Come Across the Big Pond
Tar ar an tAigéan
Disclaimer. I don’t own the characters that are found in the Murder She Wrote TV series, or in the book form. They are the property of someone else. I * do * own the characters that I created. The character of Dr. Tipper Henderson was created by Anne, and is used with her permission. To read more about the adventures of Tipper, Google “Murder She Wrote” and go to the “Definitive Guide to Murder She Wrote.”
This story (Tabhairt Isteach Do ) is several stories within one, starting with Picture Perfect Murder. It was broken up into chapters and placed on Fanfiction.net as such to make it easier to read. I hope to have several more written covering the extraordinary summer of Frank Fletcher Jr. While this one concludes the Big Pond story, it is another chapter in the events that will unfold over time.
Author’s note & warning… Thanks to Anne for being my Beta on this series. This story has a warning of 13+ due to language, beliefs and customs that may offend some people’s sensibilities. Also, while this story is set in the MSW universe not every thing will be solved by Jessica.
If you have traversed this far, please sign a review so that I know you have read it! Don’t be shy!!
© June 09 2006. finished June 29th2006
Seth woke to the sound of birds chirping outside his window and a pleasant feeling of bliss radiating through his body. For a moment he lay very still, savoring the feeling. He had thought, with the amount of dancing he had done the night before and all of the food he had eaten, that he would be either ill or so stiff that he wouldn’t be able to move for a week. He felt glorious. Opening one eye Seth focused on the clock that sat on his night stand. He hadn’t set the alarm. Jessica had told him to sleep himself out the night before, and to continue with what he had planned. George had an idea to catch who was responsible and it was important that everyone did everything they had planned to do before the kidnapping to catch the culprit unaware. This morning Seth was to meet with Gram and one of the camera men and she was going to show him some of the herbs that they had used in healing people. Willie had felt it was important that some record be made of what was being done. Book learning was fine, but the hands-on experience was something that couldn’t be duplicated. Younger doctors were too deep into the pills. He had seen first hand how the paste that Willie had made was helping Anthony.
The clock face finally came into focus. 8 am. Most everyone would be up and he could smell the heavenly scent of fresh baked bread. Taking a breath he rolled over and tossed the covers back as he sat up. His eyebrows went up. Not even a twinge. Willie had made tea for Seth and Jessica before the wedding. He had informed them to drink it at bed time, and that he would have a sound sleep. Seth had. The pain that he would normally have in the waking hours was gone. Putting his robe around his shoulders he gathered his shave kit and towel and headed to the shower. Grinning at finding an open door he stepped into the small room and latched the lock. He knew from years with his wife and children how to be very quick in the shower, and how to not yell when the cold water hit. He was in, showered and shaved in three minutes and in another two, dressed and down the steps into the kitchen. He saw Rosemary and Emma washing the dishes while Mither stirred the porridge on the stove. Ian and Frank were at the table with the girls and Sara. Seth knew that Grady and Donna were still in bed. They had had a long trip and weren’t used to the time change yet.
“Good morning… Mither that bread smells heavenly…” he said eyeing the cooling loaves of bread.
She slapped his hand away from the bread knife drawer. “Na, tis for the soup for mid-day meal. I know you’re away to speak with Gram soon, so here ye go - this porridge will keep ye full til then…” she said pushing the bowl of porridge that she had just scooped out into his hands. “The cream is on the counter by the spoons.” She pointed over to the other side.
Seth looked down at his porridge. “I have to be an adult about this in front of the children,” he thought, “but fresh toast made with that bread with clotted cream would be heavenly…and I don‘t even know what porridge is except something that they sing about in nursery rhymes being nine days old.” Seth pulled up a chair after putting some milk on his porridge and dipping his spoon into the gooey mass lifted it halfway to his lips. “It smells just like oatmeal…” Pausing, he regarded the bowl. He hated oatmeal. With a passion. He made it a point to have all of his patents eat oatmeal at least four times in a week because it was reputed to lower cholesterol and he would have fewer complaints from his patients regarding constipation, but as a rule he had vowed never to eat that wall paper paste again if his life depended on it.
Frank wore a bit of a smirk on his face. “Aunt Jessica told Mither that you love oatmeal - that’s the same as their porridge - and that you eat it every day at home…”
“Ay, an’ I can have it for you every day here as well. No wonder ye are such a fair and fit man for your age,” said Mither with a wink putting the pot on the back of the stove with a lid to keep it hot.
“Yes, Jess, I think it’s time that we ran that colonoscopy you have been putting off … I am in hell, woman! Oatmeal every day? The airplane’s rest rooms can’t handle that sort of workout for fifteen hours, woman! Let alone there are only three restrooms here and over twenty-four people with two of them pregnant, eight of them elderly, and a fair number of them kids who have to have multiple trips in there so they won’t have accidents… When I get my hands on you …” Seth closed his eyes envisioning the tests that he could dangle over Jessica’s head for doing this to him. His belly rumbled. He sighed and opened his eyes. Swallowing, he guided the spoon to his mouth and knew it wasn’t going to get any better if he let it linger on his taste buds. It clung to the back of his throat as he swallowed again for the third time. He sighed again and took a sip of milk. Ian eyed him sympathetically. Looking both ways to be sure his sisters weren’t paying attention he shoved the sugar bowl over to Seth.
“It helps. I love it as much as ye do, Dr. Seth,” he said under his breath.
Seth looked at Ian. While he was small for his age, he was also underweight. It was with a pang that Seth realized that perhaps the porridge was all that Ian and his family could afford to eat, and while Seth detested the stuff for different reasons, Ian probably hated it because it was the same each day. He wondered how different Ian’s life would have been had they stayed together as a family, here in the village. The next thought was that knowing the other side, Ian’s mother wouldn’t have survived to adulthood. It was a fair guess that by killing off all of the youngsters or a good many of them, Willie’s family would have died out long ago if some of them hadn’t gone into hiding.
“Maybe we can find other things we might like too, later,” he said with a wink to the boy. Ian scooped several spoonfuls of sugar onto the porridge. Seth stirred it in and took another spoonful. The sweetness took away the gooey taste. It was manageable. He winked at Ian and took another bite. Seth felt Mither’s watchful gaze on him as he worked his way down to the bottom of the bowl. Fishing for the last bit, he asked Ian, “Lad, have you ever had grits?”
Ian shook his head. “Wha’s in them?” he asked, curious.
“Well, grits are bleached corn meal that’s been boiled. You can make the northern variety called ‘mush’ with the unbleached corn, and the same ground grain is used to make corn bread.”
“Really? Oh, I love the corn bread we get at school, there never is enough of it sometimes … right, Pattie?” His sister nodded, smiling.
“Maybe for tomorrow’s breakfast I can make up some good old-fashioned southern grits for breakfast … and make corn bread with the rest of the meal. We smother it in a good chicken stock gravy and it is heaven.” He looked at Ian and winked.
Pattie looked at Seth. “Dr. Seth, does Aunt Jessica like grits?” she asked, curious.
He grinned “ Why, yes she does. Even more than I love oatmeal…” “Oh yes, Jessica Beatrice MacGill Fletcher, you will love tomorrow’s breakfast and all that follows!!”
Seth heard the rattle of the pot’s lid and knew Mither was going to come around with another scoop for the kids. Standing up, Seth carried his bowl to the sink and dipped it in the dishwater to wash it. He saw that Rosemary seemed distracted by something outside, and looking out, he saw a short bandy legged man that had his hair slicked back and was wearing a clean shirt. He had to blink several times before he realized that the man was Toot, and that he was actually clean shaven and by the looks of it, had taken a bath as well as washed his clothes. Seth saw Toot duck behind a tree to hide when he was seen at the window. Glancing at Rosemary he realized she had a bit of a blush on her cheek.
“There is a new priest arriving later this morning, if any of ye wish to meet him,” Mither said, taking her apron off and hanging it on the hook. “There is still more porridge left for the sleepyheads or if any of you lot wish to have more. I’m off to the parish, then the market. Flynn’s off fishing for dinner, and Faraday is off with young Dr. Henderson.”
“Is there anything we can do to help with lunch, Mither?” asked Ian.
She paused, then nodded. “I’ve about thirty pounds of potatoes that need peeling and then to be soaked in cold water till I get back. Would ye like to help that much?”
Ian nodded. “Na doing any relay races today. Peeling would be fine… can do that while the girls take their naps.”
Seth closed the door behind him as he walked out of the house with the young camera man beside him. Gram was already up sweeping the cobblestone pathway to her house. She looked up at Seth and waved. It took a moment to get both of them wired for sound. For a while Seth felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car. Gram pressed tea on him and after a few sips he relaxed.
“I noticed that Willie, and you, do a lot of healing with different blends of tea. How do you know what should go into each different tea?” he asked, curiously looking at the remains of the tea leaves.
“Na all cures can be made with tea, or plants. Sometimes cures come from animals, or insects, or even different minerals of the earth. To heal, you have to know what is wrong. Na a lot of doctors can do that. They may think they have the source of the problem. Sometimes the cures are almost the same. Skin, hair, nails, eyes, they all tell. Someone said, ‘the eyes are windows of the soul,’ if you believe in that. What you need to know is when you look at a person and see them, even if you know them, see them for the first time. Look to see if their hair is good, or breaking, as well as the nails and the beds of the nails.”
Gran smoothed her skirt and for a moment looked shyly at the camera as it clicked on. Taking a breath she began by showing Seth the house, and the surgery, and then the herbs that she had drying. Some of the herbs Seth knew, and a few he raised his eyebrows at when she waggled them in the direction of the town. There were things to cure, things to help. Herbs to sooth and to hasten. What impressed Seth the most was her decision of dosage. She knew how much of the medication was found in each plant, and how many seeds or petals or leaves, or how much root was needed to cure, and how much would kill.
They walked around the outside garden to the front where Seth happened to notice the sheet hanging on the tree. It took a full minute for Seth to realize what it was. Gran followed his gaze and gave it a nod.
“Aye, triplets for sure before St. Paddy’s Day,” she said a bit proudly.
Seth shot her a glance. “Triplets?? ... Do they know?”
She gave the men a grin and chuckled to herself. Seth wasn’t sure if she was pulling his leg, or if she was serious. She went to the edge of the house and picked up her walking stick, and tossed it to Seth. “Come on lad. Tis been a while since I went out and about and I have a feeling there will be a need for some healing today.”
Seth followed her out of her yard and down the path that lead up into the meadow. A few times he would stop and just take in the view, then Gram would tell him to hurry along. Seth looked at the cameraman, puffing for air. Gram wasn’t out of breath at all. “And she is 97...“ he gasped to the cameraman.
Gram was having a great time making up wild cures with some of the things she would point out - telling them that if they had a combination of some herbs and flowers parts of the body would swell up, go plaid and fall off. The camera man was taking all of it in and when she said the bit about going plaid and falling off he gasped, “Really?”
Gram looked at him with a twinkle in her eye and said, “Absolutely.”
him go, lass,” said Willie’s voice behind Tipper. “They have to take him now.”
“I have to keep pressure on the wound, you know that…” she mumbled, holding on to Faraday’s body tightly.
“The lads here will do that. Let them… it’s alright, lass.” Gently Willie managed to release Tipper’s hold on Faraday and helped her to her feet.
Willie felt Tipper shiver. “Are ye hurt lass?” he asked her, guiding her out of that room into the next.
Tipper shook her head. “No... It’s my fault he is dead…”
“Oh, no, lass, no. Flynn did it, an’ he did the stuff before,” said Willie, trying to comfort her.
“He knew, though. He was involved. How could I have been so stupid to fall for him?” she asked Willie as she tried to wipe the tears from her eyes, and instead smeared Faraday’s blood on her face. She looked at her hands and saw the blood on them. Her body began to shake harder. “Oh Faraday…” she said softly.
Tipper heard footsteps approach. There was a murmur, then a cup was pressed to her lips. She gagged at the bite of the drink and looked at Willie, who encouraged her to take a few sips before he put it aside. “I saw him go. He hugged his sister and then looked back at me before they went through the door… He said he loved me…How could he have been helping Flynn and still love me?”
Jessica and George watched as the ambulance and the car that contained Tipper, Taylor and Willie pulled away from the house. The whiskey that Willie had given to Tipper had stopped her shaking like a leaf and calmed her somewhat.
There were a few officers still inside. Others had taken Flynn away earlier. The officers that had stayed were young, and a few looked about the house with trepidation. She saw one tall thin officer look about the great hall where the grand staircase was, and up the steps to the stained glass window. She could see his large adam’s apple bob in his throat as he swallowed.
“Is something wrong, Officer O‘Neil?” she asked the young man gently.
“Beggin’ your pardon, Mrs. Fletcher… It’s just this place – it has always been said it’s haunted, cursed and blessed at the same time,“ he said, shifting his hat in his hand.
“That’s a rather curious combination, wouldn’t you say?” she said, following his gaze up the steps to the stained glass window. Far enough away one could take in the entire window. It was entwined with ivy and clover with birds fluttering over it. In the center of the window was a large stone with a sword pierced through it, and the golden path from it led to a rainbow that led to a pair of birds in a nest of the ivy; in the nest were three eggs. Taking a step closer to look at it, Jessica was startled to see something else as the sunlight broke through the window. She stopped walking and gasped as the view on the window changed. She could see faces in the window, people gathered around the stone with the sword and one person kneeling before it, pulling the sword out of the stone. Blood ran from the stone. Just as fast as the image was there, it disappeared when the sun moved behind a cloud.
“Ye saw it too?” the young officer said, looking at Jessica.
She nodded. “But it’s not there any more…”
“Ye are na going mad Mrs. Fletcher. It’s there. An’ they say there are other images that ye can see in different places where ye stand during different days. They explain it as polarized painting of the stained glass, though it had to be done in such a planned way when the glass was being made that only the person doing it would know. Some say they were what you call wizards tha’ made this place. Others say it was the work of the wee folk who made it a home when one of their own married a mortal lass. He couldn’t bring her to his people lest he would lose her, so he brought his magic and wealth here for his family to have. It is said that one day, the true heir will walk again in these halls, and there will be a gathering of all the departed, in a way that the treasure that was long hidden from the greedy folk will be brought forth, and the curse will be broken. All who were in the family by marriage or blood will have the luck of the Irish wee folk with them, and all who defied the family will lose their dearest blood to the curse. Two noble families once lived in this house, Mrs. Fletcher. One stayed; the other left with the curse…”
Jessica regarded the young officer. “Oh, I don’t know, it depends on what you believe is the real curse,” she said softly. Jessica turned and looked at the window as the sun came out from behind the clouds. The people’s faces were there - standing around the man, or more precisely standing to one side, and it looked like the sword was above the stone, then with a shift, the sword went into the stone and the image disappeared all together. She looked back, and saw the young officer had been distracted by something else.
“What is it, Officer O’Neil?” she asked, curious.
