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Saturday, June 8, 2013

In Brist's Time - Chapter 12

Chapter 12


Regan and Raven woke up early that morning, and quietly let themselves into Brist’s room. They stroked her hair and tickled her face until she awoke.
“Don’t you two know that it’s too early to be up yet?” Brist yawned. Then she noticed that Sarah was completely under the covers, and so Brist peeled them back to check on her new child. She was so tiny that for a moment, Brist thought that she was a much younger baby. Apparently, she was not the only one who thought so.
“Oh!” Raven exclaimed. “You had a baby last night!”
“Why didn’t you tell us that you were with child?” Regan asked in awe.
“Can I hold her?” They asked simultaneously.
“With child? Me? I didn’t have her!” Brist sputtered.
Don’t these girls know anything about how babies are born? She wondered. At that moment Sarah started to cry in her sleep.
“Oh, there now, don’t cry,” Brist comforted the girl, holding her and rocking her gently. When that didn’t work, she got out of bed, walked around, and patted the child on the back in an effort to calm her.
“This child, I’m guessing, is over 2 years old, probably three. I certainly didn’t have her last night. She’s not even mine. One of the thieves gave her to me last night. Her name is Sarah,” Brist explained.
“What?!”
“Thieves?!” Regan then Raven exclaimed.
“Last night, I went to rescue my horse. While I was there, I ran into the head thief and his wife. His wife, Belana, gave me their daughter to take care of. See, they don’t have any food for her and she is starving,” Brist briefly recapped the events of the previous night.
“I want my mummy!” Sarah cried.
“There there, Sarah. Don’t cry, your mama – like an angel – gave you to me, because she wanted you to have a better life, and I decided to keep you, because I couldn’t bear to see you starve,” Brist told Sarah.
“Was she pretty?” Sarah asked, her tears drying up as they were replaced by curiosity.
“Of course she is. Don’t you know how pretty your mama is?” Brist asked.
“I can’t remember. I haven’t seen her since I hit my head on the ship,” Sarah said, talking very clearly for a child her age.
“Hit your head? You mean you can’t see?” Brist asked incredulously. Sarah shook her head.
“What is your name?” She asked Brist.
“Well... your mom said that you should call me your mommy now, but my name is Brist. You can decide for yourself what you want to call me.”
Sarah thought about this for a moment. “How about Mummy Brist? What do you look like?”
“Well I’m…” The twins and Brist spent the next hour talking and playing with the adorable little girl.

*******

“Regina, dearest, eat,” David gently bade his wife.
“But I can’t quit thinking about how you’re making me abandon my babies. David you can’t tell me that you won’t miss them terribly. This is the first time we’ll have ever been separated!”
“You’ll make yourself sick if you don’t eat, Regina.”
“Honestly David! I hardly think missing one meal is going to kill me! Oh, I’m too worried to eat!” Regina exclaimed in agitation. David watched seven of his sons roll their eyes in amusement at their mother’s dramatics.
“Where is Nicholas? He’s usually the first one to come to breakfast; he must be awake by now. Morgan, go find him and bring him here. I have some things to discuss with him,” David ordered his son. Morgan rose from his chair and went to do his father’s bidding. He heard his mother ask Curtis to fetch his sisters as he left.
Shortly, Morgan reached Nicholas’ bedroom door, and quietly let himself in. He whispered his brother’s name a few times in a feeble attempt to wake him, and then – getting into the spirit of things – he began to shout.
“Nicky! Wake up!”
Nicholas jumped, or at least he would have if he hadn’t been lying down. “I’m tired and I’m trying to sleep! Go away and leave me alone!” He shouted back.
“My! Aren’t you grumpy?! I’d leave you alone, but I can’t. Father ordered me to fetch you to him,” Morgan explained.
“Now what? I just got to bed an hour or so ago,” Nicholas groaned.
“Oh Nicky, you didn’t!” Morgan jumped to conclusions.
“I didn’t what?” Nicholas’ mood grew darker as he growled over the accusation.
“Tell me you didn’t take advantage of Brist,” Morgan demanded.
“No I didn’t take advantage of precious Brist. I saw that conniving-”
“Nicky!”
“I saw her take off and I followed her,” Nicholas began through gritted teeth, conveniently forgetting to mention that if he'd had his way, Brist would have most definitely been his bed partner.
“Well, where did she go?” Morgan asked, intrigued.
“She walked directly into the thieves camp, at which point I stepped in and tied up the entire camp. After that, I rescued our horses and recovered our belongings. Brist begged me to leave her with the thieves, but I decided that I had to drag her back to face our family. She insisted on bringing a child with her, and as a result, I spent the entire night leading her and the horses back home, all the while carrying a child,” Nicholas fabricated mostly and embellished slightly.
“You really tied up the entire camp?” Morgan asked, impressed.
“Of course,” Nicholas lied.
“This I have to tell mother and father!” Morgan started to turn away.
“That may not be such a good idea,” Nicholas stopped him. “I just told you how events should have happened. However, Brist may remember them differently.”
“How differently?” Morgan asked with an amused grin, catching onto his brother’s drift.
“I’m sure you’ll find out.”
“Well, I’ll go and tell father that you’re on your way, but Nicky, hurry. Father seemed to be getting impatient.” Morgan took his leave.
“Apparently, I’m not meant to get any sleep today. I must remember to thank Brist properly,” Nicholas grumbled as he crawled out of bed. He ended up getting tangled in the blankets and tumbling out of bed, landing flat on his face. “Ow....”
Minutes later, he joined his parents at breakfast, managing to enter just as Morgan was explaining that he’d be in shortly.
“You wanted to see me father?” He asked.
“Yes son, we shall have to make plans to retrieve our horses,” David replied. 
“Done! Can I go back to bed now?”


