Reading the story "Love Makes A Family" will help in the understanding of this story. The premise of the stories leading up to the birth of the child is that life begins at conception. The case of the metaphysical world described in this story, life exists before conception. The stories however are not intended to make any kind of political statement. They are an expression of my own faith-based belief as to the beginning of life.
I do not own these characters and make no profit from their use.
A Sad Anniversary
The first year of grief following the loss of a loved one is always the most difficult. At each point in the year, especially holidays, memories emerge of the loved one from previous years. The time is painful, but a necessary part of the grieving process. As each day passes, it is a constant cycle of remembrance and acceptance. At each point, the one grieving is healed a little more. At the end of that journey is the first anniversary.
That is the day when it feels as if the bandage on the psychic wound has been ripped off and the grief feels very raw again. However, at this point many of those in mourning reach a point of catharsis. The memories will become overwhelming from the year before. In the case of a sudden and traumatic death, it is even worse. Where you were when you got the news, how you heard about it, and how you felt vividly come back. You relive those moments and by reliving them you make peace with them. And life goes on.
In the case of the Figalilly parents, the actual news of the accident had come for Trelawney hours after it happened. She was staying with her Aunt Alma, really a great-aunt, who was also Emmeline's godmother. Emmeline was also happened to be visiting and it was she who had broken the news to the little girl. Because the accident had happened at night, she had gone to her room to wake her up. However there was no need to wake her up. She was sitting up in her bed holding her doll in her lap.
Looking straight ahead of her, she said quietly, "Tell me."
From there the family, meaning the uncles, had taken control. Such a sudden death was shocking to everyone. Generally, Figalillys live very long lives. The situation was most disturbing and unusual. Originally, the family had not wanted Emmeline to take Trelawney out of the country. However, Emmeline could not bear the idea that Phoebe would open a telegram, discover the news, and make the sad journey home alone. It was actually Trelawney who had beseeched her to allow her to come when she decided to deliver the news in person.
The child had been almost out of her mind with grief. All she had wanted was her sister. A family conference was held and the decision was made to allow Emmeline to take her on the condition that there would be no delays in returning them home. Phoebe now had legal custody under her parents' wills and, as everyone knew, had promised, only minutes after she was born, to care for the child in the event of their parents' loss. Within their culture, such vows had a sacred quality that must be respected by all involved.
However, Emmeline had "gone off script" so to speak once she had delivered her sad news. By allowing Phoebe to stay long enough to see the Everett family through the transition to a new housekeeper she had violated that condition. And of course it was that time that allowed Phoebe and Hal to discover their emerging feelings for one another. Feelings that Phoebe herself did not fully understand, yet made her reluctant to leave. However, it never occurred to her that she would not take over the care of her sister.
It also gave the younger Hal the opportunity and time to think of the solution to the dilemma that made everyone happy, except the Figalilly family. It was a cautionary tale for all of them regarding her loyalty to her cousin versus the larger family. This was reaffirmed when Emmeline helped her cousin to elope.
Emmeline had wanted to return to the sisters for the anniversary, but for now she was forbidden from going near them. Aunt Henrietta had sent word that it appeared that she was advising the Everetts about how to keep Trelawney in the States. In any case, they decided that Emmeline would not be needed to comfort her cousin.
The feeling was that now that Phoebe was married, it was her husband's duty to care for her. They were not entirely heartless. They knew that Hal was more than capable of caring for his wife. Emmeline, as soon as she realized how significant it would be, had assured them that Hal's love for Phoebe was extraordinary. This was reaffirmed by Aunts Agatha and Justine after they had visited last summer.
It was why they had let her go. She had been free to marry Hal without protest from them. Of course the expectation was that she would return home to be married. However, despite the fact that she failed to do this, they knew that he would care for her well. Furthermore, they knew it was her destiny. They were aware that there were children fated to be born from this union whose destinies were already written.
And Trelawney? It was difficult to say what her destiny was at this point. So many things had changed for her. She was with her sister, as her parents had wished, however there was no way of knowing whether her parents had explicitly wanted her raised by her sister among her family or simply by her sister wherever she was living. The will did not specify where Phoebe might raise her. It simply stated that she had custody and that it was their last wish that she raise her. It was the family's assumption that they had imagined this would be at home in the village.
The family believed that they needed to get her back to the safety of her home, before her emerging psychic powers became too apparent to those around her and brought too much interest into her background. All Figalillys guarded their privacy assiduously. But the child, because she was a little fey, lacked the guile to do this effectively in what was considered to be the larger world. Aunt Henrietta also swore that she was a danger to her sister, but no one took her seriously.
Trelawney's impulsive nature did mean that she was not always in full control of herself. Aunts Justine and Agatha had witnessed this. Even Emmeline had reported it. In addition to being a danger to the family, she was potentially a danger to herself and her sister. If she had not been under the protection of an angel, it would have been a simple matter to return her to them. It was he who stood in the way.
However, no one, not even Emmeline, knew who he was. In fact, only Trelawney and Phoebe knew his true identity. When Trelawney referred to him as her "angel," no one took that name any more literally than the "good queen" or the "gallant knight." The name was logical, since he was a local pastor. He was a very normal, rather jovial young man with a wife and family. It was likely that a Figalilly would recognize him for who he was, even if Emmeline had not (or said that she had not). As long as his true nature was not disclosed, the girl was safely under his protection.
He had told Rob Everett to move the girl to his home up the street to keep both sisters safe. He was ready to take her home with them after Hal and Phoebe returned from their honeymoon and they came back home. Understanding the necessity of this, Trelawney was agreeable, even if she was not happy about it. True to form, Hal was putting it off because he didn't want to upset his wife, who had just found out that she was pregnant. Thus when the day dawned both Trelawney and Phoebe were still living in the same house.
It was a few days after the wonderful news of Phoebe's pregnancy, when Trelawney came down to breakfast looking quite colorless and subdued. Since Phoebe was feeling more nauseous than usual, the Hal decided that it would be "every man for himself" this morning. She claimed that even the smell of food made her feel sick.
But Trelawney herself was looking ill. She was still dressed in her nightgown. Looking at her closely, he realized that she had been crying. Then it struck him. They had been so wrapped up in their joy about Phoebe's pregnancy that they must have forgotten that the day was coming up. The date wouldn't have been as prominent in their memories because Phoebe had gotten the news several days later.
Looking at the sad little face, he said gently, "It was today, wasn't it?"
Trelawney couldn't speak, but she put her arms around him for a hug. Because he loved her almost as dearly as any of his own children, he held her tight and patted her head.
When Hal entered the kitchen, he took one look at them and said, "It was today."
Trelawney turned to him and nodded. Hal then realized then why his son had become kinder to her, even protective, in recent weeks. He had remembered his mother and his own feelings of loss. Right now he was looking at her with great sympathy and understanding.
She looked back at his father and said, "May I please stay home with Phoebe today? She might need me."
Hal wasn't sure if Phoebe would really need her, although at the moment she was upstairs claiming that death would be a merciful release. However, the child was clearly in no condition to go to school. He would have to speak with his wife before her sister came up. It was obvious that in present state of morning sickness, she did not remember the date. Trelawney had been looking at him and nodded.
"Indeed she does not remember," she said. "I believe that it would be best if we both told her together."
"Hal, could you make sure that Butch and Prudence have their breakfast before you leave?" asked Hal. "I'll be back down in time to get them on the bus."
"Yes sir," said the young man. "You'll need to write a note if Trelawney's going to stay home today."
"Of course," he said absently. It was one of those details that usually Phoebe took care of. It occurred to him that it was something else that he would have to think about now that she needed his help to keep the household running. This would probably not be the last morning that he would have to see the kids off to school. Trelawney waited patiently as he scrawled the note and then they went upstairs together.
