Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Chapter 24.5 - BACKSTORY

Isolde and Elias couldn't leave a child to defend themselves especially a young, naive, frail little girl. So they decided to take Marian into their home. After all, she was a Bishop, was she not? Even if she was the bastard child of his late brother, Tristan Bishop, Elias couldn't turn her away though he could hear his Father's words in his ears.

"Be gone with ye. Ye have no place here."

Isolde had lost a child, but strangely her stomach had continued to grow after burying Robert with Anne. Elias called on the Doctor who'd informed them after an extensive examination that Isolde had been carrying two babies in her belly. One she lost, but one she still had in her belly. Months later, she gave birth to a little girl whom Elias and Isolde named Sibyl. She was very tiny when she was born, but she thrived and was so alert. Matilda confirmed that she'd survive and she did.

Winter was fierce that year and came sooner than anyone could have anticipated. The Bishops lost most of their livestock as well as their entire wheat field. Poor Thomas was already a frail and sickly child and suffered the most causing Isolde to worry constantly. Even more so because the Doctor had passed. A few months after Marian had come to live with the Bishop's, Isolde had found herself with child. Things were going good. Isolde was hardly on her feet, just to be safe, and little Thomas was always close by his  Mother so she didn't stress over his well being. It was after the Doctor's last visit that his wife whispered to Isolde that she was almost positive that she would have a girl that the Doctor and his entire family perished in a house fire.

The news of the Doctor's passing was tragic in deed. The closest Doctor was in Town, too far for Isolde to travel and too far for Elias to fetch when it was time. Ole Tillie had taken it upon herself to see to Isolde's needs with Marian's help, though after a few weeks Matilda had dismissed Marian and told her to ask Elias for something else to do. This was a bit surprising, to say the least, of Matilda who was quiet fond of children in general. She seemed to share strong feelings of dislike for Marian. As did little Thomas. Though Isolde and Elias had chalked that up to jealously that his older brother played more with Marian then with him, they couldn't however convince him otherwise, so Thomas stuck close to the house or to his Mother whenever he was feeling ill.

By the time Isolde started showing, she was moving around the house, but not at the pace she would like. She had to rest often as this pregnancy took quiet a lot out of her. Marta and Samuel visited often bringing Elizabeth and John along. John and Thomas were about the same age and played contently together over in a corner of the house while Elizabeth napped in either Marta's or Isolde's arms. Marian didn't seem to care for the squalling baby, though Lizzie was often very quiet and content as long as she was held, and stayed away whenever Marta visited. With or without the smaller children in tow. Isolde had expressed concern with Marian's behavior after being dismissed by Matilda to Marta, but Marta felt it was probably anxiety due to the new baby's arrival possibly taking her place and maybe fear that she would be kicked out after it was born.

Feeling more energetic over the course of the month that followed, Isolde planned a trip into Town to fetch some things while the weather was nice and clear. They'd depleted her stock of dried spices and cheeses and she needed grains and other items to last out the winter. Especially with most of the ponds, lakes and rivers frozen over and most of the animals were in hibernation. They wouldn't have enough if someone didn't make the trip in. Elias had the same idea for he'd left before Isolde had waken to go hunting for anything that he could find. Frustrated, Isolde asked Oweynn to stay behind and watch Thomas while she and Marian made the trip to Town, but Oweynn pointed that if Isolde went into labor Marian wouldn't be able to direct the horses or even ride one back to fetch Tillie, so Marian opted to stay behind with Thomas and Sibyl. Thomas was frightened. Marian scared him. He immediately hid from her. He wanted to hide Sibyl, but his Mother had always told him not to pick her up without help from her or his Father. He prayed that Sibyl would be ok. That Marian's hatred was only directed towards him and not his baby sister.

Thomas was getting hungry. It'd been more than two hours since his Mother and older brother had left for the Towns and he knew where his Mother kept the dried meats that she sometimes gave to Oweynn and Thomas whenever they were being good. He climbed out of his hiding spot and was creeping into the kitchen when he noticed how cold it was. Hadn't his Mother started a fire before she'd left? Abandoning his previous mission, Thomas had wandered into the sitting room to see that the embers faintly glowed, but flames no longer licked at the the pot of stew that his Mother had made with the last of their stored meats and vegetables. He also noticed the empty cradle that Sybil was in when his Mother left and there was no sign of Marian.

