I do not own these characters and make no profit from their use.
"And the child that's born on the Sabbath Day,
Is blithe and bonny and good and gay."
A. E. Bray's Traditions of Devonshire
Catherine was the first one to awaken on that Sunday morning of August 13. No one needed to tell her. This was the day. She looked at the clock by her bedside, which read 8 am. She wasn't really too surprised. Normally, she was up by six, but yesterday had been a long day. The sun was fully up, its golden light streaming through the pale curtains of her granddaughter's room. She smiled to herself. By the end of the day, a new granddaughter would make her appearance in the world.
She was thankful that everything was quiet on the "outside," beyond the walls of the house. There were no more premonitions from Aunt Henrietta, which hopefully meant that she was going to leave them in peace. In fact, she had no idea that Phoebe's labor had even started. As far as she knew, the only problem might be Prudence and her determination to somehow get herself down here for a visit.
Before she had gone to sleep, Trelawney had realized that she didn't have her doll, Tessa. She had brought the doll with her from England all those months ago and never slept without her. She began to cry. Despite her earlier high spirits it was brought home to them all once again that she was emotionally very fragile. There were not many twelve-year-old girls out here in the modern world who would weep over a doll. It was another indicator of her very "young" emotions.
To quiet her, Hal was prevailed upon to sleep in the living room with Tom so that at least the girl could sleep with her sister. Hal had given her a hug and told her not to worry. He didn't mind sleeping downstairs and they would find some way of getting the doll tomorrow. Mrs. Clancy preferred this anyway since the little girl was much less likely to disturb her sister's sleep.
Quietly gulping back her tears, Trelawney was somewhat appeased, especially after Catherine promised to sit with her until she fell asleep. Mrs. Clancy shook her head and clucked with displeasure. But there was no explaining to her that she could not be any kind of a substitute for her "Mama Kate." Trelawney finally settled down when Emmeline promised to get her doll for her the next morning.
She looked over and could see that Emmeline was still sound asleep in the other bed. A quick glance into the boys' room told her that Mrs. Clancy, the midwife, was also sleeping. All was quiet downstairs where Hal and Tom were crashed out on the sofas. She went into Phoebe's room, which was now transformed into a "delivery room." Phoebe and Trelawney were lying in bed together, holding hands. Mrs. Morgan, the nurse, was sitting up on watch, crocheting some lovely lace.
"They're so sweet," she said softly to Catherine, looking at Phoebe and Trelawney.
"I'm assuming that it was a peaceful night?" she asked.
"Mrs. Clancy told me that Phoebe fell asleep downstairs and her husband carried her up," she replied quietly. "She woke up around three this morning asking for him and talked for a bit. Then she went back to sleep. She seems very comforted by her little sister. But I am starting to get the very strong feeling that things should be starting soon."
Catherine nodded. She wondered if she should wake the others up or let them sleep. Since today was likely to be another very long day, she decided that it would be better to let them sleep for as long as they could. She doubted that any of them would get a nap today.
"Tell me," asked Mrs. Morgan. "The young girl is a little simple, isn't she? Mrs. Clancy said something about her missing her doll when I asked her why she was sleeping in here."
"That's a good way of putting it. In many ways she is very childlike. She can seem much younger than she is," replied Catherine. "But she is actually quite intelligent and very devoted to her sister."
"That has been obvious since she came running in yesterday afternoon and jumped on the bed beside her," the other woman stated. "And Phoebe is very devoted to her. It's just the two of them left, isn't it?"
"I'm afraid so," said Catherine. "They both miss their parents very much. They lost them a year and a half ago. I don't think that either has fully recovered."
"I don't believe so," agreed Mrs. Morgan. "Occasionally a look of sadness will cross either one of their faces. It seems to me that they are both very anxious that the child be a girl, so that she can be named after their mother. Of course Mrs. Clancy as made the point over and over that she knows that it is a girl and that she is never wrong."
