I do not own these characters and make no profit from their use.
It is very rare that loving parents do not plan for the ultimate tragic event of their passing into the next life. Most parents think most realistically that perhaps one of them will pass before the other. There are very few who imagine that a single event will take both of them at the same time. Nevertheless, the most pragmatic will make plans, just in case. Owen and Meg Figalilly were very practical people. With their older daughter out of the house and living in the larger world, and their younger one still at home and in need of special attention they had carefully set forth their desires in their wills.
These desires however in no way took into account the rapidity with which changes in their daughters' lives might take place after their passing. What they had imagined as a simple plan, within a single year, had taken on a complexity and heart-breaking aspect that would have seemed impossible before. The marriage of their older daughter to an "outsider" now made it impossible for her to raise her younger sister in the safety of their home village. In fact, it compromised her ability to raise her at all.
The girls had been brought up with the expectation that in the case of an untimely death of their parents, before the younger child had reached adulthood, they would be together. Their love for one another was singular. It had been carefully nurtured by their parents, once they had seen their closeness of mind and spirit. They had a rare sibling relationship. The age difference was such that there had never been any hint of rivalry.
To those who knew the family well, it appeared that the older sister, Phoebe, was the natural caregiver for the younger, Trelawney. She had vowed not once, but twice, to always care for her. Phoebe lived her life as a nanny, traveling the world and setting it to rights "one family at a time," as she like to say. The relationships that she developed with these families were temporary. Her role in their lives was transitional. The nature of Phoebe's chosen career was such that it did not permit deep ties with those she served, even the children. Trelawney was the one child to whom she could always return.
Whenever she completed a job, if there was not another immediately waiting for her, she returned home to their little village by the sea not far from the city of Tintagel in Cornwall, England. The little girl, who could sense her coming, was always waiting there for her. Possessed of an inherent goodness herself, she never reproached her older sister for spending time away from her. She understood that her sister was engaged in important work in the larger world and willingly "shared" her with others who needed her.
All Figalillys understood the very great power of the family in helping healthy humans to stay grounded. Trelawney was proud that her sister had set out upon her selfless mission to make the world a better place. She quietly supported her by never making her feel guilty for the times they were separated. And she learned to model her altruistic tendencies in her own life. Meg and Owen were proud of both their girls. They both had caring natures and loving hearts. They gave freely of their love and expected nothing in return. Perhaps it was because they always knew that they had each other to count on for the unconditional love that every person needs in her life.
Theirs was a symbiotic relationship, however it was not exclusive. It was not a part of either of their natures to feel jealousy. Meg and Owen had done their job well. Each girl knew that there was no such thing as too much love in one's life. Sadly, there were very few others in the larger world who understood this. Even those who loved them, might take advantage of this self-sacrificing aspect of their natures. The harm was unintentional, but nonetheless very real.
If the actions were intentional, it would be much easier to address them. However neither girl was adept at advocating on her own behalf. In their desire to avoid uncomfortable confrontation, they suffered in silence. It was highly doubtful that their parents, when they were raising them to embrace their own, innate good natures, had ever thought that one day they might be exploited. Neither had spent enough time in the larger world to have truly understood this aspect of human relationships.
Caught up in this web of complexity, Phoebe and Trelawney found themselves mired in a sea of human relationships that now threatened to separate them. All it takes is one choice in life to alter every other facet of one's life. Such a thing happened when Phoebe chose to marry outside her people and live in the larger world. When she fell in love with her employer, Professor Harold Everett, she knew that it would mean big changes in her life. It took only a few months to realize how large they were and the impact that they would have on her relationship with her younger sister.
With the passing of Phoebe's parents, promises began to come to light than were made by other family members to protect their daughters. Phoebe was not the only one who had promised to care for her rather fragile younger sister. However her ability to fulfill that promise was now compromised by the fact that the girl was no longer living in her household. She could no longer see her as frequently as she might have wished. Their interactions were now visits. The responsibility for raising her now lay with two other people. Quietly and privately, she mourned this loss.
In the days following the first anniversary of Phoebe's parents' untimely deaths, things in the Everett house began to fall into a new routine. Hal had originally thought that things would be easier for his wife with her sister living up the street with his parents. But he now discovered that he was wrong. Young Trelawney had been very helpful to her sister around the house. However, it was not in her nature to publicize her good deeds. This was very different from his own children who seemed to want to claim credit for every little thing they did.
Phoebe had become pregnant a little more than month after her wedding. She was overjoyed by this blessing, as was Trelawney. They both saw it as a renewal of life. It was the fulfillment of God's promise that even in the face of tragedy, life goes on. Their joy soon became bittersweet.
For reasons unknown to anyone, the safety of Phoebe, Trelawney, and the unborn child Maisie was now reliant on Trelawney living with Phoebe's mother-in-law, Catherine. Both girls loved her dearly and she was happy to "mother" both of them. Hal was not entirely sorry to see his sister-in-law move out. The issue of the chores, however, was very inconvenient.
There was no longer an easy way to divide the tasks between the girls and the boys, since Prudence couldn't do alone what she and Trelawney had done together. In fact, now they discovered that she hadn't done much of the work at all. The situation was likewise with Hal and Butch. In front of his parents Butch was cooperative, but left alone with Hal he drove him crazy. But Hal was like Trelawney and quietly carried the burden of the tasks so that his mother wouldn't have to do them.
Once he realized that the chores would have to be reshuffled, Hal decided that Butch and Prudence should work together and Hal alone. This was the arrangement that made younger children's shirking of their duties apparent. In addition to not accomplishing anything, they argued most of the time. Phoebe found that refereeing the constant squabbling was more stressful than the housework itself. She ended up doing a lot of it again herself.
Even though things were early going in the pregnancy, Hal didn't want her doing any of the heavy lifting or too much work. He also did not want her in a permanent state of anxiety. The result was a complex division of labor that needed to be closely monitored. Hal had really grown up in the last few months and willingly accepted the more strenuous tasks. Phoebe had more to keep organized but less physically strenuous work.
When she was feeling tired in the afternoons, Mother would often come down to cook dinner and they would all eat together. While they were at the house, Trelawney made herself quietly useful doing some of the chores to help Hal. However, Phoebe missed her sister for much more than the help that she gave her with the housework. She missed her companionship and her quiet, unconditional love.
Once again, Hal had not realized that the bond the two sisters shared was something that could not be replaced by any other. Trelawney was more than just a sister to her. Since there were only the two of them, with both of their parents gone, they only really had each other. They shared unique experiences from within their family life. His mother had to point out to him that the child was the picture of her mother. No doubt, Phoebe felt her presence whenever she saw her sister smiling at her.
Of all of them, Trelawney seemed happiest with the new arrangement. She liked having her own room again. It was a room that was really hers, not one shared with a younger child or on loan while it awaited the baby to whom it would ultimately belong. His parents' piano, a baby grand, was of a better quality than his own upright.
