Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Twelve

Written offline on August 6, 2006

Cathy woke up that morning with a start. The cat was busy chasing the sunlight across the comforter as the tree outside the window swayed.

From downstairs, she heard her mother moving back and forth, and the comfortable rumbling of her father's voice.

She quickly dressed and joined her parents, taking a brief moment to let the cat out the front door.

She looked out the kitchen window at her sister's house, and noticed Meg and Nan going in with a herd of men and boys in tow. She smiled, enjoying the commotion, then frowned as she remembered what she needed to tell her parents...

Ava settled herself down at the table and passed a piece of toast to Adam. "Are you joining us for breakfast today?" she teased.

Laughing, Cathy turned and sat down, picking up her teacup a little too swiftly and reaching for her napkin to wipe up the spill.

"Did you sleep well?" she asked her parents as she put some honey on her toast.

Her father cleared his throat. "Like logs, dear," said Ava looking at him.

Adam took a sip of his tea and harrumphed again. "I saw a cart outside Gilly's house yesterday," he stated.

"Yes, Father, John is home with his family."

The cat meowed and jumped up to the open windowsill.

Adam glanced at Ava before continuing. "Cathy, I know you think I am getting old. But I am not so old that I cannot tell the difference between John's cart and another."

Cathy took another sip of her tea, and waited.

"Your mother tells me you were a little distracted last night."

The cat tried to sqeeze in under the window, and couldn't. It stretched out on its side and watched the yard instead.

"Yes, Father, I was. I invited John and his family to tea today. They arrived last night around supper time."

Ava watched Cathy closely with an expectant look.

Adam poured more tea for them, and sat back in his chair, scratching his bald pate reflectively.

Cathy wrung her hands.

"You did see another cart, Father, the twins brought it home."

Ava looked surprised. Adam harrumphed again.

"And we have some news of Paul."

"Oh!" exclaimed Ava while Adam let his hand fall to the table with a thump.

The cat leapt to its feet and arched its back, looked irritably through the window and jumped to the ground.

Ava's hand found Adam's and squeezed.

Cathy smiled. "It is very good news, Mother and Father."

Adam squeezed Ava's hand gently.

"He is home."

Ava put her hands to her face and sobbed. Adam protectively put an arm around her.

Cathy stood up and leaned over both.

Then she turned and started to get the water ready to do the morning dishes.

She was silent, looking out the window while she worked. Her mother gradually stopped crying. She could hear Adam pouring out more tea.

She watched the twins, and then Paul walk out to the barn. A bit later, Gilly followed them.

Finally, Ava brought over the teacups and handed them to Cathy.

Adam pulled on his boots and left the kitchen without saying a word. Cathy turned, but Ava gave her the look that said, "Let him sort this out on his own."

They watched the twins leave the barn and head out over the field to their uncle's home on the other side of the farm. They saw Gilly stop and draw some water from the well for the berries before she went back to the house.

They spoke in quiet voices, Cathy sharing what she knew with her mother. Neither woman needed to say what was in her heart.

But a knock at the door distracted them before Paul left on his errand. Soon the house was filled with the greetings and happy chatter of John and his family, and Adam had returned and taken up his post on the front porch with Gray and Olivia, playing a game of their own invention with pebbles and a checkerboard.

A short time later, Gilly brought over a sweet bread she had made the day before, and they sat for a while, hearing all about the village on the other side of the mountain, and the "big trip" the children had made the previous day.

When Andy and Nan came along the road, Gilly and Anna excused themselves and went to fix lunch. John followed soon, bringing Olivia, but leaving Gray to "help" in the yard.

{more to come tomorrow}