Catherine smiled. "Well, I have to admit that I'm hoping for a girl as well. My mother shared the same name as theirs."
"Yes, Margaret," said Catherine. "It was one of the first bonding moments that Phoebe and I had last year, when we discovered that both of our mothers, who had died young, shared the same name."
"That must have been lovely," she said. "You know it's not very often that you see a relationship such as you and Phoebe have. Most mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws are not so compatible."
"Yes, that's true," said Catherine. "But the minute that I met Phoebe, I knew that she was right for my son. He was devastated when his first wife died. He and the children could barely manage until Phoebe came into their lives."
"Oh, how did they meet?"
"You don't know the story? Of course not, how could you?" asked Catherine. "Phoebe came to Hal's home about two and a half years ago to be the nanny to his children. She was a lovely girl and determined to set the family to rights, including finding a nice wife for my son."
"Did she think that it would be her?" asked Mrs. Morgan, with a hint of amusement in her voice.
"Oh, no," said Catherine. "When I first met her, I tried to play Cupid between them and that didn't work at all. No they had to find their own way."
"And they did," finished Mrs. Morgan. "Well they make a lovely couple. They are both clearly devoted to each other and the children. Now the one relationship that I haven't quite got straight is how Tom is connected to the family."
"He is Hal's former father-in-law. In fact, his wife Bernice is up at my house helping with the other children," she explained.
"That is really most unusual," she commented.
"Yes, it is," said Catherine with a smile. "It's actually mostly Trelawney's doing. Bernice originally hated Phoebe for taking her daughter's place. But as you know, Trelawney has enormous faith that there is good in all people. Even Bernice could not withstand the girl's barrage of love and understanding. And Phoebe wanted her reconciled as well, for the children's sake."
Catherine looked over at the bed. Phoebe was stirring and suddenly called out, "Oh! Ow!"
She was crying out more vigorously than she had in the last twenty-four hours. She tried to sit up in confusion.
Mrs. Morgan got up and went over.
"There's nothing to worry about, dear," she said kindly. "I believe that things are about to start happening."
"Where is Hal?" she asked. It was clear that that was the only thing that mattered to her.
She was looking back at them uncertainly. She was still half-asleep and seemed a little confused by what Mrs. Morgan had meant. But there was no uncertainty on Trelawney's part. She popped up from her side of the bed.
"They are?" she asked, fully awake. "They really are?"
"Yes, dear," said Catherine. "They really are."
"Oh! That's splendid!" she cried enthusiastically.
Phoebe didn't say anything. She just looked over at her sister as though she were crazy.
The Real Waiting Begins
Tom came upstairs with Hal after Catherine woke them up. Emmeline and Trelawney were awake and already there, when Mrs. Clancy came bustling into the room.
"Stand back everyone! I'm going to check to see how far she's dilated," announced the woman. "If you're not interested, I'd say that now is the time to get out."
Tom ducked into the hallway. This was a little too private for him to deal with at this hour of the morning. Emmeline had followed him out chuckling.
"Not your cup of tea, eh?" she asked.
"Not even close," he said. "But that's a good idea. I'll go down and make us all a pot of tea."
"All right," they heard Mrs. Clancy's voice from the bedroom. "We've finally made some progress. Three centimeters!"
This was followed by a groan from Phoebe. Tom looked at Emmeline who quickly said, "I'll join you."
They went downstairs to discover Elspeth standing at the foot of the stairs and wagging her tail expectantly. When she saw Emmeline, she gave a little whimper.
"Oh, so you're hungry then," said Emmeline. "Well, I know where Waldo's food is, so I'll set you up with a bowl in a minute."
The dog scampered into the kitchen ahead of them. While Tom made the tea, Emmeline poured out a bowl of dog food and took it out to the back porch. Tom heard some more whimpering.
"Now you know that Waldo always eats outside," replied Emmeline. "Stop complaining or you will be joining him up the street."
Emmeline returned as the kettle started boiling.
"Silly dog!" she said. "Thinks that the rules down here are different for her than him. Trelawney spoils her rotten."