He held up his hand. “A banshee wailing…” he said softly.
Jessica listened. She did hear something. “That’s not a banshee, Officer... follow me!” Jessica went up the steps of the grand staircase, following the sound. It was a low-pitched moan that echoed through the air registers.
Entering into a room that had a closed door, the noise stopped. Jessica looked around the room. It was a bedroom that had a small mattress on the floor and scattered toys in a corner, where there was a lump of a dirty blanket. Officer O’Neil had his hand on his gun, but Jessica shook her head and closed the door and had him stand in front of it. The lump of the blanket moved.
“It’s alright now, you’re safe. You can come out…” Jessica said, walking forward.
The blanket moved again, this time springing upward as a filthy being in rags charged at Jessica with the intent of knocking her over to get past her and out the door. Officer O’Neil stepped forward and managed to scoop up the being as it changed its path for the door.
George heard the wild shriek down below and raced up the stairs. He didn’t know what was behind the door, but he could hear Jessica’s voice and opened it with the intention of rescuing her. What he faced instead was a three foot tall wall of wiggly, snarling monster that he managed to lift up with both hands and hang upside down to avoid getting teeth sunk into his arms and in the process, was kicked a few times in the face. Officer O’Neil was nursing a bloody arm, and limped over to George with his hand cuffs out.
Jessica hurried over and waved the cuffs away. “Close the door, and stand in front of it. George, please put her down.”
“Her? This hellion is a her?” gasped George.
“Put her down, George.”
“But… But - Jessica!”
He carefully turned the child right side up and then placed her on her feet Jessica took the child’s hands in hers, and bending over to face the child she said sternly, “Now young lady, there will be no more nonsense from you. No one will hurt you, we’re here to help you. The first order of the day is to get you a proper bath, and then some food. There will be no more biting or trying to run away. Come along now.” She straightened up and faced Officer O’Neil. “Officer O’Neil, where is the nearest bath, and would you be so kind as to run some water in the tub for us, about fifteen inches, and Inspector Sutherland, if you could find something suitable for this young lady to wear when her bath is finished?”
Tipper was quiet during the drive to the village. She felt as if there was a huge hole in her heart that nothing could fill. All of the beautiful green of the land was now a flat gray. She could hear the sound of people singing as they went past the church, and up the lane. It sounded rather like angels singing.
officer parked the car and opened the door for them. Tipper sat a moment, but then
Willie entered into the kitchen, where he saw Ian with his leg propped up on another chair with a pillow under it peeling potatoes with Grady. “Where are all the others?”
“Down at the church welcoming the new priest,” said Ian. “Grandmum is about somewhere. Frank and his mum went to look at the kittens in the back shed. She’s na much for food today. They only left a minute ago.”
Willie went out the back door and hurried up the path to the shed. He could see
Frank helping Donna, keeping her steady as she walked, and that just as they
got to the side of the shed, they paused. Willie could see Frank listening to
something. Frank stepped forward to look through the window. Donna, being a bit
taller, was able to see down into the shed from the window. She pulled Frank
back and covered his mouth to prevent him from saying anything. As Willie ran
up the path and came to them, Donna’s mouth was opening and closing like a fish.
Frank had pulled away from her, gotten her a log to sit on, and guided her onto
Willie entered the shed. The light from the window illuminated everything he didn’t want to see as he strode across the wood floors where the feed sacks were kept. Reaching down he grabbed Toot by the back of the neck and pulled him backwards from Rosemary.
Donna looked back up at him and saw Frank wincing at what was being said. She reached up and took his hands away from her ears and said softly to him, “Honey? I don’t understand a word they are saying. Do you?”
She saw Frank flinch. “Uh, yeah… Most of it is stuff Willie says when he smacks his thumb with a hammer. That happened a lot when he was building the looms. Sheriff Metzger says I’m not to repeat any of it. What were they doing, mom? Why is Willie so upset?”
Donna hesitated. She could feel color rise to her cheeks as she looked up at her son.
The shouting ended with the sound of a slap. There was a silence, then something was said before the door to the shed opened and Willie came out. He slammed the door shut and stood looking down at the dirt. The imprint of a hand was bright on his cheek. Willie couldn’t look at Frank or Donna for a moment, and when he did, they saw the brush of tears in his eyes.
“We have to get down to the house before the others come back. The kittens will wait for another day.”
noticed that Willie was very tight-lipped on the way back down the path. He
escorted them to the kitchen where
“Where is Tipper?” Frank asked with trepidation in his voice.
upstairs, in bed. I gave her something to help her sleep,” said
“Who would shoot Faraday?” asked Frank, curious.
“His own father?” gasped Ian.
“Willie, what is going on? What happened? Who hit you?”
“Because I caught Toot on the box banging her in the shed and let her know it wasn’t
proper behavior for a woman her age.”
“Banging on the box?” she asked, and saw his face redden.
“Yes, like a brasser, an old flah-bag a - a common tart,” he said with great difficulty. “I ask you now, what woman of reason would do that with the town drunken Brell who’s known for sleeping with his goats, and that’s WITH his goats?” He paced the room a few times and then looked out the window at the people coming up the path to the bed and breakfast.
“I don’t have the answer to that, husband. I know she isn’t responsible for Faraday’s death.”
“That has nothing to do with it!” he said darkly.
“Fine, then I will leave it to you to tell Mither about Faraday, and Flynn,” she said, getting up and walking briskly from the room out the side door, where she avoided Mither and the others coming back into the house. Starting down the path, she wanted to put as much distance between what she wanted to say, and what was in her heart. She felt something, though, and had to stop. She stood for a moment taking a breath under the tree that she and Willie had spoken under before they had married. She couldn’t go any further. She sat on the same spot and lowered her head. She could feel the tears coming down her cheeks. She heard the crunch of gravel coming down the path and felt Willie sit beside her before wrapping his arms about her body. She turned into his arms and her body shook with sobs.
“I can’t be strong any more, I can’t,” she said softly. “I don’t have the answer for you, husband. I don’t know how to fix the hurt in your heart any more than I can fix what is in mine. I’m sorry.”
her head up with his fingertips, Willie gazed at
“The church, to draw the windows… I’ve always used drawing to focus on when I couldn’t deal with the world. I have for so very long I am afraid that I don’t know how to cope any other way. I used to be very good with people, dealing with problems … and it changed one day. Gabe came into my life and I … I couldn’t fix me, though. Only you have been able to do that. And I know there are people here who are in more pain than I am. I can’t take on any more pain.”
“I know, wife,” Willie said softly, brushing the tears from her cheeks. “I’m sorry for putting you in the middle of something that wasn’t yours to worry about.”
“You are my husband. She is my mother now, too, and would you be angry with me if I said, it is her decision to make?”
He regarded her. “She said as much. Aye, I was angry when I found them. Angry enough tha’ if I had the sword I would have done him more harm than kicking his back side as I did… Na because Frank an’ his Mum saw what was going on in the shed, but I knew my da loved my mum more than his own soul. I just felt she was dishonoring his memory or tha’ she was lowering herself to be in Toot’s company. I‘ve lost her as my mother today…”
“Then you will have to find her again. Husband, you can not ask her to make the choice between your love and her comfort where she may find it.” She saw that Willie was about to say something and she laid her fingertips over his lips. “There has been enough pain today, husband…” She stood up and took his hand. “Come on. We need to help Mither ease hers, and put ours aside for a while.”
Willie stood and escorted her up to the bed and breakfast where they found Mither had just taken the things from the market and was unpacking them in the cellar. Willie went down and brought her up to the sitting room, and holding her hand told her gently about Faraday, and how his life had been taken.
Mither’s voice was low. “I heard the calling, afore ye came. The low moan of the ones who take the souls of the gentle away. Knew there would be harm coming, but didn’t know for whom. Ye bring death, Willie, with ye. Ye bring death.”
Mither shook her head. “Oh no… She’s just away at University…She…is just away…”
In the kitchen Frank, Ian, Grady and Donna were helping the boys peel the potatoes. Rosemary was by the sink washing the greens when she heard a scream come from the sitting room, one that was much like a wounded animal’s. She turned, startled at the scream, and the wail that followed.
Frank saw her confused expression. “Faraday is dead,” he said softly.
“Child, don’t say such things!” said Rosemary sharply. She looked at Donna, who wore such a look of sadness that she hadn’t noticed before. She put aside her apron and hurried up to the room where she stepped in and saw Willie holding Mither as she sobbed.
“The family?” gasped Rosemary.
“Mither is the hidden sister to Willie’s father. She’s lost both her children today. I could not bear to learn of any more partings of the heart… You need to know, Flynn shot him …”
was interrupted by a terrified scream that echoed through the walls and
registers of the bed and breakfast.
“Go daughter, I will help my son.”
“Faraday… please, don’t give up… Please… don’t give up…” she said, holding him closer as Willie bunched a handkerchief under her hand to help with the pressure. He looked up at her and made a small shake of his head.
“Faraday… Would you like to hang your wash next to mine?” asked Tipper urgently.
She saw him focus on her. “Aye…“
Tipper found her world swirled around her. She looked up from his body and saw the stained glass window. She found herself holding the sword by the hilt, and stabbing it downward until it struck the earth. Blood bubbled from the tip of the sword and she saw that it was Faraday she had stabbed as his eyes opened, looking at her. But it wasn’t Faraday that lay beneath the sword, it was a younger man with dark eyes who laughed as she fell backwards onto the steps away from the white marble post.
The younger man stood up, the sword still in his chest. “Vengeance comes...”
Tipper sat up in bed and screamed, struggling against the arms that held her. Pain filled her eyes as the sunlight came unbridled through the window. She heard voices, and turned her head away from the bitter liquid that was pressed to her lips. “NO,” she said, pushing it away.
“Let me try,” she heard. She knew that voice, from a darkness. The hands that held her went away. The owner of the voice picked up her hand and held it, tracing his thumb across the back of it.
“Angela… it’s ok… you don’t have to drink it if you don’t want to, but it will help the nightmares stop and you can sleep then… or we can talk about it…”
bright lights went away as the shade was pulled down. Tipper managed to open
her eyes and saw Frank sitting on her bedside. Donna was sitting on another
bed, Grady standing beside her.
“It’s my fault Faraday is dead,” she said, her voice empty of emotion. Willie had told her no. Flynn had pulled the trigger and killed him.
Frank looked at her. “I know. If you had known he was going to die, you wouldn’t have led him to where Flynn was. But you had no way of knowing what was going to happen. Gabe says the actions of others are free will… I know he loved you too, and that it hurts inside when you think about him. It’s okay to feel that hurt, and to cry for as long as it takes, and you don‘t need stuff to make the hurt go away if you know that it will. You aren’t alone Angela, I‘m here…” he said, brushing her cheek with his fingertip gently.
Donna watched as Frank sat on Tipper’s bed and spoke softly to her. The affection that Frank held for her was visible in his features and in his actions.
“Maybe you had this dream because there is something you need to remember?” he asked her as he helped her lay back down on the bed and smoothed her hair from her face.
He saw her eyes grow heavy as she murmured, “Maybe …”
Frank bent over and kissed her cheek softly as he tucked her in. By the rise and fall of her chest they knew she was sleeping. “I love you, Angela,” he murmured softly to her.
Donna looked at Grady as he put an arm around Frank’s shoulder. “Come on, Frank, let’s let Tipper get some rest while we talk outside.”
Frank looked at his dad then back at Tipper as she slept. He was reluctant to leave her, but he knew she wasn’t alone with Willie being there in the house. If anything would happen, if she would wake up again, they would hear it downstairs. He followed his father outside and down the path away to where there was a bench under a grove of trees. For a bit, they just sat there in silence.
did you want to talk about?” Frank asked curiously as he watched Seth walking
along the back road with Gram. Something odd had happened at
When Frank didn’t get an answer right away he looked back at his father and saw he was struggling with something. “Dad?”
Grady took a breath, Donna’s words ringing in his ears. She had pulled him back when Frank ran up the steps to the sound of Tipper’s screams. “You have to have a talk with him, Grady, before he starts asking questions. He knows Rosemary and Toot were in a … a moment best not described. He needs to have a talk about things.”
“Me?? But couldn‘t …Seth, or Willie … I mean, they’re doctors and they could do a much better job at explaining, um, if he had questions … about - about things…”
“You’re his father.”
Grady let the breath out slowly and swallowed. “Your mother thought it would be a good idea if I had a talk with you about things.”
Grady looked at his son’s innocent upturned face. He took another breath. “Well, we have noticed that in the time that we left you in Aunt Jessica’s care, you’ve changed some. You’re growing up a lot, faster than we expected,” he began. “And your mother felt it was time that we had a discussion about your growing up.”
Frank watched his father shift on the bench and was aware that his dad was uncomfortable about something. He reached over and took his dad’s hand.
“You know, you can talk to me about anything you need to, dad,” he said reassuringly.
Sighing, Grady regarded his son. “I know. The thing is, we’ve noticed that you’re growing up, and your mother feels it’s time we discuss with you the things that happen when you do.”
Frank blinked. It wasn’t good when his dad repeated himself. He didn’t have a clue as to what ‘things’ he was referring to. “Like, being responsible for what you do?” asked Frank. “I’m getting better at that… and I know what being disappointed is…”
Grady closed his eyes and then took another breath. “That’s part of it, but it’s the physical part of growing up that we need to talk about - you will get taller, and your voice will change … Well, maybe. Some people’s voices get deeper. I don‘t know if mine ever did.”
Frank regarded his dad with a puzzled expression. “Like the beard you tried to grow last year?“
He saw his father’s adam’s apple bob up and down a few times. Whatever this was it was very difficult for his father to say. In a perverse way, Frank almost wanted to draw out the moment to make his father as uncomfortable about - what ever they were talking about as possible. He couldn’t imagine what was making Grady so nervous.
“Well, yes,” (taking a deep breath) “and you will start to have feelings for girls and want to do things with them, like kissing them.” His father said it in such a rush that Frank knew there had to be more to what he meant, but from the particular color on Grady’s face he didn’t think now was the time to push it. He did have an honest question, though, that he needed to ask. It was more of a question regarding acceptance.
“Dad. What if I have feelings for guys?”
Grady shrugged. “Then you have feelings for them. And it doesn’t change how much your mother and I love you. The point is you have to be responsible though for what you do with those feelings.”
“Is this about earlier today or something else, Dad?”
Frank saw his father blink a few times then remove his glasses. He folded his glasses and put them in his pocket. For a moment he didn’t say anything. Grady sighed. Frank noticed that his father’s mood had changed from being nervous to being very somber.
