"

Iain snorted and mounted his horse.  Darcy strode over to Washburn and clapped him on the shoulder.  They embraced briefly before Washburn mounted the impatient Shadow.  Father Columcil assisted Lady Stuart onto her saddle and then mounted his own, patient Spean.  Squire Robert was already seated in the wagon.

"Wait!" Darcy said as they began to turn their horses toward the gate.  He signaled to a servant at the manor door, and the man carried forth a tray with cups of steaming beverage. 

"A stirrup cup to wish everyone Godspeed." Darcy took the tray and followed Aliset as she offered each of their guests a cup of steaming mulled cider.

"I could  not ask for better hosts or a better way to start a journey!" Washburn announced after he drained his cup and then lifted it in salute.

"Hear,  hear!" Columcil said.  After returning his cup, he raised his hand in blessing.  "I'll gi'e ye a blessing from our hills, but I'll gi'e it ta ye in words ye Sassanachs can a' understand."

"May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand."

Sir Iain led the way through the gates.  Washburn, as casually as he could, fell in beside Fiona, leaving Lady Stuart to ride beside Columcil.  Robert brought up the rear with the wagon and gave a cheery wave to those who remained behind in the courtyard.

Darcy held out his arm to his wife as the gates closed.  "How bad is your foot this morning?"

Aliset laid her hand on his arm and walked with him towards the manor steps.  "It's only a bruise, Darcy."

"Aye, but I tread rather hard on your foot in that last dance."

"You?" Aliset asked teasingly.  "Or Old Ballymar?"

"I fear, in this case, the fault was all mine," Darcy responded ruefully.

Aliset laughed as they mounted the steps.

***

"That went better than I expected," Darcy said as he placed a stool under Aliset's feet.

"I had no doubts you could convince your brother," Aliset replied as she adjusted the pillow behind her back in the chair. 

"Well, I had doubts," Darcy admitted.

They had retired to the solar and were enjoying the bright winter sunshine, though the warmth it gave was meager.  Darcy stirred up the fire in the hearth and then sat in his chair beside his wife.

"Aliset," he said after a moment.  "We don't really have to wait until Twelfth Night to exchange gifts, do we?"

"Are you getting impatient?"  Aliset had to smile at the eager, boyish look on her husband's face.

"Of course!  But if you really want to wait...."

Aliset laughed.  "All right, but you go first."

"Nay, the lassies come first!"  Darcy rose and produced two small bundles he had hidden in a chest in the corner and set them on Aliset's lap.  She grabbed the first bundle as it began to slide off.  Darcy grinned and picked up the second bundle before it could follow.

"Darcy, they aren't even born yet!"  Aliset shook her head and began to open the first bundle.  Her face took on a puzzled look as the cloth fell away to reveal a finely carved wooden ship that rested on wooden wheels. She noted a small hole carved in the bow.  Darcy handed her the second bundle, and it too contained a wooden ship on wheels, though it was not identical to the first.

Darcy took one of the ships from her, set it on the floor and gave it a gentle push.  It rolled smoothly forward until it bumped into Aliset's chair. He gave his wife a hopeful look, unsure that she liked the gifts.

"You do realize we'll be chasing ships and girls round and round in the nursery, don't you?"  Aliset could not hold back a smile.

"Aye, and when they are old enough to walk, we can tie a thin line to the hole in the bows, and they can pull them behind them."

Aliset looked at her husband in amazement.  "Where did you learn of toys for children?  I doubt they were discussed  much at sea."

Darcy smiled.  "Far carved one for me when I was a wee laddie.  I took it everywhere with me."

Still amazed at her husband's ingenuity, Aliset pointed to a bench against the far wall.  "Look underneath the bench."

Darcy did as he was bid, crouching down and finding a leather cylinder, well oiled to protect the contents from the weather.  It was longer than his forearm, and had a strap for carrying it over one's shoulder or attached to a saddle.  Darcy brought it back to his chair, sat and opened the cap at the top of the cylinder.  Carefully, he began to withdraw the contents.

First, there were two smaller cylinders.  Each contained squares of parchment.  "This is a writing case," Darcy said with pleasure.

"Keep digging," Aliset instructed.

Darcy drew out another cylinder, which turned out to be rolled leather.  He unrolled it to find many pouches containing quills, calipers and straight edges, some marked with measures.

"These are map making tools!" he exclaimed.  "These are wonderful!"

"You said our maps looked to be outdated,"  Aliset said.  "I thought you might update them as you travel around Mariot."

Darcy's eyes shone with delight.  Aliset thought his study might soon turn into a map room.  She hoped she would be able to pry him out from it when the twins were born.

Darcy carefully returned the contents to the cylinder.  "Now it is your turn," he said as he drew a small, velvet pouch from inside his tunic.  He placed it carefully in his wife's hand.

Aliset looked at him for a moment, then opened the pouch and spilled the contents into the palm of her hand.

The ring glistened in the morning light.  It was delicately hammered silver, with a pale blue cabochon moonstone in the center.   On one side the sea eagle of Isles was raised, and on the other, the eagle of Mariot.  "It's beautiful," Aliset said softly.

"It's the finest Isles' silver.  I wanted you to have a proper wedding ring, and I wanted it to be the best."

"When did you have it made here?"  Aliset asked.

"I didn't," Darcy replied.  "I sent the design to Iain in the fall.  He brought it with him when he came."

"So his visit wasn't by chance." 

"Not completely,"  Darcy admitted.  He went down on one knee before her.  "May I present this to you now, as a symbol of my love for you, for the rest of my days and beyond?"

Tears glistened in Aliset's eyes as she nodded.  Darcy slipped the ring on her finger and then kissed her hand.

Wordlessly, Aliset moved her feet from the stool and raised him up to sit before her.  He inched the stool closer and then pulled her into his arms to kiss her lovingly.  They stayed that way for some time, and neither one noticed the errant sprig of mistletoe that was lodged in the roof beam above their heads.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Laurna

Aahh! True love! A perfect final scene on Valentines Day for our Yule Tide story.  Love is in the Air.

I want to thank all my fellow writers and my fellow readers. I enjoyed writing with you immensely and look forward to finishing our main story.

Raise a cup o Old Ballymar, and look up, there is an errant sprig of mistletoe over your head.
May your horses have wings and fly!

DesertRose

What a lovely scene!

(Although I don't think a certain gentleman needs the excuse of mistletoe overhead to kiss his lady wife.  ;) )

Happy Valentine's Day!
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

revanne

A lovely finish to the story thank you.
I suspect Darcy will enjoy inviting mayhem in the nursery in a couple of years.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)

DerynifanK

#4
I love Columcil's blessing. The perfect touch. This story was a lot of fun to write and i was so happy to get to be part of it. Thank you Laurna for the idea and getting us started.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Laurna

Thank you for pointing out the addition of Columcil's blessing. Wonderful words for friends who are parting  for a time. I think Sassanach must be in low-land speech or in our case Rhemuth court speech.  Columcil can dispense with his brogue when he really wants to.  ;D
May your horses have wings and fly!

Demercia

#6
Yes lowland speech.  It's Scots from the Gaelic for Saxon.  When used in a British context usually refers to the English.  It's not entirely complementary.
The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

HoundMistress

Oh, what a lovely story, Jerusha! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Thanks for writing.
Judy Ward
You can buy a pretty good dog with money but you can't buy the wag of its tail.