"Excuse me, Emmeline," said Tom. "But were you really talking to the dog just now?"
"Have you ever had a pet, Tom?" she asked and then answered herself. "Of course you haven't or you'd know that people talk to their cats and dogs all the time. If you get to know them well enough, it's not a great leap of logic to figure out what they're saying in return. Or at least you think that you do."
"Oh," he said slowly. "Well, I guess that makes sense."
At that minute, Trelawney came running in.
"May I have a bit of toast for Phoebe, no butter?" she asked. "And a spot of tea?"
"I am presuming that these are Mrs. Clancy's orders?" asked Emmeline.
"They certainly weren't Phoebe's," she said with a smile. "But Mrs. Clancy was going on again about keeping her nourished so that she could push harder.
"Well, I hope that the pushing doesn't go on as long as it did for you, love," she said.
"Yes, I know," she replied, rolling her eyes. "Why you must always bring that up?"
"Well, right now I'm bringing it up because I really do hope that Phoebe doesn't have to go through what your Mum did to bring you into the world," she answered.
"Here's the nourishment for the Mum-to-be," said Tom, handing over a tray with the tea and toast on it. "Now don't spill the tea."
"Oh, I won't!" she said cheerfully and went back upstairs more slowly than she had come down.
"Why don't we make breakfast?" asked Emmeline. "It's not just Phoebe who needs to keep up her nourishment. I don't that too much is going to happen before evening."
"What makes you say that?" he asked curiously.
"I dunno," she said. "Since it's a first baby, she's likely to take longer. But once the labor pains start coming regularly, at least we won't have to keep Phoebe distracted. She'll have more than enough on her mind. And so will the rest of us."
"Do you think that we should let the folks who are up the street know what's going on?" he asked.
"No, not yet," she said. "There's nothing that they can do about it and the children, I correct myself, Prudence, will be driving them crazy once they know."
"I see your point," he replied. "What are you going to cook?"
"I noticed that there are eggs and bacon in the fridge. And there's plenty of bread," she answered. "I think that a hearty breakfast is in order for all of us. We can eat in shifts so that Phoebe isn't left by herself upstairs."
"That makes sense," he said. "I will go up and see about the first shift."
"So you'll be leaving the cooking to me, eh?" she said.
"Considering my own lack of culinary skills," he replied. "It's better that way. But I promise to clean up."
"Whatever you say," she replied, with a shrug.
When he got upstairs, he found Hal, seated in his chair beside the bed, trying to coax Phoebe to have some of the tea and toast. Trelawney was also trying to jolly her along, but unlike yesterday, no amount of silliness from her sister could even make her smile. When he mentioned eating in shifts, Mrs. Clancy immediately took charge.
"All right," she said. "We'll have you, Mrs. Morgan, and Trelawney and Catherine eat first. Then, Tom, Hal, and I will go down."
"Sounds like a good plan," said Hal. "I am presuming that Emmeline is cooking?"
"Lucky for you," he answered. "She is. I am on clean up duty."
"I could help you with that," offered Hal hopefully.
"No, Hal," said Phoebe. "I want you back here as soon as you're done."
"Whatever you say, darling" he replied softly, kissing her head.
"Now, Tom," ordered Mrs. Clancy. "You stay here with us. We need all the moral support that we can get right now."
Phoebe gave another groan from the bed. He and Mrs. Clancy looked at her, but Hal brushed back her hair and kissed her forehead, as if she were a child. Tom was impressed by how gentle he was. It was something that he had learned while tending to Helen through the last weeks of her illness. That had been a terrible time for all of them. Her pain had been constant and there had been no relief from it. This was very different.
Phoebe was as comfortable as she could be in her own bedroom, without all kinds of needles and tubes stuck in her. There was respite from the pain in between these early contractions, which were nowhere near as painful as they would eventually become. She knew that. He gave her a lot of credit for going through with the home birth anyway. Hal also seemed to have finally made peace with her choice.