The house was quieter, but she didn't mind. Living with his parents was much more like living with her own parents. She was still close enough that she and her best friend Francine could still easily walk between their houses. An added benefit was not having Prudence hanging around while they were playing. What he didn't realize was that the child would happily have given up these amenities for more time with her sister.
Living with Mother, a former English teacher, was also useful because some of the books that the children read in school were difficult for her emotionally. Mother was able to closely monitor what she was reading and talk to her when the topics would get painful. Hal could think of many ways that the living arrangements were beneficial for the sisters, not to mention himself. He had a harder time seeing the downsides.
Trelawney had a very difficult time fitting in with American culture. His son Hal kept an eye on her in school. If any of the kids tried to tease her, he was there to defend her. She was trying to keep a low profile and her best friends Francine and Sarah also tried to protect her, but it wasn't easy. Her charming innocence did not play well in the pseudo-sophisticated social world of the American middle school. At her age she had no interest in boys and secretly played with dolls at home.
In many ways she was still a little girl. Actually, so were the other seventh grade girls however they aspired to a maturity that did not interest Trelawney. Knowing all the teenage girl issues that would be coming down the line, Hal was perfectly happy with her the way she was. Most importantly, she did not feel disadvantaged by her authentic childlike quality. However the other kids did find her "weird."
Fortunately, Rob and Catherine would now be able to keep these issues from Phoebe. Anything that might come up on the radar at school would be directly addressed to them. Catherine also told Mrs. Fowler to feel free pass along any of her observations to her, which she did.
However, Catherine had a much higher threshold of tolerance toward the busybody than Hal had, so relations became more cordial with their next-door neighbor. Hal might know what was up, but he saw no reason to tell his wife. His son also kept quiet. Together, they were able to keep these difficult aspects of parenting from her. Thus, Phoebe was able to pass through the next couple of weeks of her pregnancy with comparatively little stress.
Then Rob and Catherine received a letter from David Figalilly, who was Emmeline's father. Emmeline was Phoebe's first cousin and her best friend from childhood. She had aided and abetted the romance to its logical conclusion of marriage. He also sent a letter to Phoebe, telling her the same thing.
He had decided to come to America and meet with Rob and Catherine who were now Trelawney's guardians. And he wanted to meet Phoebe's new husband and stepchildren. None of the men in the family had met any of them. Uncle Alfred, because he was not a true Figalilly uncle, did not count. And only Emmeline had met Hal's parents.
The Figalilly family knew that she was almost at the end of the first trimester of her pregnancy and that they had been married for four months. This situation was acceptable to their way of thinking, as there was a comfortable margin of error between wedding and conception.
It was also quite common for Figalilly women to become pregnant immediately after the wedding. Even a child who was the product of a mixed marriage was a blessing to family and would certainly be treated as such. As Meg and Owen's first posthumous grandchild, it was only natural that the family would feel that the future event was even more special than usual.
It was decided that Uncle David would stay with Rob and Catherine because they had more space and it was felt that he was really there to check up on Trelawney anyway. While the children were at school, he would have plenty of time to spend with his older niece. He was amenable to the arrangements. In fact, he seemed amenable to everything they suggested. It occurred to no one that perhaps he was being a little bit too amenable.
He let them know that he did not wish to take an adversarial position. In fact, he would bring the doll clothing that the child had requested because it was easily packed and carried. Trelawney had told them that having it would help her to remember her Mum. There was also a handmade dollhouse that her father had built for her when she was a small child and her mother's pet Corgi. But these were things that could not be easily transported. He would make no promises. Phoebe told them that he had been her father's favorite sibling and the one closest to his own age.
Since her father had been the eldest son, and had no sons of his own, that mantle of pater familias had been passed to him on the Figalilly side of the family. They had known that sooner or later some other representative of the family would show up. Uncle David was far more preferable than some others. Not only was he the most important male on the Figalilly side of the family, he was the most likely to be sympathetic to the girls' situation.
Her mother's side, the Trelawneys, for whom her younger sister had been named, would no doubt also have their say. Probably one of them would eventually make their own visit. However within the patriarchal culture of the village world, it was the father's side that held the greater power. The only disadvantage that the Figalillys had was that the patriarch of the Trelawneys was of the older generation. Uncle David was a good bit younger and in this case, age mattered greatly. Fortunately, legally, he had the upper hand. He was the executor of his brother's, and therefore his wife's, estate.
Visitor from Afar
Hal wasn't sure about how he felt about his Mom's uncle who was coming from England to visit them. He was starting to understand how she had felt when she had to meet Nana and Papa. He felt as if his whole family was on trial or something. Of course, just like Nana, there wasn't anything that he could do about the fact that Mom and Dad were married. Especially since Mom was going to have a baby in August.
In the last week, Hal had noticed that Mom was beginning to show that she was pregnant. Even Butch noticed, but it was kind of hard not to notice. Very often when Dad came into a room, he didn't just hug her around the waist like he always did. Sometimes he would put one arm behind her back and place his other hand right on her stomach where the baby was starting to show. Then they would share a special look.
Mom and Dad had always had special looks that they gave each other, or had on their faces when they were thinking of each other. But this was a new look. This look said, "I can't believe it." In health class in school, they had learned all about how babies are conceived and a lot about preventing babies from being conceived. He used to feel very uncomfortable when he thought of his parents doing those things. But now that Mom was actually going to have a baby, it didn't bother him so much. In fact it even made sense.
Hal knew by the way that Mom and Dad looked at each other that they had always wanted to have a baby together. Now that Mom was pregnant, he could see why. Just when he thought that they couldn't love each other any more than they already did, they seemed to love each other even more. He understood now why his father had referred to making love as a sacred act that you only did with someone that you committed to. The baby was proof of the commitment and it was special.
Dad was suddenly even more concerned about taking care of Mom. Hal had a feeling that Dad had thought that Mom might be pregnant before Christmas when it was too early to know. But now that he knew for sure, he seemed to be even more worried. Hal knew that he was kind of glad when Trelawney moved in with Grammy and Grampie. He had thought that she upset Mom. Of course he hadn't been around often enough to know how much Mom really loved Trelawney and missed her now.
Then his Dad found out that Trelawney had really been a very big help to Mom. Hal had always known that because they had talked about how they had to pick up the slack for Butch and Prudence. Now Butch and Prudence had to pick up their own slack and they didn't like it. Dad didn't accept their excuses and didn't understand why he and Trelawney had. But he and Trelawney had not wanted to fight about it with them, because they didn't want to upset Mom and they were afraid that if they told Dad then he would blow his top and that would upset Mom. What it had all boiled down to was that they both loved Mom and didn't want to upset her.
When he suddenly realized what had been going on, Dad asked him about it. He admitted that he and Trelawney had pretty much been doing all the work because they didn't want Mom to do it or have to yell at Butch and Prudence. But he also told him that he couldn't do his work and Trelawney's especially since she had done jobs that weren't even on the chore list. Dad had looked kind of funny when he told him that.