*******

“Mummy Brist! Please stop!” Sarah giggled. Brist paused in her tickling of the child.
“Give me one good reason,” she demanded impishly.
“Because I’m hungry,” Sarah pouted.
“I am so sorry, baby! I should have gotten you something to eat much sooner,” Brist apologized, feeling like the worst bitch who ever lived.
“Don’t be sorry, I was having so much fun that I forgot that my belly hurt,” Sarah confided.
“You poor baby! How could I be so thoughtless?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine,” Sarah reassured her.
“You certainly talk very well for a toddler! How old are you anyway?” Brist asked as she carried her downstairs, followed by the twins. Sarah held up three fingers.
“My next birthday is in four days.”
“And then you’ll be four?”
“Yes.”
The group of girls approached the dining room.
“What do you mean done? Nicholas what have you done?” David questioned, his voice ringing with concern.
“Done? I haven’t done anything!”
“Oh Nicholas, you could have gotten hurt!” Regina exclaimed.
“You should have waited until we were prepared to handle things together,” David chided.
“Well, I didn’t want to wait until you MEN were ready. I wanted my horse back immediately, and I wasn’t going chance that you wouldn’t get her back soon enough,” Brist said huffily.
The family sat in stunned silence. Nicholas couldn’t decide whether to be smug that his parents were so rudely informed that they shouldn’t be yelling at him, or whether he should maintain his grumpy mood and simply return to bed.
Brist smirked at him. “I see you managed to make it home.”
He grumbled and began to eat.
“Mum look!” Regan and Raven exclaimed. “Brist brought Sarah home last night.”
Brist had already set Sarah in a chair, and now placed a plate of food in front of her.
“Can you feed yourself?” She asked. Sarah shook her head in shame. Brist took Sarah’s right hand and placed it over the child’s mouth. “Then I guess it’s about time that you learned. You feel your mouth right?”
Sarah nodded.
“Feel the spoon?” Brist asked as she placed a spoon in Sarah’s hands. Sarah examined the spoon with her hands, then nodded. “You hold it like this, now place the round end in your mouth.”
Sarah tried to do as Brist instructed, but couldn’t quite manage to find her mouth. Brist guided the child’s hand, and soon, Sarah was an expert at bringing the spoon to her mouth.
Brist and Sarah were the center of attention, but only the twins knew why the toddler had difficulty learning to feed herself. The room was silent, as if they were being held spellbound by Brist.
“Now comes the fun part.” Brist continued to instruct her new child. “On this plate, I have placed some sort of oatmeal or grits, see?” Brist made sure that the porridge wasn’t too hot, and then placed one of Sarah’s fingers in it. Using the fingers, Brist pushed some food onto the spoon, and the spoon in the child’s mouth.
“Now you try,” Brist encouraged. Sarah successfully repeated the actions of placing food on the spoon, and the spoon in her mouth. “Perfect! Now onto the fork, uh you should lick your fingers clean.” Sarah did this with no problems.
“Now, you must remember to be careful with this, it’s pointy and can hurt, see?” Brist poked Sarah’s palm with the fork, who proceeded to take the fork and place it, correctly, in her mouth.
“Very good! Okay, also on this plate, there is an egg, some fried potatoes, and a pancake. Feel them?” Sarah nodded. Then, in a purely American manner, Brist helped Sarah stab a piece of fried potato with the fork. Sarah ate the piece, and then tried to stab another, but was unable to catch one. Brist showed her how to use her finger to hold the piece steady, and at the same time, how to not stab herself in the process.
“Brist!” Regina exclaimed. “ I don’t know what it’s like where… uh… when you come from, but it is unbecoming to teach a child to play with her food.”
“I’m not teaching her to play with her food,” Brist stated, but before she could explain further, she was distracted by Sarah, who – startled by Regina’s outburst – had missed her mouth, poked herself in the cheek with the fork, and promptly began to cry.
Brist plucked the crying child from her chair and comforted her.
“Here let me kiss it and make it feel all better.” Brist kissed Sarah’s cheek. “Better?”
Sarah nodded and Brist placed her back in the chair. As soon as the child was occupied with feeding herself once more, Brist took the opportunity to fill a plate of her own. Just as she had sat down, she noticed that Sarah’s plate was empty, except for the egg.
“Mummy Brist, can I have some more?”
“Of course!”
Before Brist had finished her own breakfast, Sarah had asked for another two child-sized helpings, and then finally, everyone was full.
“My goodness, you certainly ate a lot!” Raven exclaimed.
“I was afraid that you’d eat so much, you’d make yourself ill,” Regan added.
“I was soooo hungry, I haven’t eaten in this many days,” Sarah held up three fingers. “Thank you Mummy Brist”