Eventually, Hal was able to convince her to eat and drink a little. If he hadn't, no doubt that Mrs. Clancy would have taken over. Considering the woman's ability to get what she wanted, no doubt it would have been much more difficult for poor Phoebe. Tom took a seat on the other side of the bed. He was remembering the births of his own two children.
Helen had been surprisingly easy, considering that she was a first child. He had stayed with Bernice until it looked like the birth was imminent. Then, like any good father back in those days, he went out into the waiting room to pace. At the time he had known that it was cowardly, but he had a very good idea of how Hal was feeling now.
However, he also knew the pain of losing a child before he could be born. Another one of their family secrets was that Bernice had had two miscarriages between Helen and Stephen. He had been their own wonder child. Similar to the Figalillys experience with Trelawney everyone had thought that Bernice was too old.
He considered what Meg Figalilly had said about the girl. God doesn't make mistakes. He had always felt the same way about Stephen. They had been blessed to have him with them for six years, because they had been such happy years. Helen had adored him the same way that Phoebe adored Trelawney. And like Phoebe, she had been very protective of him. It had broken her heart when they lost him. There was one great regret that he still had about that.
When Helen had found out that Stephen was sick, she was away at college. She had begged him to send her a train ticket so that she could come home to be with him. But he was still refusing to acknowledge how sick he actually was. He had always felt guilty that he denied her the request that would have given her that last day with her brother. It had been a late night call to her dorm mother who then had the sad duty of informing her that she had lost her little brother. But there had never been a word of reproach from his daughter.
He had had to go up to her college to bring her home. She was in no condition to travel alone. It was at that time that Bernice had begun to cling to her. It was no surprise to him that she had never told Hal. She never spoke of him again. Then the sound of Trelawney's laughter broke into his thoughts.
"Your turn, gentlemen," she said. "Em and I are here to take over."
He once again saw the similarity between her and Stephen. She was too excited about the baby coming to realize the seriousness of the upcoming event. She was completely focused on the joyous moment after the labor pains, the contractions, and the pushing were done. It was obvious that she was unable to absorb all the details of what was coming. But perhaps that was good. She would be there to remind them all, of the happy outcome.
Mrs. Morgan, the gentle nurse, then entered and insisted that Mrs. Clancy go downstairs and eat, rather than having a plate sent up.
"You want to keep up your strength, dear," she said sweetly. "We have a long ways to go and you'll need all of your energy to stay in control of things."
Mrs. Clancy gave her a dark look, but went downstairs anyway. Tom followed and was greeted by Emmeline who was on her way up.
"I've left you a nice mess to clean up," she said cheerfully. "That'll teach you to leave all the cooking to me."
He laughed to himself. He really had not been kidding when he said that no one would be impressed with his cooking skills. It was why he was so good at cleaning up. Bernice wouldn't even let him boil water.
Another Airport Run
Rob was starting to feel like a taxi service. He was out of the house with Butch before Bernice and Prudence were even up. LAX was not exactly around the corner and he didn't even know what William Figalilly looked like. He was not even sure of what he thought about him. Anyone who could stick to a man that he hated for a whole year in order to guard his cousins must be a rather tenacious character.
But he was impressed once again by the devotion of the Figalillys to Phoebe and Trelawney. There were the aunt and the uncle, the six cousins and then the Aunts Agatha and Justine. He knew that there were many more, but he had a hard enough time keeping David's children straight. He hadn't gotten to meet the two aunties yet, but he knew that he would. From what he had heard of them, they were very likely to want to see Meg and Owen's first grandchild as soon as they heard that she was here.
The flight landed exactly on time, but of course he had to go through customs. As he and Butch were sitting in the waiting area, his grandson let out yell.
"Look, Grampie!" he said. "It's Cousin Sylvia."
