Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Thirteen

August 7, 2006

Okay, quickly to bring you up to date -- John and his family spent the morning with Grammy and Grampy, who now know that Paul has returned. It is lunchtime in our happy village...

Gilly, Anna and Nan quickly pulled a filling lunch together while Andy, John and Olivia checked on the animals in the barn.

The twins came through the back door as everyone sat down to cold meat and hot soup with fresh bannock for dipping.

"Peter says they'll be here after the cows are brought in," said the elder. "But Helena looked suspicious, she knows we usually wait until John is going home before having a big dinner."

Gilly stood up and started filling a pot with water. "Well, that's okay. We don't want to completely overwhelm them." She put the pot on the stove and stuck her hand in the oven to check the heat. "Your Aunt Helena is a smart woman. She'll get Peter and the kids prepared for some sort of news."

Nan and Andy put their dishes next to the sink and excused themselves, taking Olivia along to the front room.

The cat wandered through and sniffed its empty bowl. Ignored, it slipped through between the door and the frame, and disappeared outside.

Anna stood up with the baby and went to put it down for a nap, leaving Gilly with her three eldest sons.

A rumble and the sound of a harness being undone brought the boys through the back door hastily, leaving Gilly alone with her thoughts for a moment. She set a plate and bowl out for Paul and started washing up.

Otto and Owain came in, carrying a large trunk between them, followed by John with another case.

Gilly directed them to the back bedroom, where "extra" things always ended up, and the children could sleep in the winter when it was too cold to sleep upstairs.

Paul came in with his arms full of bags and boxes tied with string.

Gilly took the ones off the top and set them on the table. "Go wash up and I will get your soup ready."

Paul set the rest on the floor near the pantry door and walked out to wash up.

Anna walked in, sans baby and took over the washrag from Gilly. "Sarah didn't want to go down this afternoon. I think she is starting to really notice when she is in a strange place." Gilly smiled, "She'll be teething soon -- and sitting up!" The woman looked at each other happily as Paul came in.

John sat down next to his father as he ate, and shared a bit of news about what was happening in his town. Paul finished quickly and sat back.

"Gilly, I bought a razor in town... do you remember where the basin is?"

Gilly pointed at a cupboard under the stairs, "Right where it belongs, Paul." She smiled, "Not THAT much has changed!"

Paul grimaced and pulled the basin out. John stood up and followed him to the back yard.

Gilly winked at Anna, who popped into the front room and returned with Otto, Owain, Andy, Nan and Olivia trailing behind.

Quietly, the children tiptoed down the steps to the back yard, standing well back from the stable door where Paul and John were setting up to shave.

Gilly and Anna returned to the kitchen. There were pies and breads and a roast to get into the oven, and a stuffing and parsnips to cook as well.

Soon, Cathy came through the front door with Gray, and joined them in the kitchen.

Gray joined the others, who were slowly moving closer to the stable as they watched.

The dog soon joined them as well, sitting on his haunches, his mouth hanging open in big grin.

Soon, the smell of pies and roast and bread began to drift through the yard.

John looked around and noticed the children. "Father, you have quite an audience today," he chortled.

Paul winked at him and turned, brandishing the straight razor in his hand, "Okay, who's first?" And chased the laughing, screaming younger children through the yard while Otto and Owain protectively put their hands up across their minimal mustaches.

The three women paused briefly in their baking to step out on the stoop and watch the merriment.

Gilly called out, "Looks like you've forgotten how to use that thing, shall I come and help?" Cathy and Anna hugged each other, laughing.

Paul stopped in his tracks and tried to look innocent. The children pushed him toward the basin which was set up on a sawhorse in front of the stable, and John held up a mirror.

Gilly sniffed the air and rushed back inside to rescue the dinner. Cathy walked down the stairs and picked up Olivia like a sack of potatoes and carried her to Anna with a smile. Olivia protested, but not very effectively, that she was not tired and did not need a nap...

Cathy and Gilly started to crumble up an old loaf of bread for stuffing. When Anna returned a few minutes later, she chopped parsley and onion and soon the dinner was nearly ready.

Otto and Owain brought in some logs for the fireplace in the front room, eyes wide with astonishment.

Nan, Andy and Gray walked in soberly, just in front of Paul -- cleanshaven at last.

Gilly blushed and smiled coquettishly, while Anna looked from John to Paul and back.

Paul turned as red as a beet and shuffled his feet, hiding behind the children.

Suddenly, Gilly and Paul were in a huge embrace, she was laughing and crying and he was trying to soothe her.

Cathy hustled the children out of the room and John and Anna followed. The front door closed, and the house was silent except for the muffled murmurs of the two happy people.

Gilly looked up at Paul, putting her hands on both sides of his face. Carefully, she turned him this way and that, running her fingertips along the scar she remembered from his adventure with the stone bridge as a child.

She kissed his dimpled cheeks, and smoothed the wrinkles on his forehead.

Paul held her tight, smiling down at her, enjoying the smell of her hair, and the way the light made her eyes twinkle.

The cat scratched at the back door, and meowed loudly. Paul and Gilly pulled apart reluctantly.

Gilly sent Paul to find the children and help get the big table set up in the front room.

She pulled the pies out of the oven and set them on the tin counter. She basted the roast and stirred the stuffing before putting it into the oven.

Anna came back in, but Gilly shooed her out to go get changed for dinner. "It's all ready now, dear, we just need to wait for Peter and his family to arrive"

Gilly set the kettle on the stove top, and put a cover on the roast, before retiring to her room to change.

Cathy returned with her parents soon and sat on the front porch, sipping tea with her nieces and nephews, holding Sarah on her lap. Grammy played with Olivia and chatted with Anna while Grampy taught Gray and Andy a new game with string.

Paul and John, Owain and Otto walked around the yard and outbuildings, discussing things that needed doing. Gilly finished her toilette and began setting the table with her best linens and goblets.

Soon, the three girls returned from school, breathless from running, and were sent upstairs to change as well.

Anna and Cathy joined Gilly inside and began putting the food on platters and in bowls for serving.

An air of expectation surrounded the house and spilled into the street as Peter's large wagon pulled up in front.

***you need to wait for Peter's reaction until tomorrow folks, my fingers are typed out!***