“Three days!” The twins and Regina exclaimed.
“Yes. The last thing we had to eat was some bread, but that was divided amongst us children, and I barely got a bite before someone took my chunk!” Sarah said the last part emphatically. “Mum and everyone else haven’t eaten in a week, and I feel so bad for them for their tummies must hurt much more than mine did,” she ended sadly.
“That’s terrible!” Regan exclaimed.
“We should help them!” Raven added.
“They are thieves!” Regina exclaimed, but she couldn’t decide whether she should hold that against them, or help them anyway.
“They don’t want to be thieves. They only steal to survive, and they only steal from you because they think that your family is to blame for making them pay everything they had for passage here. What they want to do is claim some land and farm it, but they don’t even have the resources for that. I have an idea that might help them, and at the same time stop them from stealing from you,” Brist told them, looking at David.
“Don’t look at me. I bought this place and built this house for Nicholas. It will be up to him to hear you out and decide what to do. Also, I have decided, Nicholas,” David was now looking at his eldest son, taking advantage of the momentum of the last subject to finish the conversation he had planned to have with Nicholas before he found out that the horses had been recovered. “My affairs are in order here, and I see no reason to delay my departure any longer.”
“Oh father! No!” The twins exclaimed.
“I’m not finished!” He said, effectively stopping his daughters in their protestations. “Your mother and I have decided to leave you here; as long as you promise not to cause your brother any trouble. Also, we are hereby hiring Brist as your chaperone. That should give Brist something to do, as well as some spending money.”
He turned to look at the rest of his sons, then back at his eldest. He continued. “I’m not the only one anxious to be off; the ship that will provide Curtis with his captain training has been waiting in port for me to send them on their way. Lastly, Regina’s ship is scheduled to arrive within the week, and I want to be gone leaving room for it at the docks, and-”
“Regina’s ship! I thought you said women couldn’t captain ships?” Brist exclaimed in surprise.
“Of course they can’t captain a ship, but Regina – just as the twins will when they’re older – owns a ship called The David, and she has full control over the cargo her ship acquires, and she is allowed to keep all profits made. Of course, she funds all expenses too, but that is neither here nor there,” David explained brusquely.
“I see...” Brist said simply. She bit her tongue and decided not to expound the rights of women.
“I can see that you disapprove of something,” David observed.
“Well, why is it that women are allowed to own ships, but not to operate them,” she asked.
“Women are ill suited. I’m not saying that they are physically incapable, but in addition to the fact that women are generally not as strong, the men on board would certainly try to… misuse them... but even in the case of the twins, for example, when they are older and own ships of their own, they could remain on board their ships to oversee things. Provided that they have a trustworthy crew, and men to guard them from harm.” David paused in his explanations to take a drink, and Brist looked a little more hopeful.
She hated to think that anyone in her family would be as prejudiced against women as men in this time were supposed to bed. Her hopes were crushed a moment later.
“But why would they want to? They will have husbands to do that for them, and babies to look after, and-”
Brist gaped at David a moment, she couldn’t even respond, and so, instead, she picked Sarah up and left the room. As she left she muttered, “Honestly! Why do men assume that just because they have balls in their pants, they have the right to subjugate women!”
Regina placed her hand over her husband's. “Don’t be angry with her, she was raised to believe such notions.”
“I’m not angry,” he smiled, chuckling. “Brist certainly knows how to keep one on one’s toes, life around her will never be dull.”
“Do we really get to stay?” The twins asked eagerly.
“Yes,” their mother answered forlornly.
“Do you really think it wise to hire Brist as their chaperone?” Nicholas questioned with a raised brow.
“Yes. It’s actually an ideal situation; Brist wants a job, and the girls can teach her how to behave in these times. Besides, Brist has proven that she can handle herself should they ever happen to be separated from a male escort. She’ll keep the twins out of your hair, and they’ll keep her away from you. Hopefully, the two of you will eventually learn to get along... Perhaps you’ll actually even come to like one another,” David suggested in amusement. “Now that we have everything situated, I suggest that Regina and I pay a visit to our injured son before we depart. Come dear.”

Go to Chapter 13 

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