And sure enough, Sylvia Figalilly was walking towards them with a young man who looked exactly as Emmeline had described him. He was similar to Lewis but had the looks of an outdoorsman. You probably couldn't catch this man dead in a pinstripe suit. They stood up as they approached and, as usual, Sylvia's manners were impeccable. The young man looked a bit surly. He wondered what his problem was.
"Hello, Rob! Hello, Butch!" she cheerfully greeted them. "May I introduce you to my brother William."
"Liam is good by me," he added. "I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. Everett and Butch, is it?"
"Yes, sir, " said Butch politely.
"Now don't be giving me any of this 'sir' business," he said. "And don't even think about calling me Mr. Figalilly. That's my Dad."
Butch looked confused. "Yes sir, I mean Liam, I mean sir Liam."
"Look at the lad," commented Liam, a bit cranky. "Making me a bloody peer, he is."
"That will be enough," said Sylvia sternly. "I am afraid that Liam had a bad flight."
"It was a perfectly fine flight until she showed up," he grumbled.
"I'm sorry," said Rob trying to change the subject as quickly as possible. "But if I call you Liam than I will insist that you call me Rob."
Liam took his measure and relaxed a bit. Rob was able to see why Emmeline was so concerned about his temper. Whatever his purpose in being there, it was obvious that Sylvia was there to help keep him in line. He was very grateful.
As they walked out the car, Liam said, "So Phoebe's in labor then, is she?"
"As of last night, it was more like pre-labor," answered Rob. "We can call as soon as we get home."
Then Sylvia said, "Rob, why are you driving Hal's car?"
"Well, mine is still in the shop," he explained. "I had a bit of an accident a few weeks ago."
"And it's still in the shop?" she asked.
"It wasn't a little bit of an accident," said Butch. "We were driving back from a baseball game and had to drive through brush fires and a huge thunderstorm. Then we went off the road and down into a ditch. Topher came and saved us. I got to climb up in a rope and harness. It was cool!"
"Topher," said Sylvia. "Now he is one of Trelawney's gallant knights, isn't he?"
Butch rolled his eyes. "Yeah, him and Mike and Dad of course."
"It sounds as if you don't think much of the little one's gallant knights then, don't you?" said Liam. "I'm guessing that you're not one of them. So who are you then?"
Butch scowled. "The younger fool, but Hal's the elder fool."
Not wanting that line of conversation to progress any farther, Rob interrupted.
"Well, it's always a pleasure to see you, Sylvia," he said. "Now I know that Liam was coming from Australia. How did you both end up on the same flight?"
"How did we indeed?" mumbled Liam. Rob could see that he was not pleased to be in his sister's company.
"We both had the same connection to California in Singapore," she said smoothly. "Quite a coincidence."
"Quite a coincidence," echoed Liam sarcastically. He was definitely out of sorts.
But Butch being Butch, suddenly, at this most inopportune time, began to fit some of the pieces together.
"Hey! Wait a minute!" he said. "Aren't you the one that's supposed be guarding the big jerk?"
"The big jerk?" asked Sylvia.
"Yeah, we don't say his name around Trelawney," he replied. "It makes her upset. She thinks that he's dead or something."
"What makes her think that?" asked Liam.
Before Rob could think of something to interrupt him with, Butch answered.
"Dad smashed the unicorn charm to smithereens," answered Butch. "So now Trelawney thinks he's dead."
"Young man, have you been listening in on adult conversations again?" asked Rob.
"Not me!" he said defensively. "Prudence was. Prudence said that . . ."
"Now we have a ten-year-old boy, quoting the most notorious tattle-telling seven-year-old girl in the Western Hemisphere, who picked up her information by eavesdropping," said Rob sternly. "And how many times has she gotten her stories wrong?"
"Just about . . . okay, Grampie, I see what you mean," he said somewhat remorsefully.
Sylvia looked at Rob with concern. Rob was beginning to feel sorry that he had had to take Butch along. But if he let him go with Bernice, there would have been no end to the squabbles between him and Prudence. As of late, Prudence had become very possessive of her Nana. At any other time, this would not be a bad thing. But right now it was complicating matters.