Thomas was half tempted to return to his hiding place, but he remembered his Father and Oweynn telling him that he should face his fears. And that it was his job to protect Sibyl because he was now a big brother and that's what big brother's do. He'd crept around until he found Marian outside in the bathhouse. She was leaning over the bath. Water was splashing about everywhere. Thomas slowly tip toed closer. Marian must have heard or sensed his approach because she flipped around, her eyes wide until she saw it was Thomas. Her surprised expression turned into an evil sneer as she smiled wickedly while glaring in Thomas's direction. She'd stood, her dress soaked, she took three steps towards him before they heard Elias calling out. His voice getting closer. Marian took a step forward and shoved little Thomas to the ground before Elias rushed into the bathhouse, coming to a halt.

Thomas started screaming. He yelled that Marian had something in the bath and she was going to kill it. Elias looked from Thomas to Marian, seeing her dress soaking wet he walked over to the bath to find Sibyl at the bottom, her skin was pale and her lips were blue. He reached in and grabbed her, the ice cold water biting at his skin. He started pressing on her chest like he'd seen the Doctor do to his Mother. He breathed into nose, something he'd learn from a girl he knew that used to live nearby when he was a young boy.

'Never blow into a child's mouth, you blow into their nose. I know, because I am going to be a Doctor when I get older.'

Water bubbled out of her mouth and down the sides of her cheeks and over her chin. He roller her over on her side and patted her back. Taking his cloak off, he wrapped it around his daughter and when he turned around to question Marian.. she was gone. Thomas sat there, silent tears streaming down his face. Elias sighed and pulled his son into his side and kissed the top of his head. He'd asked Thomas where Oweynn and Isolde were. Learning that his wife had gone into town was upsetting enough knowing she could go into labor any day. His son wouldn't be back for at least another hour maybe two and he needed to get Sibyl to the Doctor in Town, but he wouldn't be able to if he had to take Thomas with him.

He looked down into the eyes of his son that were so much like his Mothers and his heart filled with pain, fear, and love. He asked Thomas if he could hide until Oweynn returned. Thomas said he could. Said Marian didn't know where his hiding spot was. He grabbed his favorite Teddy Bear that he never went anywhere without. It belonged to his eldest brother, Sebastian, when he was little and his Mother said she'd given it to him when he was an infant. He hugged his Father fiercely, determination set on his small features, and his kissed his baby sisters forehead before he stood holding out his hand. He walked, head down against the wind, next to his father. His small hand in his large, warm one. Elias bent down, wrapping Sibyl more securely, then kissed his son on his forehead sending up a prayer for Thomas and his daughter's safety.

Elias mounted the horse and nodded at Thomas who turned and ran inside the house. He heard the smack as the long board dropping into place. He waited for the second before he took off at a dead speed, Louis on Horse's hooves, towards Town. With Sibyl safely strapped to Elias's chest. Thomas scooted the chair back to the table and ran to his hiding place. He'd just secured himself when he heard banging on the front door. His heartbeat had quickened, panic started to set in. Thomas reached for his bear, but didn't find him. He must have left him in the kitchen. He knew he should stay hidden, but his bear would be very afraid without him and he had to protect him. He slid out of his hiding place and crept into the kitchen. It was very dark in the house without the fire going. Dark and very cold. Thomas held his breath as he slid along the wall, his back pressed against the cold solid brick. His eyes flicked around, but he saw nothing but shadows. So he didn't see when Marian came up next to him and hit him upside the head with a piece of firewood.

Oweynn was half way back to the his house, Matilda was sick and after he'd stocked her fire and set about putting together a stew for her, she insisted something was wrong and he needed to get back home quick. She had no horses, or she'd have lent him one, his legs were tired of running. The wind was fierce, blowing against his lean body, making his push forward on his tip toes to cut through it. He kept thinking of his Mother, in Town without his Father knowing.. at least she'd be close to a Hospice in case she needed to bunker down. And there was the Church. Brother John always stopped by to check on them especially when the weather was really nice, or right after a storm. He would take care of Isolde. He thought of his Father, who'd left to go hunting. His Father was smart, he knew how to make a shelter to stay warm and wait it out, but Thomas and Sibyl were alone with Marian and he knew Thomas was afraid of her.