But Mom was still sick in the mornings and tired in the afternoons. So she couldn't do as much as she used to. Grammy helped, but the biggest help came when Trelawney, Francine and Sarah came in a couple of afternoons a week to do some of the weekly chores. Sarah and Francine said that they didn't mind because Mom was bringing a new life into the world and nothing was more important than that.
Dad still wanted Butch and Prudence to do more, but when he found out that Uncle David was coming, he wanted to show him that Mom wasn't trying to do too much. He didn't want the house to be all upset while the guest was there. So he decided to let things slide. Trelawney came over to visit and spend most of her time doing chores. But she never complained. She just looked sad when she saw Prudence cuddling up to Mom for a story or to tell her about her day. That kind of made Hal mad, but of course he couldn't say anything.
Hal was curious about Uncle David because he was Emmeline's father. Trelawney liked him because she said he was a "good uncle." She didn't think that he would make her go back to England with him. Hal could tell that Mom and Dad and Grammy and Grampie were still worried. Trelawney wasn't worried. She said that as long as she stayed near her Mama Kate then she would be safe. Hal wasn't exactly sure of why that was or why she thought that she wasn't safe, but he figured that she was right. It seemed to him to be the kind of thing that she would know.
After Trelawney moved in with Grammy and Grampie she started calling Grammy "Mama Kate." Nobody knew why. Grammy said that no one had ever called her Kate before. She had always been Catherine. It seemed weird that someone who loved her Mum as much as Trelawney would want to call someone else Mama. It had taken Hal a whole week to finally call his stepmother Mom. Whatever the reason, she called Grammy Mama Kate. Since it made her happy, no one objected. That was the way it was with Trelawney. Most of the time nobody understood her, but if something made her happy, they let her do it.
The day that Uncle David came was going to be a very important day and everyone wanted to make a good first impression. It was a Saturday and it had been decided that Grampie would go to the airport to pick him up alone. The grown ups had talked and talked about it, but they finally figured that Grampie was their best bet. Grammy wanted to be home with Trelawney. Mom didn't feel like going on the long drive. And everybody was afraid that if Uncle David said one little thing wrong, then Dad would blow his cool.
Uncle David would go straight to Grampie's house, because he was staying there and they would all be waiting for him there. Grammy worried that he might be overwhelmed but Trelawney laughed and said that since he was a Figalilly there was no way that any amount of family would overwhelm him. Grammy smiled when she said that, smoothed back her hair, and kissed her head.
Hal noticed that since Trelawney had moved in with them, Grammy and Grampie were treating her real special. He was glad because he knew that she needed it. She missed her Mum a lot more than she let on to the family. Trelawney was like Mom. She never wanted other people to know when she was feeling sad. If Hal noticed, she made him promise not to tell. He always felt funny about not telling, but a promise was a promise. He wouldn't break it.
He knew that she loved Mom more than any other person on the planet, but Mom didn't always have time for her. She had a lot to do to run the house and take care of them and Dad. He knew that sometimes she just wanted her sister "all to herself" for "a wee bit." She told her friend Sarah a while back when she was still living at home. Once when she was visiting the Tuckers and feeling sad, Sarah asked her why. Sarah told Topher and Topher told him. They all agreed that Trelawney needed to tell Mom, but she wouldn't. No matter what, Sarah and Francine could not convince her.
She said that Mom didn't have the time and she didn't want her to worry. That was typical of her. She always put her sister, and now the baby, first. Hal wished that she would think about her own feelings once in a while so that she wouldn't be so sad. Hal had thought about telling Mom himself, but Topher told him to keep his mouth shut. He was afraid that if Trelawney found out that Sarah had told him that she wouldn't trust her anymore. Hal figured that it must be one of those girl things. He guessed that because Topher had five sisters that he understood them better than he did.
When Hal thought about it, it seemed kind of odd that everyone had assumed that Mom and Trelawney would be just as happy with Trelawney living with Grammy and Grampie. Everyone thought that it would be easier for Mom. But it wasn't easier for Mom and Hal could see that they both missed each other a lot. Now they were hardly ever together. Even though they had other people to love them, they seemed to love each other in a way that no one else could.
Hal remembered a year ago when he had the idea that if Trelawney came to live with them that they could all be one family. He thought that she could be like their sister. But that didn't happen. They were a family, but somehow Trelawney got left out. When she started having nightmares nobody seemed to want to think of her like a sister to them anymore, especially Dad. Everyone seemed to think that living with Grammy and Grampie was the same, but it wasn't.
But this time Hal didn't know what to do. He knew that Dad really didn't want Trelawney to come back so he didn't even try to bring it up. Besides, they called Mom's old room the nursery now. Unless Trelawney could sleep in Prudence's room again, there was no place for her. He wondered what Uncle David would think when he saw how much both Mom and Trelawney missed each other.
He thought that it was strange that something so obvious that it was happening right under their noses but the grown ups didn't see it. Of course, that was the way that grown ups were. They spent more time talking than watching. Hal watched because he knew that you learned more by paying attention. If you wanted a grown up to know something then you had to tell them.
But Mom and Trelawney never complained, so the others never knew. Mom and Trelawney were more concerned about how everyone else felt. That was just how they were. But Hal didn't think that it was right that they were the only ones feeling sad and no one else cared. Well, he cared. But he was just a kid, so he didn't count.
Now they were all at Grammy's house waiting for Uncle David to come. They weren't dressed up, except for Trelawney. They were just dressed nicely. Trelawney was wearing a pretty blue and white dress that made her eyes look bluer. Grammy had pulled back her hair into a long, ponytail with a blue ribbon. She had brushed it so that it hung down her back in one big curl. She hadn't had her hair cut, since she had come and now it was very long. It had to be braided for school or it would get tangled. Because her hair was naturally wavy, it wasn't easy to manage. But she refused to cut it. Nobody knew why, but Mom and Grammy said to let her be.
When they heard the car coming into the driveway, everyone stood up. Hal could see that Mom, Dad, and Grammy were nervous and Butch and Prudence didn't know want to think. Trelawney was just plain happy and ran out the door. Everyone followed her. When the door of car opened, Hal saw a little dog leap out. Trelawney squealed as the dog ran to her and began to jump all over her.
"Uncle David brought Elspeth," said Mom, shaking her head. "I can't believe it."
After the dog was finished jumping and yapping all over Trelawney, she ran over to Mom who bent down and said, "Do you remember me, Elspeth? You haven't seen me in so long."
The dog yapped back and stood while she was petted and scratched, and then ran straight back to Trelawney who was sitting on the grass and rested her head in her lap. Hal thought that she looked happier than she had in a long time. Butch and Prudence went over to meet her, but she wouldn't leave Trelawney's side.
She let them pet her and she seemed very friendly. Hal thought that the dog was trying to protect her. He had never seen a Corgi before, not even in a book. She was kind of a funny looking dog. She was mostly cream-colored with some brown. You would think that she was medium size but her legs were very short. She always seemed to be smiling.