Phoebe was curled up in bed, ironically enough, in a fetal position. She lifted her head up when she heard them come in.
"Trelawney, why aren't you ready for school? Are you sick?" she asked as if she didn't really care.
Hal sat beside her and stroked her soft blonde hair. He knew that in a few months it would be even thicker and more lustrous than ever. She already looked so miserable he hated to add to it, but there was else nothing for it. She needed to know before she remembered on her own.
"Phoebe, Trelawney doesn't want to go to school today, because this day holds very bad memories for her," he said gently.
Phoebe looked at the girl's face, streaked with tears once more. She reached out and said softly, "Oh, my poor little one. I'm sorry. I forgot."
The realization struck her hard as she looked at her sister's wan little face, the face that was a nearly perfect copy of her mother's. Phoebe herself was now weeping. The little girl knelt beside the bed and rested her head down beside her sister. Phoebe stroked her golden curls and whispered softly, "There, there, little lamb. Phoebe is here." Hal felt helpless.
"What can I do?" he asked.
"Phone Mrs. Everett," said Trelawney, through her tears. "She is waiting for your call."
Hal didn't ask how she knew, but called his mother anyway. Since his parents were living up the street, it would not take her long to walk down. However, it was his father who answered the phone.
"Hal, Mother will be there in a few minutes," he said. "Trelawney gave her the date before we left and said that Phoebe would probably need her. She's been dressed and ready for the last hour. Mother took her seriously which is why we offered to stay."
Hal was silent, "I'm grateful that she's coming so quickly. Phoebe has really been hit pretty badly with morning sickness. Helen was never this sick. I don't know what to do."
"Well for starters, son," said Rob. "Don't mention Helen. Second, just love her a lot. She'll get through it. She's a young, healthy girl. Do you have to go to work today?"
"I've already got that covered, Dad," said Hal. "My next call is to my department chair."
"Good man," replied his father. "When your mother gets there she'll take control of the house and comfort Trelawney so that you can focus on Phoebe."
"Thanks, Dad," said Hal as he hung up, thinking, "leave it to Trelawney to have thought ahead like this." For once he was glad that the girl was so perceptive. Then he remembered Butch and Prudence. The last thing he needed was for them to miss the school bus so that he would have to drive them.
When he returned to the bedroom, Trelawney was curled up in a little ball beside Phoebe. Her arm rested limply on the child who was still softly weeping. His wife looked utterly miserable. Sitting next to her on the other side, he picked up her hand and tenderly kissed her forehead.
"Mother will be here in about a few minutes. I'm going to call in today. I know that my chairman won't mind when I tell him that's it's . . . a very painful day for you," he said gently. "I'll be right back."
"Please don't be long," replied Phoebe. She was clearly in pain. He suspected that the worst of the physical symptoms had passed. It was the heartbreak that was keeping her in bed. This was a day that she clearly had no desire to face.
Catherine Everett was barely in the house for ten minutes when she was sorry that she had left at all. She knew this kind of grief well, as she knew her son did. The first anniversary was always the hardest. It didn't help that Phoebe was just about as sick as any woman she had ever seen in the first trimester.
Trelawney had almost completely retreated inside herself. Despite being huddled against her sister, she was barely aware of her surroundings. Her son was staying home from work today to focus on his wife. She knew that that, more than anything else, would comfort her. Her concern would be the girl.
When she came in and sat beside her daughter-in-law, she said, "It's Catherine, dear. I can see that little Margaret is giving you a bit of trouble this morning."
Phoebe smiled weakly back at her. "I believe that she's been giving me trouble for awhile now, but I didn't know it."
"It's just as well," replied Catherine gently. "It would have made you more anxious waiting for confirmation. Anxiety is never good for a baby. I just want you to try to think about it this way. Wherever your parents are, they see you and are so happy that you are carrying their first grandchild. Even in the face of death, life goes on. The child inside you now is their hope for the future, as will all your other children be."
"Do you really think that this is Margaret?" asked Phoebe.
"There is no way to know until the child is born," replied Catherine gently. "But if my feelings are correct, this is Margaret."
Talk of her child soothed Phoebe. She sat up to have some tea and toast that Hal brought her. Catherine watched as he thoughtfully tended to her. His manner was very gentle. Sadly he had a lot of experience from the time when his first wife was ill. This time however, it was different.
Perhaps it was because he was older. Perhaps it was because there was no mother-in-law hovering to swoop down and correct any mistakes he might make. But mostly, she was sure, it was because the care of his wife was about looking forward to a new life, not anticipating a death. Catherine left them and went to take care of the child.
At her instruction, Hal had carried her from their bed to her own. She barely seemed aware of the change of location, but keeping her apart from Phoebe was better for Phoebe who needed to focus on her own needs as well as those of her own child. She knew from her previous interactions with Trelawney, that the girl was much more worried about her sister than herself. She would not object to leaving her side if she knew that it was for the best.
She entered the room that was once Phoebe's and sat on the bed. At first glance, she thought that she was sleeping, all curled up in a little ball. Prudence called it her "sad ball" because whenever she missed her parents she curled up that way. But when she brushed back the long blonde curls from her face, she could see that her eyes were open.
She was still in her nightgown and was clutching the doll that she had brought from England. She had no interest in the new dolls she had been given as gifts at the time right after the wedding. For Christmas they had all given her books, which had clearly delighted her. As a former English teacher, that in turn had delighted her. There were many things about the young girl that she found endearing, her love and loyalty to her sister certainly not the least among them.
"How is the lovely lady?" she asked anxiously.
"Her gallant knight is tending to her needs. In a bit, I believe that she may come to see you dear. She is most concerned," replied Catherine, speaking in the language that Trelawney used when she couldn't express her own feelings.
"Has the good queen returned to stay?" she then asked.
"Does the good queen need to stay?" she responded carefully.
"The good queen has been recalled at the request of the angel," she answered. "But he does not know that he requested her. The good queen does not know why she was requested. The gallant knight knows, but he does not know that he knows."
"What about the fair maiden?" Catherine knew that she had to keep her talking. She just hoped that she could remember everything that she said.
"The fair maiden is here, but she is not here. Only the good queen knows," she replied.
The child, who looked like she was worn out from a great deal of crying, sighed, and went to sleep. Catherine suspected that she had been awake most of the night. She decided to stay with her for now. She hoped that the poor child would sleep more restfully if she knew that the good queen was watching over her. From her bag, she pulled out an embroidery picture that she had just started for the baby's room and set to work.
Looking around, she realized that this would be the baby's room. Phoebe had been so sick when they had come in and with the excitement of the announcement she and Rob had not had the chance to talk to her about moving Trelawney to their house. Hal always seemed to have an excuse for putting it off.
This was certainly not the day to do it, she thought. Considering that this was a very sad day for them both, it was probably a good thing that they were still living in the same house. The sisters were devoted to one another. Surely they would find their greatest solace in each other. She had a feeling that Trelawney's latest statement was a reference to the impending move. As Rob had often said, she would do anything for her sister.
However, she was concerned that the child wanted her stay with her. That must mean something, but who knew what? Her language was usually cryptic and now it seemed more cryptic than ever. When the child woke up, she would try to talk to her and see if she could get some kind of a comprehensible answer out of her.
She was also concerned because rather than taking action, her son was waiting for the "perfect time" to tell Phoebe that her sister was leaving. The move was both expected and dreaded. There could be no perfect time for it. Although she hadn't said so, Trelawney seemed anxious to leave. She wondered if she had talked to Hal about it. This kind of inertia had been a problem for him before.