“Frank, you, need to know something. When I told you that your mother was having tests done, there were a few that were good, and some that were not so good. She - we’re going to have another child, but the baby isn’t doing well. There are medical names for it, but it all breaks down to failure to thrive for the infant. The baby is alive, but it just isn’t growing right… even if we go all the way through the nine months, to term, and the baby is born… the doctors don’t know if it could survive the birth, and most of them that are born that way have tremendous medical problems. Your mother and I didn’t think we could have any more children because of our age, but you were so delicious growing up, we had to keep trying. When we had you, she was huge … even at six months along. She hasn‘t gained more than five pounds during the entire pregnancy, and the last test showed the baby weighed less than a quarter of a pound.” Grady stopped and closed his eyes. Frank could see tears under his dad’s lashes.
“I didn’t make things easier for mum and you, did I?” Frank said sadly.
looked at Frank “Oh, Frank. No. Nothing that was done or said was the reason
for this. It happens. We just need to decide what to do from here. One of the doctors
that we went to suggested terminating the pregnancy, and another said there is
a chance that everything could be fine, with time… They said that there wasn‘t
anything that we could do or not do that would make a difference. We didn‘t
know when we started out that your mother was going to have a baby - we were
did Willie say? He made
“What was happening in the shed - whatever it was - that’s what ... that’s how ... And mum’s worried that I might…” Frank screwed up his face a bit as he frowned. He saw his dad take a breath.
“Uh, yes…” said Grady, a bit uncomfortable with what might be asked next.
“Dad… you really don’t need to worry about that with me. I love Angela and all, but it’s going to be years and years before I am old enough to get married to her. If I even thought to do something like - well, whatever - she would probably use her tranq gun on me or something until I came to my senses. And she might find someone else in the meantime but that’s ok. We will still be friends. Now, what did Willie say about Mum?”
Grady closed his eyes. Tears came down his cheeks as he said softly, “Willie was the most honest about the baby’s chances of survival, and what we are up against.“
Frank planted both of his hands on Grady’s chest. “Dad, don’t give up on my baby sister. Please?”
Wrapping his arms around his son, Grady pulled him close and gave him a hug. “We won’t ever give up,” he said to Frank. For a while the two of them clung to each other before Grady pulled back.
“Dad, you know what this means, don’t you?”
“Um… refresh my memory… it’s been a long day…”
“We have to move. Not that I mind sharing my room with my little sister for a while, but by the time I am ready to start dating, she will be into kindergarten and I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with her using my love letters to color on. I know you and mum planned on moving to Brooklyn maybe in a few years, but, Cabot Cove is a much nicer place to raise a family, and Aunt Jessica will be there to help watch both of us when you an mum need a night on the town - not that in Cabot Cove that lasts much longer than 8 pm, but still… And Willie and Taylor live next door to Aunt Jessica, so Willie can help make my little sister better…maybe even make mum well enough later so we could have a little brother to pick on when she grows up a bit. ‘Sides, I was such a handful, is there any hope of handling me AND a too-cute-for-words little sister of mine?”
Frank saw Grady look down to the ground quickly. “So, there’s something else I should know,” Frank said, studying his father. “I know that look.”
“With your mother being, ill, I’ve let the company know - well, I finished the contract and they are happy with it, but your mother and I were on our way home to settle things when the word about the wedding came to us from Aunt Jessica. I’ve given notice regarding my job to be with your mother. There won’t be any money for a house, and what money there is will be taken by medical bills. We were going to put the things we have in storage and stay with your grandmother and grandfather Mayberry, but we didn’t want to have you worry over the summer. It will probably be the last vacation that we will be able to have for a while. It doesn’t look good for a CPA to go bankrupt.”
“Honest ones do. Things will work out, dad. Have faith… if it’s all the same to you, dad, Cabot Cove is a much better place to raise kids than where Grandma and Grandpa Mayberry are.”
“It’s not just about having a place to stay, Frank. I know Aunt Jessica would take us in, and she does have two guest rooms, but, well, your mom feels better going to her parents’ place.”
Frank looked at his dad. “Dad, don’t worry about me. Okay? I won’t be causing them any grief, like I did before.”
Grady’s eyebrows went up.
“Grief?” He gave Frank an unexpected grin. “Oh, Frank… Please don’t change with how you act around them. Promise me that?”
“Dad…” Frank said, faintly scandalized. “You want me to give them more gray hairs?”
“Maybe, it keeps them young,“ he said, gathering his son in his arms.
Grady held his son as he watched the constable’s car pull down the lane to a house not far from where Mither’s was. The constable looked at a clipboard then went to the house and knocked on the door. While they couldn’t hear what was being said, it was clear by the cry of pain from the woman, how she fell to her knees and wept, what had happened. It brought the neighbors out, and the constable was surrounded by people who listened to him as he read off from the list.
“How come we got out alive, just to lose Faraday?”
Grady took a breath, and kissed his son’s head. “I don’t know, Frank. None of us know when we are called back home. None of us know the reasons why we’re here. Your mother and I have never regretted having you for a single moment.”
Lunch and dinner seemed to merge that day. Emma took over in the kitchen busying herself with making the soup and gallons of hot tea that Gram had provided and instructed the kids to go about the house making sure every one had one to bring them comfort.
didn’t surprise Willie when
was empty now, but the doors were open. Walking in she saw that they had taken
boards and covered up where the windows had been broken. She saw there was a
four-by-eight sheet of plywood along the wall that hadn’t been used. Taking a
breath she dragged it to the back of the church and laid it down. She pulled
the pencil out of her pocket and sitting on the board she began to draw.
“Hello… Can I help you? I say, that’s rather lovely,” she heard a voice say behind her. The footsteps moved around to the front of where she was drawing. She saw black shoes and black pants. The person crouched down and regarded her. He offered her his hand. “I’m Father Brian. I’m rather new here, just came in today - taking over for Father Julian Dania. He left rather suddenly yesterday to go on a sabbatical.”
“Do you believe in ghosts, Father Brian?” she asked softly. She watched him sit on the tile floor as if he had been pushed onto his backside by an invisible hand. He placed his hand down on the floor to support himself, then cleared his throat.
“Well, the Catholic Church is far more into mysticism than most people would think. There are things we can’t explain that by the grace of God we accept, in faith,” he said, righting himself and removing his dark taupe outer jacket, placing it on the bench back.
deserve to know the truth then. Many years ago, a man was involved in the
“One would think that a family steeped in such monstrous behavior would be noticed rather quickly, but from the townspeople’s point of view, the family members were the pillars of the community, donating money to the church in large sums, providing scholarships for the children of the village, putting a medical research wing on the hospital. The villagers didn’t notice that the children weren’t coming back from the university. They would get letters, but after a while the letters would stop. It was thought that the children, once educated, had found their way in the world, and left everything behind to start a new life. One mother did question why her daughter hadn’t written. She made inquiries to the university and learned that they had no record of her daughter being there, or ever being accepted. The police recovered her body yesterday. Thirty others died in the bowels of the man’s home where three young people managed to escape with their lives, and bring proof of the treachery to light. The police managed to catch the person helping him today, but at the cost of another person’s life.
“Father Brian, the constable came awhile ago to each family to regretfully inform them of the discovery of their child’s death. It will fall to you to comfort them, and to bury their children.” She sat up and looked at him. “You need to know that Father Dania knew what was going on, and accepted funds from this man to look the other way.“
Brian looked down at the drawing she had done on the board. It was a series of
windows, each building on the other. He looked back at her and nodded. “I heard
the crying… I am rather new at this, and I didn’t know if I should intrude, or
if they would come to me for comfort and guidance during this time of need.
They wouldn’t even tell me what happened to Father
“He was shown the truth.”
Father Brian goggled at her. “You called lightning down from the heavens? A bolt from the blue, as they say… “
She looked at him. “I can only replace what should have been placed in the church in the first place. I do not ask any favors, from this parish or you, except to search for the truth and follow faith of the heavens, not the will of man.”
The office phone rang, sending a signal over to the church as a chirping sound that prompted Father Brian to stand up and excuse himself to answer it. She didn’t move when she heard the soft footsteps from the dark shadows near the side entrance and steps to the loft. “No, Gabe,” she said with out turning.
“Did I say you were?” his voice asked gently.
“I’m not hiding. I am working. It’s important.”
Gabe walked over to her and knelt down beside her. “Rebuilding lives is always important in whichever way is chosen.” He held out his hand to her and helped her stand up. “I need your help,” he said escorting her out of the church to where a hitched wagon was that had boxes and wrapped pipes that were 6 feet long. “For the windows. It will help get things started.”
Together they carried in the glass sheets and the lead c channel and framing for the windows.
Gabe stayed long enough to help set up a small work area for her to be comfortable in, and then kissed her forehead and said he had some errands to do before he left.
Toot wandered in a short time later and sat watching her work. He didn’t comment on what she was doing, nor did he offer assistance. When the mid-day came he had said to her, “You don’t have to do this, you know.”
She paused in her work and regarded him. His green eyes twinkled in the sunlight and there was a look of sadness upon his face. “I know.”
He scuffed the floor with his foot. “I have na regrets about this morning. I always ha loved her though we couldn‘t be together. We didna think that with all of them away welcoming tha’ new one, tha’ there would be any one about.”
“I do not condemn you if you love her with your heart. “
Toot regarded her in silence. “Does Thaladirith?” he asked softly.
“Mother Rosemary is old enough to seek comfort where she wills. He has come to terms with that. Understand though, he loves his mother, and if she should come to distress by you, I would not be able to stay his hand.”
Toot looked away for a moment then turned back to her. “Aye, lass, I know. I would do no less for my own mother,” he said before walking out of the church.
Flynn didn’t say anything for a moment. “There are no innocent people, Mrs. Fletcher,” he said, his voice becoming hard.
The door opened behind Flynn and Tipper and Faraday came through it. Faraday was a bit surprised to see the gun. “You said no one was to get hurt,” he said.
“I said ‘no one important,’” Flynn replied, swinging the gun point blank in Tipper’s direction.
“NO!” Tipper felt herself being spun around and then jolted backwards as she and Faraday fell to the floor. Tipper heard a scream, and felt a heavy wetness spread through the material of her top. She struggled a bit, unable to move and realized someone was on top of her. In a rush the weight lifted off. Some one helped her sit up. Tipper looked around and saw that it was Jessica, and that George had gently rolled Faraday off of her. She pushed George away. Bright blood bubbled from just under Faraday’s right arm. His eyes were wide and a trace of blood trickled down from his mouth. Tipper placed her hand over the gasping wound. From the sound of the air issuing from the hole she knew he had a punctured lung, and the amount of blood coming past her fingers told her there was more damage within.
“I’m sorry,” Faraday managed to say with great effort. Tipper put her arm under his head and raised his body, allowing his shattered lungs to work a bit better.
“WILLIE!!!” Tipper yelled, then looked down at Faraday as she cradled him in her arms, desperately trying to stop his life blood from leaving his body. She knew that Willie was close - they had been a few rooms over when Faraday had heard Flynn’s voice speaking with Jessica. Curious, she had taken Faradays hand and led him down the hall to the back entrance of the study. She knew George was in the front speaking to one of the officers who had come at his request. They hadn’t been sure exactly what or whom they would find.
Willie came through the door and glanced at Flynn. George’s bullet had taken care of keeping him where he could do no further harm. He hurried over to where Tipper held Faraday, and saw blood on his left arm. Ripping open the shirt, he saw bruising on the left side of his body.
“Faraday … please, don’t give up … Please … don’t give up …” Tipper said, holding him closer as Willie bunched a handkerchief under her hand to help with the pressure. He looked up at her and made a small shake of his head.
“Faraday - would you like to hang your wash next to mine?” asked Tipper urgently.
She saw him focus on her. “Aye ...“
Bending down she kissed his lips gently. When she straightened up Tipper saw Faraday blink and look beyond her. “Myrna…” he said softly.
Turning her head she looked in the direction that he was. She saw a young girl who looked a lot like Mither standing next to a young man she didn’t recognize. She felt Faraday take a breath, then it rustled out of his body. Tipper looked back, and saw him standing next to the young woman, hugging her. For a moment their eyes met, and then he walked out the door with the young woman between him and the other man.
Jessica watched as the
police hauled Flynn to his feet and escorted him handcuffed out of the room.
Tipper sat up. She didn’t scream, but her breath came in ragged gasps. The dream she had just had was very intense and it took a bit for it to fade. For a moment she heard voices downstairs and looked about a bit groggy. It was only late afternoon by the clock on the nightstand - what was she doing in bed? Darn jetlag. She couldn’t find her shoes. She didn’t remember where she had taken them off. Swinging her feet over, she placed her feet on the bare wood floor and curled her toes until she was used to it. She stood up, and walked across to the closed door. She felt as if she was drunk. Holding onto the wall she closed her eyes and took a few breaths before continuing downstairs to where the others were sitting in small groups. A few heads turned as she wobbled into the room. She nodded back to them, not really recognizing anyone that she knew - she knew they were MacGills, and it was easier to nod and say ‘Hello Mr. and Mrs. MacGill’ than to remember their names.
Tipper followed the sound of the voices to the kitchen. She recognized Gram and Mither, who were speaking with Willie. Going into the kitchen she saw someone lying on the table with a sheet over their legs, and Mither holding up an arm as it she washed it. Gram was brewing something in a large pot, and Willie was saying something in Gaelic that she didn’t understand. Tipper walked forward and saw that it was Faraday on the table, that he was being washed, and something - a cloth that had words written in Gaelic on it - was laid aside.
Tipper walked to the table, reached out and touched Faraday’s lips with her fingertips and felt that they were cold. Her fingers traced down his throat to his chest where her hand stayed. She looked up at Mither. “He saved my life.” She blinked a few times, then, just as carefully that she had come in, she walked out. Seth met her at the door and escorted her to where Donna and Grady were in the sitting room.
Frank came into the room. Ian and he had been putting the younger ones in for an afternoon nap, and had decided to stay with his sisters awhile. He walked over to where his mother was. “You need to be resting, Mum,” he said, guiding her to the sofa and kissing her forehead as he tucked a coverlet over her. “It’s going to be a long day.” He looked at Tipper. “Are you alright?”
She nodded. “I’m fine… I just feel like I have slept a bit too much and I’m a bit groggy, but that’s all. Did they have dinner yet?”
Frank went over to the china set, poured Tipper a cup of tea and carried it to her. “The kitchen is a bit busy right now, but pretty soon we can get you some soup, and Mither made homemade bread earlier to go with it. They have to move Faraday to the front parlor for the wake.”
“The wake?” Tipper looked puzzled for a moment.
“It’s what they do. It goes on for three days and then they have the burial. Someone will be with him at all times… usually the men folk. They are going to put both Faraday and his sister in the same place,” Frank said softly. He watched as Tipper listened to him, but she seemed distracted by something. Willie had said she might act a bit odd, but he almost preferred the crying, because sadness was something he could understand.
No sooner than Jessica and George managed to get the young child washed, George wrinkled his nose and noticed that she had soiled herself. Sighing, he drained the tub and filled it again for another bath. It had taken several baths to scrub off all of the dirt and grime and beneath it they had found a little girl of almost four with dark brown hair and blue eyes that George knew lads would get lost in.
