Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Twenty Nine

August 26, 2006

Paul was in the kitchen when Nan wandered in.

She rubbed her eyes sleepily and sat on a chair at the table, sniffing the air expectantly.

"Where's Mother?" she asked after a moment.

Paul rescued the kettle before it whistled and poured the boiling water into the teapot.

"She is still sleeping. We stayed up late with Doris."

"Father, you spilled a bit on the floor."

Paul snagged a rag and sopped it up. "How did you know that, Nan?"

He turned and looked at her.

She shrugged her shoulders, thin inside her shift and smiled, "I could hear it!"

Paul handed her a bowl and a spoon. "Would you mind beating the batter? I'll work on getting some bacon ready."

He reached for an apron and draped it over her. "Are you warm enough?"

"Oh yes, Father, quite warm. I like it when the stove is nice and hot."

"How is Doris? I was worried about her yesterday."

Paul sighed as he sliced the bacon, "She was a lot better last night. Otto and Owain were watching her. We'll send Polly and Meg in when they wake up."

"I'm here, Father," smiled Meg, pulling her hair back as she came through the door.

"Good, Meg! Do you want to finish breakfast with Nan, or go help Doris get dressed and relieve your brothers?"

Meg laughed, "I'll take care of Doris. Nan, make sure he doesn't burn the pancakes, when I was little, they were always a little black on one side."

She disappeared up the stairs to Paul's indignant "humph!"

Nan laughed and pushed the bowl to the center of the table.

"The pancakes are ready, Father, shall I go get the syrup?"

"Not yet, Nan, I want to talk to you quickly before the others come in. Sit a little closer so I don't have to speak so loudly."

Nan felt her way around the table and found the chair next to the stove. She looked toward her father and waited.

"Nan, I have something for you. It is yours to do with as you like."

He took the vial from around his neck and placed it carefully in her hands.

She cupped it in her hands and felt its weight. Her fingers traced the delicate chain that held it.

She put it up to her face and sniffed at it. The facets glistened in the morning light as she moved it around.

Finally, she set it carefully on the table in front of her.

"What is it, Father?"

Paul looked at her with tears in his eyes, "It's a gift from someone far away. She learned about your eyes and wanted to help."

"The water in the vial can heal your eyes so you can see."

Nan grew very thoughtful. Paul started pouring the batter onto the griddle, and flipped the bacon over.

"If it can do that, Father, could it heal other things, too?"

Paul flipped the pancakes and moved the bacon to a platter.

"Yes, but only once. The entire contents of the vial must be consumed for it to work."

Nan smiled, and slipped the chain over her head. "Thank you, Father."

Paul put the pancakes on plates and got another batch going.

"Don't you want to use it now, Nan and surprise your mother?"

"No Father, I have a different idea. I know that I will be fine if I never see with my eyes. But Doris gets so sick, and Mother worries about her even when she isn't."

Paul started to understand, and his heart swelled with pride.

"Would it be okay with you -- do you think the person who gave this to me would understand -- if we give this to Doris?"

Paul flipped the pancakes and hugged Nan tightly.

"I think it is an excellent idea, Nan. Go on up and help Doris get dressed. I'm almost done with this."

Nan slipped out of the kitchen, and Paul turned back to the stove. Nan popped her head around the doorway, "And don't burn Meg's pancakes, Father!"

He could hear her giggling as she ran up the stairs.

Not long after, Otto and Owain stumbled into the kitchen, yawning. Paul looked at them in surprise, "That took you a while, boys. What kept you?"

"Oh, Doris had to tell us about a dream she had -- about dwarves and fairies and strange woods and mules that turned into butterflies,” explained Owain.

"And then," interrupted Otto, "She said your real name is "Paulo" and that you learned magic words when you were away."

Paul smiled.

"We were glad when Nan came up and interrupted her!"

They reached for the teapot and started to set the table.

John and Anna came in with their children and Anna disappeared in the pantry to find the syrup.

Andy wandered in with the dog (who was looking very satisfied, having spent the night inside on Andy's bed), and Gilly trailed in, looking refreshed and glowing, her hair done up earlier than usual.

Not long after, Polly emerged, and they began to eat.

Then Doris walked through the door, looking as if she had never been sick a day, and Meg and Nan brought up the rear.

Gilly rushed over to Doris, intending to scold her, but stopped when she realized there was no trace of the previous day's trauma.

Nan found her Mother's side and hugged her.

Doris glowed -- and pulled Nan to her.

"Mother, Nan just gave me the most wonderful gift."

Nan interjected, "Father told me I could do what I wanted with my pretty necklace! I gave it to Doris!"

Gilly looked at Paul. He smiled at her and nodded.

Gilly put her arms around Nan and Doris.

Nan pulled on her mother's skirt to get her attention. "And the best part is, Mother, Doris won't ever get sick like that again!"

Again, Gilly and Paul's eyes locked.

Finally, Gilly understood. She knelt by Nan to be at her level.

"That was a most precious gift to pass on, Nan, your sister is lucky. As are we all."

And she led Nan to the table. They all sat and enjoyed a fine hot meal, cooked with love.

And only slightly burned.

**that's it for story tonight, folks, I am tired.**