To be honest, lately, Marian had seemed weird. She was weird anyways, but he always thought that was because she was a girl. But Avice Borstell was a girl and Oweynn didn't find her to be very weird. He felt his cheeks grow warm just thinking of Avice. He planned to marry her when he was old enough, a man. His Mother liked her very much and Father definitely approved. Thomas adored her, probably had a crush on her, too. Losing himself in his thoughts of Avice, he didn't see her at first. He'd thought it was an animal coming, moving along the treeline of the wood. He'd ducked behind a bush off the road. When he felt brave enough he leaned out to see if he could spot the animal, but was shocked when he saw it was Marian. He squinted against the wind, his eyes watering, to see what she was doing. She looked like she was running, looking back over her shoulder as if someone was calling to her. In her left hand was Thomas's favorite bear that he didn't go anywhere without.

Oweynn ran towards her, she didn't even see him when he pummeled into her, knocking her off her feet and to the ground. He screamed in her face, even though it was close enough to feel her hot breath against his cheek.


She kneed him in his private area and kicked him in the gut after she was standing. She threw the bear down at him and spat in his face before turning to the road at a dead run. She was headed to town, but there was a stretch of wood from here to the village. He knew his Mother was in there.. panic set in. His Mother. Thomas. Where was Sibyl? Should he run home to check on Sibyl, or turn to the wood, where his little brother might be? He felt the ground, it was cold and  hard. Within a half hour he knew it'd be frozen. Too hard for Marian to be able to dig a hole, even a shallow one, to bury a body. Thomas knew almost as much as he did to survive a storm, but Thomas was frail, sickly and weak. He was closer to Thomas. He ran to the treeline. He could hear the wind whistling through the treetops, but other than that it was quiet. He knew she would have had to have taken him deep in the wood to be able to lose him and make it back to the treeline without Thomas seeing her and successfully follow her back.

He wasn't too far in when he felt a hand grasp his shoulder firmly and spun him around. It was his Mr. Borstell, Avice's Father. He'd asked him what he was doing and when Oweynn explained what he thought happened, Mr. Borstell's eyes barely visible as he squinted them, his eyes darting around behind Oweynn, head cocked to the side as if listening for something. When Oweynn was done, he was close to tears, but he didn't shed a one. Mr. Borstell told him he'd see his Father earlier riding towards town carrying something close to his chest, but he kept glancing over his shoulder back towards their homestead. He told Oweynn to head back to his house and get warm. Avice would make him something to eat and Mr. Borstell instructed Oweynn to let his eldest son know what he'd just told him and tell him to bring weapons. He was going to start looking for Thomas. When Oweynn made it to the treeline, he tore off his cloak and secured it to a tree to mark where he'd entered/exited from.

It was hours later, the sky was as black as a piece of wood that's been burned for hours. Oweynn stood looking out the window at the treeline. Avice stood next to him, holding his hand, her head on his shoulder. Mrs. Borstell coaxed the children away from the window closer to the fireplace. She draped a blanket over Oweynn and Avice before she headed back into the kitchen muttering something about making some tea. Avice sniffled at Oweynn's side. She was scared, too. Avice's older sister was sitting across from them on the floor, hugging her knees. She was a year younger than Marian was. Oweynn looked over at her, wanting to ask her questions about Marian, but he couldn't seem to find his voice.

The Borstall's eldest son burst through the door out of breath. He told Oweynn that his Father was joining the party, but that he was to stay here for the night. Mr. Borstall had already approved. Elias had left his daughter at the Hospice with his wife when Samuel found him and told him what had happened. Marian had been caught, she claimed a bear and dragged Thomas into the woods and she had ran after it and him to try and save him, but had gotten lost. She was currently being held in the Town's prison waiting judgement. Sam walked a few feet away from Elias, quiet and searching every brush and fallen tree for Thomas. When it became too dark, whispers set about the search party that the boy was for certain dead. No one went into the wood after dark.