“So, where did you come from, Princess?” Jessica asked gently to the little girl once she was cleaned and then taken downstairs to where the kitchen was. Officer O’Neil managed to find some peanut butter that he placed on bread and some apple juice for her. She hadn’t spoken; her language was moans and squeaks of surprise and sometimes a yell if things didn’t go her way. The bath had terrified her at first until she realized it wasn’t going to hurt her.
After her belly was full she rubbed her eyes. Jessica brought a blanket and wrapped it about her shoulders as she said to George, “We should be getting back to the bed and breakfast with Princess.”
“Jessica, one can not just simply leave with a child under one’s arm if the parentage is not known in a situation like this. For all we know this child’s parents may be looking for her…”
“George, there isn’t any way that the hospital staff would have a clue as to what is to be done with this child. There are two doctors on the premises at Mither’s, and from what I understand Willie did do pediatric work, and has had experience with victims of crimes…against women.”
George saw how difficult it was for Jessica to say such a thing. He took a breath. “If that old goat has laid a finger on this child I will personally draw and quarter his scrawny carcass.”
George saw Jessica regard the child as she looked around for something else to eat. “He wouldn’t have to, George… he has already done far more harm to this child by keeping her isolated in that room than anything else he could have done. Let’s get Princess back to the bed and breakfast and go from there.”
“Jess, they have already released Faraday to his mother. Don’t you think that there is enough going on there? Surely the people at the hospital youth services could manage with her…”
surprised at you, George - I would have thought you were the type that likes
“From a distance, and as long as they stay that far away, I am fine…” It was with some alarm that he discovered when he turned the child stuffed several fingers of hers that had peanut butter on them into his mouth. He heard Officer O’Neil snicker as he wiped it off of his mouth and walked to the door. “As you wish,” he said, eyeing the child for any other sudden movements.
It took a while to get things settled at the bed and breakfast. Willie realized Taylor had not returned from the church and going down after her, found her working with Gabe, who had returned with more stained glass and tools to lift the large windows into place. She didn’t say anything, and from the amount of work that had been done he knew she had been working steadily at it. One window had been replaced and several had a fair start on them. Light streamed through the window as the sun set . Willie sat in the back of the church, regarding it. There were things to do, but right now gazing at the window was important.
She bid Father Brian goodnight and they walked arm and arm up the hill to where the bed and breakfast was.
“Are ye hungry, Wife? There is soup, and bread that was made earlier…”
first viewing of Faraday was for the family and close neighbors. It had been
painful. Toot had helped carry Faraday to the front parlor and then stood by
his head ruffling Faradays hair into place. Walking over to Mither he held her
in his arms, and
door opened and Jessica came in with George, who carried the little girl now
asleep on his shoulder. Jessica had a quiet word with Seth and Willie, who went
upstairs with them to one of the bedrooms. It was a bit later that they came
down. Willie didn’t say anything to
came. The family went up to their beds and
held out his hand to
She shrugged as she pulled the quilt over both of them and settled it over their bodies to keep the chill out. “I didn’t ever really learn. I knew how to draw, and it’s just like cutting out pieces of paper to make a mosaic design. The rest just came together… Much to the delight of the church elders. I rather like the new parish priest that has taken over the spiritual needs of this community.”
“Oh, ye rather like the Englishman, Fr. Brian, who wants to be a proper Irish priest, do ye? Wife, if he stepped his head in a hornets nest he would be believing that as God’s creatures they woudna harm him as he is of the cloth an’ one of their brothers.”
“Is it because he has said for the town to forgive Fordham and his family without mentioning the harm he has done to ours, husband? Or to have the church say, ‘I’m sorry for the wrong that has befallen you because the last priest was in favor with the wrong family’?”
Willie didn’t say anything for a while. Finally he said, softly, “I don’t know if it is that, or his faith that may be foolhardiness that troubles me the most. “ He looked at her and studied her face in the dim moonlight. She snuggled next to him closer and laid her head on his shoulder.
“How do ye do it?”
She lifted her head up and looked at him. “Do what, husband?”
“The lightning, when ye was telling the story, and the lightning in the graveyard - how did ye do that?”
“Oh… that,” she said as her finger traced down his chest gently. She lowered her head and kissed his lips. Her lips moved to rake across his cheek until they stopped at his ear.
“Faith,” she whispered to him softly before her lips began to kiss down his throat.
“You know a lot about this place” Tipper said softly as Faraday led her past the grand carved white marble staircase. He paused for a moment as she had caught sight of the large stained glass windows that ran the length of the outside walls. They were so huge that she couldn’t take everything in, and was distracted by her study of them when Faraday turned her back to him.
“Aye. Well, most people do. For awhile they would give tours to school children and he would give sweets out to the ones who knew the most. Books have been written about this place and the way it was built. There are several in the library, as well as the stories about the hidden treasures that the halls will only give up to the rightful heir.”
There was a sound further down the hall, people talking - it was indistinct. Tipper was distracted for a moment as she tried to figure out what was being said. She heard something else too, something coming from upstairs, almost a moaning animal cry.
“Just the wind over the chimneys, tha’s all,” he said to Tipper, drawing her attention back to him.
Tipper saw a look of wistfulness in his eyes. “What would you want to do with the treasure?” she asked him, curious.
He stepped forward with a look in his eye. Instinctively Tipper stepped backwards until her body was against the thick post that supported the rail of the grand staircase. She stepped to the side and went up a step. He took a side step so that she was trapped against the pillar. Her hand went backwards to the top of the pillar and she felt the split in the stone as the palm of her hand pressed down.
“You are the only treasure that I would want in my life, Tipper…” He took a step to her.
Reaching up she placed her hand on his chest and felt the warmth of his skin beneath her fingertips. “It’s Angela,” she said shyly.
She saw a struggle on his face, as if he was going to say something to her. “You are so beautiful, Angela…” he said at last. “I would do anything if it would please you.”
She saw Faraday take a breath and realized he was nervous She lifted her arms up and placed them over his shoulders and stepped into his arms as their lips met.
There was only the sound of her heart beat rushing in her ears as she felt a giddiness in her entire body. She could breathe. She could talk, and she could think. It was delightful. In the moment that they kissed Tipper had never been more happy. It had to be madness, she thought, to meet someone and fall for them so absolutely within such a short period of time.
There was a crash of something - Faraday stepped back and looked over his shoulder. She saw - something - in his eyes. She couldn’t tell what. She started to the source of the sound - and realized Faraday was telling her no, not to go that way, but the closer she got, she was able to make out Jessica’s voice speaking to someone else…
Tipper sat up in bed and looked around. For a moment she didn’t move until her eyes became used to the dim light from the moon. She saw Donna sleeping in the other bed, as well as Jessica on the far side of the room. Looking out the window over the village she shook her head trying to clear it, and then saw the untouched cup that held the draught that was to help her sleep.
She swung her feet over the edge of the bed and felt something. Glancing over the edge, she saw that Frank had curled up with a pillow and a blanket on the rug beside her bed. Her foot upon him woke him up. He lifted his head and saw she was awake. In a single move he was off of the floor and beside her, hugging her tightly. Tipper was a bit overwhelmed by his move and for a moment she let him hug her until he pulled away.
“Are you hungry?” he asked softly. “I can go down to the kitchen and get you some juice or something.”
“Let’s both go down,” she answered, whispering to him . She still felt a bit dizzy, and knew that if she fell it might be a long time before some one would find her. She knew that there would be no way that he would let her manage to go down on her own. Not in the middle of the night. He nodded, then handed her her bathrobe and slippers and shoved his feet into his own. Carefully they both made their way down the steps to the kitchen where Tipper looked around. The only thing that she could think of that would settle well was tea. She lifted the copper tea kettle off of the side board and filled it with cold water before placing it on the stove and lighting the fire under it. For a second she stood looking at it. It reminded her of the old fashioned tea kettles that one would find in the antique shops. Her grandmother had one - she never used it, rather she put it on the coffee table for decoration. She never asked her why. With her eyes Tipper followed the simple elegance of the metal handle upward and around back to the base. Funny, how people go to the stores and by new things that remind them of the old things. Looking about the kitchen though, with the hand woven pot holders, it was the only type of tea kettle that really fit.
She heard Frank say behind her, “They have another cat that is going to have kittens down at the barn. She’s huge around the middle, and Patricia says that there is a mare who has twin foals there too. Their tails spin like propellers when they are eating. …” he said softly to keep the silence from becoming unbearable.
The tea kettle began to whistle. Without thinking Tipper turned off the fire then went to pick up the handle and dropped the hot kettle. Water splashed everywhere.
“DAMN IT!” she cried out before shoving the tea cup aside and holding her hand, tears coming down from the pain. She wasn’t even aware of someone guiding her to the sink and running cold water over her hand. She smelt potato whiskey and goats and felt the rough stubble of a beard and the wetness on his cheeks from his own tears as strong arms held her.
“Easy, lass…” she heard as the icy water splashed over the blisters. She felt her knees become weak, yet she knew that she would not sink to the floor, not with this person holding her up. Something was pushed into her other hand. “Hold on to this and don’t look, lass,” she heard as the cold water was turned off. Tipper wanted to scream as the pain from the burn shot through her arm. She saw bright flashes of light as pressure was placed upon her hand. Her knees did buckle then.
When she opened her eyes she saw Frank looking at her with worry on his face. She was in a chair that had been pushed against the counter and sitting sideways so that she was not in any danger of falling out of the chair. She looked down at her hand and saw that it was wrapped with a handkerchief, and she could feel something else under it, but the pain was gone. In her other hand was a smooth stone and she knew that if she let go of it that her hand would start hurting again.
Frank held up a glass of juice to her lips. “Drink this,” he said, letting her take a few sips. He put the glass down, and in the night light that illuminated the kitchen she saw he had some crackers and cheese. He was very careful of how he helped her eat. She wasn’t letting go of the stone, she was not able to pick up anything with her wrapped hand.
She looked at the kettle and realized it was just like her grandmothers tea kettle, and the reason why people didn’t use them was the handle got hotter than the water it was boiling. She closed her eyes, weary. It had been a long day, and she felt groggy again, as if there was cotton wool wrapped around her.
“Frank… can you help me back up stairs?” she asked softly.
Frank nodded. He made sure that the fire was out and that the gas was turned off before putting his arm about Tipper’s waist and guiding her up the steps. She saw a light was flickering in the hall to the front. Turning a bit, she saw in the hall mirror a reflection of Toot and Rosemary sitting close beside Faraday’s body. Toot’s arm was about her shoulder and he had tears coming down his cheeks. Tipper couldn’t imagine why Toot was there, except that he had to have known Faraday all of his life.
Frank led her up the steps to her room. In the light she saw Donna, and Jessica, and in the corner, a small cot that held a little girl who was sound asleep. Tipper didn’t know who the child was, but Frank didn’t seem concerned about it at all.
For the longest time Frank sat up from where he had made his bed on the floor to be with Tipper in case she needed anything. Something just didn’t make sense to him.
Seth woke up early. He knew that they couldn’t expect Mither to do much except grieve for her son and daughter, and in a way she was surprised that the MacGills and everyone else who had come to the wedding had pitched in to help with the day to day things - the laundry, the cooking, the dishes. He showered and shaved, then dressed before going downstairs to make breakfast. He was curious to discover a tea cup that was tipped over, and a kettle that was half full with water on the side board. He found some leaves in the sink and was about to throw them away when he recognized what they were from Gram’s lecture. Curious, he put them in a dish to the side and began preparations to make grits for breakfast and corn bread for the lunch.
Placing fresh cold water in the kettle he put it to boil, then drew cold water into the pot for the grits and measured off the proper amount of corn meal. There were two ways to make grits; one was allowing the grits to heat and cook as the water heated. The other was more challenging: heat the water and then with cold water whisk in the corn meal and stir it into the pot fast enough so that it didn’t become a gelatinous mass at the bottom. Once the corn meal was stirred in, it had to cook, going from a light yellow, if unbleached, to where it bubbled like a lava pit and became golden. It was the same way that one would make gravy, or split pea soup, which Seth knew Jessica despised as much as grits
He regarded the pot of bubbling corn meal. Yesterday it seemed the perfect way to turn the tables on Jessica for the oatmeal. Today, it didn’t seem that important. He knew it was important to Ian and Patricia, as he had promised them he would make it, but he almost felt ashamed at what he had been thinking yesterday. Seth had wondered, though, what had taken Jessica and George so long to get back to the house after the others had been back for hours. They had arrived in the evening; George had said they had to stop off at the hospital to pick up some things, and he had a few calls to make didn’t explain much. They had simply called the sleeping child Princess and took her to Jessica’s room to tuck in on a little cot.
Seth stirred the batter slowly for the corn bread. At least today Ian and his sisters could eat as many corn meal muffins as they wanted. The tea kettle whistled briefly until he reached over and turned it off. Opening the tea tin he pulled out a few bags, then washed the ceramic tea pot out with hot water before placing the bags in. Using a pot holder on the handle he lifted the kettle and poured hot water over them. The grits were done. He turned off the fire on the top of the stove and put it aside, then putting the tea pot with several tea cups on the tray with the sugar and cream and two spoons, he carried it into the front parlor where he knew someone would be.
Toot was still there, holding Rosemary in his arms. They looked up at his entrance, Seth showed no surprise at the two of them, nor was their condemnation. Nodding good morning to them he placed the tea down for them on an end table. For a moment he went to where Faraday was and just stood there, regarding the young man. The presence of another doctor wouldn’t have saved his life. He had seen the autopsy report when they had used a catheter scope to retrieve the bullet. At such a close range it had torn through both lungs, clipped the bottom of his heart and nicked the main artery. He had bled out in a matter of moments. He had saved Tippers life, and probably Jessica’s. Whatever wrong he had done was forgivable.
turned away and went down the hall back to return to the kitchen. As he passed
the door next to the front sitting room he heard soft snoring. Pausing, he
looked in. Willie was asleep with
His musings were interrupted by the sound of footsteps upstairs.
A nudge. More like a poke, really, Jessica realized as she felt it again. Blinking the sleep from her eyes she saw it was Princess standing at her bedside. There was a look of consternation on her face. Sitting upright, Jessica stood up, took the child by the hand and led her to the bathroom, where she sat on the edge of the tub, waiting. The child was smart, probably brilliant, and left in that room would have had the life of an animal. In the time since they had found her, she still hadn’t spoken, but she had been taught to let someone know if she had to use the facilities.
George had insisted that they take her to the hospital, and as Jessica predicted the hospital wasn’t equipped to deal with a child such as Princess. They had checked the child over briefly, then remanded her to the care of George and Jessica until her parents or family could be found. George placed a few calls, and had spoken to one of the hospital administrators while Jessica and Princess stopped at the gift shop to purchase some clothing. She had fallen asleep in the car on the way back. George didn’t understand about car seats and it took some convincing for Princess to allow her to be strapped into the seat until she realized that she could see better - though she really would rather be all over the car as before.