Trelawney had mentioned the angel. That meant that she needed to contact Pastor Jason. She wondered if angels made house calls.
Hal convinced Phoebe to eat the toast and drink the tea that he brought her. He knew that it would settle her stomach. Then he would try and convince her to get up and get dressed. She didn't have to do anything, but he thought that it would be a good idea if she went downstairs. She had been feeling queasy the last few mornings, but she had assured him that it never lasted past the mid-morning. He was trying to think of ways to sooth her on this dreadful day.
His mother returned to the room and called him out to the hall.
"Hal," she said urgently. "We need to contact Pastor Jason. Trelawney said that we need him."
Hal thought for a minute.
"Why didn't I think of that?" he asked more of himself than his mother. "He will be a great comfort to both of them."
"Is the phone number around somewhere?" she asked. "You should stay with Phoebe."
"It's by the phone in the kitchen. What about Trelawney?"
"She's sleeping. I suspect that she didn't sleep all night," she replied. "But don't worry about her. Stay focused on your wife."
"I just want to be able to reassure Phoebe," he said. "She'll worry otherwise."
"Good idea," she said approvingly.
Hal returned to Phoebe and convinced her to get up. He let her know that her sister was sleeping and that his mother was caring for her. He also told her that Mother was calling Pastor Jason. Phoebe looked relieved and began to change.
They were sitting in the living room when Pastor Jason arrived. Mother had returned upstairs to stay with Trelawney. His father had also come. Although the girl had not requested him, Catherine decided that he should be there as well.
"Why is Trelawney still here?" asked Pastor Jason as soon as greetings were exchanged and he was apprised of the situation. "Rob, I told you that she had to live with you once Phoebe and Hal returned. She must reside with Catherine from now on."
"What are you talking about?" asked Phoebe, looking confused.
"Hal, I am sure that Rob explained the situation to you and I know how you put things off. This is no time to be looking for the perfect time to do it," he scolded. "Either Catherine stays here or Trelawney goes there. She must be with the good queen."
Hal felt guilty. Trelawney herself had tried to tell him that she had to go. Now, instead of finding out by being gently told, Phoebe had to learn from Pastor Jason's stern warning to him. She looked upset.
"I'm sorry Phoebe," he said. "I should have told you. But first you were sick and then you were so happy. Trelawney is ready to go."
"First I lose my parents and now my sister," she said bitterly and most unlike herself. "But you didn't have to tell me. You have custody. You have the power to take her any time you want."
"Phoebe," said Rob gently. "When you put it that way, it sounds as if we are taking her by force. That is the farthest thing from the truth. This is what is best for all of you, all three of you."
"Is my child in danger?" she asked fearfully.
"No, not at all," soothed Pastor Jason. "The gallant knight protects you. He is vigilant. But he must listen to the advice of the wise gentleman."
"Yes, he must," said a sweet voice from the stairs. Trelawney, dressed in her white nightgown and clutching her doll was walking down the stairs. Her golden hair was unbound and falling down her back and she was barefoot. She looked like a little angel herself. Hal saw that Mother was right behind her.
"I couldn't stop her," said Mother.
"That's okay," said Pastor Jason kindly. "Come here, Trelawney."
"Yes, sir," she said politely and stood before him expectantly.
Pastor Jason looked at her with great compassion. He knew she was caught between the pain of leaving her sister and the unselfish love that she bore for her and her unborn niece. As sensitive as she was, she viewed child as already present among them. She needed the strength to fulfill her duty.
He put his hands on her forehead in a gesture of blessing. The young girl bowed her head. Hal could see his lips moving and tears began to slip down her cheeks. When he was done she looked up at him with innocent, trusting blue eyes. She turned to Phoebe.
"I am bereft," she said quietly. "I must leave the side of my lovely lady."
She then turned to Mother.
"I am now in the care of the good queen."
Mother knelt down and opened her arms. Trelawney walked in. She then looked back from the safety of her embrace.
"The fair maiden is now safe," she said. Hal noticed that his mother tightened her grip. It was obvious that she loved the young girl very much. She had always wanted a daughter. Now with Phoebe and Trelawney she had two.
Phoebe quietly said, "The lovely lady understands."
She looked at Hal and he took her in his arms. As she leaned on him for strength and comfort, he could sense her acceptance. It was hard for her to let go of the little girl that she had sworn to care for in her parents' absence. But wherever they were, he was sure that they knew that this move was for the best. Decisions could no longer be made simply considering Phoebe and Trelawney. Phoebe's child was now an integral part of the equation.
He felt remorse. Would he ever learn that difficult things must be done at the right time rather than the perfect time? It was his fault that this had to happen on this day, the same day when they had both been orphaned one year earlier. He began to will every ounce of strength and love that he could muster into her. He could do no more for her. But as he felt her relax into his embrace, he knew that it was enough.
Pastor Jason insisted on staying within them until Trelawney was packed and ready to go. Then he drove the short way up the street with them. There was very little to move. Trelawney did not have a lot of clothes or toys. She mostly had books and they were easily packed and transferred.
"May I spend the rest of the day with her?" Phoebe asked Pastor Jason.
He smiled. "Of course. I think that it would be very good for both of you to spend the day together. In fact, now you may spend as much time together as you like. Just because you can't live with her does not mean that you can't be with her. She will be a great comfort to you."
"Phoebe," said Trelawney a little shyly. "Would you help me unpack, please?"
"Of course, darling," replied her sister, and they went upstairs together with Catherine. Now that Phoebe was gone, Pastor Jason looked at Hal. He was very unhappy.
"Hal," he said sharply. "Don't do that again! When Rob makes a decision you need to take action immediately. I expected problems with Trelawney, not with you. If you love your wife and child you must listen to your father."
"Are Phoebe and the baby in danger?" he asked nervously.
"Not now," he replied. "The only way to keep Trelawney safe is to keep her near Catherine. It is really very simple. If Trelawney is safe, then Phoebe is safe and if Phoebe is safe, the child is safe. Besides, if Trelawney is living here it will be much easier to keep her away from Aunt Henrietta."
"Phoebe was hoping that Aunt Henrietta would leave as soon as it was obvious that she wasn't pregnant before the wedding," said Hal.
"That was never the reason why she is here. The family lied to Emmeline about that. They don't trust her any more. Aunt Henrietta is here to create a situation where the family will have an excuse to bring Trelawney home without a complicated legal battle," he said.
"I figured as much," said Rob grimly. "Emmeline says that they may have the power to act outside of the law."
"She would know better than any of us," said Pastor Jason. "But she has to be very careful."
"She told me," said Rob. "What can we do?"
"Have no contact with her," said Pastor Jason. "And tell your son, Bob, to call off his private investigator. You have no idea of how much trouble that would cause if they found out."
"Bob put a private investigator on her?" asked Hal. "Why would he do something like that?"
"I don't know," said Rob. "But I'll get him on the phone right away. We have enough problems without him adding to them."
"You actually have no problems at the moment," said Pastor Jason mildly. "Keep Trelawney near Catherine. That is the key to the safety of all three of them. She will let you know if she needs anything else."
Rob and Hal looked back at him surprised.
"That's right," said Pastor Jason. "All of you need to settle down. Today, Phoebe and Trelawney will do a lot of remembering and grieving together. They both need that. What they don't need is any unnecessary anxiety. Trust me. The family is well aware of the date. No doubt they are having a memorial service if their own.
"They will not do anything to upset them today. They have their own grief to attend to. You need to realize that there is another dimension to this situation than just whether they try and bring Trelawney back home. It is only natural that their family would want to play some role in comforting them. In the absence of the larger family you all must help them go get through the day.