Elias headed for home, Sam came with him. Marta and the little ones were going to go into Town in the morning to check on Isolde and Sibyl before fetching Oweynn from the Borstall's. Upon entering his home, the smell of blood filled Elias's senses making his head swim. Samuel went about lighting all the fixtures and started a fire. A puddle of almost dried blood was on the floor just outside the entrance to the kitchen. Samuel squeezed his shoulder before heading over to the sink and filling a pot of water and putting it on the well lit hearth. He turned to Elias and told his best friend to go get some rest. They'll head out before day break, he'd clean up the mess.

Elias didn't sleep. He sat on the bed he shared with his wife and cried. He should have never left Thomas alone. He should have found a way to make it work and took him with him and Sibyl to Town. Standing, his body stiff from sitting in the same position for hours, he made his way for the door. Samuel already was waiting for him. He knew he wouldn't be able to wait until it was light out. They mounted their horses and headed back to the treeline where Oweynn's cloak marked where they needed to enter. They tied off their horses at the Borstall's and walked back over, entering the wood. It was deathly quiet. It had snowed. A grave feeling took over Elias knowing the odds of Thomas's survival plummeted with the few inches that stuck to the ground. Louis was no where to be found. Samuel said he'd had a fit at the door and had opened it to see if there was anything there and he'd shot off. He'd tried to stop him, called him back, but he was unsuccessful. Louis was a good dog, he knew he'd come home eventually so he wasn't worried.

They were about a mile in when they heard a dog whimpering. Elias held up his hand to Samuel, signaling for him to stop. He followed the sounds until he happened upon a heap of snow. Out of the snow he could make out Louis tail. He pulled on the dog's hind legs until he pile of snow was broken up and was sliding in every direction as Elias pulled Louis away, dusting the snow off the old dog. Louis yipped and pulled away from Elias and began nosing the mound of snow. Elias immediately dropped his bow and arrows and began digging through the snow. He felt someone's shoulder, it wasn't a tiny one like he'd been anticipating, but it did cause him concern. With Samuel's help, they were able to uncover the body of Matilda. Why was she out here?? Oweynn had said she'd been ill. He'd left her resting in her bed before he headed home.

When Samuel, pulled her body towards his, cradling her to his. Her eyes fluttered open just as Thomas's tiny body fell from her embrace into Elias's arms. Dear God she'd found Thomas. His lips and around his eyes were purple from the cold. Samuel carried Matilda back to the Bartsoll's with Elias carrying Thomas right on his heels. Oweynn was still asleep in the spare room when they quietly were ushered into the house. Mr. Barstoll was building a fire, putting on more wood and kindling than he would have normally. Mrs. Barstoll started boiling water in the kitchen and getting blankets for Thomas. They wrapped him up in Elias's arms, while Elias sat in front of the fire. He regained some of his coloring, but was still shaking. Matilda was conscious and refusing any help insisting she'd be more help tending to the boy, but Mrs. Barstoll wouldn't hear of it.

Mr. Barstoll's eldest son had left on Elias's Horse to fetch the Doctor from Town. He'd made it back within two hours time. He looked over him closely, Elias never putting him down. The Doctor's face was grim. Thomas had a fever, the fact that he was even breathing was a miracle, however the Doctor wasn't optimistic. Elias refused to hear any more and told the Doctor to leave. He decided to take Thomas home. Mrs. Barstoll said she'd let Oweynn sleep and send him home once he's awake and has eaten something as he'd not eaten anything for supper. When Elias arrived home, the house was warm. The fire that Samuel had made should have died out, but was blazing hot. Isolde came bustling around the corner and burst into tears when she saw her husband and her son. She ran to them immediately, her hands skimming over her baby boy's body and then she leaned over and kissed her husband on the cheek. She took Thomas into her arms and carried him into hers and Elias's bed chamber where she laid him on the bed, with her beside him, running her fingers through his hair. He briefly opened his eyes and looked up at his Mother, a half smile on his face.
He whispered he loved her, Isolde kissed his cheeks and his forehead and nose and told him she loved him, too. He was such a brave boy. He saved his little sister's life. Marian was never coming back, ever. Thomas smiled and slowly he closed his eyes. He sighed "Mama" one last time and Thomas never took another breath after that.