It took about half an hour for everyone to awaken and work their way downstairs to the smell of fresh baked corn bread muffins and grits. Jessica stepped into the kitchen and saw the children around the table eating, and enjoying what they were eating. Ian was positively beaming with each bite. She felt Princess hug her leg and look down. Never having seen other children before, it must have come as somewhat of a shock to the little child as she saw them chatting happily with the others at the table. Jessica smiled and guided Princess into the room to where the table was. Pulling up a chair, she lifted Princess onto her lap and smiled again when Seth brought over two bowls with spoons, one for Princess, and one for herself. Seth had already added the cream for her as she had her hands full. She was distracted by a soft giggle from Ian as she lifted the spoon and placed it in her mouth. A gooey mass clung to the roof of her mouth as she tried not to let it hit her tongue again. She heard a giggle again and realized she had closed her eyes against the taste of the grits.
“It’s quite lovely, isn’t it?” said Pattie. “Dr. Seth made it special for breakfast, and we have cornbread with gravy for lunch, and … what was that other thing, Dr. Seth?“
“Home made split pea soup with chives and sour cream.”
“Oh, you shouldn’t go to such bother, Seth!” said Jessica after working the first accidental spoon down. She saw that Princess was looking at her with a puzzled expression on her face. Jessica wrapped her small hand about the spoon and guided it into the grits, and then to the child’s mouth.
“It’s no bother at all. Soaked the peas last night, so they shouldn’t take long to boil down. They have this lovely bit of stuff that is called Drisín that Mither says goes perfect with split peas.”
“Drisín? As in…Drisheen and Tripe?”
“Ayuh. Best you eat up before it gets cold, Jessica,” said Seth, nodding to her bowl.
Jessica took a breath. She couldn’t push the bowl away, and the children were giving her odd looks as they giggled among themselves. She regarded the bowl. She knew exactly why Seth had made it, and why she couldn’t beg off of it. If anything, she might be able to forgo the soup later on. With as much grace as she could muster Jessica took another bite of the grits. The first time he had served them to her, quite proudly, he had provided a garnish for them of pepper and vinegar. That, he said, was the way you had them for dinner. Breakfast was different, she supposed as she felt the lump of cornmeal grow in her stomach. She looked down at Princess. The child had worked her way through the first bowl quite well. She nestled in Jessica’s arms and gave a sigh.
George walked into the kitchen and hesitated. He saw the table full of children, Seth bustling about and Jessica managing to eat something that he had the feeling she would rather not be. He saw Princess snuggled against Jessica’s shoulder and realized with a pang that the child was bonding to her, which would create its own difficulties.
“Good morning, Inspector, pull up a chair and I will get your breakfast for you,” said Seth with a smile.
“Thank you, that’s very kind of you,” he said, walking over to where Jessica was and allowing his hand to brush her shoulder as he passed. Seth moved the bowl to the table as George sat.
“What’s this?” he asked, curious.
“Grits,” said Ian. George regarded the lad and saw the crinkle of amusement in his eyes.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever had that” he said, his curiosity peaked.
Pattie piped up, “It’s a rare treat for us. Dr. Seth is making corn bread and gravy for lunch today as well.”
“Corn bread and gravy? How do I know where this is going?” mused George as he took a bite of the grits. His throat closed on him as he tried to swallow the grits. George had to swallow several times before it went down. Jessica and the children were regarding him with interest.
Tipper woke to the sound of someone walking across the room. She opened her eyes and turned her head to see Willie beside Donna, speaking to her softly. She heard Donna yawn and murmur a reply. Willie patted Donna’s arm, then turned and saw Tipper was awake and came over to her. He sat on her bedside and regarded her.
“How are ye feeling, Lass?” he asked her, gently covering the top of her closed hand with his.
“I’m okay…I don’t feel as groggy as I did yesterday, so that has to be worth something.” She saw Willie nod, then the puzzled look on his face as he realized she was holding something in her hand. He turned her hand over and opened it to find a smooth white stone with the center area worn down.
“Where did you get this?” he asked, curious.
Tipper looked at it, then pulled her other arm out from underneath the sheet blanket. Willie saw the handkerchief wrapped around her hand. There were footsteps behind Willie then they came around to the other side. Tipper realized Frank had gone to the other room to get dressed. Last night’s events were a bit hazy to her, though she did remember Frank sleeping on the floor next to her bed.
“We went down for tea early this morning, and Tipper tried to lift the kettle off of the fire without using a pot holder, and she got burnt. Toot took care of it, though. He gave her the stone to hold on to while he did something with her hand.”
Curious, Willie unwrapped the handkerchief and opened it up to the air. Bits of leaves were pressed into her skin. Tipper curled her hand around the stone as Willie removed the leaves and looked underneath. There was just a faint outline of redness on her hand now.
“Whoa, that looked a lot worse last night… you had blisters and everything,” said Frank, looking down at her hand. He turned his attention to Willie, who was frowning. “Guess it’s lucky everyone who cooks knows how to take care of burns like that.”
“Well, Mither would know because she does so much cooking - she has the plant on her window ledge - and healers know, but not many else would,” said Willie, turning the leaves over and then re-wrapping her hand. “Keep it on for the rest of the morning, and by lunch it can come off. Make sure you wash your hands well after handling it, the ‘Wooly’ leaves are a deadly poison an’ swallowing even the smallest bit or the oil from them can kill a full grown man in a matter of minutes.”
Turning the stone over in her hand Tipper looked at it. “How does the stone help to heal the burn?” she asked, curious.
Willie raised his eyebrows. “Dr. Henderson. Do you believe the stone helped heal you?” he teased gently.
“I don’t know what to believe any more,” she said softly. “I’ve never seen a stone like this.”
“It’s white marble. Nae seen one around here of it, it’s na a local mineral. It’s called a worry stone. When ye have difficulties ye rub the thumb over the center area, and it takes the worries away. I’ve seen some that have been worn clear through. By holding onto the stone, ye focus the problems to it, and away from ye. By the looks of tha’, it’s pretty old and well used.”
“I should give it back to him…” murmured Tipper.
Willie cupped her cheek with his hand. “For right now, Lass, I think he would want you to have it, as your worries are greater than his. Now, when you’re dressed, come down for breakfast, and then we are all meeting in the sitting room - there is something that Inspector Sutherland wants tae do to help clear something up.”
“Dr. Hazlitt made grits this morning,” said Frank with a smirk.
She made a face. “Um… seeing how I had a midnight snack, I’m really not hungry…”
“Well, there is cornbread and split pea soup with tripe for lunch…”
“Okaaay,” said Tipper, not sure if Frank was teasing her. “Well, darn, it’s not haggis,” she said, yawning.
“Oh, I could make us a lovely bit of that for dinner if ye would like,” said Willie with a twinkle in his eyes.
“No, thank you,” said Frank and Tipper together.
“Ah well, as ye like,” he said, patting her shoulder and rising from the bed. “I will leave ye all to it, unless ye need help dressing?” he teased.
Tipper shook her head then shooed both of them from the room. As the door closed she reflected on the white marble worry stone in her hand.
She looked up as Donna yawned again and heard her say, “Good morning…So.. I understand Frank and you went down for a midnight snack?”
Tipper nodded and regarded Donna as her next words were of no surprise. “He is quite taken with you.”
“I know… I care a great deal for him, too. He is a remarkable young man.”
A short time later Tipper joined the others in the back sitting room where George was pacing. Willie was standing next to Taylor who had taken a seat next to Jessica and Princess, as she had been dubbed. There were some townspeople in the room as well. Tipper noticed that they all looked closely related, or had some of the same features as the young girl that Jessica held.
When they were all assembled George nodded and began. “As some of you may know, yesterday at the estate, Mrs. Jessica Fletcher and one of my officers discovered this young child, whose parents have not been determined. We’ve made an official search of the files, but there are no children her age that have been reported as missing. Because of where she was found, a case by case study of the recovered bodies is being made, and I’ve made arrangements for DNA testing to be done to see if we can discover a family member.” George saw several people give anxious glances about the room. “There won’t be any fees for this to be done; we are just requesting cooperation so that we have the widest sampling possible. Each of you will be given a number, and the report will only have the numbers listed as to who is related to whom.”
There was an uncomfortable silence in the room. George looked around, puzzled at why there were no questions, and what the difficulty might be.
Finally one of the older men spoke up. “Can’t she just keep the child and take her back to the states with her?”
Jessica looked down at Princess, who was drifting to sleep in her arms. “While the thought is delightful, I am much too old to be taking in a young child. Regardless of her parenting status, she deserves to be with her blood relatives.”
Frank slid next to his dad and whispered, “Parenting status? Like, if they weren’t married? What difference would that make?” Grady gently shhed him. He really didn’t want to get into more of “the talk” again.
“It’s very simple. There are a few questions, and then a swab is done on the inside of the mouth. Interpol has agreed to help expedite this procedure so we should know the results by tomorrow,” said George, picking up a clip board. He noticed that the people in the room were exchanging glances between each other. He didn’t know the name of the elderly woman who asked, “An’ what if her kin are found, and don’t want her?”
Frank stood up, his hands clenched tightly. “Not want her? How could you not love your own child or grandchild and not want the best for them when there are people who are trying to have kids and some kids may never get the chance to be… to be born, or to grow up at all…” His whole body was shaking. Sniffing back tears, Frank fled the room and ran outside, letting the door bang behind him. He didn’t know where to go, but he had to get away. He walked fast, down the path to where the bench was where he and his father had sat the day before. Sitting on it he pulled his knees up and hugged them as tears came down unbridled He heard the crunch of gravel behind him and put his face down - he didn’t want anyone to see him crying. The bench creaked slightly as someone sat. He wiped his tears with the palms of his hand and looked over at Gabe.
“I don’t know how much more I can get through, Gabe. I know you said there would be a lot coming my way… but I’m just a kid, and I sort of liked not having the weight of the world on me. I’m feeling sort of squished right now.”
“You remember the promise that was made to you… you’re not going to be doing this alone.”
“I know…Why wouldn’t someone want their own kid, or grandkid, or … well, what’s the big deal about parental status, anyway?”
“It means they were not married.”
“Oh, that. Well, they thought Willie didn’t have any ‘parental status’ and look how he turned out. I don’t even want to try to understand how adults think…”
There was a general shuffling of people about the bed and breakfast to allow the procedure to take place in some relative bit of privacy. Seth and Willie were in separate rooms with Taylor and George taking notes and labeling the samples. It was a simple thing - the only question that was asked was, “Do you have children.”
was surprised to see Toot stepping into the room. He looked at
“Do you have any children?” he asked.
“Aye,” said Toot softly.
Willie’s eyebrows went up. “Any chance you’re related to Princess?” Willie asked, curious.
“I’d do right by her, if I was,” was his answer before he walked out of the room.
the last of them went through the line, and the neighbors had returned home,
George and Seth entered into the room.
Nodding, George answered, “We did go to see them both. Flynn isn’t saying, though he was surprised that there was any one else alive in the house. As for Fordham Sr., he still hasn’t regained conciseness. Oh, one last pair to test - we‘ve already tested Dr. Henderson and Dr. Hazlitt as a control group. Open up,” he said, pulling out two of the unused tests and handing them to Seth.
haven’t had any children…” said
“We know. We’ve slipped in a few that have, as well as their children, and it will be interesting to see if it’s picked up on. You are another control element. Open up,” said Seth, withdrawing the small plastic blade. When it was secured in the tube, he turned to Willie. “Open,” he said.
Willie hesitated. It took a full fifteen seconds before he opened his mouth wide enough for Seth to take the sample.
“Do you have any children?” Seth asked as a matter of habit.
“I… I don’t know,” he said softly.
Seth saw Willie blink a few times. “George, would, you excuse us for a moment?” George nodded, closing the door behind him.
Willie let out a breath of air. ”Well, with you, wife, we will, but…I know they are asking about any before that are born. I - I don’t know. It’s na how it seems. In medical school they have classes, and teach, certain things, and, well, part of it was that ye learn by … Oh, this is going to sound bad…” He floundered, then said firmly, “There was no girl involved.. I’ve na had any other woman besides you.”
She saw Willie swallow. “You know?” he replied, blinking a few times “How, do you know?” he asked, curious.
She lifted her hand up and with her finger she traced a small circle on his chest. “A girl can tell these things,” she said leaning close to him.
Willie blinked faster. “Tell what things?”
She leaned closer and whispered something in his ear. Seth saw Willie flush and gasp, shocked. “Wife!”
walked over and picked up the notes from where
these to George…” he said, closing the door behind him.
Tipper sat in the garden on the grass under the willow tree near where Taylor and Willie had been married not long ago. She could remember the music, and dancing with Faraday. She pulled the worry stone out of her pocket and regarded it. Something about it seemed so familiar, yet she couldn’t put her finger on it. She looked up as she heard the crunch of dirt coming up the path from the house. She knew that where she sat, she was almost unseen unless the person happened to look down, back, and over. It was Toot, walking back to his home. She was going to let him pass when she felt the coolness of the stone in her hand again.
“Toot?” She saw him stop and turn, then back up a step. The last time that they had spoken she had mentioned amputating his leg. She was glad to see that he was walking better on it.
He placed his hands in the pockets of his dirty blue coat and after a moment asked, “Yes, lass?”
Tipper got to her feet and walked to him. “Last night - I want to thank you for helping me with my hand. It was very kind of you. Where did you learn about that herb?”
“From my mother.”
Tipper opened her hand that was holding the stone. “Did she give you this?”
He shook his head. “Tha’ was my grand father’s.”
“Your grandfathers…oh… then you will be needing it back,” she said, handing it to him.
Toot shook his head again. “Nae, lass. Ye keep it. I’ve no kin that would care if I lived or died to hand it down to - tis fitting that it should go to a healer as yourself.” He closed his hand over hers.
“Lass, I am a dead man walking. I’ve just left my last worry behind the door and I am going home to settle what I might before I enter into hell again.”
“That sounds rather ominous,” she said. “Is Toot your real name?“ she asked, curious.
He stepped towards her and bent his head over to her ear. “Amroth Telemnar,” he said softly before giving her cheek a kiss. Stunned she felt him let go of her hand and watched him walk along the ridge to his home. The kiss had been rather fatherly, and she noticed that he didn’t smell of whiskey, only faintly of the goats. Making her way down the hill she entered into the bed and breakfast and began searching for answers.
Jessica found Tipper sitting in the back study sipping tea. Ever present was Princess, who stayed close to Jessica, never letting her out of her sight. There were a stack of books around Tipper and she had a sketch pad with notations on it. “Tipper, what is it?”
