Don’t faint! I think I’ve broken my writer’s block on this story!
Megan had three chickens roasting. She knew the men would be home sometime today. One of them had better have an explanation as to where her bacon went. She had Sian peeling carrots, onions, and turnips for the pottage. Sian was still unsteady on her feet, but growing stronger every day.
“Megan, will the men really be back today?”
“Oh yes. The smell of them chickens will have them flocking in.” Megan smiled and took the vegetables that Sian had chopped and tipped them into a pot of boiling water.
“Do you ever worry for them?”
“Oh aye, but it doesn’t do any good.” Megan swore every gray hair on her head were due to the men’s antics, but also understood she could never dissuade them from their way of life. Too much in their lives had been broken.
Sian nodded and rose slowly to check on the bread. She wore one of the gowns her mother hand sent and an apron. The heat from the over was almost gone and the loaves were brown and crisp. She put them on the table and turned to sit when Jon and Sam came in the kitchen.
“Hello Gran! Sian.” Sam smiled.
“Were it you what stole my bacon?” Megan asked Sam as she pointed her kitchen knife at him.
Sam blushed and shuffled his feet. “Aye. But I brought you a prezzie Gran.” He held out a cloth wrapped parcel. Megan took it with care as if it would bite. She unwrapped it to find a lovely golden round of cheddar.
“Well, I’ll firgive ya this once.”
Sam hugged her and sat down at the table next to Jon.
“Will the rest be home soon?” Sian asked.
“As they can. Mael said he might be late,” explained Jon. “Can we have some of the bread?”
Megan smacked his reaching hand with the flat of the knife. “No. Wait yer turn!”
Sam laughed and the two of them went outside to gather firewood and eggs while they waited for the rest of the men.
By late afternoon, everyone was home except Mael. Lew was pacing and Megan decided to feed everyone. She began to carve the chickens, sliced the bread, and ladled the pottage into a large bowl. After placing the food on the table, she had Sian call the men. Sian barely opened her mouth when the men stood and moved to the table. Dinner was a loud and noisy affair.
“Oh, and you’ll never be guessing who we saw at the market trying to sell a fine horse,” said Finn.
“Who?” asked Megan.
Finn looked at Sian. “It was you I’d hope to guess.’
Sian looked at Finn. Then the light dawned on her as she realized who they’d seen. “Cadell?”
“Aye. Had to hold Mael to the table ta keep him from thumping the man,” said Artur. “Seems his little plot to grow rich by marrying you didn’t work out.”
Sian nodded. She had plenty of time to think about Cadell, her father, and life outside the shelter of Clewth Hall. “Sorry Mael didn’t thump him.”
That had the men at the table laughing.
“What’s so funny,” came a voice out of the dark. Everyone turned as Mael walked into the hall.
“Bout time you came home,” scolded Megan. She stood and got the last of the roast chicken from the kitchen. She’d kept some back for Mael, not trusting the others to do so.
“Well, I had a bit of thinking to do, as I ran into a man from the market. He and I had a bit of a chat. Oh, and I had to make sure no one followed us home.” Mael paused to drink some ale and eat a bite of chicken.
“No one followed us!” groused Coel.
“No, but you all left a track a horse’s arse wide straight to the door of Hoel Farm. I spent the better part of the last hour covering that up,” Mael said in a tired voice.
“What has you worried?” asked Sian.
“Cadell. I asked around a bit. Seems the man sold his mother’s farm, and spent the marks on a house for you and that horse. Oh, and he might as well have stolen the horse. Apparently he went back to the man he bought it from two nights later and stole the marks back.” Mael paused to take a bowl of pottage. The onions, turnips and carrots smelled good cooked with the herbs Megan grew in the garden.
“Oh!” Sian was as furious as she dared. Her back still hurt and pulled inspite of Megan and Aunty’s salves.
“Oh aye. And he’s been sending out his man to hunt for you. Figures if he can find you or at least your corpse, he’ll get back in your father’s good graces.”
“That… that arse!” cursed Sian.
The men at the table snorted and laughed.
“Ah Gran, you’re a terrible influence on our wee Sian,” said Sam.
Megan nodded. “Eat up your suppers! There’s apple tart for afters.”
Everyone fell to eating.
After all the food was either eaten or put away, and the kitchen tidy, Mael went to talk to Sian. He found her by the fire trying to stitch a shirt while the kitten played with the fabric and the thread.
“Are you feeling better?”
“Yes Mael. I’m still not as strong, but I do feel better.”
“Good. You aren’t upset by us talking about Cadell are you?” He wondered as she’d flinched at the first mention of his name.
“Nno. Just a bit startled. I don’t know why I didn’t think I’d ever hear of him again.”
“Well, to be honest, You may see or hear of him again. I doubt you’ll want to stay here at the farm forever. Even Megan goes to market on occasion.”
“I… I didn’t think about that. What will I do?” Sian was almost despondent when she spoke. Her whole body just slumped.
“Well, when you feel strong enough to walk to market with the rest of us, you can always wear a bit of disguise, or some such.”
Sian nodded. “Not that it will be soon. I can barely walk to the chicken coop.”
“It’s alright Sian. It’s alright.” Mael stood and headed out of the hall before he did what he really wanted to do which was take her in his arms and keep her safe.