Oweynn arrived to a horrific scene. Samuel and Marta stood in the kitchen, both of them crying. Elias was holding a screaming Isolde who was on the floor in her husband's arms. The door to their bed chamber was open and Oweynn could make out Thomas's little body on their bed. He ran in and looked down at his little brother. So sweet, so gentle. Thomas was dead. He'd never see him smile again. Never teach him how to fish, or hunt. He'd never grow up. Oweynn openly started crying then. He felt his Father's arms wrap around his chest. Screams interrupted their mourning. Isolde clutched at her belly as a puddle of water began spreading out from under her. The baby was coming.

Matilda burst through the doors barking orders to Marta, Oweynn, Elias and Samuel. She leaned down and whispered something in Isolde's ear. Isolde looked up into the old woman's eyes as she placed her aging hand upon the young frightened woman's cheek and nodded her head. So many emotions flitted across Isolde's face before she accepted whatever the old woman told her. Matilda was surprisingly strong as she supported most of Isolde's weight, lifting her up and off the floor and helping her to her bed. Tillie gently picked up Thomas and carried him into his room he shared with Oweynn, laying him on his bed before she returned to Isolde's side.

Hours of pacing, hair raking and pulling. Hours of waiting, mourning, stressing. Isolde gave birth to a beautiful baby girl whom she named Grace. Hours after giving birth, Isolde passed away from blood loss. Elias sat there holding this tiny baby girl, who stared back at him curiously, wondering how he was ever going to take care of an infant, a 2 year old and his 12 year old son alone. Marta and Samuel stayed at Elias's for a few months after Grace was born. Robert and Anne also came to stay. They buried Isolde and Thomas together so that neither would ever be apart again. It was during the months after that Robert had approached Elias about marrying again. Elias wouldn't hear of it. There was no one else out there for him. Isolde was it. She was his heart, his soul. It was painful enough living without her. Raising their children, without her. And for her own Father to ask Elias to even think of marrying another woman, someone other than his own daughter, outraged Elias.

To be fair, Elias was only lashing out. Isolde and Thomas's death was out of his hands and he took the blame for the deaths to heart, but Grace was refusing the goats milk and the cows milk. She needed to eat, but there were no nursemaids in the area. Robert again beseeched Elias to see reason. If he wouldn't remarry for happiness, then he should remarry to save his children. He knew of a widow who'd recently lost her husband and infant son and her breasts were full of Mother's Milk. Elias was a at a loss and when later that evening a brown eyed, red head showed up in his door step he stood staring at her dumbfounded. She wasn't like anything he'd ever seen in a log time. Her skin was a creamy silk and he could make out her full breasts under her dress along with her belly still slightly rounded from recent childbirth.

She smiled slightly at Elias then rolled her eyes. She introduced herself and memories long forgotten from Elias's childhood came rushing back to him. Mabel Tulle was the little red head that lived with her Father two farms over. She'd moved away with her Aunt before she came of age so that she could get a chance at a better future. She'd wanted to be a Doctor, Elias recalled. She nudged her way past him and entered the sitting room where Grace was crying. She looked to Elias and asked permission to hold her, he nodded in response. She picked up his daughter and held her to her bossom, the baby immediately begin nuzzling at her dress. Mabel pushed her dress off her shoulder and pulled her breast from under her dress. Grace immediately latched onto her nipple and suckled with a hunger that was somewhat endearing. Elias couldn't help but take a few steps forward as he watched in awe. He'd never watched Isolde feed Thomas. The realization cutting through him like a jagged knife. He looked up at Mabel's face, who until just then didn't realize she'd been staring at him.

He could see his own pain mirrored in her deep brown eyes. He knew it was her son she wished was nursing from her breast. He knew she wished it was her husband she was staring at instead of him. Elias cleared his throat dismissing himself from her presence. He wouldn't agree to marry her, but he wouldn't turn her away, he'd decided. He'd wait and see.. he'd watch her closely. He wouldn't make the same mistake he made when he let Marian into his home.


Marian was to stand trial in a week. If found guilty, she was to be hanged.
It seemed cruel, but that was looking at her as if she were just a mere child. And though she was, she was a child who tried to drown his daughter and who bashed her son in the head and dragged his body into the wood and left him for dead. She was the one who kicked his oldest boy and took off and tried lying about what she did. She also was the one who vowed to kill all Bishop's until she was the last one standing. And he felt nothing for.

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