"Encourage them to talk about their parents. Let them cry. Love them a lot. It will help them both to move on. In fact, I think that you will find that now that Trelawney feels safe, her health and emotions will stabilize."
"Thank you, Pastor Jason," said Hal sincerely. "I don't know what we would do without you."
"You don't have to know. God puts the right people in the right place at the right time. I am here for Trelawney because I am meant to be here," he replied. "It's all about faith, which Phoebe and Trelawney have in abundance. They are stronger than you think. From a faith perspective, they are stronger than any of you. This situation is extraordinary, but with your support they will pass through it and be able to move on with their lives."
After he left, Rob and Hal looked at each other.
"I'm going to call that idiot brother of yours and tell him to cut out this nonsense," said Rob. "He has no more interest in her than she has in him. It's time to put an end to this ridiculous game."
"Thanks, Dad," said Hal. "I'm going to go see what the girls are up to."
Children of the Light
Catherine watched as Phoebe and Trelawney unpacked the child's few possessions. She thought about how simple the needs of the child really were. Her most treasured possessions were her books, which she lovingly placed in the bookshelf that her grandson Hal had made for her.
Her clothing nowhere near filled the bureau and closet. She had not brought much with her and had not accumulated much. She had brought her book bag with her schoolbooks and obediently placed it next to the desk that she would never use. She preferred to do her homework sitting on her bed. She set her doll on the bed beside the reading pillow that Prudence had made for her, and put sewing box that Butch had made for her on a little table next to the rocking chair. Like her sister, she cherished thoughtful handmade gifts over expensive store bought items.
Phoebe helped her put away her clothes and books. Periodically they stopped and shared a look or a touch. It was obvious how close they were emotionally and spiritually. When they were done, she sighed and sat down in the rocking chair. Trelawney sat on the floor beside her and rested her head in her lap. Phoebe began to stroke the soft golden curls that hung loosely down her back.
No one had bothered to tie them back for her today. Likewise, Phoebe's hair was not tied back. She had been too tired to care. A shaft of sunlight came through the nearby window and Catherine was struck by how beautiful the girls looked in the light. They were oblivious to the world around them.
The loss was something that they shared as something that they alone understood. The love between them was evident. What Emmeline could have told them, if she was present, was that when faced with the news, they had each simply said, "Tell me."
On the day when Emmeline had delivered the news and the child to her cousin, the same phenomenon had occurred. The two sisters were so caught up in their shared grief that the rest of the world had slipped away, just as it did today. Hal came to the door and she stopped him before he could speak.
As they looked on, Phoebe and Trelawney both looked out the window and then looked at each other. They shared a smile. Catherine had the sense that they were communicating on some level that only the two of them understood. Hal took her arm and led her away.
"Let's leave them alone," he said when they had walked down the hall.
"Have you seen the two angels picture album?" he then asked her.
"Yes," she said. "Why?"
"I've looked at it several times," he admitted. "I've been trying to figure out what this powerful connection is between them. In many of the pictures, they are smiling at each other just like that. Maybe I've been spending too much time with Trelawney, but I believe that just now they were feeling their parents' presence in the sunbeam."
"You may be right, son," she said. "They were working silently together, but I almost had the sense that they were talking without words."
"I'm sure that they were," he said. "Emmeline told me that the psychic connection between them is very strong. It's grown stronger since their parents died."
Catherine wanted to ask him what in heaven's name he was talking about, but suspected that she wouldn't get a straight answer. She knew that he now knew much more about his wife than he would ever tell her. She only wished that she could understand the young girl better. When she had expressed her concerns to Pastor Jason he had told her just to love her. Clearly her son had accepted this himself. He just loved them as they were and did not extensively question who they were.
When it was time for lunch, the sisters came down. She noted that Phoebe was holding the younger girl's hand. But they both looked more relaxed. Their time alone together had soothed them.
"I'm starving," said Phoebe.
"That's because you're eating for two," said Trelawney, with a bit of amusement in her voice.
"That's right," said Hal. "And you didn't have much for breakfast. Trelawney you had no breakfast."
"I promise to eat a good lunch," said the child.
"That's a good girl," said Catherine. "I made you a milk shake to go with your sandwich."
"Is it blue?" she asked hopefully.
Phoebe shuddered at the mere thought of blue food.
"Of course!" said Catherine. "I know what your favorite is."
"I've never heard of a blue milk shake before," said Hal.
"It's quite simple really," said Catherine. "It's milk, vanilla ice cream, and blueberries. When it's blended it all turns blue."
"And it's scrumptious!" said the girl. "Especially with one of Mrs. Everett's grilled cheese sandwiches."
"I didn't know you liked grilled cheese," commented Phoebe.
"Neither did I," said Trelawney, with a smile. "But Mrs. Everett's are yummy. She puts tomatoes inside."
"Well, Catherine," said Phoebe. "I don't know if I should be jealous. It seems that my sister has taken quite a fancy to your cooking."
Trelawney looked thoughtful. "Now that I'm living here, it feels terribly odd to call you Mrs. Everett."
"The offer is still open to call me Grammy," said Catherine.
"No," she said, shaking her head. "You are not my Grammy. You need your own special name. A name that only I can call you."
"That's very sweet of you dear," said Catherine. "I would be very honored if you called me by a special name."
Trelawney thought for a minute and then whispered something in her sister's ear. Phoebe looked surprised and said quietly, "Are you sure?"
The girl nodded and Phoebe smiled at her and gave her a kiss. Trelawney hugged her and turned to Catherine.
"May I please call you Mama Kate?" she asked hopefully.
Catherine was silent. No one had ever called her Kate before, but it was the "Mama" part that puzzled her. She had never aspired to be the girl's surrogate mother. Hal and Rob looked surprised, but Phoebe gave her a nod. When she didn't answer immediately, Trelawney began to look worried. She walked over and put her arms around Catherine's neck.
"Please?" she asked.
Catherine was moved. She knew how much the child loved her mother. However, Phoebe had given her blessing to the name and she could see that the child's mind was made up. It was indeed a special name and a great honor. Trelawney sensed her feelings and smiled.
"Thank you, Mama Kate," she said and kissed her cheek. "My Mum is smiling now. I am no longer alone."
The four adults sitting at the table had tears in their eyes. Trelawney looked at them and seemed somewhat bewildered.
"My Mum has been most worried about me. She was most concerned because I had no one," she explained. "Phoebe must now give all her attention to Maisie. Mama Kate will give her attention to me. All is well."
There was dead silence in the room.
"How do you know about Maisie?" asked Rob.
Trelawney looked around. She suddenly realized something.
"The Angel said that l must never speak of Maisie. I knew that Maisie was coming. You cannot tell that I knew," she cried.
"I am speaking as the wise gentleman," said Rob. "None of you may tell anyone about Maisie. Trelawney please go up to your room. Take your lunch with you. You must eat."
"Yes sir," she said obediently, and picked up her plate and glass and left the room.
After she left, they all looked at each other. No one knew what to say. Finally Phoebe spoke.
"None of you can tell anyone about this," she said tensely. "If the family knew they would take her away immediately."
"Why?" asked Rob. "I think that it is time that you tell us why the family is so determined to take her away."
Hal looked at Phoebe. "You don't have any choice. We have to trust them."
"Trelawney's mind is powerfully connected to the universal consciousness. She has psychic powers beyond the normal. What she just told us indicates a very strong prescience and she is still young. She is also a little fey, too innocent to fully understand the complexity of the world around her.
"She does not always conceal what she knows through her psychic connections. I am starting to fear that sometimes she can't tell the difference anymore. She needs to be protected," she explained. "And what happened just now is an example of how dangerous her impulsiveness can be. If the wrong person finds out the full extent of her psychic power, there will be big trouble."