“I keep having dreams, Jessica, about … well, about Faraday and the day he died, and the house and something he said regarding a treasure… though I don’t suppose Princess is the treasure, not in the way they were speaking about. Faraday said there were books in the library about the estate, and I looked on the map, there isn’t a library around here for miles. Not for several towns over, and not that he could get access to as a child. It got me thinking that he meant here in the bed and breakfast, and sure enough, there are parts in all of these books about the estate. They are what you’d call a record of the decades since the house was built, and the entire history of what was going on – it’s all here. Each time that Fordham Sr. would have a party, or invite a class to tour the estate, all the students are recorded here. There were about ten copies of these books made, and it looks like these came from the local school… though Faraday says that the students now go to another school, so it explains why they may have the copies here. They sometimes sell old books to raise money, and it’s easier to sell the ones people don’t read for a few dollars.”
“What did you find out?”
Tipper shoved a book at Jessica, who read what was written and then looked at Princess.
“Of the blood shall come one
Who speaks in ways of old
Who holds the sword
Holds the crown
That rests upon
The wayward head.
Strike down through blood
Cast down through bone
Of all who stand in line
To walk up on the alter
Cast through the one
Who speaks of old
Blood to free the bond
Treasure to reveal.”
Jessica regarded the passage, and then the child upon her lap. “Are you suggesting that in order to gain access to the treasure, she was going to be sacrificed for her blood?”
Tipper shrugged. “Jessica, after reading this history nothing about this family would surprise me. I’ve learned something else as well. It talks about the true heir that will be able to open the place where the treasure is, but he or she has to be pure of heart - if there is a life taken by that person’s hand they can’t gain access to the treasure, they are dead to the family. Of course, that might be a tradition in this area, and that makes sense in itself - Toot told me today that he was a walking dead man – no, wait, he said he was a dead man walking. He gave me this-” she held out the worry stone to Jessica - “and Willie said that there isn’t any white marble in this area. He said that his great-grandfather gave it to him. This book lists Gram’s marriage - her name is Inwë Telemnar Razanur Toot. Well, he shares the same last name as her maiden name but he isn‘t listed as being born. It lists the children born in the hamlet as well, and mentions a few other Telemnars but not Toot - it doesn’t list anything beyond Gram, who she married besides her last name as Razanur, or her children. I guess it’s when they went into hiding, but it doesn’t make sense if everything that they did was recorded here.”
“When did he give you the stone?” inquired Jessica, curious.
Tipper looked at it, then unwrapped her hand. “Last night I burnt my hand on the tea kettle handle. Toot wrapped it with these leaves and his handkerchief and it was blistered according to Frank… and it’s healed, Jessica. In all of my days of being a doctor I have never seen anything like it… but it seems like Mither knows about it, and Willie as well. I know this isn’t making much sense… “
“Oh, but it is, Tipper… tell me what else you remember and have found out…”
walked down to the church with
“I was going to say, right, lets get this going to be finished with it, but, suddenly I am feeling like it’s the most important thing to do right now…” said Willie. Please show me what to do to help you,” he said, taking a breath and looking at her design.
“Well, it could go better if I cut, and you place it in the c channels in the frame, and then once that’s done we can weld it up…”
“Na you, Wife. I will do the welding,” said Willie a bit firmly.
able to weld, Husband.”
“Aye, you are. An’ going on that we are with child, I will na have you near the lead fumes of it,” he said, wagging his finger at her.
“With child? We are only married two days, husband…”
Willie regarded her. “Gram says we are, so we are.”
She saw he was serious. “With child?” she repeated.
“Aye, according to Gram there will be triplets. She has never been incorrect regarding pregnancy so early before…”
“Husband? Could Gram help Donna? Or could you?”
“I don’t know if there is help for tha’ child. Gram doesn’t practice anymore, and you are right, the town needs a healer.”
“Are you thinking to move back here to take up your practice again? Would you just stand by while the child fails?”
Willie shook his head. “I can’t heal anymore, Wife…”
“Why not, husband?”
“Because I can not heal the hatred in my heart for what has been done to the innocents. I took a vow to heal, and to care. I have had enough of the likes of that family murdering mine, and knew that to end it I had to do something. Thinking of murdering someone, in the eyes of a healer, is the same as murdering that person. My heart was dead. I was dead. The only thing I didn’t count on was being brought back to life by you…”
“Wouldn’t it start by helping to heal again? It’s grand to say ‘being brought back to life,’ but there are those whose lives have been touched and paid dearly for the dream. What of Sara, and Rosemary, and the children, what will happen to them? They can’t go back to the projects, and they have no home… unless they come back with us…”
She saw Willie take in a breath and then let it out slowly. “That’s something that will be decided later, wife. They might stay with Gram, or Mither… or they may choose to come to stay with us, or go their own way back into hiding. I canna help Donna and the child - if she isn‘t willing to accept help there is little tha’ can be done. I do not feel their cure in my heart. Something is still very wrong in the air and water and upon this earth. I do not believe that all of the evil blood has been found out. I feel it in my bones…”
Father Brian came out of the rectory and into the church. He heard singing, but it wasn’t any hymn that he knew of. He saw at the back of the church watching Willie and Taylor working on the windows. Two more had been completed, though not set into the frame of the church, and they were working on wrapping the last window. Willie was teaching her to sing in Gaelic, and he was translating the lines once she learned how the words sounded. If she would mispronounce a word that would mean something else, he would tell her what she had said. For the longest time he watched them, then cleared his throat as Willie began to become playful in their kissing.
Willie looked up and smiled as Father Brian came to them and regarded the windows.
with two of us, we can get the windows lifted an’ in before supper…” Willie
said, then saw that there was something troubling Father Brian. The back door
opened, and a draft of cold air swept into the church.
“How much of this was done today?” asked Officer O’Neil, pointing to the two windows.
“Well, they were cut yesterday, most of it at least, and channeled today… why?” asked Willie, curious.
Officer O’Neil looked at Father Brian, who shrugged. “I wasn’t in the church this morning, I couldn’t tell you if they were put together today, or last night.”
“You didn’t go back to Gram’s last night…We asked, so that’s a good eighteen hours that isn’t accounted for.”
“Someone fitting your description arrived at the hospital during the night and paid a visit on Furhdaham, Nothing was thought of it, until this afternoon when you were seen again visiting Flynn… and when the nurse went to check his bandage they found him dead. They checked Furdaham and found he had passed on as well, near about the same time, and both from the same cause. Willie MacGill, I have no choice but to arrest you for their murders.”
“Yes you do have a choice! You can find out the truth! We stayed at Mither’s because Tipper had been traumatized by Faraday’s death, and she had been having nightmares. We were with Inspector Sutherland most of the morning then came directly here and have been working since then. If Willie wanted to harm Furdaham he could have simply not resuscitated him when they found him three days ago suffering from being poisoned by Flynn.”
Officer O’Neil shifted his stance. “Ma’am - there is evidence that the manner of the death would be directly related to information only known by an herbal healer such as your husband.”
“Willie isn’t the only one in the area that understands herbs!”
“I am sorry, Ma’am. The laws are specific here. I have to follow them. I have to arrest him for their murders.”
“Contact Inspector Sutherland - he can tell you what Willie has been doing this morning.”
Sutherland has returned to
“Well, then you will have your answer and it will be cleared up!” she said, exasperated. She saw the look on Willies face. “Husband, what is it?”
Willie looked at Officer O’Neil, then to the constable, then back to his wife. “It won’t do any good, Wife. Tomorrow will be too late.”
She stepped closer to Willie and looked into his eyes. “I don’t understand,” she said softly.
“We don’t have the grand trials that you do… it’s much more simple if you’re accused of a crime such as murder, it’s taken care of by sunset. The preferred method is by hanging,” he said to her as gently as he could.
“No!” she gasped, feeling faint. She looked out the window and saw there wasn’t much daylight left. She turned back to Officer O’Neil. “You can not allow this! Willie has done nothing - he hasn’t killed anyone! “
“Ma’am, we have him arriving on the hospital security tapes, He pulled the collar of his brown suit over the bottom of his face to hide who he was, went in, and killed them both.”
“He doesn’t even own a brown suit! He has one, and its blue. It’s the only one that I have ever seen him wear. Officer O’Neil, if you hang him, you are murdering an innocent man and helping Furdaham with the continual murder of our family. And I want to know, if this law is so absolute, why wasn’t it enforced when Flynn killed his own step son, or when the thirty bodies were recovered at the estate? “
Willie sighed. “Because it wasn’t his place to enforce it, Wife. Nor would it have been my right to do it either. It would have fallen to Faraday’s father, or mine, an’ both of them are dead.“ Willie saw the glint of grim satisfaction in the constable’s eyes.
“What if you don’t go - what would they do then?” she asked, trying to hold herself together.
Willie placed his hands on either side of her shoulders. “They would arrest everyone that is related to me, and send them off to prison.“
are you even going to bother asking if anyone saw anything that could prove
what we have said is the truth?” asked
“Yer kin would lie for you,” the constable said dryly.
“Well, that’s easy to find out,” he said, pointing to the security cameras that were perched out of reach in the far corner of the church. “I believe the tape unit is in the basement. Why don’t Father Brian, the constables and I go down and see?”
“We can all go down,” said Officer O’Neil. Carefully they made their way down to the basement of the church, where Gabe’s fingers moved over the equipment and rewound the tape that was in the recorder to the beginning. He worked the buttons and in a moment an image came up. On the bottom of the screen was the time index.
did you say that they saw Willie enter into the hospital?” asked
“About 1 pm.” Gabe rewound the tape then hit the play button. The time index read 11:14 am when the door opened and Taylor and Willie entered the building. There was no sound, but they could see Willie speaking to her, and kissing her gently. They could see the windows were just in pieces. Gabe used the fast forward button to skim through the day, and it was clear that the two of them didn’t leave the church at any time. He ended the fast forward just after Officer O’Neil and the constable entered into the church. By the time that they made it back up the steps, the sun had set.
“I’m still na convinced that there wasn’t tom foolery tae make that tape. Might bit too convenient for my liking,” grumbled the constable.
Officer O’Neil cleared his throat. “Well, it’s moot now.”
“Same law that says that the accused should be hanged at sunset frees the accused if they can live past sunset without the noose about their necks. Ah, well, I’ll buy him a round and he will be fine about it in the morning. Though I don’t like the thought of someone trying to frame you for murder…” said Officer O’Neil with a sigh.
“It’s been done before… and they didn’t succeed then, either…” said Willie softly.
“Officer O’Neil, if anyone can find out who did this, it would be Jessica Fletcher. By the way, what was used to kill them?” asked Gabe curiously.
“It’s a weed that the locals call Lamb’s Wool, or Wooly because of its texture. Its oils are fine for the outside of the body, but apparently are highly toxic if they are ingested. Most every home here has some of it in their garden for burns, but it’s one of those forgotten things that our grandparents tell us about and we shrug off as superstitious nonsense. Unless, of course, you know that a single leaf of the plant will kill a full grown man,” said O’Neil.
the person who did this could be anyone,” pressed
“Let’s go home,” he said, weary.
“Yes, Husband,” she said stepping into his arms and wrapping herself about him, giving him a kiss upon his lips.
Officer O’Neil and Father Brian withdrew from the church, leaving Gabe behind.
hesitated at the steps to the porch. “I have to go, “ he said gently to
you be back, later?” she asked softly.
is everything. And, well, it’s been centuries since I have been to
words were cut short by
She saw him smile gently before giving her a long hug. “I will always be around when you need me… even to change many, many, diapers,” he murmured in her ear before kissing her back, then releasing her. Gabe turned to Willie and gave him a hug and a kiss upon his lips as well before turning back down the path and disappearing into the darkness as he waved good-bye.
“Does he kiss every one like that when he goes?”
“Only those he loves,” she said, gathering his hand in hers and drawing him to the door of the bed and breakfast.
“Wife, ye should know that the same plant that was used to heal Tipper’s hand was the one used to kill Furdaham and Flynn,” he said before she opened the door.
She let out a long breath. “Our clan wears blue. Furdaham’s wears the brown. I saw it on every painting at the estate, and on a fair few of the people whom I have met in this town. Tonight, husband, we give Faraday a proper send off, and tomorrow he joins the ones we miss the most…”
Jessica felt a feathery kiss upon her cheek as she wiggled her toes. Opening her eyes she realized she had fallen asleep in the front room with Faraday in repose. Across the room was Toot, who was carving something carefully, and Mither who was resting her head on his shoulder. Looking over she realized that it was George who had kissed her awake, and he wore a bemused expression. It was day break and she could hear people milling about .
“Oh my… I … “
“It’s alright, Jessica. Thank ye for helping with first watch. Staying up till 2 am at any age is wearying to the bones,” said Mither to Jessica. Mither looked at George. “I take it you have the answers we need?”
“Some answers, and some questions as well…”
regarded Toot. “I can guess what some of those will be. Do you want to hear
them now, or with Willie and
Mither placed her hand on his arm. “They all have the right to know, Amroth.”
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Frank sat on the floor between his parents’ legs and leaned against his mother. George was pacing as those who stayed overnight at the bed and breakfast came down. Some of the people from the village came as well, as they were curious about the test results. George had announced that if the person whom they had tested was clear, then they could go. He saw their confusion, then began calling names and in a short while had people sorted into different rooms. It took a while for him to go from room to room and tell the people that while they were all related, they were not related to the little girl and could go home. This worked out well for the first three groups, except that in one of the groups it was discovered that the child of one woman was not her husband’s, but another’s. George suggested retesting and then escorted them outside to deal with things.
last room was the one that held Mither, Willie,
George closed the door and opened the pack of papers. Before he had a chance to begin the thin woman spoke up. “That child. She’s.. she is Maggie’s, isn’t she?”
George nodded, then asked her gently, “Did you suspect your daughter was with child, Mrs. Connors? “
The woman hung her head. “Her father and she got into an argument, just before she left. She tried to tell me, and he kept telling her she was a university graduate, and she should deal with her own problems… I didn’t see her ever again. Who is the lad that…” started Mrs., Connor.
“The child’s father is deceased as well, Mrs. Connor. Though you should know, in her personal effects we found an engagement ring. He had asked her to marry him… until she disappeared.”
“Who?” Mrs. Connor asked.
“Faraday.” For a moment it looked like she was going to scream, or faint, or perhaps both. Her hand flew to her mouth and she closed her eyes, shaking away any form of comfort.
Composing herself she looked at Mither. “I canna take her home with me. Maggie’s da would be the death of her.”
“Maggie may be buried with our family - with Faraday, if you wish,” said Willie to Mrs. Connor.
For a moment she looked at Faraday’s body, then to Princess, and then back to Willie. Slowly she nodded. Willie strode to her and clasped her hand with his, and pressed something into her hand. She closed her fingers about it, then looked back at Princess. “Would ye be kind enough to call her by her mother’s given name of Margarita? “
Mither nodded, quite numb herself from the information. Rising from her chair, Mrs. Connor walked over to Princess and gave her a hug before walking from the room and out of the bed and breakfast.