The conversation was becoming very difficult. He was afraid to ask Liam about his travels because he had no doubt that there would be more grumbling and growling. He had no idea of what he could ask Sylvia. Although they did need to talk, he didn't dare do it while Butch was around. He turned over some possibilities in his mind and then decided to keep quiet. He would call up Lois when they got home. Maybe Butch could spend the day with Tim.
He was starting to envy the cohort down at Hal's house. They had no idea of the difficulties outside. It was going to be his job to keep everyone happy out here so that no one would try and contact anyone in there. Since Butch had spilled the beans about the children knowing that Liam was the guardian of the unicorn (aka "the big jerk"), he was for the moment, quiet. The tone of Butch's voice must have indicated to him that it would upset Phoebe and Trelawney to know that he was here and not with Cholmondeley.
Liam didn't say too much during the rest of the drive back. He seemed to be brooding. Sylvia kept up a lively chatter by asking Butch all about his about his travel baseball team and how they were doing. Fortunately, she herself had been to enough baseball games that spring to ask the kind of intelligent questions that encouraged Butch to give long answers. Rob suspected that she was trying to distract Butch from his observation about Liam.
Fat chance, thought Rob. But after considering all of his options, he thought that it was still best if he went over to Lois's house, perhaps even for a sleepover. He'd drive them all crazy back at his house. And who knew what kind of trouble he would start up with Prudence if she realized who Liam was. Of course Prudence had an, albeit faulty, memory like an elephant. He wished that he had a way of contacting Bernice to tell her to keep Prudence out as late as possible.
When he finally got them all back to the house, Sylvia brought Liam up to "Butch's" bedroom. She would be able to bunk with Bernice for the time being. Prudence was in Trelawney's room. He decided that Butch could sleep in the living room if Lois couldn't take him. When Pastor Jason had told him that the baby wouldn't be born in the next twenty-four hours, he figured that they could be looking at something closer to midnight.
He got Lois on the phone and after he explained a bit of what was going on and the necessity of keeping him away from the Figalillys, she quickly agreed. She knew that Tim and Butch were good friends who only rarely got to see each other.
And since just about the whole town knew what was going on, it would be easy enough to tell Tim and Mike that they needed to get Butch out of the house to help him pass the time while his mother was in labor. Since it could be a late night, a sleepover would keep him distracted. She had no doubt that Tim would be happy and Mike wouldn't care. She would come over right away.
Thank goodness, thought Rob, when Lois finally pulled out of the driveway with Butch. Now I only have to worry about Liam, but at least I have Sylvia here to back me up. He returned to the house.
"Well, that's relief," said Sylvia echoing his own thoughts. "Now we just have Liam to worry about."
"Where is he?" asked Rob, looking around.
"He's sulking upstairs, I believe," she said.
"Good," replied Rob. "I'll call down to the house to see if everything is all right."
"Aren't you afraid of who will answer the phone?" she asked.
"Not really," he said. "We both know Emmeline and you can be sure that she's standing by the phone to intercept any unwanted calls. She'll know that it's me before she picks up. I am sure that she will be very happy to know that you are here."
"I'm sure she will," replied Sylvia.
What a mess, thought Rob, remembering the premonitions. Now we have two pairs of sisters. This also complicates the cousin issue, but if the two sisters are Emmeline and Sylvia, that would only leave Cousin John as the troublemaker, unless there was some other cousin out there that they didn't know about.
He was still wondering about the battle of darkness and the light, not to mention the innocent third party. It just seemed too simple that it was the baby. They had discovered that these premonitions tended to be more convoluted than simple. As soon as Liam is finished brooding then I will tell them both about the prophecy. But I don't think that either of them will be able to make head nor tail out of it either.
Emmeline picked up the phone on the first ring. She knew that it was Rob and she needed to know what was happening up at their house and if Liam was there safely.
"So what's up?" she said, purposely keeping her remarks brief in case someone was listening in. She knew that Tom was nearby.