"Has she put you and the child at risk?" asked Hal.
"I don't believe so," said Phoebe. "She really didn't tell us anything that we didn't already know other than that you are going to have another daughter."
Hal smiled, "Well, that will take a little bit of the fun out of waiting to find out when she is born, but that's minor. I don't think that we should tell anyone."
"I agree," said Catherine. "I suspect that if we told Pastor Jason that he would tell us all to forget it."
"That would be best for all concerned," said Phoebe. "Even among my people there are very few with the psychic ability to perceive the approach of an unborn soul. At this point it is impossible to say whether it was because it was my child or she could know this about any child. Either way, this puts her in a very difficult position."
"In what way?" Rob asked.
"It is difficult to explain to someone who doesn't fully understand these things. Even the so called experts in ESP don't really understand it," she explained. "There are aspects to her abilities that would raise questions by experts. She must be kept away from any kind of psychiatrist who might try to figure out how her mind works. He might even want to medicate her. Her fancies could very easily be mistaken for delusions. This has happened to some who wandered too far from home without the resources to protect themselves. It's really lucky that her guidance counselor is so obtuse.
"She also must be kept away from any musician who would recognize her savant-like qualities and want to publicize them. Mr. Jansen, the high school band director is a perfect example. There are very few musicians who could have pulled together the music so professionally for the show last summer in such a short amount of time. If I hadn't been so distracted at the time, I would have realized and taken steps to prevent it. That's the reason why the family wants her back in the village. Life is simpler there. And she is surrounded by family and friends who know, love, and understand her. All they really want is to protect her."
"Well we can do that too," said Catherine. "Phoebe, I know that you are afraid to share too much information about your family. But please remember that there may be times when we need to know things to keep her safe."
"We both do," said Hal. "Now I don't think that it's a good idea to leave Trelawney by herself. She had perked a little just before lunch. Why don't we see if we can engage her in some activity? What about you, Phoebe?"
"Well, I'm sorry that all the photo albums are up at the house," she said. "I'd like to look at them and share them with you. We really didn't talk about them at all at Christmas. I think that it would do Trelawney some good too."
"I'll go get them," he offered. "And I'll leave a note on the door to tell the kids where we are and to come up here after school. As long as you don't mind, Mother and Dad?"
"No that's fine," said Catherine, relieved that there was a plan. She remembered Trelawney's earlier statement that the fair maiden was now safe. She alone knew that the fair maiden no longer referred to herself but to Maisie. This concerned her because it was almost as if she was making herself disappear. She made a mental note to take up the issue with Pastor Jason when she got the chance.
It took no time for Hal to go back and forth to the house. While he was gone, Phoebe went up to Trelawney's room to tell her not to worry. Everything was going to be fine. But Trelawney refused to speak. It was almost as if she was afraid that she might say something else that she shouldn't. She simply nodded. However, Phoebe did notice that she had eaten her lunch. It was a relief to know that she was so determined to be cooperative.
"Would you like to come downstairs and look at some of the old pictures with us? Hal went back to the house to get the family albums," she said gently.
She nodded again and went over to her sister for a hug.
"There, there, little lamb," said Phoebe softly. "I'm here. Do you remember how I used to call you my little lamb when you were very small? It was my own special name for you, our little secret. I would come home to visit from university and you would be sitting on the lawn in front of the house all dressed in white, waiting for me. And when you would see me coming up the street you would leap up like a little lamb. 'And everywhere that Phoebe went . . ."
". . . the lamb was sure to go," she finished.
Trelawney nodded and placed her hand on Phoebe's stomach.
"I'm sorry, Maisie," she said softly. "From now on I will be a good auntie and take care of you."
Phoebe looked down at her. She seemed to be listening intently. Then she looked up.
"Maisie has forgiven me," she said.
Phoebe held her close. This was no fanciful notion on the child's part. She had felt it, even if she couldn't hear it. Trelawney was able to communicate with her child. This was dangerous, but no one else, not even Hal and his parents could know. She knew instinctively that Trelawney needed all the protection that Rob and Catherine could give her. She sat down on the bed and held the young girl's face in her hands.
"Trelawney, love," she said gently, but firmly. "You may not do that again unless you are absolutely, positively sure that we are alone. And you may never tell anyone that you have done it. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Phoebe," she said obediently. "I love you both with my whole heart. It is not a very big heart, because I am not a very big person, but it is all yours."
"There's a lamb," she said, holding her close again. "We love you too. Now let's go downstairs and try not to say anything else that will let everyone know how open your mind is right now."
"I will try," she promised. "But Mum and Papa are very close today. They are sad because we are sad. The only way to be happy is to let them go. They are crying because they want us to let go, but they don't want us to let go. I am not ready to let go yet. I want to be near them, just for a little while longer."
Phoebe could hear the longing in her voice. She understood how she felt but it simply was not safe. She needed to remain firmly within the boundaries of the present world. Phoebe heard the front door open, which meant that Hal was back. Relieved, they went downstairs together.
"Which one do you want to look at first?" he asked.
Phoebe looked at Trelawney who pointed to one of the larger ones.
"Ah," said Phoebe. "This one is from three years ago. Right after I came back from Kashmir."
"You were quite tired," said the child. "Seventeen is a family that is big enough to compare with the Figalillys. And you went there directly from Lapland. My poor Phoebe."
Rob and Catherine looked at each other but didn't have time to say anything.
"There are Mum and Papa with Uncle David and Auntie Anna," she said. "They are Em's Mum and Papa. See. Two brothers married two sisters. Wasn't that lovely?"
"Well, that explains the striking resemblance," said Catherine.
"Yes, it does," said Phoebe. "Uncle David and Aunt Anna, actually Annabel, are Trelawney's godparents. My father was Emmeline's godfather."
"After Phoebe went to university," said Trelawney. "Emmeline used to babysit me. But after she went away, Auntie Alma did. Auntie Alma is Em's godmother. She was with me last year."
"Trelawney, you don't have to tell us if you don't want to, but who gave you the news last year?" asked Catherine.
"Em did. I knew that something bad had happened because I woke up and heard Auntie Alma crying. It was late at night. Emmeline came up to my bedroom and put her arm around me. Then she told me that Mum and Papa went to heaven," she said.
"Were you very sad?" asked Catherine.
"Not at first. I asked when they were coming back," she explained. "Then I was sad. I never knew that once you went to heaven you couldn't come back."
Catherine and Rob looked at each other, but before they could say anything, Phoebe quickly turned the page.
"That's our house," she pointed out a house. "And this is Mum's garden and the living room and kitchen."
"This is our bedroom, and this is Mum and Papa's," added Trelawney. "You Yanks have very big houses. Our house is very cozy."
"Is this your Queen Anne dollhouse?" asked Rob pointing to the dollhouse in the girl's bedroom."
"Yes," said Trelawney. "When I was six, Father Christmas brought it for me. But now I know that Papa made it. My Papa was the best wood smith in the world. He could make anything. People came from all over the world to buy his furniture and toys and crafts. But now they can't."
"So then your Papa made his living as a carpenter?" asked Rob.
"Yes, sir," said Trelawney. Then she turned over a couple of pages in the book.
"This was his shop, do you see? It was right next to the house," she said.
Rob looked closely at the picture. "Do you have any pictures of the inside. I would love to see his tools and other equipment."
"I don't think so," said Phoebe. "Most of the pictures are of people. There are Mum and Papa in front of the oak tree in our front yard. And there is our dog, Elspeth."
Catherine noticed that it was a rather cute looking Corgi.
"The Queen Mum has lots of Corgis," said Trelawney. "My Mum has always liked the Queen Mum, even before she was the Queen Mum."
