Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Fifty Four

Written directly to this website on 28 Sept 2006

And so, life settled into a routine once more.

It hadn't taken long for the whole village to learn of Nan's miraculous healing of course, nor for them to step up to help when she and her grandfather were injured.

So it didn't take much for folks to start "dropping by" with a trinket or game or book for Nan, and to visit with Gilly while they were there. Nan charmed everyone who came with her happy smile and pleasant conversation.

The teacher started to send home assignments, too -- which Andy faithfully lugged to and from school along with his own work and books.

Nan was an eager learner, and as the winter drew in, she quickly mastered the easy things and began to catch up with Andy.

Ava spent some time with her in the mornings doing needlework and teaching her the special patterns and styles of their village. While Adam read or told old tales to keep them amused.

Her aunt Cathy spent some time each afternoon with her, playing the stringed instrument they called a chither and teaching her all the old songs.

Aunt Nancy stopped by frequently to look over her schoolwork and suggest books that might interest her, and to make little dolls out of paper and scraps of fabric. The dolls were destined for the youngest girls and boys in the village at the midwinter festival. In years past, Nancy had made them all herself, and she was happy to share the fun of gift-making with her niece.

And every other afternoon would find Esmeralda making the trek out too, bringing a little of this and a little of that. Nan was a fast study, and the little book in her casket soon filled with notes about diagnoses and treatments. So Esmeralda taught her how to make a new one -- not out of paper, but out of special fabric from a reedy plant found in the stream. It would hold together much longer and held the ink better.

A few of the girls who lived near their end of the village began to stop by on occasion, too. Nan looked forward to their visits, eagerly arranging chairs and setting up the fancy tea set. The girls would sit and chatter about the happenings at school and in the village, and sometimes brought their own schoolwork to help each other.

Paul and Gilly were delighted that Nan was doing so well, but every time they asked Esmeralda when she could run and play again, the old doctor's face would wrinkle in sorrow and she would whisper, "I don't know." The bird person had not returned, though both she and Paul were certain they had seen it, circling high above the fields and over the mountain.

Nan's torso no longer was bruised, but she carried herself strangely -- holding her shoulders stiffly and breathing shallowly as if deep breaths still hurt. Which they did. Two odd bumps protruded near her spine, and they were tender when Esmeralda tried to touch them.

Nan felt better only when wearing a strange, stiff little vest that Esmeralda created, and so she wore it, day and night. But Esmeralda worried that the vest was preventing some of the healing, and continued to read her books late in the night and to write to other doctors, asking for advice.

The twins went back to their jobs in the village -- though the market was open only twice a week in the winter, there seemed to be more to do, keeping the snow clear and the ice chipped away from the watering trough.

Polly had a beau when she returned to school. Though she tried hard to deny it, Meg and Doris had seen him slipping her notes several times. Finally, she had to admit that she fancied him. And so at the first dance of the season, Polly and Albrecht danced every dance together, much to the chagrin of several other young men.

Meg and Doris watched with wide open eyes, as they saw her begin to work on some fancy trims for a wedding dress, and helped her make some pretty towels and trivets while they waited for the marrying season to begin. And they turned to their own studies with renewed vigor, realizing they were also getting older and would need to be prepared for the day they left home as well.

Paul and Gilly were delighted -- and a little sad of course -- but pleased that Polly had found a serious, studious young man with some prospects. His father was one of the leading merchants and when not in school the young man had worked in the shop for many years. He had also been a hard worker when the call went out for help with the harvest, and didn't mind getting his hands dirty or his clothes when the situation called for it.

Peter and Helena laughed a bit to watch Polly and her parents discussing the ins and outs of wedding planning and married life -- though in their hearts they wished Inga had a beau, they were proud that she was interested in staying in school. Inga's dream was to pass the exams and perhaps become a teacher herself. So she often stopped by to see Nan and go over her work with her, learning in the process how to

Daniel's goal was to start building a little cottage near his parents' house once the fields were planted in the spring, and then to ask his long-time sweetheart for a permanent commitment... she was a handsome, buxom girl, who got along well with Helena and had already left school to work as a helper for some of the village mothers.

And Adam and Ava sat back and watched their children and grandchildren prosper. Time had been good to their family, and they knew that all in all, they and theirs were lucky.

By the time the moons were both full and the days were at their coldest, the whole family was ready for the winter festival. Ready to officially announce Polly's and Daniel's engagements. Ready to celebrate.