"Liam is here and so is Sylvia," he replied.
Emmeline breathed a sigh of relief. At least now she had someone who could keep Liam in line. If Syl was there, then she could concentrate on Phoebe.
"Thank goodness," she said. "That will simplify things for you."
"Anything happening down there?" he asked.
"Well, we were all up around eight this morning," she said. "The contractions are more painful, but she's still not dilated much. Hal hasn't left her side since he had a bit of breakfast. Catherine and Trelawney have also been in the room. Oh, by the way, we forgot to pack Trelawney's doll yesterday and she was crying for it last night. Any chance you could get it down here?"
"Of course," he said. "Is there anything else that you need?"
"No," she said. "I think that we're good for now."
"What has Tom been up to?" he asked curiously.
"Well, he and I have decided not to crowd the bedroom," she replied. "I'm afraid that we've just been hanging out downstairs. But we'll go upstairs when we're needed. Fortunately there is lots of reading material around."
"Yes," he said. "That does make sense. Well, assure Hal and Phoebe that Butch and Prudence are happy. I'll bring down the doll for Trelawney."
Emmeline returned to the bedroom.
"That was Rob," she said cheerily. "I've caught him up on the news. Everything is going well with Butch and Prudence. And Trelawney love, he's going to bring Tessa down for you."
"Thank you, Em," she said quietly.
Emmeline looked at Catherine, who then followed her out of the room.
"What's wrong with the little one?" she asked.
"I don't know," said Catherine. "While you were speaking on the telephone, she suddenly seemed to close up on us."
Damn, thought Emmeline. I have a feeling that she has realized that Liam is here. It really is amazing how sensitive she's becoming to everything around her. It was one thing to know who was calling or speaking on the other end of the line. It was another to actually know what was being said, especially if someone was taking the call in another room.
"Mama Kate!" called the child from the bedroom. "Could you please stay with me?"
"Stay close to her, Catherine," said Emmeline. "Something must be up that has her frightened. I only hope that Phoebe doesn't realize it."
"Phoebe's not realizing much of anything right now other than some painful contractions," said Catherine. "I think that she is finally beginning to comprehend what she got herself into."
"Is there still time to take her to hospital?" asked Emmeline.
"I'm sure that there is, but I know without asking that she won't budge," replied Catherine. "She told Mrs. Morgan last night that she felt safer here than in a hospital, and that's what really matters now. But if she knows anything else, she isn't saying."
They heard a knock at the door.
"That will be Rob with the doll," said Emmeline.
"Mama Kate, please come!" called Trelawney's voice again. Emmeline knew that she was frightened of something or she wouldn't be begging for Catherine so insistently.
"I'm coming dear," responded Catheine.
Emmeline went downstairs to meet Rob at the door. Then they stepped outside so that they would not be overheard.
"Here's the doll," he said. "How is everything going?"
"It was going a lot better before your phone call," she said worriedly as she took the doll. "Trelawney knows something about our conversation and it has frightened her."
"That's not good," said Rob. "Is there anything that we can do?"
"There is nothing that we can do that wouldn't scare poor Phoebe," she replied. "And she has enough to worry about without this."
"All right," he said. "If you can hold the fort down here, I am going to try and deal with things up the street the best that I can."
Emmeline closed the door and went upstairs to find Trelawney sitting on the bed with Catherine on a chair next to her. When she saw the doll, she looked a bit happier.
"It's Tessa," she said in a subdued voice as she took her into her arms. "Thank you, Emmeline for getting her for me."
Once Emmeline handed her the doll and she curled up with it cradled in her arms. She had not seen the child cling to the toy since the journey from England to America. She huddled more closely against Catherine, who began to stroke her hair. Catherine looked helplessly at her, but Emmeline couldn't tell her anything. As long as Catherine was able to comfort her so that Phoebe didn't realize what was going on, the child could stay.
Now Mrs. Morgan pulled her into the hallway.