"Yes, she did," agreed Phoebe. "Who is taking care of Elspeth now?"
"When I left Uncle David and Auntie Anna had her," said Trelawney. "But we were supposed to come right back. I forgot about Elspeth. Do you think that she's okay?"
"Your Auntie Anna loves animals as much as Mum did," soothed Phoebe. "I'm sure that she is fine."
"I wish that she could come here," said the girl. "She was such wonderful company you know. She was born in Tintagel. She told the most lovely stories . . ."
Fortunately there was a noise out in the hallway. Phoebe and Hal breathed a sigh of relief. They were at least saved from trying to explain why Trelawney thought that she could talk to the dog, more to the point, that the dog could talk back. It was fortunate that his parents had never noticed that when she talked to Waldo and the other pets at home that they were actually holding conversations.
Unfortunately, who had entered the house, but none other than Aunt Henrietta? Catherine and Rob looked very unhappy, but there was nothing to be done for it. She must have read the note that Hal had left for the children. She regularly entered their son's house without knocking or ringing the bell.
For some reason she had decided that she could do it here too. So there she was, tunics flowing and scarves billowing. Unusually, the colors were muted, mostly deep purples and blues. She looked less like one of her circus tents than usual. Everyone stood up to greet her. Phoebe could feel herself grow tense. Whatever was on Aunt Henrietta's mind, she was sure that it had to do with her parents.
"Phoebe dear," she said as she entered, sweeping her niece into one of her huge embraces. "This is such a sad day for you. I just had to come and help you mourn. I want to offer whatever meager comfort I can."
Normally this would have been Trelawney's cue to make some sardonic remark about how she knew that the comfort would only be meager, but she was silent and went over to Catherine who put her arm around her. Rob also moved closer to her. However, despite the fact that the day was just as sad for the little girl, Aunt Henrietta pointedly ignored her. Hal was struggling to control himself. He just wanted to get rid of her before she upset Phoebe.
"Thank you for your concern, Auntie," said Phoebe tactfully. "My husband has been very attentive today. In fact, everyone has been very kind to both of us."
Aunt Henrietta gave him a dismissive look and said, "Yes, but he never knew your parents as I did. And neither, did they."
She made a sweeping gesture towards Rob and Catherine. At any other time, Trelawney no doubt would have had a snappy comeback, but today she only looked sad. No acknowledgment of her presence had been made. It was almost as if she was invisible. Aunt Henrietta had entered the living room and now seated herself on the couch beside Phoebe in the empty spot that Trelawney had left.
The others looked at each other but had no choice other than to greet her politely. Catherine kept her arm firmly around Trelawney. She could feel the girl trembling and wondered what she was afraid of. She had never been afraid of Aunt Henrietta before. Usually, she made fun of her. Looking across at Phoebe she could see that she was also anxious. Hal now had his arm around her.
"Ah, yes, dear!" said Aunt Henrietta dramatically. "You can sense it too. You can see why I had to come. Rosalie told me that I must come and find you."
"No disrespect intended, Aunt Henrietta," said Rob politely. "But I think that before you start holding a séance, you might see if Phoebe and Trelawney are up to it. It has already been a very emotional day for both of them."
"Mr. Everett, this is the day when Meg and Owen Figalilly's souls passed into the next world. Thus it is the day that they would surely want to contact their daughters. Rosalie has come to me to let me know that they have a message for Phoebe."
Both girls tensed. Catherine tightened her grip on the little girl, while Phoebe buried her head in Hal's shoulder. This was clearly too much for her.
"Come! Come! Phoebe dear! Do not be afraid!" she said. "You must have expected this. And of course they would come to me, as their medium, so that they could speak to you. After all, Meg was my dear younger sister, just as she (gesturing at Trelawney) is yours."
Catherine was afraid that Rob would toss her out of the house right then and there, but before they knew it she had closed her eyes and gone into a trance. Unless he wanted to really physically remove her they had no choice but to play along. Catherine hoped that it would be over soon. She was more ready to believe that Meg and Owen would have made their presence felt through a shaft of sunlight than via Aunt Henrietta and her contact.
"Rosalie has been given a message for Phoebe," she said mysteriously. "Your little lamb may no longer follow you. There is danger for you both. Danger follows the little lamb. Send the little lamb home and you will both be safe."
At this point, Catherine could no longer hold on to Trelawney. With a little cry that sounded like the yelp of a wounded puppy, she ran upstairs. The look of shock on Phoebe's face was more than she could bear. It was all Hal could do to restrain her from following the little girl out. He was afraid that Aunt Henrietta would follow them. The child needed to get away from her quickly, before any more damage was done. Whatever the "little lamb" reference was, it had obviously upset both of them. But Rob looked furious.
"Get out now!" he said, jumping up. "I don't care who you are and what you are claiming about loving Phoebe. Get out before you upset her any more."
"What do you mean?" asked Aunt Henrietta innocently as she opened her eyes again. "Did I say something that disturbed Phoebe?"
Catherine could see Rob trying to control himself. She could see that Hal was just as angry, but she caught his eye to indicate that he should let his father handle it. Hal needed to focus on keeping Phoebe as calm as possible.
"Are you trying to tell me that you don't know what you just said?" he asked.
"Not at all," she replied smoothly. "Was I in a trance?"
"Yes, you were," said Rob, thinking quickly about the easiest way to get rid of her. "You may consider your message delivered. Now get out of my house!"
Aunt Henrietta slowly picked herself up and moved towards the door. Catherine thought that she looked pleased by the effect that her message had had on the two sisters.
"Phoebe dear, I will call again," she said pleasantly. "We will have some tea and chat about the family then, without these outsiders present."
After she had swept out the door, everyone breathed a sigh of relief except Phoebe.
"I must go to my sister!" she said, now visibly shaking.
"Calm down, dear," said Catherine, taking control. "Rob, get her some chamomile tea. Hal, please sooth her. Phoebe, you must settle down. This kind of upset is not good for you or the baby."
"My sister . . ." she began.
"Is now in my care. You will be of no comfort to her if you are upset yourself. She knows that it is bad for the baby. She will be even more distraught if she is worried about the baby," finished Catherine. "I am sure that now that that madwoman is gone she will return. I'll go get her."
"Wait a minute, Mother," said Hal. "Why was the message so upsetting, Phoebe?"
Phoebe looked around at the confused faces. She realized that Catherine and Hal had absolutely no idea of the significance of the name. She felt sad. Their little secret could no longer be a secret. She wondered how many more of their bonds would be broken today.
"No one, not even my parents, knew that when Trelawney was very young my pet name for her was "little lamb." Because 'everywhere that Phoebe went, her lamb was sure to go,'" she regretfully explained. "She missed me when I went away to university and afterwards while I was traveling. When I came home to visit she would follow me around. But no one ever knew that I called her that. It was one of those little things that she and I alone shared. Now we've lost it."
There were tears in her eyes. She rested her head on her husband's shoulder and he held her tight. Catherine did not know what to say, but she hurried away to check on the child. When she got upstairs, she realized that Trelawney was packing again.
"No," she said, and began putting the clothes back. "Aunt Henrietta is here to try to get you to go home cooperatively. You are staying here. The wise gentleman says so. If you leave you will break your lovely lady's heart."
Trelawney neither agreed nor disagreed. She picked up her doll and curled herself up into a little ball on her bed. Catherine did not know what to do. She refused to answer or acknowledge her. She just didn't seem to be able to figure out anything anymore. She wasn't crying or sleeping. She clutched her doll and stared into space.
Finally Catherine realized that wherever she had retreated, she was lost inside her own head. She was completely overwhelmed. She returned downstairs to find Phoebe sipping her tea and much calmer.