Then he looked up and saw a gray-haired man walking over to the door with Grampie. He wasn't very tall and Hal thought that he thought that he had a very kind face. He looked over at Trelawney sitting on the grass with the dog and smiled like he loved her a lot. He figured that he was Uncle David. He walked right over to Mom and gave her a hug and kissed her cheek.
"Congratulations, Phoebe. You look beautiful. You've got that glow that a woman has when she's carrying a child," he said with a smile. "Now aren't you going to introduce me to my new nephew?"
"Yes, of course Uncle David," she said, smiling proudly. "This is Professor Harold Everett. Hal, this is my uncle David Figalilly."
"Good to meet you, sir," said Dad, shaking his hand. "My mother, Catherine Everett."
"Yes, of course," he said shaking her hand. "We've heard about you and your blue milkshakes from the little one."
"I'm sure that you have, Mr. Figalilly," she said, smiling. "I'm pleased to meet you."
"Well," he said. "Since we're family and all, why don't you just call me David? May I call you Catherine?"
"Yes, of course," she said. Hal could see that she was happy because he was so friendly.
"I hope that you don't mind that I brought the dog," he said. "She is small enough that she was allowed to travel with me in the cabin in a carrier and then I was able to get out and walk her at the airports during layovers. I wouldn't want to do it again, but I had heard that the little one was pining for her."
"You did?" said Mom, surprised. "Who told you that?"
"Why you might say it was your beloved, darling girl," he replied. "When we were making the arrangements, I asked if there was anything that she missed besides the toys, and he said the dog."
"I wasn't expecting you to bring her," said Dad, just as surprised as Mom. "But as you can see, she is very happy."
"Well, I have the doll clothing with me," he said. "I shipped the dollhouse, but I am not sure of when it will arrive."
"Oh, she will be so pleased," said Mom, who now had tears in her eyes.
"Well, I can see that you're going to be one of those emotional pregnant women, niece," he commented. "Your Mum always was. Do you remember when she was carrying Trelawney?"
"Oh yes," said Mom. "I remember the day when Papa pulled out the cradle from storage. She was crying because she had thought that they would never use it again."
"Well, Phoebe, love," he said. "It's yours now. I had it shipped with the dollhouse. I know that Owen would have wanted his grandchildren to sleep in it."
"Thank you, Uncle David," she said, putting her arms around his neck. He put his arms around her and patted her back.
"There, there, love," he comforted her. "Owen and Meg are with you, you know."
Hal could see that things were getting kind of mushy. He decided to go over and meet the dog himself. Of course, he didn't understand why it had to have such a dumb name. Who ever heard of a dog named Elspeth? In fact, who ever heard of anyone named Elspeth? It must be an English name. Oh well, he guessed that Fifi was an even dumber name. And at least Trelawney's dog wasn't a poodle.
Foibles and Follies
Catherine had to admit that she liked David very much. She could see where Emmeline had acquired her cool, rather reticent, manner. He also looked like a man on serious business. His manner with the girls was clearly affectionate. And it was genuine. She was glad to see that their fears that he might be coming to challenge the present arrangements might be unfounded. Trelawney was very grateful for the return of her pet, which had really been her mother's. Even the dog herself seemed to know very well why she was there. She was always at the little girl's heels, including sitting underneath her chair at dinner.
Considering the fact that they had been separated for more than a year, it was amazing that the dog remembered her. However she did know that dogs were very loyal companions. It was amusing to watch Trelawney with her. She talked to her as if she were a person and seemed to understand her when she yipped or whimpered back to her. It was very cute. She had a feeling that the dog would also be sleeping on the bed with her. Normally she didn't approve of dogs sleeping on beds, but in this case she would make an exception. She was sure that that would be a comfort for the child.
At dinner, David wanted to know about all of them. He seemed determined to find out as much as he could about his niece's new family. Catherine was amused by the way he continuously engaged the children, especially Prudence. He seemed to instinctively know that she was his best source of information. She also noticed that he was unobtrusively watching what Trelawney ate. She had put on a bit of weight since Christmas, but she had a lot to make up for. However, she was so happy that the dog was there that she gladly ate everything on her plate. And she had her blue milk shake.
The shakes were part of the plan to help her gain back her weight. It was difficult to get her to eat meat and healthy sources of protein. She liked fish and poultry but not much else. To tempt her, she had baked cod tonight. She did like most fruits and vegetables, but she loved sweets. Catherine was happy with anything that she put in her mouth, but she wanted to make sure that she had a healthy diet in addition to the daily vitamin supplements that she now took.
"It's convenient that you decided to move right up the street from your son's family," commented David.
"Well," said Rob. "My other two sons do a lot of traveling in their work. When we came down for the marriage blessing, we stayed to babysit for the kids while Hal and Phoebe had a few days away. Then we decided to stay a little longer. Before we knew it, we were not only involved with the family, but with the whole community. We had no real ties in the old town, so here we are."
"We like having Grammy and Grampie around," put in Prudence. "Because they give Mommy lots of help. They do lots of driving us around now in the afternoon when she is tired. And sometimes Grammy cooks dinner. Trelawney helps too."
"Yes, Phoebe, that is something new for you," said David. "Back home we never really had to drive you kids anywhere. You could walk to the different places that you might want to go. Things were a lot simpler. In fact, things still are pretty simple."
"I would agree with that," said Phoebe. "I've lived and worked with families all over the world and this is the first place where I have actually needed to have a car."
"Oh, yes," replied David. "I'm looking forward to seeing the 1930 Model T., Hal. Emmeline tells me that you restored it and got it up and running again."
"Yes, sir," said Hal, politely. "I fixed the engine, but everyone else worked on fixing the body and painting it."
"Except Daddy," giggled Prudence. "He didn't believe that we could do it."
Everyone laughed and Hal said, "It was one of those times when I was happy to be proven wrong."
"And it wasn't the last time," said Butch, in a rather fresh tone of voice.
"Now enough of that," scolded Phoebe. "Let's not go off on another tattling spree."
"Oh," said David, with a twinkle in his eye. "They like to tell tales, do they? Well, kids, I can tell you a few stories about your Mom and Emmeline, and some of the tattling they used to do on Em's older sisters. But I wouldn't want to be caught out telling tales myself."
"Really?" said Prudence, looking at Phoebe. "Then why are you so mean to me when I tattle?"
"Probably because we were certainly punished for telling one tale too many," answered Phoebe. "I believe that the favorite punishment was to be sent to your room without supper."
"Yes, it was," affirmed David. "And usually after quite a scolding."
"Oh," said Prudence. "We get scolded and then we aren't allowed to watch TV."
"We didn't have TV at home," said Trelawney, finally deciding to join the conversation now that her plate was clean. "We didn't need it. There were too many other interesting things to do."
"Do you ever watch TV here?" asked David, curiously.
"No," replied the girl. "It's just a lot of boring rot. I'd rather read a book."