"What is the matter with that child?" she asked, her voice full of concern. "One minute she's happy and the next minute, it was as if a dark cloud had crossed over the sun. I thought that she would cry if Catherine didn't come in. Now you've given her the doll, but she doesn't seem any better. Isn't that the doll that she was crying for last night?"
Emmeline thought for a minute. Mrs. Morgan was very kind, and as a nurse no doubt very discreet. She decided to tell her enough to help with Trelawney without giving too much up information.
"Trelawney can have rapid mood shifts. This has always been true of her, but it has grown worse since her parents died," she said carefully. "It is not easy to tell, but she is very much comforted by the doll. She clung to it like that all the way from England to here. I have no doubt that a good deal of her anxiety is coming from seeing her sister in pain. She was traumatized by the deaths of her parents. I am afraid that this may be bringing back some of those memories."
"I would say that that is a very good possibility," replied Mrs. Morgan knowingly. "Traumatic experiences can cause 'flashbacks.' After World War I they called it shell shock. Knowing this explains a lot. You know she doesn't have to be here, maybe it would be better if she were up the street with Mr. Everett."
"No," Emmeline shook her head. "For reasons that I cannot go into now, she must stay with Catherine. And Catherine must stay with Phoebe. Having the doll will sooth her, you'll see. But if we try to take her out now, the fuss that she will make will certainly upset Phoebe."
"This is not going to be the easy delivery that I thought it would be," commented Mrs. Morgan.
"It will be easier if you focus on Phoebe and leave Trelawney to us," she said crisply. "You cannot possibly know enough about her to settle her down as we can."
They heard another groan from Phoebe.
"How long do you think that this will go on?" she asked, gesturing towards the room.
"'This,' as you call it, could go on all afternoon," she said. "She can't start pushing until she is fully dilated and her water breaks. But there is no way to tell how long the pushing will go on. That is when the contractions will really get bad."
"Don't I know it," replied Emmeline. "I was there when Trelawney was born. It was a very hard birth. The midwife even called in the doctor. And that was very unusual."
"Well," she answered. "You won't get a doctor to come here in the States. No one would want to take the responsibility. If anything happens at that point, we couldn't even safely take her to the hospital by ambulance."
Emmeline nodded. She had figured that it would be something like that. But Phoebe was much younger than Auntie Meg had been. Most of those in the village at the time had said that no woman in her forties had any business having a child. But that child had been Trelawney. And Trelawney was a child of light. Auntie Meg had known exactly what she was doing. And proof of that might be frightened by what was happening in the larger world, but she was precisely where she needed to be now.
She knew that she needed to clear her mind of all thoughts of Liam and Cholmondeley. That might help Trelawney to avoid thinking of him as well. The greater trauma that she couldn't even begin to tell the nurse was that she now knew the unicorn was alive and that nobody knew where he was. She wondered if she sensed his presence, but she didn't dare ask her.
She returned to the bedroom and noticed that she was still curled up against Catherine, but talking softly to the doll as if no one else was there. This wouldn't do either, but she didn't have the heart to prevent her from deriving what little comfort she could from Tessa. She managed to catch her eye to let her know that she must not allow the others to know that Tessa was answering her. She looked back and blinked.
Emmeline breathed a sigh of relief. No one would think that it was odd that a child such as her would talk to her doll. And Tessa was a comfort. She had been the little girl's confidante since Phoebe had brought her back as a gift from a job that she had had in Scotland. As with every gift that Phoebe had ever given her, it held special significance. She noticed that Phoebe was looking over at the child and the doll. For a moment she forgot about her own pain.
"Take care of her, Tessa," she said quietly. "Take care of my little lamb."
Emmeline knew that the doll assured her that she would. Phoebe settled back and for a while seemed to be at peace. It was lucky that she still did not have the ability to know what was going on in Trelawney's mind. Mrs. Morgan looked at her and then over at Phoebe, but all she could do was shrug. Kindly as the woman was, there were just some things that could not be explained to outsiders.
To be continued . . .