"She's curled up in her sad ball," Catherine told her.
Phoebe sighed. "That's probably the best place for her now. I'm sorry about all this trouble."
"Don't apologize for your aunt, dear," said Rob. "She had no right coming in here and intruding on your grief. Someone in your family must have known about that nickname and gave it to her. It's the only explanation. That whole performance was just a little too neatly staged."
"Trelawney was packing," said Catherine. "However she stopped immediately when I told her that the wise gentleman said that she had to stay."
"I wonder if Aunt Henrietta even realizes that she's living here now," said Hal. "I didn't say anything about it in the note and she didn't even acknowledge her when she came in."
"She also did not mention Phoebe's condition. That seems most odd. Did you tell her?" asked Catherine.
"No, come to think of it, I didn't," she said thoughtfully. "I have not had much desire to speak with her."
"Well if she's as psychic as she claims, you would think that she didn't have to be told either of those things," commented Rob.
"May I go up and see her now?" asked Phoebe, who only wished to escape. None of the Everetts, not even her husband, understood what her sister was feeling. There was an element of violation in the breach of their insignificant little confidence. The innocence was lost and had been turned into a threat. She would never be able to call her "her little lamb" again without the memory of the warning. She had the sinking feeling that there might be some grain of truth in Aunt Henrietta's pronouncement. The challenge was figuring out what the grain was.
However, it made no sense that such a message could have come from their parents. Phoebe, as well as Trelawney, knew very well that this was a secret that they had been able to keep from them. There were others. All children have their own secrets that they do not share with their parents. How could any other family member possibly know? What family member would be so cruel as to give Aunt Henrietta the power to wound them so deeply?
Despite the age difference, Phoebe and Trelawney were no different from other siblings. Most frightening was that her sister had already said that their parents were very close today. She herself had felt it. Whatever had just happened was scary for both of them, but she knew for sure that her parents would never have wanted them separated. They would never have told her to heartlessly send the child away.
And she knew that they would never have done anything that could possibly harm either their daughters or their granddaughter. She found comfort in that realization. This could easily be a bit of theatre on Aunt Henrietta's part designed to provoke an impulsive response. Janet Tucker had warned her of an earlier one at one of her séances for a group of women in town. She wanted to tell her sister right away. They needed to face this together.
Nothing frightened the child more than the idea that her sister could come to harm through her actions. Yet they also needed to be together. Phoebe felt that. It was a genuine feeling, not one based on her filial promise. The girls drew strength and comfort from each other. Whenever Phoebe looked in her sister's face she could see her mother looking back through those innocent blue eyes. The idea that those eyes could harm her or her child in any way was ludicrous. Her trust in the child was just as strong as Trelawney's in her.
"Of course, dear," said Catherine soothingly. "Do you want me to come with you?"
"No," said Phoebe, knowing that they both needed to talk about things that no one else, even these very loving family members could know. "I want to be alone with her for a while."
"Yes, dear," she said and watched as she went up the stairs.
"This has been an emotionally trying day for her," said Hal. "The children will be coming home from school soon."
"I think that they will understand better than you realize that this is a difficult day for them, especially Hal," said Rob. "They can do their homework on the dining room table and have dinner here. Then you can all go home."
"This is so frustrating," said Hal. "I feel so helpless. I thought that we had finally gotten them to the point where we were helping them through this, comforting them even, and then she has to show up."
"It will be all right," said Catherine. "Why don't you and I go upstairs in a bit and check on them?"
When they went up, they peeked in the door and discovered that Trelawney was no longer curled up. The girls were lying side by side on the bed and holding hands, sound asleep and facing each other. It was the posture that they had taken after the lost child had been found on that wretched first day of school months ago. He suspected that they drew some kind of emotional strength from the physical connection.
They seemed to be at peace. There was some sororal bond between them that neither he nor anyone else would ever share. It was a bond so strong that they no longer needed to live in the same house to maintain. However, he sensed that it would be lost if they were separated by literally thousands of miles. In his heart, he knew that his wife needed it. He silently vowed that he would do all that he could to help her keep it.
Catherine put her finger to her lips to indicate that they should just let them be.
"It's better for both of them," said Catherine. "I think that they feel safe now. Trelawney didn't sleep last night and after all the turmoil, Phoebe needs the rest. She usually rests in the afternoon, you know. If you have work to do, why don't you go home and do it. That way you can care for her tonight when you bring her home."
"That's a very good idea, Mother," said Hal. "I need to clear my head of all of Aunt Henrietta's hocus-pocus and try to think straight."
After he left, the children came in. Rob and Catherine sat down with them to explain that it had been a hard day for the two sisters and to let the kids know that Trelawney would now be living with them. They were shocked and immediately concerned about Phoebe and the baby. They knew how much their mother loved her sister. Each of them would miss her in their own way, but none would miss her as much as Mom would.
"They will both be fine," said Catherine. "This is really best for all of you. Your mother knows that I love Trelawney very much and will take care of her as if she were my own little girl. And Trelawney has started to call me Mama Kate."
"Oh," said Prudence. "Now Trelawney is just like us."
"Why is that?" asked Hal.
"Because now she has an earth Mommy and an angel Mommy too," she answered. "And Nana said that an earth Mommy and an angel Mommy are both real Mommies."
"Does that mean that she's Dad's sister now?" asked Butch.
"I guess it does," said Rob. "Although she's really been your Dad's sister-in-law since the wedding."
"Good," said Butch. "Now he can know what it feels like to have an annoying, little sister."
"Hey!" said Prudence. "That's not nice!"
"Neither is having a little sister," he said.
"Enough you two!" said Rob firmly. "Time for homework. You're going to have dinner here and then go back home."
"Oh, man!" said Butch. "How can I possibly do my homework?"
"Give it a rest, Butch," said Hal. "If you don't do it, you'll upset Mom. You don't want to do that, do you?"
"No way!" he said. "I'm sure that she's upset enough."
"Yes, she is," said Catherine firmly. "And I don't want you saying anything about Trelawney moving down the street whether you like it or not."
"What can we talk about?" asked Prudence.
"Why don't you wait and see," suggested Rob. "They're both napping now. I'm sure that when they wake up they'll feel better. Maybe they will know what they want to talk about."
Later in the afternoon, when the sisters came down, they offered to show the Everett children the photo albums. Phoebe had awakened from her nap feeling much refreshed. Trelawney was also in better spirits. Knowing that her sister was happy in her new home with her "Mama Kate" helped Phoebe to become reconciled to the new living arrangement. For once, however, it was Trelawney who got to snuggle up against Phoebe while Prudence stood near with her brothers.
As they looked at the pictures, the children were curious about all the family relationships.
"Guy," said Butch. "I never really thought that you could have so many aunts and uncles and cousins to tell stories about, but I guess that you really do."
"I feel bad about your little doggie," said Prudence. "I hope that she's all right."
"Well," explained Phoebe. "Auntie Anna loves animals and I'm sure that she is taking good care of her."
"Why doesn't she come here?" asked Butch. "Wouldn't you like to have a dog again Grammy?"
"I hadn't thought of it," admitted Catherine. "But I don't know what the rules are for bringing foreign animals into the country. And I don't know if the Figalillys would send her if we asked. It would be a very long plane ride for a dog. And she would have to be crated and kept in the hold with the luggage."
"She wouldn't like that," said Trelawney. "It is a very, very, very long trip and she would get lonely."
They were all quiet. Then Prudence spoke again.
"I saw that you had toys in your old bedroom," she said. "But you don't have any toys here. You didn't want any new toys. Don't you want any of your old toys?"