"I wouldn't," said Butch, defensively. "I think that books are a lot of boring, what is it?"
"Well they don't call it the 'boob tube' for nothing," commented his brother Hal.
"Hey, who are you calling a boob?" said Butch. "You watch TV sometimes too, you know!"
"Okay boys, let's not disgrace ourselves in front of company," said their father.
"Oh, I don't mind," replied David mildly. "It brings back memories of our supper table when the children were growing up."
"Do you have a lot of children?" asked Catherine.
"Three boys and three girls," he said cheerfully. "And all of them have got the wander bug except our Christabel. We only have the two grandbabies."
"Trelawney told us all about Christabel's wedding," said Prudence, tattling once again. She knew that Emmeline had not been happy that Trelawney had told them about it and she wanted to see if Uncle David would react the same way.
"And she showed us pictures," added Butch, with the same intention. He was still annoyed that he wasn't paid for dropping the comment that had resulted in the scolding.
"Did she now?" mused David with a little smile on his face. Like his nieces he was able to discern the thoughts of others so he knew what the children were about. He decided not to reward them with a response. "We could always count on our Trelawney to tell a few tales herself, couldn't we?"
Trelawney just smiled innocently and gave him her sweetest "who me?" look. Catherine was amused by the fact that she wasn't embarrassed at all. David looked at her fondly if not indulgently. It suddenly occurred to her that this man, who was in fact her godfather, loved her very much. Bringing a dog, even a small, well-behaved dog like Elspeth halfway around the world was no easy task.
The issue of keeping her near Phoebe had so far only been viewed from Phoebe's perspective. She began to realize that there were two sides to the story. She suspected that this gentleman had at one time imagined that he would take the place of surrogate father in her life. Had Phoebe returned home that probably would have happened. No doubt he would have also protected her from the "betrothed from birth" as soon as he knew about it.
She also began to suspect that this visit wasn't entirely about his approval of the situation. What he really wanted to do was to see for himself if the girls were as happy as they claimed to be. If Phoebe weren't so radiantly happy, no doubt her son would have had a lot to answer for. David obviously took his role as his brother's surrogate very seriously. Trelawney was more difficult. But then, when wasn't Trelawney difficult? Even when she was a happy, sweet, and innocent child she was hard to read. Right now she was behaving beautifully. She just hoped that she wasn't being too well behaved.
Catherine insisted that after dinner, Phoebe and Trelawney go into the living room with the men. She kept her grandchildren in the kitchen to help clean up. She knew about all of their nonsense with their chores and she refused to take any foolishness from Butch and Prudence. When Butch complained that Trelawney didn't have to clean up and it was her house, she told him that Trelawney did a lot more cleaning up at his house than he ever did. He quickly shut up. That was one comparison that he didn't want to think about.
Phoebe no longer objected when she was told to put her feet up. She was frequently tired now and they were all encouraging her to rest. Butch tried to tempt the dog to stay with them with a scrap of fish, but she refused to leave Trelawney's side. He shook his head after the others had left and said that the dog was just as weird as Trelawney.
This earned him a pretty decent clobber from his brother who told him to leave her alone. Catherine sighed and told them that they weren't allowed to talk to each other again until all the work was done. She could see why Phoebe was always so tired. Her grandchildren were a handful.
The Rainbow Promise
Rob found himself liking David Figalilly in spite of himself. David was a very practical and down to earth person who loved his nieces a great deal. When they had been driving back from the airport, he had admitted that much of his own disappointment when the girls had failed return home came from the fact that as Owen's next youngest brother he had felt a certain duty towards caring for them and comforting them in their grief. He had also deeply felt the loss. Since of his three brothers, Owen had been the closest. His daughters were a connection to him that he missed.
Owen had been a carpenter. He was a very skilled artisan, but not at all any kind of tradesman and therefore no good with money. It was David, the shopkeeper, who had helped him sell his various pieces not only in his own shop in town, but at others in the region. Trelawney had not exaggerated when she had said that people came from all over to buy his furniture, toys, and all. Handcrafted furniture was difficult to find these days and Owen's work was exceptional. The pieces sold for excellent prices and had allowed his brother to live comfortably. Because he lived simply, there had been quite a bit "tucked away for a rainy day."
At present, the financial situation was such that there was a generous "marriage portion" for Phoebe, which, once the will passed through probate, would actually be in the control of her husband. Trelawney had her own marriage portion, also to be managed by her husband some day. There was a good bit set aside for her upbringing because she was still so young. And then there was the house. David was reluctant to sell it, in case either girl wanted to come home. At some point the contents must be dealt with, but until Phoebe was ready to do it, he and Emmeline would look after it for her.
He had been very concerned when the girls chose to remain in America rather than come home. He had felt that it was important that they have a permanent home. He did not like the fact that Phoebe was choosing to continue her work as a "domestic" when she now had the financial means to live independently. He had been very concerned about what this would mean for Trelawney and her status in the household, if her sister was, for all intents and purposes, a servant. To a certain extent these concerns were proved out when Trelawney was moved out a month ago.
Phoebe no longer had the excuse of wanderlust to pursue her career as a nanny, since she was apparently planning to stay with the Everetts for an indefinite period of time. That made him uncomfortable. And he was very concerned when Trelawney had difficulties fitting in at school.
From his point of view, he felt that it would have been better for both girls to come home, grieve among their own, and then make their larger life decisions when they were emotionally settled. He had felt that in her present emotional state, Phoebe really didn't know her own mind. Trelawney did know her mind, but her needs were simple. She wanted to be with her sister, no matter what.
Despite Emmeline's assurances to the contrary, he had been very worried about Phoebe when she turned her back on the family by refusing to marry Cholmondeley. She had always been the dutiful daughter and had always put family first. Her behavior was most out of character. Then when she demonstrated that she was clearly in love with her employer, as he had viewed Hal, he was concerned that he might be taking advantage of her. The age difference had bothered him a lot. He viewed this American as too sophisticated for his innocent young niece.
He was afraid she was besotted with the mature and, as Aunt Agatha told it, very good-looking man. It was difficult to know from so far away why a middle-aged widower with three children would be so interested in his lovely young niece. He was afraid that her interest in him, as an older man, was because of the loss of her father. Emmeline had reported her own concern that his "comforting presence" might be crossing the professional boundary line between them. The dynamic of the small family had been that Phoebe was Papa's girl while Trelawney was Mum's. It seemed natural to all of them at home that she would be drawn to someone like him.
When the situation with Cholmondeley and Trelawney came to light, it had shaken the family to the core. Aunts Agatha and Justine had shown him no mercy in their assessment of the situation, especially Aunt Agatha, who had vicariously seen the child's trauma. It was in fact his own oldest son William who had tasked himself with monitoring the man for the time being. However, he seemed to have lost interest in the two sisters. William, who would one day inherit the birthright of the oldest male in the family, had decided to start protecting the women early. There was no way that he would ever permit Cholmondeley to come near either girl again.