George paced a moment then stopped and opened up the folder and adjusted his glasses.
is no surprise to know that Donna and Grady Fletcher are the parents of Frank
Fletcher Jr., and that Jessica is cousin to Rosemary, who is sister to Emma
MacGill, and Marshal is father to
Gram interrupted him. “Nae. It isn’t yours to tell, Inspector,” she said, rising from her chair. She took a breath and gave him a push out of the door, snagging the open file as she closed it between them. “I need to have a word with my clan…”
George watched from the back porch as the procession worked its way up the hill, the men of the family carrying Faraday in a wooden coffin, and the remains of Maggie and Myrna in separate smaller boxes that reminded him of picnic coolers. Tipper was going to stay behind: she knew the burial was just for family, but Gram took her by the hand and leaned on her all the way up the hill and through the woods.
“You need to go. You need to say goodbye,” Gram said softly to Tipper as they walked through the forest. Gram regarded Tipper and inclined her head to her, saying softly, “Amroth feels the sight in you, as do I. You see things and feel things others don‘t or will na see. Are we correct? The dead speak to you?”
“I keep seeing Faraday in my dreams…I don’t know if he is trying to tell me something or what. It just happens,” Tipper said with a shrug. She heard Gram make a non-committal sound as she helped her up the stony path.
The burial place looked like any other clearing, except for the white stones that lay about with markings upon them. They reminded her of children’s playing blocks. A hole had been dug, deep enough and wide enough for the boxes that were slowly lowered into the earth. Tipper watched as they filled the hole up with dirt, and then sprinkled seeds over the ground so that in a short time it would look like any other part of the woods.
Gram had just told them that Toot was family. She didn’t explain any more than that, but for those who were in the room, it was enough. Tipper watched Toot now as he finished sprinkling the last of the seed and then he began to sing softly. She realized he had a lovely voice - not that she understood a word of what he was saying, but from the tears in Mither’s and Gram’s eyes, she knew it was words that were dear to their hearts.
When the burial was finished, Jessica had a quiet word with Grady and Donna and the others. In silence Marshal led his family back down the path to the bed and breakfast, letting the small group have its privacy away from the town.
Toot sat down upon one of the larger white stones and for a moment Tipper thought he was going to have a heart attack. “Ye have the right to know… to know… the truth.”
“That you’re Willie and Sara’s father and husband to Rosemary? Only a healer would know how to help Tipper, and only family stays with the dead the first night,” said Jessica softly. “And the reason why you had people believe you were dead was why …?”
“It was to protect the family. There had been more and more actions against us, and I knew that they wouldn’t stop until all possibilities of our line had ended. I lived away for a while, changed what I did, and what I looked like. If they thought me dead, they would believe the line was ended, and leave the ladies alone… but they didn’t. I didn’t know Rosemary had conceived, an’ I didn’t know until she had given birth and taken Sara away that I was now a father. I found a place that was near, and I became Toot, the goat man who was so disgusting no one would have anything to do with me - na’ even my own son - while I was able to take care of my family at a distance as a dodgy, dirty old man. I thought we would be safe.
“Ian Furdaham killed Jacob, Mither’s husband. Faraday and Myrna were just two, and he shot him dead in front of the children so that they would have the fear of Furdaham in them. Mither was in the barn, and he was coming after her, and… and he found himself at the middle of the family sword by my hand. I put the body in the wagon, cleaned up the area and dumped it at the gates. I was dead to my family - it didn’t matter as long as they were safe. For a while they were, then… then Stephan came, and I knew there was bad happenings. Mum couldn’t remember though, and so I waited one day when Willie was out, and I saw what Stephan was doing, and I ended it for him just as my own son would ha killed me had he had the chance… and I washed my mum, like a little child, and placed her into bed, and I gave her bitterroot so she wouldn’t remember what he had done to her. The constable knew there was dirty dealings going on, and that Stephan was no great loss.
“The children of the town started disappearing, and I couldn’t stop him. I knew Furdaham was behind it… I didn’t know Flynn was helping, and I didn’t know that he was trying to brain wash Faraday into hating the family. He went along with things because he was told to by the only father he knew. He didn’t understand what was going on, that somehow Furdaham had discovered Mither was part of the family - though it was perhaps when she had twins. Uncommon as they are, every generation had them, and Furdaham was desperate to find every one of the family to kill us even if it meant taking out the entire town. So now you know,“ he said wistfully. Rosemary went to him and placed her hand on his shoulder.
“Is that why you killed Flynn and Furdaham?” Jessica asked
Toot looked up shocked and shook his head. “Na, I didna kill them. They had been caught by the law, and the law would deal with them, and I maybe would ha been able to then properly become a da to my children.”
Tipper spoke up. “He couldn’t have gone to the hospital that night, he was with Rosemary in the front room, he helped me with my burn - there wouldn’t have been time for him to go there as well. And he was speaking with me in the back yard when the dose was given.”
matter of Timing…” murmured
“Yes, wife?” He saw a struggle on her face.
know who killed them… and I am to blame…”
George watched for the group to come down the hill back to the bed and breakfast. Seth had been a bit more than polite to him as they waited - George had seen the test results, and had quietly informed Seth that Toot was Willie’s father and Mither’s brother.
“I am sorry to say that I am still very jealous of your relationship with Jessica, Dr. Hazlitt,” said George suddenly.
“My relationship? Jessica and I are just good friends. You know that,” replied Seth, a bit baffled. “Haven’t we been through this before? “
“Which is exactly my point. You know her far more intimately than I do, you know her likes, and dislikes. She allows you to assist her in doing the day-to-day concerns: after that bit with the sink, she won’t let me near a wrench. I am afraid of you, Dr. Hazlitt, because I can never be you - never have the relationship you share with Jessica.”
“You’re her lover. I - could never be that. You bring a part of her alive and that hasn’t happened since Frank died. You’re her friend, too, in a different way… I was never jealous of you, though. Resentful, maybe, angry that you took liberties with her, but not jealous. As her friend, I want Jessica to be happy, as her doctor, I am hoping that some positive influence of the male gender kind would assist Jessica. She needs a companion, and a friend… but the answer would be that either she would have to move in with you, or you move to Cabot Cove - and in that case, as the townspeople’s tongues wag like puppy dog tails, Jessica better have a ring on her finger if you’re going to continue with the shenanigans…”
“Shenanigans? Ohh, I rather like that word. Might have it tattooed on my chest,” said George, grinning. “I understand you’re serious, Dr. Hazlitt, but I can appreciate the humor behind it.”
“Really?” said Seth, taking two aprons off of the hook and tossing the pink one at George, who caught it deftly. “Funerals and weddings tend to bring the most hungry out in people,” he said, putting the strap of the blue frilly one over his neck.
“That looks lovely on you - the blue brings out the color in your eyes,” said George as he fumbled to put the apron on properly. He paused. “They will laugh, won’t they?“ he said with a sigh.
“Not if we have everything ready in time,” replied Seth, opening up the fridge.
Tipper sank into the oversized chair in the back sitting room, a plate full of nibbles at her elbow. Toot had given her a mug of something to stop the visible trembling of her body that she had been having since the return from burying Faraday. She had had her chance to say good-bye to him, and it was as hard as losing him the first time. Cleaned up, Toot didn’t look half bad, and he had told her he was sorry for the shock he had given her when they first had met. She’d learned that he had been trained as a healer, and had asked him why he didn’t do anything about the goat bite when it happened. She had watched him struggle with the answer before he explained that a goat man wouldn’t know those things.
She drew in a long breath then let it out as she sipped the strange drink. It was both bitter and sweet; it was cool, yet warmed her. She couldn’t eat. Not now at least. She felt her eyes grow heavy as she let sleep claim her.
Shivering, Tipper looked around. She sat up and realized she was in a room she hadn’t seen before. Rising from the chair she walked across the room following the sounds that she couldn’t explain. Drawing closer she heard a groan followed by gaspings and an outcry of agony. There was a pause as her fingertips touched the doorknob, then the sound of an infant crying. Tipper opened the door and found herself in the hall of the grand staircase. A table was set under the stained glass windows. A small girl was watching everything happening from where she sat under the window sill. She looked at Tipper, who realized that it was Margarita.
There was something bloody lying on the table, covered with a sheet. She saw a man with white curly hair on one side of his head and black curly hair on the other dressed in a brown coat standing over the person on the table. His hand raised, and she saw the glint of a knife as it slashed downward, spilling red over the edge of the table. It splashed down, some of it into a bucket that was there. Something wiggling was lifted upward from the body on the sheet and the man carried it down to the marble post, laying it on the top of it. Lifting his hand again, Tipper saw a long sword. The infant’s screams were cut short as blood splashed down over the marble post.
She felt a weight on her chest, one she couldn’t explain, one that prevented her from breathing, and screaming. She felt herself being pulled along and shoved into darkness, then a single ray of light illuminated where she was. There was gold - piles of gold like one would see in the movies. Margarita was there, standing beside a chair that held a crown on its seat. There were jars with things floating in them, herbs hanging from hooks, and a book that opened under her gaze. She heard a voice say, “Chose wisely.” Turning, Tipper saw the gold again, but it was covered in blood, and blood was rising from the floor. She placed her hand on the book. She felt a burning on her hand as it went through the pages and when she lifted it, she held a white stone in her hand.
Lifting up the book and going to Margarita she carried both out of the room and found herself back to where the grand staircase was. Margarita was once again sitting on the window ledge watching everything that Tipper did. Bodies lay everywhere. She knew they were all dead, all had their blood removed. The stair case was red as the sunlight streamed through the windows. They were all young - they all had their eyes open, and their eyes followed her as she carried the stone up the steps, winding upward. As she walked she could hear clicking. She placed the stone in an indentation on the window ledge beside Margarita and heard the roar of something behind her. In the reflection of the window Tipper saw it was a wall of blood rushing at her with a thousand knives swirling in the wave. She backed up, and fell through the window screaming as one of the knives pierced her heart.
Hands held her. She struggled against the hands as something heavy hit her in the chest, pressing downward. A blinding light burned through her brain. She saw movement in the light and saw Faraday there, standing with Gabe, who came to her and took her hand. “It isn’t time yet,“ he told her. Then there was darkness and a womb-like warmth and comfort. She could hear her name being called from far away. Cold on her chest - icy cold that she tried to bat away. Gentle hands took hers guiding them back to her sides.
Opening her eyes, Tipper realized she was outside, on the ground by the steps of the front porch. Her blouse was open and a hand pressed something cold to her skin. Blinking, she followed a blue line upward before she realized that it was Willie using a stethoscope to listen to her heart.
“It’s going again. She is back with us,“ she heard him say with relief. She saw Seth kneeling by her head and he had tears streaming down his face. She took a breath on her own and realized her chest hurt.
“I’m alright,” Tipper said softly. She didn’t have the strength to move.
“Ye are na alright, lass, ye died… the ambulance is on its way to take you to the hospital.”
Tipper fretted under all of the wires and iv lines they had placed in her. They had no explanation for why it had happened when she seemed to be in perfect health, albeit a bit underweight. A night under observation was what they had planned. Tipper wasn’t too keen on it. They had mixed wards at the hospital unless you’d just had a baby or had some illness that was catching, and she found she had two room mates: one an old man who wheezed as he breathed, the other a young kid who reminded her of Frank when he first came to Cabot Cove, all wiggly. Both of them were asleep, thankfully, at that time.
Willie had fretted over her. While the hospital said no visitors after hours, he stayed, and he was trying to convince them George could stay as well – at the moment he was busy speaking to the nurse down the hall. She could hear his voice far away. Closing her eyes she tried to block out the steady beep of her heart monitor.
She felt something wet touch her forehead, and Latin murmured over her as more wet was traced as a cross on her chest. She opened her eyes and saw a priest bending over her. She blinked a few times and tried to lift her head up. She saw him open a small golden pill holder and take out a round wafer that had something pressed on the underside of it. It was a leaf. She knew it was the same leaf that had been put on her burn, and she knew that if it went into her mouth there wouldn’t be anything that the hospital could do in time before she died.
Clamping her jaw shut she pressed her lips firmly together while her fingers worked at winding around the wires to her leads. She hated the glue that they held the EKG leads with it - was horrid stuff. She heard the monitor pick up her movement, and as she strained to remove the lead the beeps increased. It hurt like the dickens when she managed to pull one of them free. There was a tone, a steady obnoxious tone that startled the priest and, she hoped, would alert the people at the nurse’s desk. She felt his fingers pinch open her cheeks and try to force the wafer into her mouth. Tipper managed to bite his hand hard enough to draw blood, and he dropped half of the wafer in the process, but not before some of it and the leaf were shoved in her mouth. George burst in the room and hauled off, hitting the priest hard enough to slam him against the wall and leave a dent in the plaster board.
Tipper was having a time spitting out the bitter bits and pieces that had been in her mouth. Willie came in the room with the crash cart and shoved it aside as he saw her still spitting the pieces out of her mouth. Carefully with gloves he pushed a finger into her mouth and helped to remove everything, then allowed her to sit up and rinse her mouth out with water and spit into the basin. George left the priest face down on the floor in hand cuffs and came over to the two of them. He could see that Willie’s hands were shaking as he finally gathered Tipper into his arms and held her close before he laid her back down and fussed over re-attaching the lead and resetting the heart monitor.
“Hey, I’m okay. Really. Just really, really confused right now. Who is he? I - I saw him before … when I died.”
“Oh, that’s Father Dania. Taylor and Jessica realized the only ones who can truly be coming and going at all hours in a hospital would either be the doctors and nurses or the clergy. Father Brian is too new of a clergy person to not be noticed right away, and a right handsome chap like that will be noticed anywhere he goes. Father Dania told the diocese that he was going on sabbatical but never told the hospital, and when it came time to know when there were new people here, they called him - owing to his use of a cell phone, they never knew they weren’t calling the church. When he wakes up we can ask him why he killed the other two, but best guess is, he wanted it to end. You on the other hand… well, old habits of helping to kill off the family were too much to ignore. I am sorry.”
“Sorry? For what?” she asked, trying to get comfortable in the hospital bed once he allowed her to lean back. For a moment she fiddled with the controls to help her sit up, but they were in Gaelic and nothing she pressed would let her move more than a few inches up before her heart monitor would beep again.
took the control away from her, lifted her shoulders up and eased a pillow
under them so she would be more comfortable. “Toot has always been a bit single-minded in
all of the years that I’ve known him. He told us when you were being loaded
into the ambulance that he gave you something to help with your dreaming - to
sort things out once and for all. It’s nae a proper thing to do an’ he knew
that it would make ye a wee bit ill in the process, an’ he knew there was a
murderer about these halls. So he insisted George come along to protect you,
and to see things were done right…an’ stay my hand against harming the man who
caused the family harm all these years. What he didn’t count on was that you
hadn’t eaten before you drank it, and it caused your heart to stop after you
did a bit of sleepwalking and fell down the porch steps. He would have given it
Tipper saw George packaging the bits of leaf and crushed wafer that she had spit out into a bag. “Gives the term ‘last rites’ a whole new meaning,” he said as he strode over to Father Dania, pulled the groaning man to his feet and dragged him out of the room.
