Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Thirty Eight

Story Time on September 6 began at 9:06 pm

Paul and Gilly were up early the next day, as was Cathy.

Cathy stopped in quickly to see if there had been any news overnight on Esmeralda's condition. Then she walked swiftly toward the center of the village, rocking back and forth as she always did, like a boat on a choppy lake.

Paul pulled on his boots as soon as he finished eating and hitched up the horse to the wagon while Andy sleepily ate his porridge.

John and Anna came in with a very cranky baby... looking as if they hadn't slept. Which, of course, they hadn't.

Paul sent John across the field, and Gilly took Sarah so Anna could rest a little longer.

Sarah was a little feverish, and very fussy. Still, Gilly was able to calm her and continued to make breakfast for the rest of the family and work on the picnic they would take to the fields later on.

In no time, the four girls had joined her in the kitchen, and Paul and Andy were headed out with the wagon. Otto and Owain met them in the road and they road together to the fields that were going to be harvested first.

And soon Ava came in the back door with several nice pies, smiling broadly.

She had seen Otto in the wagon in time to stop them and get the news.

Esmeralda had awakened before the sun was up, fever-free and nearly cough free. She had sent Otto packing with her usual bright, cheery demeanor... and a promise to send word if she needed anything.

Gilly laughed, thinking of the reception Cathy would receive -- and knowing that the doctor would be glad for the company, even if she didn't need much help.

Anna emerged from her short sleep, rested and ready, and took Sarah from Meg who had been trying to interest the baby in cold porridge with syrup.

Sarah immediately planted a sticky hand in her mother's hair... and bit her lightly on her cheek.

Nan's eyes grew wide with amazement to see the red mark, and she brought a damp towel so Anna could de-stick her hair.

Ava took the baby and sat in the rocker in the corner, and placed her gnarled finger on the new teeth. The baby nibbled happily on her great-grandmother's hand and calmed down.

In no time, it seemed, the air was getting warm outside. Adam pulled up to the front with the donkey cart and everyone helped load.

Nan was delighted to sit in front with Adam, and they drove off quickly to deliver the lunch to the workers in the field.

Gilly immediately set about working on their portions of the dinner -- getting a roast in the oven, supervising the pies that the older girls were making, and chatting with Anna and Ava as they shelled peas and made a tangy sauce for the roast.

In the fields, the work was going well. There were three teams -- and they were making fast progress on the hay.

Andy and a couple of other young boys were driving the teams that pulled the harvesters.

The older men came along behind with scythes to catch what the machines missed.

And the younger men spread the hay out with wide rakes to dry in the sun. Otto and Owain worked well as a team, and seemed to finish two rows for all the others one... Daniel had teamed up with a friend from a nearby farm and they were close on the twin's heels.

The workers were ready to stop when Adam and Nan showed up with the meal. Many of them were eager to see how well Nan was getting around -- Paul had told them as soon as he arrived of the wonderful change in his daughter, but some things had to be seen to be believed.

Nan was a bit shy of all the workers, but they were warned ahead of time, and didn't crowd around her, but waited for her to come up with the water bucket before introducing themselves.

Adam sent Andy and the other boys around with water buckets for the horses, and followed with a small bit of feed "for a treat" as he said.

Lunch took less time than Adam had expected, so for a treat he drove Nan up to Peter's house to visit with Helena and Inga.

Sebastian was on the back porch when they drove into the yard. He had a sullen look on his face, and even the sight of his grandfather didn't improve it.

Adam walked Nan past her cousin, then stopped to sit for a while on the porch.

"I noticed you weren't in the fields, boy. Feeling ill?"

Sebastian made his usual face and shrugged. "Nah, Grampy, just didn't feel like it."

Adam sat silently for a moment, then gruffly said, "You are so seldom in a pleasant mood. Makes it tough to be around you. Something on your mind you want to talk about?"

Sebastian looked over his shoulder as Helena's voice wafted through the open window.

"Maybe," he stood up, "but not here." He gestured toward the garden. "Mother told me to do some weeding. I could talk while I do that."

Adam followed the teen toward the garden, suddenly feeling the weight of all his years. He remembered when he was a teen, feeling that no one understood -- or could understand -- the true depths of his soul.

He recollected the lessons he had learned the hard way, and reflected on the way different people weathered the storm of adolescence.

Sebastian was having more trouble than most, it seemed. He didn't want to share in others' joys; resented good things that came to others in fact.

Even when the good things included him, Sebastian was not happy. He seemed to invite trouble... and Adam was determined to listen but not interfere.

The lesson of enjoying life was un-necessary (as in Nan's case), hard-won (as in his own), or never quite acquired -- as in his son Tor's case.

He considered Tor, finally experiencing some success as a wagon driver for various teams; but never able to settle in one place or with one job. He drifted from team to team, town to town, coming home infrequently and staying for only a few days when he did. The corners of his mouth turned down as he thought of the many times harsh words had been said -- by both of them.

And he wished there were another way around the sorrow that he knew Helena, Peter -- and Sebastian -- would face. Still, he put on a brave face when Sebastian turned to him. "Grampy? Am I selfish?"

A light breeze was stirring the leaves on and Adam found a small stool he could sit on while they talked.

"Well," he began, "I suppose everyone is selfish sometimes, Sebastian. What do you really want to know?"

Sebastian plunged his hand deep into the soft soil and yanked out the long taproot of a weed.

"I mean, why don't people *like* me?" Adam had to think about this one. It seemed so obvious, but it wasn't so clear to the boy.

Nan's voice came from the porch, "Grampy, Aunt Helena would like us to carry some extra vegetables home when we leave." Adam raised his hand in acknowledgment, and turned to Sebastian. Now was not the time to mince words.

"Sebastian, you have a lot of very good qualities. You are smart with machines, a good speaker and a good writer. I think once your voice settles down and you stop growing you'll have a fine singing voice and be a handsome man."

Sebastian's face relaxed a bit at the compliments.

"And that isn't enough to _make_ people like you. There are other things, like being helpful without being asked; or willingly accepting responsibility for the outcome of things you do; and the hardest one of all: you have to like others first."

The boy's face fell, and he turned back to the weeds. He was working quickly, and most of the first row was already done.

"You should know this, Sebastian, because even your family, who will love you no matter what, need to have reasons to _like_ you."

"AND," Adam continued, over a whine Sebastian uttered, "they have many reasons already to like you."

"You have helped your mother and father many times when a workman hasn't been available for planting and harvest."

"You have helped your sister when she has been hurt and needed someone to lean on to get home."

"You have helped your brother gentle horses and fix machinery that was essential."

Adam looked at his grandson, "You can be very helpful and loving -- when it suits you."

"But consider this: how would you feel if your mother cooked meals only when she really felt like it? Or your father planted and harvested on his schedule instead of the land's?"

Sebastian looked up in amazement as his weeding brought him close to his grandfather again.

"You mean," he asked in disbelief, "that Mother and Father don't always LIKE taking care of things?"

Obviously, this was a new idea... and one that made it through his adolescent armor.

Adam patted him on the shoulder, "My boy, they do it because they love you, not because it is fun."

"Now I must head for home, fetching and carrying as your mother and my wife bid." He winked.

"Just between you and me, I'd rather sit on the bank of the river and fish today... but let's keep that our little secret, and we'll slip off soon and have a day of it."

Sebastian looked gratefully at his grandfather, and nodded.

Adam smiled gently and said, "We'll talk again."