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Passages, Part 2 - The Doll

Started by Jerusha, March 21, 2012, 08:36:24 AM

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 Tehryn Keep
Barony of Tehryn
Late March 1129

The old woman looked out through the open window casement.  Baron Jerrill and his two sons rode out of the courtyard towards a side gate and the road that would steer them away from the town below, taking them instead to the high meadows and orchards.  Although the morning was sunny and bright, spring was late in coming this year and the wind still had a bite to it.  The spring rains had held off and the ground was firm enough to allow for a drier ride than what was normal for this time of year.  Jerrill wanted to check the condition of his apple trees after the long winter and had invited his children to accompany him.

Lady Amah turned from the window and smiled to herself.  She knew perfectly well it was an excuse to flee the reports he needed to prepare for Duke Nigel for Easter court in Rhemuth.  Over sixty years old and the Baron still used any excuse to exercise outside and avoid his desk!

Lady Amah Furstán d'Arjenol was almost ten years younger than the Baron.  She wore an air of serene dignity as casually as another might wear a cloak.  The once dark hair coiled beneath her black veil had silvered and there were lines about her hazel eyes.  Age had made her fingers less nimble and fine embroidery harder to see so she spent more time at her loom.  She still wore the dark mourning she had adopted upon the death of her closest friend and companion five years ago. She had also kept the promise she made to the dying woman to raise her children as if they were her own, which explained why she was now looking forward to a quiet, peaceful morning.

Amah returned to her loom and looked fondly at the auburn haired girl who sat at the table in the centre of the solar, drawing on a wax tablet with her lead stylus. Jäna had almost completely recovered from the cold she had endured for the past fortnight, but Amah had worried that it was not yet warm enough outside for the girl to accompany her father and brothers and had kept her inside.  The fresh wax tablet had eased Jäna's disappointment.  She enjoyed drawing and showed signs of having a genuine talent for it.

Jäna paused in her drawing, lifting one of her braids and aligning the loose end across her upper lip, the ribbon just touching her nose.

"Amah," she said, turning to face the loom.  "Should I grow a beard and moustaches like Papa?"

"No, Jäna," Amah said with a smile.  "I don't think you can do that."

"Jared and Justin said they are going to."

"Girls don't grow beards and moustaches, dear, and the boys will have to wait a little while for that."

"Oh.  Jared said his lip already had fuzz, but he had just finished grooming Storm and it was only horsehair."  Jäna returned to her drawing.

The old woman laughed and sent her shuttle across the loom.


"Yes Jäna?"  Amah paused in her weaving.

"Will Storm have her foal soon?" 

"Master Ellis thinks it will be several more weeks."

"That long?" Jäna frowned and looked disappointed.

Amah smiled.  "It's not that long," she said and returned to her weaving.  The shuttle flew across the loom twice.


Amah sighed, realizing the Jäna was indeed feeling better, and that she was not going to get much weaving done.  "Yes, little one?"

"Why did you and Mama leave Torenth?"

Startled, Amah forgot about the shuttle.  Where had that question come from?  And how was she going to answer it in a manner suitable for a five-year old girl?  How could she possibly explain the assault of Jäna's mother by a pair of brigands?  Brigands hired by Amah's own father to deter her friend's brother from the pursuit of Amah's hand in marriage?  A marriage Amah herself had dearly wanted?

No, she could not possibly answer that question yet, at least not directly.  That answer would have to wait for a few more years.

Thoughtfully, Amah rose from her stool at the loom and walked over to the table.  "Come with me," she said.  "I have something to show you."

Jäna hopped down from her chair and placed her hand in the one Amah offered.  They walked companionably from the solar to Amah's chambers.  Once there, Amah walked over to a wooden chest, opened it and, after sifting carefully through its contents, removed something wrapped in soft blue wool.  She laid it carefully on the bed and Jäna moved closer to look at the bundle.  Amah lifted her up on the high bed to sit and then started to carefully unwrap the bundle.

"This was your mother's," Amah said as she removed the last of the fabric to reveal a large doll.

The doll had a porcelain head with long dark hair braided at either side of her face.  The face had been painted by a skilled craftsman; she had brown eyes with individually painted lashes, rosy cheeks and a mouth curved in a pretty red smile.  She was dressed in a sapphire blue gown with a laced bodice over a pale blue chemise. 

Jäna's eyes were wide with wonder.  "Amah, look!  She even has little blue slippers!  Did Mama bring her from Torenth?"

"Yes, she did.   She has a soft body, so she can also sit up."  Amah folded the doll into a sitting position.

"Can I hold her?"

"Of course you can, Jäna.  Please be careful, though, and don't let her fall off the bed."

"Oh, I will Amah!  I'll be very careful."  Jäna carefully pulled the doll onto her own lap, examining the face and hair with her hand.  "Who gave Mama the doll, Amah?"

