Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Eleven

August 5, 2006

Nan was the first to wake in the morning, as usual.

Well, not the first, but the first child. She quickly got dressed and went downstairs where her mother was already in front of the stove.

Nan could feel the warmth on her face, and eagerly sniffed the air.

"Oh Mother! Pancakes! John will be so pleased!"

Smiling, Gilly turned around and tied Nan's apron. "Please go to the cellar and get the blackberry syrup. It's in the rippled crock on the third shelf. I think it's close to the wall."

While Nan was in the cellar, Paul came in and sat down at the table to pull on his boots.

Gilly kissed him and handed him a cup of strong tea.

John's son wandered in and climbed up on a chair next to Paul. He studied him closely.

His pudgy hands took Paul's face and turned it this way and that. Suddenly, he grabbed the beard and pulled.

Paul roared with laughter, and Gilly giggled from the stove.

John rushed in with Anna close behind.

"What is the commotion?"

Paul and his grandson looked at each other and laughed again.

Standing, Paul picked up the boy and said, "We are going out to check the horse and donkey. Back in a few."

Anna shook her head. "Mother, what did Gray do to make Father laugh so loud?"

"Oh," replied Gilly pouring out two more cups of tea, "He pulled on that awful beard." She smiled sweetly, "It will have to come off!"

John was at the stove, flipping the pancakes when Nan came back with the syrup. Olivia, John's daughter, was on her mother's lap next to the baby who babbled happily.

Nan set the crock on the table and turned to go outside.

The cat rubbed against Nan's ankle, and she picked him up. He purred loudly and she carried him outside with her.

Andy, the youngest brother, came in with Polly, Meg and Doris arguing loudly about who got to play with their nephew and niece after breakfast.

Anna stood up and handed Olivia to Polly. "I need to go freshen this one up," she indicated the baby, "Will you make sure she gets enough milk? she doesn't usually take as much as I like."

Polly, the eldest of the three sisters, sat down with Olivia and offered her a piece of pancake.

Meg, the comfortable daughter with green eyes, harrumphed and grabbed some plates from the cupboard.

Owain and Otto bounded up the back stairs and through the doors. Their voices were raucous and hoarse. John pushed them and Andy out the door. "Come on guys, let's help Father so he can have his pancakes sooner."

Gilly served up pancakes and added a couple of sausages to each plate. Doris, her red-headed daughter, made a face and grumbled, "Nothing's too good for John," under her breath.

But Gilly heard. Surprised, she set the plates down and turned to her daughter. Polly quietly picked up Olivia and took her into the back yard to play.

Meg followed, muttering something about fetching the "menfolk."

Gilly smoothed her apron and poured a cup of tea for herself. She sat down next to Doris and frowned.

Doris squirmed uncomfortably.

Gilly sipped her tea reflectively. Doris squirmed some more.

Gilly pulled a plate toward them. Silently, she poured syrup on the pancakes, and some on the sausages.

Doris looked guiltily at her mother.

"Doris, you are right. Nothing is too good for John." She looked gently at her daughter, "And nothing is too good for you."

"All of my children are important to me. When John comes home after several months, it gives me pleasure to fix something special for all of us."

Doris gulped and looked at her mother, who pushed the plate toward her.

Meg came back through the door, her nephew and Nan in tow. "They're coming, Mother."

Gilly stood up and patted Doris on the back. "Finish up, dear, the boys will need all the room they can get."

And Gilly finished serving out as the boys and men tucked in to their meal. Anna, Gilly, Polly and Meg snagged plates and went to sit in the front room where it was quieter.

Doris joined them and sat quietly while the others visited. Nan stayed in the kitchen, enjoying the lively banter, and vying with Andy for the last few sausages.

As soon as breakfast was cleared, John and Anna pulled out the gifts they had brought and walked next door to visit Grammy and Grampy with their children.

Gilly shooed the youngest five out the door for school, and then joined Paul in the barn where he was checking the harnesses and tack.

Owain and Otto were up in the loft, rearranging the bales so they would be easier to throw down. Gilly called up to them.

“Will you go down to your Uncle Peter's and invite them for supper tonight? Let them know John is here, and that we have news of your father... but nothing more please."

She turned to Paul, "You had best go get your trunk from the Inn. The tack can wait another day."

She stroked his beard -- "And when you come back, let's do something about this before any other grandchildren decide to test it."

*that's it for today*