Trelawney looked at Phoebe, who nodded. It was okay for her to wish for her toys.
"I want my dollhouse," she said. "My Papa made it for me. And I want Tessa's clothes, my Mum and I made them for her. It would help me remember them."
"We'll see what we can do," said Phoebe gently. "Perhaps Emmeline can pack them up and send them as she did the crèche."
"Do you think that she would?" asked Trelawney.
"Sweetheart, your cousin Em loves you. I'm sure that if she knew they would make you a little happier then she would send them," replied Phoebe.
"Do you think that she will be allowed to? Considering everything," asked Rob.
"Emmeline does hold my power of attorney in England," explained Phoebe. "Uncle David, who is her father, is the executor of the will. If she was permitted to the send the crèche, which is far more valuable, I don't see why they wouldn't send the toys."
"The crèche is yours. The toys are mine," said Trelawney. "They want me to come home."
"Let's not worry about it now," said Catherine. "Your cousin is very resourceful. If there is anyway to bring them here, I'm sure that she can figure it out."
Trelawney nodded and then asked for the album with the pictures from her cousin Christabel's wedding. She had not exaggerated when describing it a few months earlier. Soon everyone was laughing over the various ridiculous photos of the "lads" after they had broken into the case of ale. It looked as if they weren't the only ones who had imbibed. And Uncle Bleary O'Leary looked exactly like someone whom you could imagine with a name like that.
Hal came back up from the house right before dinner and found his family sitting around the living room happily chattering about the pictures. He was pleased because Phoebe looked more like her old self. He noticed the open photo albums.
"Showing the kids the family?" he asked.
"Oh, yes!" said Prudence. "Mommy really does have lots and lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins."
"Of course she does," answered Hal with a smile. "What made you think that she didn't?"
"Well, Daddy," she reminded him. "After she first came as Nanny you did say that she was very good at conveniently coming up with one for every occasion. You sounded like you didn't believe that they were real."
"Oh really," he said. "And who was I telling that to when you were spying on me?"
"Dr. . . . uh, oh," she said looking around nervously. "I did it again, didn't I?"
"Yes, you did," said Catherine. "Now it's time for dinner. Your Mommy and Daddy can decide about what to do with you and your tattling when you get home."
Later that night, she tucked Trelawney into bed. The little girl reached up for a kiss.
"Goodnight, Mama Kate," she said sweetly. "I love you."
"I love you too, baby," she replied. "Now get a good night's sleep. You will have to go to school tomorrow."
"Yes, I know," she replied obediently. "I'll do my best to brave. I'll have to tell Francine and Sarah you know. I will try to do it without weeping. I don't want them to feel sad too."
"That's very thoughtful of you," said Catherine. "But I think that they will understand. They are both lovely girls."
"Yes, they are," she said seriously. "I never dreamed that I would ever have friends such as them. They are like the friends that you read about in a storybook. But they are not storybook friends. They are real friends. Real friends are ever so much better."
Catherine gave her another kiss and turned off the light. She left a nightlight on to chase away the nightmares. Trelawney smiled and huddled down in her bed. As she was leaving she heard the girl softly whisper.
"Goodnight, Phoebe. I miss you with all my heart, but I must be a good auntie and protect our little Maisie."
As always, Catherine was troubled by her fancifulness. She knew that she was not intended to hear that little goodnight. But she remembered Pastor Jason's advice that it was more important for her to love the little girl than understand her. Loving her was easy. Trusting Pastor Jason was harder. It required a deeper faith than she had at the moment, but she knew that deepening her own faith would ultimately benefit herself more than anyone else.
There were times when she had to wonder what had brought this child into their lives. She realized that the simplicity and resoluteness of her faith in God was something that few people ever attained. Perhaps she was there to help them all strengthen their faith. Despite all the warnings and mixed messages that they were getting about her, she could not help but see the child as a blessing to them all. She would guard her well.
When they returned home, Hal sent Phoebe to bed and took charge of the three children. They all commented that they missed Trelawney, even Hal and Butch who frequently argued with her about the bathroom at bedtime. Thus things were very muted as they got ready and went to bed in silence. At last he was able to turn in himself. It had been a long day.
Despite the wretched beginning of the day, Hal realized that things had worked out for the best. Trelawney was now where she was supposed to be and felt safe. Phoebe had made peace with the move and knew that it was all for the best. They had both had the opportunity to share memories of their parents and family with their new family. The only truly regrettable part of the day was Aunt Henrietta's visit.
He really didn't want her near Phoebe ever again, but there was no way to stop her. He suspected that she was the reason that Emmeline couldn't come to visit for now. She was also the reason why Trelawney had to leave them. He was afraid that she really might do harm to Phoebe and the baby with her nonsense. It was difficult not to dislike her, even for his wife's sake.
Since Dad was now aware that Uncle David was the executor of the will, he was hoping that he would help Emmeline send Trelawney's toys that she wanted. Although Pastor Jason didn't want them to have contact with Emmeline, there was not reason why Phoebe shouldn't. The toys were presently just sitting in the house and had no meaning to anyone but the child. It was too bad about the dog, but a trans-Atlantic, followed by trans-continental flight was hard enough for a human in the passenger cabin. It would be much too hard for a dog in the cargo hold.
Mother and Dad were also hopeful that if they could make direct contact with Uncle David that they could begin to talk about her guardianship. If he were the child's godfather and the estate executor, he would have to have some weight within the family. If they could work this out without going through the courts then it would be easier on all of them. Besides, they had been told not to contact Emmeline directly.
However seeing pictures of the family and discovering that they were just as normal looking as any other English country people helped to set his own mind at rest that they were not some kind of "bogey-men" to be feared. Their concern for the child had a rational basis, as long as you were able to suspend your own preconceived notions of intuition and ESP. He was beginning to realize that they really had the best interests of the child at heart. So far the only family member that had shown any genuine dislike of her was Aunt Henrietta. But he felt that she was jealous and therefore didn't count.
He recalled that when this news had come to them one year ago, it had literally turned all of their worlds upside down. Realizing that he could actually lose the woman that he was only beginning to recognize as something more special to him than just a housekeeper had opened his own mind to a possible permanent relationship with her. Within the span of that year, she had become his wife and was now carrying their first child, a daughter who would bear the name of her grandmother. The cycle of life goes on. His mother was right. Their child was the hope of all their future dreams.
Now his wife was welcoming him to their bed, literally with open arms. He was pretty tired himself. It had been a tough day all around and he would have more work to catch up on tomorrow. Holding her felt good. She began to run her hands up and down his body. He felt himself respond and tenderly kissed her. Her own response was stronger. She sought his mouth more deeply and pulled him closer. For a minute he looked down at her. But they didn't need words anymore to express their desires.
She looked up into his eyes expectantly, so what could he do? He enjoyed the feeling of rediscovering her. They had only just made love last night, but it felt like a year ago. It was amazing how so many things could happen in one day. As always, she was responsive and softly moaned as he entered her. He tried to be gentle, but before he knew it he was lost in her. Her response was no less intense. She had lost none of her passion in her condition. He guessed that those pregnancy hormones affected every woman differently. It was a pleasant thought.
As they got ready to sleep, he laid his hand on her belly where he knew their child was growing larger every day. Soon the soft curves would emerge that would announce his wife's blessed state to the world. Discerning his thoughts, Phoebe smiled and snuggled closer. She felt safe and at peace. One part of her life's journey was ending, even as a new one was beginning.
Once she had drifted off Hal thought that it was almost a shame that she would have to get up in the morning and deal with the morning sickness all over again. But it would pass as all things do and before they knew it little Maisie would be waking them up in the middle of the night. He doubted that either of them would mind when she did.