Right now the living situation with Trelawney had the family very confused. Essentially, he was there to sort it out. Once again, from the distance of thousands of miles, it appeared that although the initial promise had been made that Trelawney would be an integral member of the family, she was no longer even living with her sister. After the fuss she had raised about being with her, it was difficult to believe that she would agree to living elsewhere and allowing her custody to be fully transferred. He was afraid that she was being compliant with her brother-in-law's wishes. In their world, it was the men who controlled such decisions, especially those regarding the composition of their own households. He still did not fully trust Hal's motives.
Trelawney had been left with her sister by the family, because in addition to her legal guardianship, it was felt that it was the best place for her emotionally. They knew of her almost desperate desire to be with her. No one had objected to Hal's nominal legal custody for immigration purposes. However over the summer there was concern that the girl was getting out of control and needed not only a steadier hand. But someone who had the time to give her the emotional support she needed. They knew that Phoebe was caught up, unsurprisingly, in her own issues. Had her aunts not agreed to leave her where she was, he had been ready to drop everything and come and take her home. He and his wife were still prepared to raise her as their own. She was, after all, their godchild.
The engagement had not been a surprise, but the quick marriage was. The greatest fear that the family had was that indeed this older man had taken advantage of their young niece, gotten her in a family way, and was now trying to make things right. There was great relief when this was clearly proved false, but the shift in Trelawney's guardianship and now change of address had created new angst. There were too many unanswered questions, which was why he finally decided to come out and see for himself what was going on.
After he was done explaining, Rob found himself admitting that if he were in the same situation he would probably feel and act the same way. Phoebe was an adult and therefore free to live her life as she saw fit, even if the family did not approve of her choices. And once she was married, she passed out of the "orbit" of her own family's control and into that of her husband's. David explained that from his cultural perspective it was Rob who held the real power in the Everett family. He would be most comfortable dealing with him as far as Phoebe was concerned.
However, Trelawney was a different story. She was a child, and not a particularly stable one at that. Phoebe had signed away her custodial rights to her in laws in a foreign country, when there was plenty of family back in the girl's native country who were ready to care for her. In America, Trelawney might be within the legal control of Rob and Catherine however among her family at home, David was her true guardian. He and his wife Anna especially loved her dearly. Even so, from Trelawney's perspective, they were not Phoebe. And that was all that mattered to her. As always, she had a very simple point of view and accepted whatever guardianship suited her own needs best.
Rob was also uncomfortable to hear that under her parents' will, if Phoebe was unable to properly care for her sister, then she was to be placed in the custody of David and Annabel Figalilly. Phoebe apparently had not read the will closely enough to have understood this. At first chance he planned to ask Phoebe if she had a copy of the will. Then he was going to take it to the best lawyer he could find. It was important to understand what constituted "unable" and "properly care for," in the legal sense of the words. In the meantime he decided to get to know the gentleman, who was about ten years younger than himself, better.
When they entered into the living room after dinner they discovered that Trelawney had settled herself on the floor with the dog. They seemed to be talking about something although of course Trelawney was doing all the talking. In was amusing to watch the dog react to her words as if she understood. Phoebe and Hal had settled themselves on the couch, as always his arm rested lightly on her shoulders. She looked tired, but she was very relaxed. Rob and David seated themselves in the pair of chairs across from them. He decided to try to throw his guest off a little.
"So are you hoping to spend some time with Aunt Henrietta while you're here?" asked Rob, mischievously.
David grimaced. "Hoping is not exactly what I would call it. But I suppose that I will have to. She's Phoebe's mother's older sister and technically not related to me but I'm sure that she has her piece to say, as always."
"I'm sure that she will," said Hal. "She's been a little hard on Trelawney since she's come."
"Well," replied David. "From what I hear, Trelawney has been a little hard on her too. Sometimes she apes her elders with her teasing and larking about. She forgets her own age. She doesn't realize that at the very least she owes Henrietta a certain degree of respect because she is her elder and not her equal. We do know that she gave her Aunt Justine a bit of cheek when she was here, and Justine's not the type that anyone would give lip to."
"I've tried to tell her that," sighed Phoebe. "But she has the devastating honesty of youth and refuses to tolerate Auntie's smoke and mirrors. She is also not very discreet about laughing at her."
Rob noticed that the child was completely ignoring them. She was wrapped up in her conversation with the dog. It was as if now that the dog was there she had lost all interest in the world around her.
"Well," he said. "I'll have a word with her about Henrietta, but that's a tough one. And Henrietta is not planning on going anywhere any time soon. She is having too much fun with the captive audience of women that now swear by her psychic advice. It's turned into quite a lucrative venture for her from what I hear. I'm afraid that you're stuck with her, Phoebe."
"Well, Uncle David," said Hal. "I'm just concerned because she will barge into my house, uninvited, stir up trouble, and leave me to deal with the fallout. And I worry about the way that she upsets Phoebe. It's not good for her or the baby."
Rob noticed that Phoebe neither denied his claims nor said it was not a problem. She knew that Hal was right, but no one wanted to deal with confronting Aunt Henrietta. That Hal was speaking on her behalf did not trouble David in the least. Within his culture, it was fairly common for men to maintain control over their own homes. Not surprisingly, David looked very bothered by the idea that Aunt Henrietta might be disturbing his pregnant niece.
"I don't want you having any unnecessary upset in your life, niece," he said. "It sounds like I am going to have to have a sit down with her. I will grant you that there are some on your mother's side of the family who support having her here, but I don't think that any of them want the baby put at risk. Everyone agrees that Owen and Meg's grand baby must be protected at all costs."
"I'm glad that you feel that way," said Rob. "I think that we have seen and I know that you will want to confirm for yourself that Phoebe does worry about Trelawney. If anything happens to her, it will upset Phoebe and therefore the baby. Most of the time, Aunt Henrietta starts things up with her. She knows the child has trouble controlling herself. It feels like every time things settle down, she finds some way of stirring the pot."
"And she's been doing that her whole life," said David. "But I am not sure that she realizes that sometimes her meddling can go from harmless to harmful. But I am afraid that I am going to stir the pot a bit now myself. Why is Trelawney living here instead of with you, Phoebe?"
There was silence in the room. David had dropped the question casually and not taken an oppositional stance. It was a very straightforward question. However, it was not a question that any of them wanted answer. The only reason why Trelawney had moved was because it would be safer for Phoebe and the baby. However, they did not have a rational explanation for that. And none of them wanted to mention it.
They had simply been following Emmeline and Pastor Jason's advice when they moved her and changed the custody arrangement. Pastor Jason did not want to meet him under any circumstances. In fact he was presently out in Missouri for a synod meeting and would be gone for the rest of the month. Arguably, the same goal of separating them could be achieved if the child returned to England. Rob had known that the question would come up, but he had not expected it so soon. David would be staying for three weeks.
However, Trelawney must have been paying more attention than she had let on because she stood up, walked over to her uncle, and stood up straight before him with her hands neatly folded in front of her. Rob hoped that she was not going to make one of her mystical pronouncements. He need not have worried. She answered the question politely and respectfully, in plain language.