"Your mother's brother gave it to her.  He found the doll in the Grand Market and thought she would like it."

"Mama had a brother?  Do I have an uncle?"  The thought of an unknown uncle intrigued Jäna and she looked toward the older woman expectantly.

"You did have an uncle, Jäna.  His name was Tamil.  Tamil Sostra-Kedras."

"Did you know him?"

"Yes, I knew him very well.  He was a very special man."  There was a touch of wistfulness in Amah's voice.  "He was a Healer training at the court of the Duke of Arjenol."

"What's a Healer?"

"A Healer is a special kind of physician.  There aren't very many of them.  In fact, I don't know of any in Gwynedd at all."  Amah sat down on the bed next to Jäna and lifted her arm in an invitation to sit closer.

Jäna scooted closer and tucked herself under the proffered arm.  She knew this meant a story.  She also knew it was best not to interrupt with questions until the end.

Amah gave the girl a gentle hug and began her story, changing to her native Torenthi to tell it. Jäna and her brothers had learned the language along with Gwyneddan since birth and the girl followed the story easily.

"Your Uncle Tamil and his sister Anya came to the court of Duke Mahael I from their home in Sostra.  Tamil was to study with the aging Healer at court at that time with the intent that he would assume his healer's duties in the future.  Your mother, the Lady Anya, was to become a lady-in-waiting to the duchess.  I was also one of the young ladies-in-waiting and did my best to make your mother feel welcome.  We became very close friends, and when our various duties permitted it, Tamil, Anya and I often spent our free time together."

"Although Anya was happy at court, she was still young and missed her home at times.  As her birthday approached, Tamil wanted to find her a special gift to cheer her up.  He thought she would like a doll and went down to the Grand Market and found the doll you are holding on your lap.  He bought it but never thought to have it wrapped.  When he returned and was entering the great hall, your mother and I were leaving the hall with Her Grace.  There directly in front of us was Tamil holding a beautiful doll in plain sight in front of Anya!  Duchess Daniela knew about the gift because she had recommended the merchant at the market to Tamil.  She quickly intercepted Tamil and thanked him for bringing the doll as if she had requested it. She then took the doll from Tamil and handed it to one of the pages to take it to her chambers.  Your Uncle Tamil told Her Grace it had been his pleasure to be of service and left as quickly as he could.  Poor Anya was so disappointed because she thought Tamil had bought the doll for her."

"It fell to me to smuggle the doll out of Her Grace's chambers and get it back to Tamil without Anya seeing it again.  Since Anya and I were almost always together, this was not an easy task.  Later that afternoon, while Anya was helping the duchess during a fitting for a new gown, I hid the doll in a basket of fabric that the sempstress had set aside in Her Grace's chambers.   When the sempstress left, she took the doll with her in the basket.  I hurried after her and retrieved the doll, carefully wrapping it in some of the blue wool from the basket so it wouldn't be seen this time.  I found a page to take it to Tamil and then returned to the duchess's chambers."

"On her birthday, Tamil gave Anya the blue bundle of wool.  I still remember the look on her face when she opened the bundle and saw the doll.  She was so happy!  She kept it on a shelf by her bed where she would see it first thing in the morning and the last thing at night."

Jäna's eyes were sparkling with delight at the end of the story.  "And Mama brought her here to Tehryn, too!"

"Yes, she did," Amah agreed in Gwyneddan, confirming that the story had ended. She looked thoughtfully at the little girl beside her.  "I think it's time the doll found a new shelf to sit on. Would you like to put her in your room?"

"Oh yes, Amah!  Yes, please!  I'll be very careful with her, I promise.  I can put her right beside my wooden cat.  I'm sure there's enough room."

Amah smiled and stood, ready to help the small girl holding the doll down from the bed.  "Let's go see, shall we?"

Contentedly, they walked to Jäna's room, Jäna happily chattering about the doll and Amah Furstán d'Arjenol grateful that there were no more questions about why she and Anya had left Torenth.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


Well, an interesting development.

I hadn't realized that the children were Deryni---or half Torenthi.  Will any of them turn out to be Healers?


Nice to see the wooden cat again, and good to know it's still in one piece and not lost in the garden or under the bed but well cared for by its little mistress.   :D

And I'm looking forward to hearing more about Amah's and Anya's backstory.   :)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


Quote from: Elkhound on March 21, 2012, 08:49:31 AM
Well, an interesting development.

I hadn't realized that the children were Deryni---or half Torenthi.  Will any of them turn out to be Healers?

We'll have to wait and see.  ;)
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


We certainly will have to wait and see, but it will be worth the wait.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!


In the words of Oliver Twist. . .  .


From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


Soon to be followed by that backstory from the previous generation, I hope?   :D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


I have a tentative "triplet romp" planned before that, but yes, I hope it will get written.  :)
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


Sounds like Baron Jerrill and a certain Duke would get on swimmingly...