"Things were getting a bit tight down at the house, uncle," she explained seriously. "I was very sad on the anniversary and my Mama Kate took care of me. My poor Phoebe was feeling so ill and so sad herself that the Professor had to care for her. I love my Mama Kate. She takes excellent care of me and I can still see my Phoebe every day. And I can still walk to Francine's house whenever I want."
"Oh, do you have a little friend, then?" he asked, kindly.
"Oh yes, sir," replied Trelawney, now smiling. "I have two little friends, Francine and Sarah. They are my best friends at school. I don't always understand American schools. They are so kind and help me out. And I have two young men to guard me as well. Mike is my drama teacher and Sarah's brother Topher is Hal's friend from the science program. I will miss Mike terribly when he goes to college in September, but he has promised to write."
"Well," said Uncle David, with a smile. "I think that it's lovely that you have made some new friends. I would like to meet them. Will they be at church tomorrow?"
"No, sir," she replied. "They go to other churches. This summer when we worked on our service project, our church worked with three other churches. Do you know that I have become quite an adequate housepainter? Of course, Francine was the best. She was in charge of keeping me in line."
"And I'm sure that they needed someone to do that," he commented, still smiling. "Will I meet your pastor?"
"Oh, yes, of course," answered the girl. "Pastor Paul always says the Sunday service. Of course I have to go to Sunday school, so you'll have stay with my Phoebe while service is going on. I will introduce you at coffee hour."
"That's a good girl," replied her uncle. "Do you still repeat your lesson every week when you come home?"
"Yes, sir," she replied. "When I lived with my Phoebe, I only had to repeat it one out of every four weeks. Now I repeat it every week to my Mama Kate."
"So then, did you like living with your sister more?" he asked. "Not having to repeat the lesson every week, I mean."
She thought for a minute.
"No, I don't think so for that reason," she replied carefully. "Repeating my lesson every week is more like living with Mum and Papa. You know that Mum is much happier in heaven now that I have my Mama Kate to take care of me. My Phoebe is not quite so much my Phoebe any more. She must think of her baby now. That is how it should be. Babies must come first with their Mums."
Uncle David looked very interested. "Was your Mum very worried about you?"
"No," said Trelawney. "Not very, but still worried. You see. It was a dilemma for her and Papa."
At this point Rob was starting to worry. What in the world was going on that Uncle David believed that she could know what her deceased parents were thinking and feeling? Or if he didn't, why was he encouraging her to talk on as if he did? Hal looked worried too. However, Phoebe seemed unaware that anything might be wrong.
"And what was their dilemma, love?" he asked gently.
Trelawney looked over at Phoebe. "I'm sorry that I didn't tell you Phoebe, but I didn't want to worry you."
"It's all right sweetheart," answered her sister. "You just tell your Uncle David what he wants to know."
"You see," she explained. "Mum and Papa want very much for me to be near my Phoebe. That's why I was left to her in the will. But she is now otherwise concerned. So God sent me my Mama Kate to take care of me and then I could still be near my Phoebe.
"You see poor Mrs. Kaufman had a stroke and moved to the nursing home. But then she couldn't sell her house. But no one knew why because it is such a lovely house, isn't it? So it was waiting for my Mama Kate and Mr. Everett to buy it when they wanted to stay close to us. God keeps his promises."
"And what was that promise?" asked Uncle David.
"Why that my Phoebe and I would be together," said the girl, now patiently. For some reason she seemed to think that everyone should know this.
"Now Trelawney, dear, it's not that I don't believe you, but when did God make this promise?" said Uncle David. Rob guessed that while he was ready to believe that she that talked to angels, he wasn't going to go so far as to believe that she could talk to God.
"In the rainbow," she said matter-of-factly.
Everyone, including Catherine and the children who had come in when the conversation started, looked at each other. This was the first that any of them had heard of a rainbow. Trelawney looked around at them confidently. Then Prudence asked the question.
"Like Noah's rainbow?"
"Yes, my little one. Exactly like Noah's rainbow," she said. "Uncle, do you remember that it was raining the morning when we put Mum and Papa to rest?"
"Yes, dear," he said softly, with tears in his eyes. Rob had a feeling that he now understood what the child was talking about.
"It was raining because all the angels in heaven were weeping because Trelawney's Mum and Papa had moved away to heaven and left Trelawney behind and all alone. It was cold and the wind was blowing and all I wanted was my Phoebe. Emmeline was holding my hand and I was so wet. I couldn't tell which were the tears and which were the raindrops on my face. But I prayed and prayed that God would help me to be with my Phoebe."
There were tears now in many other eyes in the room. Phoebe held out her arms and Trelawney went over for a hug. She patted Phoebe on the back and said, "There, there."
"I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you, little one," she said, softly. "If I had known I would have been there."
"But you didn't know," replied Trelawney. "Emmeline explained. She didn't want you to find out all by yourself on a piece of paper. She didn't want you to have to come all that long way home all by yourself. I understood, but I still wanted my Phoebe. So I prayed and I prayed to God for you. Do you remember, uncle, that after I put my little bit of dirt in the big hole that it stopped raining?"
"Yes, little one. I do."
"Do you remember that we looked up into the sky and saw the rainbow?" she asked.
"Yes, little one. I do," he choked out.
"Auntie Alma said that it was Mum and Papa's souls on their way to heaven," she said, serenely. "But she was wrong. Mum and Papa went to heaven as soon as the lorrie hit the car. They were so good that they didn't have to wait. The rainbow was God making His promise that I would be with my Phoebe. It was His angel coming to tell me that all would be well. Emmeline would take me to my Phoebe."
Rob could see that emotions were running high in the room. Hal was holding onto Phoebe who seemed bewildered by the revelation. Uncle David put his face in his hands. Catherine was teary-eyed, but still had presence of mind to send the other children out. His grandson Hal nodded and led Butch and Prudence reluctantly from the room.
"Did Emmeline see the rainbow?" asked Phoebe when she regained her poise.
"Yes, she did. She looked at me and squeezed my hand," said the child. "And then she wouldn't leave without me. I cried and I cried. Nobody wanted me to go. But she knew that she had to keep God's promise. Although she really didn't know that she knew because she does not believe in God. But God believes in her. So do I."
Uncle David looked up. There were tears on his cheeks. He held out his hands to Trelawney. She walked back to him, took his hands into her own, and looked back at him with her trusting blue eyes that looked so much like her mother's. Rob could see that he was deeply conflicted and in pain. He realized then that this was a very good man who had a profound love for his brother's daughters. The last thing that he would ever wish to do was hurt them.
"Trelawney love," he finally said, looking directly into her eyes. "I will do my best to help keep God's promise. I can see how much your Mum and Papa wanted you sisters to be together. But I made a promise too. My promise was to your Papa that if anything ever happened to him and your Mum, that I would keep you safe. I have to make sure that you are safe and protected here. I am not here to hurt you. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Uncle David," she replied, calmly. "I do. You must assure yourself that I am safe here so that you can keep your promise to my Papa. I always knew that you were my good uncle. Now I know that you are a good brother too. My Papa is smiling."
She leaned forward and gave him a hug. He closed his eyes as he held her tightly and stroked her hair. Then the little girl pulled back, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and smiled.
"I love you, Uncle David," she said, sweetly.
Rob was amazed not so much by Trelawney, but by Uncle David. He seemed to find nothing out of the ordinary in the fact that the girl was able to see angels smiling. He realized that he understood her in a way that perhaps none of them, except Phoebe, possibly ever could. He had watched her grow up and been part of the family effort to protect her. It was when she talked like this that she seemed to most need protection.
However there were more family members to deal with than just him. And he had not promised that his niece could stay, only that he was there to insure her safety and not to hurt her. Rob also began to realize that there might be more to keeping her safe than any of them had known. Unless they knew all the potential dangers they wouldn't be able to fully shield her from harm. There was obviously a lot more for Phoebe to tell them about her family and her extraordinary sister.
The clock in the hallway chimed ten.
"It is very late," said Catherine with relief. "Phoebe and Hal, you need to get those children to bed or they won't be able to get up for church tomorrow. I need to get this little one in bed. We all need to have some time to think on this."
"And to pray on it," added Trelawney. "God will show you the way. Come, Elspeth. It is time to go to bed."
With an obedient little bark, the dog followed her out and upstairs. Rob led Uncle David up to his room and Catherine went to get the children. After they left, Rob returned downstairs.
"I don't know what to think anymore," she said to her husband.
"Neither do I," he replied. "He's a very good man and his primary concern is the safety and well-being of the child. Any other person would have been amazed by what she said about angels and rainbows and promises by God. He is emotionally torn up, but that is because he completely accepted everything that she said as true."
"That makes sense since he is from her world. These people seem to have a very deep faith in God. It explains, to a large extent, their self-sacrificing natures."
"He said something to me before he closed his door," added Rob. "He said that it seemed to him that the wishes of the father and the wishes of the mother were at odds. He said that it would take the wisdom of Solomon to resolve this."
Catherine considered his words for a minute. In the Bible, it was the mother who loved the child more who was willing to give him up to save his life. The true parent put the child's needs ahead of her own and that was how Solomon knew the difference.
She answered quietly, "I agree."
Hal and Phoebe put the children to bed together. The kids had a million questions, but at this point no one had any answers. As usual, Butch started to complain about going to church in the morning. Hal must have been feeling some of his parents' stress because he told him to shut up and smacked him hard. Without thinking his father told him to stop whining and get to sleep. He got what he deserved. Then Phoebe looked upset. It also didn't help when Prudence asked if Trelawney would have to go back to England now.
Uncle David may not have come to hurt the girls, but the potential was certainly there. He didn't promise not to hurt them. The only promise that he mentioned was the one to keep Trelawney safe. Hal knew very well that he might have to cause the girls great pain, albeit unwillingly, in order to keep the girl safe. He wondered if Uncle David understood that it was necessary to keep Trelawney safe, so that Phoebe and Maisie would also be safe.
All Hal could think about was his wife. He wanted to make sure that all of this stress did not have a negative impact on their child. Every time he looked at her he was in awe of the little miracle that made her presence more known every day. As always, Phoebe was in and out of the bathroom quickly. When he returned to bed, he rested his hand on her stomach, which was now swelling with their child. He was looking forward to the day when he would feel her kick. Phoebe must have read his mind because she softly smiled.
"I am looking forward to the day when I will feel her move," she said.
"That may not be for a couple of more weeks," said Hal. "But when you go to the doctor this week you will probably be able to hear her heartbeat."
"Will you come too?" she asked.
"I would love to," he said. "There's nothing at work that is more important to me right now than you two."
"I know," she replied. "I also want you to ask the doctor about you making love to me. I am afraid that I feel a little shy about that."
"Well, I sure don't," said Hal. "This is one aspect of pregnancy that I've never had to deal with before. But I don't think that it's a good idea to put too much pressure on your abdomen."
"I'm sure that you're right," she said wistfully. "But I miss you."
"And I miss you," he said tenderly. "Come here closer so that I can kiss you."
He wanted to comfort her, to let her know how much he loved her. He wanted her to know that everything would be all right. Her response was soft and gentle also. After an emotional day, they soothed each other with their intimacy. But they were both tired and after a while, she had settled comfortably in his arms and was gently breathing in an even rhythm. Despite the upset with Uncle David, it appeared that she was so focused on her child that when they were alone it was easy for her to shut everything else out. She was a devoted mother already.
In a way he felt sorry for Uncle David. He seemed to be caught up as much in the winds of fate and destiny as the rest of them. He knew that he was just as intuitive as his wife and sister-in-law, but he didn't flaunt it as some of the other relatives did. Then again, Emmeline really hadn't either except when she was being protective of her cousins. Trelawney had been very much in control of herself since he arrived. He suspected that even though he knew that Phoebe would never return home, he was hoping that his goddaughter might agree to return.
She had been very careful of what she said so as not to raise any suspicions on her uncle's part. She never mentioned the angel or the archetypal landscape of her mind. She spoke only of the baby as the baby. She had sat chatting away with the dog but he was sure that Uncle David found nothing unusual in that. She was nothing more than a polite and sweet little girl. It was clear that she wanted to be where she was.
Although he hadn't had a chance to ask Phoebe about it, he supposed that all of her talk of her parents in heaven hadn't surprised either of them. He suspected that this was something that she had done in the past. Uncle David had clearly been bothered by the content of her speech, not the fact that she could do it. If she could maintain this behavior for the next three weeks, they might be home free. And if he would have a sit down with Aunt Henrietta, all the better. After her performance on the anniversary, he was afraid that she would stop at nothing to drive the child away.
However, he just wanted to put all of this out of his mind. Next week he was going to hear his daughter's heartbeat for the first time. His wife was healthy and hopefully the morning sickness would pass soon, she would regain some of her energy, and could begin to truly enjoy this time. He was looking forward to seeing the cradle that his wife had slept in as an infant. He knew that it was going to mean a lot to her to watch her own children sleeping there. It would be a link with her parents that she hadn't anticipated. From this perspective he was glad that Uncle David had come.
He seemed to be just as befuddled as everyone else by all the promises that had been made, some of which seemed now to be conflict with one another. He found it interesting that Trelawney, who was the most perceptive of all of them, was the most unbothered by them all. But then, of all of them, she had the greatest faith that through God all things were possible. Not for the first time, he felt that they could all learn something from her.
The term "pater familias" is a term from Ancient Roman society used for the oldest male relative of a family line. In Ancient Rome, he had power over all the family members. This is part of the larger societal term "patria potestas" or power of the father. Both of these terms will be used again to describe the patriarchal nature of the culture in Phoebe's home village.