“I - I saw Faraday again, and he was with Gabe … is Gabe dead, Willie? I saw… horrible things being done at the estate, and I saw Margarita there … in my dream…”
Willie tucked the covers under her arms. “When you first fell asleep, she crawled up onto your lap, and was napping with you until you started sleepwalking. She tried to get you to stop your path outside because she knew something was wrong. Your mind was putting her into your dream.”
“Oh… but it was so real…” she said softly.
Willie brushed a wisp of hair from Tipper’s cheek. “Tonight you will be staying here, and no arguing to me about that. Tomorrow, if you’re a very good girl, we will see how real your dream was. And I am sure Gabe is fine. You may have put him in your dream because you know that he would do anything to help you, just like Faraday would. George will be staying the night with you - he snores, so just give him a nudge and he will roll over. If anything could face that snoring menace, the world would be in jeopardy,” he said with a bemused grin.
Hang on …
“Since the night of the wedding, of course. Gram says it’s so, and that we’re to have triplets. You will be one of the Godmothers, won’t you?”
Willie just looked at Tipper as she started to giggle. “If being a Godmother is anything like being a maid of honor, I need to have some serious discussions with my life insurance agent…”
Bending over he gave her lips a gentle kiss before standing up and turning out her overhead light. “Best you get some rest, lass,” he said softly, smiling himself.
Tipper felt a bit too wound up to sleep just then. She craned her neck about, waiting for George to come back into the room. When he did, he pulled up a chair and took her hand in to his.
“You know, you could go back to the bed and breakfast and be with Jessica…” she said softly.
George looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “Well, yes, but if something else should happen to you, she would never forgive me. The hospital here is full of doctors that are trained to heal, but very few policemen,” he said with a knowing nod.
“But I am fine. Willie said I had the antidote to the poison in me, and the worst that would happen was that I would lose my taste.”
“That’s if it only made it into your mouth. If you happened to swallow any bit of it, even the tiniest of fragments, the doctors here have informed me that … well. I don’t wish to alarm you, m’ dear, but in your current condition, if even the tiniest bit got into your digestive tract, even with what Toot says is an antidote, it would have had dire consequences.“
“You’re kidding, right?” Tipper said, regarding him as he settled into the chair. “Anyway, Flynn and Fordham Sr. are dead, and Father Dania’s been arrested – why do I still need guarding?”
dear, I am a chief inspector of Scotland Yard. If there was not the potential
for your life to be at risk tonight, I would not be here … Tell me, what side
of your family is Irish?
“Irish? Oh no, French-Canadian, with a bit of English, but, no, no Irish...”
She saw George raise his eyebrow slightly. “Oh… interesting. “
and Taylor were still up when Willie arrived at the bed and breakfast; the
others had fallen asleep several hours before. He kissed both of them then sat
down in the chair next to
“George will be staying with Tipper tonight, Aye, you were right, it was Father Dania, Aunt Jessica, and no, wife, it wasn’t your fault that he killed Fordham and Flynn. He would have snapped regardless in time. He won’t be harming anyone again. Which leaves us with the future of the family.“
Jessica looked at him. “And you’re making it your decision?” she teased, then saw he was serious.
“Well, either mine, or Da’s, or Gram’s as head of the family.”
concerns are your mother, sister, and her children - where they will go and how
they will make their way. Next is Donna, and Grady, and Frank… and Mither and
“Your nae worried about the house and the treasure inside of it?” said Willie suddenly. “Tha’ could solve most of the problems we have. Find the treasure and then move the family back into the house and live happily ever after.”
He saw Jessica and Taylor shaking their heads. “There has been too much death in that place, Husband, for anyone to sleep comfortably.”
“I spent the better part of the day reading the old journals with Tipper, and they were very explicit on the information about the house - how large the rooms were, the halls - but there are some places that the space and the measurements don’t work out. The author speculated that these areas were solid rock, used to support the estate’s many levels. If it was built as I suspect, like a castle, some of those walls would have to be seventeen feet thick,” said Jessica. “There really wouldn’t be room to have a secret room. But the stained glass window by the main staircase is quite interesting when it comes to regarding that matter.”
“Tomorrow is another day to think on it, Aunt Jessica. If you will excuse us, my husband has some explaining to do, in private… We bid you good night.”
explaining, Wife?” Jessica heard as
Smiling to herself she went out of the kitchen turning off the light as she went, and saw through the window the shape of the two of them kissing as they went down the path to Gram’s house. George would have some explaining of his own to do in private with Jessica if she had her way about it.
Dawn came a bit too brightly and even more early than Jessica would have wanted after the long stressful day that they had before. George had arranged for a van to pick them up and take them to the estate, he was bringing Tipper with him when she was discharged. Tomorrow they would be boarding the plane for their trip home, though Willie and Taylor would be staying on a bit for their honeymoon.
She felt a small hand touch her arm and opened her eyes again. Margarita regarded her under her mop of curly hair. Jessica could see she was already up and dressed and had a piece of toast in her other hand. Sitting up she saw that Donna was just sitting up in her own bed, and was looking down at her feet with a rather greenish complexion. She could tell that she had been crying. Getting up from the bed Jessica moved to the side of her niece and put her arm around the young woman’s shoulder.
“Donna, everything will work out,” Jessica began.
Donna looked up at her and sniffed. “That’s what everyone keeps saying Aunt Jessica. But I’m scared… I love my parents, but they don’t have a lot of patience with Frank, and Grady loves them, but I keep seeing his face that he feels as if he is a failure at providing for us. My parents love me, but, well, the last time that I spoke with them, it was going to be a ‘problem that they would manage’ to take us in, and I know that Grady’s blood pressure goes up when dad gets going - I don’t know what to do… I really want to be with my Mother during this … this time.. But…”
“I know Grady may have spoken to you about coming to Cabot Cove to live … Donna, it’s your choice where you would feel the most comfortable. I’m not going to live forever, and Frank and I knew that of all of our relatives, we would want the house to go to Grady and you. Cabot Cove is a wonderful place to raise children.”
“There aren’t a lot of jobs for CPA’s in Cabot Cove, though, or for event planners.”
“I have a feeling something different may become available,“ Jessica said, giving Donna another hug. “Has Grady ever thought about teaching?”
Donna shook her head as she blew her nose into a scrap of flannel.
Tipper slowly got out of George’s car and looked around the outside of the estate. The huge stained glass window was visible from where she stood, and the memory made her sway against George, who put a protective arm around her shoulder to steady her. The others were getting out of the van and she saw Frank hurry over to her and wrap his arms about her body, holding her tightly.
“Hey – it’s okay, I’m alright... Thanks,” she said, hugging Frank back.
George watched Frank lead Tipper up to the house. For the longest time she stood on the porch and he could see that she was trembling. Taking a breath, she reached in her pocket and held something in it, George didn’t know what. He waited until the others had entered, and Tipper had gone in, led by Frank. Closing the door behind him he saw the group had gathered in the main hall.
“Right, well, I believe a through go-over of the house is in order, starting at the attic, and working our way down. The engineers have gone over the house and have informed me that it’s sound - apparently the builders expected the methane to blow every once in a while,” said George. He was unprepared for the giggles that followed from some of the adults. Even Jessica had a twinkle in her eyes.
“Look!” gasped Donna, pointing to the stained glass window as the sunlight danced over it.
Tipper walked forward to the great staircase and went to the post where Faraday had kissed her. She backed up, and put her hand down. For a moment they saw her gazing at something, then she put her hand in her pocket and walked up the steps to where the white marble ledge was. She removed her hand and placed the worry stone on the ledge then slid it into a depression that was in the marble. There was a resounding click that echoed in the room. Looking behind her she saw that a panel had opened along the stair case.
“Margarita, come here,” Tipper called out to the young girl. She saw the child hesitate, but then she walked up the stair case and stood in front of Tipper, who lifted her to the same place where she was sitting in her dream. “It’s going to be okay … just stay there,” she said to the small child.
hurried down the steps and went to
slow down, Tipper. They were killing them on the steps? Why?” asked
it’s the altar. They thought they needed blood for the connection - but
Willie took a breath and then unbuckled the sword from his belt and handed it to Toot.
“Son, I canna,” said Toot sadly.
“You have only defended the family with it. There is no dishonor in that,” Willie said wrapping Toot’s hands about it.
Jessica handed Willie the decanter. “There is a slot in the main post that is the right size for the blade of the sword. It shows it in the stained glass window,” she said as she pointed upward.
Tipper nodded. “In the dream I had, they were pushing a sword into it.”
“But if they did it, why didn’t the room open?” Jessica asked. “Surely they could see what we see when we look at the window, and follow it, and as swords go, they are about the same, unless…” Jessica turned and looked at the window again. “Of course … the support of the family.”
“Pressure switches!” Tipper gasped. Closing her eyes momentarily she grasped Grady’s hand and Donna’s and led them up the steps to the top. “Stand here… and you stand here…” she directed, placing them on either side of the same step with Frank a step below them with Ian on the other side. Seeing what she was doing, others took their places upon the steps, until there was just Seth, George and Tipper left and a single spot that was left on the step next to Jessica.
“Okay, George…” Tipper began.
George shook his head. “No, you should be there,” he said, gently urging her to take her place.
They heard another rather loud click as she took her place on the step.
“Now what?” asked Toot, regarding the line-up of people.
“Pour the liquid into the hole, and then put the sword in,” said Jessica.
Willie, who stood behind Toot, opened the decanter and carefully poured the liquid in until it brimmed. Toot took a breath and murmured something under his breath. The sword slid in softly, and there was a third, audible click as it hit the bottom of the pillar. Red came from the base of the pillar, spilling midway across the floor where it disappeared in the cracks of the floor around the center tile of the room. There was a rusty creak as one of the panels of the far wall opened up.
Tipper knew what was in that room. She knew George and Seth couldn’t help themselves as they went to the room and George entered into it. “George! Choose wisely!” she called after him. They could see the glimmer of something reflecting from his flashlight and his exclamation of his discovery. There was another loud click - then a cough from George as he came out of the room holding a dusty book. Seth stepped away from the door as it slid shut.
“That’s it? That’s the treasure people have died for?“ asked Pattie, confused. “What else was in the room inspector Sutherland?” she said, regarding him.
George took a breath. “There were other things in the room, coins, and the like, but I noticed something about them … of all the treasures that were in the room, this was the only real item. The gems were paste, and the coins, while looking of value, were not … I had a feeling that I would have just a short amount of time to decided what was to be chosen, and then remove myself from the room, and the book seemed like the only thing that needed to be chosen.” He handed the book to Toot, who opened it, and saw the pages were blank.
“Ah well…” said George, sighing.
Toot gave him a smile. “Thank you,” he said handing the book to Tipper. “Lass, where would you be wanting the book to go?” he asked gently.
She looked at it. It was the same one that was in her dream, and she placed her hand on it. She could feel the warmth of the book cover, and then she placed the book on the other post that supported the railing. There was a final click as the tile in the center of the room shifted upward, giving a space where fingers could move it away. The flashlight beam caught glitter. George beckoned to the group to come down and have a look for themselves.
Later Frank sat on the steps, looking at the pillar. Jessica saw him and went over to where he was and sat down beside him.
“The gold won’t bring Faraday back, or help Mum have a healthy baby. But how did it all work, Aunt Jessica? How did the sword make the room to open? I know about the pressure switches, but - how? George says that red stuff isn’t blood.”
“No, it’s rust. The liquid that was poured into the hole helped to remove the rust, and it had 14% sodium in it, the same as blood, and sea water. The combination of the salt water running past what ever is in the pillar - and my guess is there is a fair bit of metal in there - made an electrical current that switched the doors and mechanisms to open things.”
“But greedy people wouldn’t think to take the book, and the room would trap them.”
He sighed, then saw Tipper coming down the steps. She had been exploring, looking for the room she had awoken in, in her dream. She said there was something else she was looking for, but hadn’t been able to find it. Tipper paused and picked up the worry stone and placed it in her pocket. The gold and things had been lifted out of the hole, and the stone put back into place. Walking down the steps she took the stone out of her pocket and placed it on the book.
There was a click. As if in a trance she walked to the wall and pushed aside a panel, revealing a door. It swung open at her touch. The space beyond smelt earthy, sweet, and the light from the flashlights illuminated what she had been searching for.
A room of healing. Beside the desk that had an assortment of things was the chair that was in her dreams, and the crown. She felt a bump, then Margarita went to the chair and sat in it, holding the crown on her lap.
Gram came up behind her and looked in the room. She held the book, and the worry stone. “Aye. Then it’s true.”
Gram pressed the worry stone into Tipper’s hand. “Only kin would keep looking for what was important in their hearts …This is worth more than all the gold they pulled out of the hole. I knew it before by your way with your dreams, what ye see - and that inspector’s papers said the same. There are many who were nae recorded to hide them…some who went overseas to hide their wee ones. You have the blood of great healers, of our kin, in ye, daughter. It’s why ye dream so, why ye can see the dead, and the angels. Tis how you and Faraday were drawn together, how you were drawn to events that would lead to this moment.“ Gram went into the room and picked up the crown and placed it on Margarita’s head.
Tipper was drawn back by Frank who said to her gently, “Angela? Are you alright?”
He saw tears well up in her eyes as she leaned against the same pillar. The sword had been removed and cleaned, then placed on the wall. She nodded.
“Aunt Jessica is staying on another day or so to settle things with George. Mum and Dad are coming back to Cabot Cove and staying at her house with me until she comes back … they have things to take care of there. Willie says, with everything that’s happened today, he needs Dad to manage the accounts. Aunt Sara and her kids are staying with Mither and Margarita, “ Frank said breathlessly.
“What about Rosemary?” she said, half curious.
Frank gave her a cheeky grin. “She’s moving in with Toot. Willie said that it may be an adjustment for him, she keeps a clean house… guess the goats will have to be moved to the barn. They don’t know yet what will be done with the estate. Cleaned and blessed Toot said … Are you hungry? Ian said they are sending out for pizza, and then we have to pack - it’s an early flight tomorrow. George is going to see us off… ‘course, Gram said you could stay if you wanted, for a while…”
“I just want to go home…”
“Will I be as handsome as Faraday?” he asked her suddenly.
She blinked. “Being handsome isn’t what draws the girls, Frank. It wasn’t why I fell in love with Faraday. He had a - a love, that was inside him … and you have that too.“
“Really? So… there is a chance, then…”
“A chance? Ooohhh… I will always love you as a friend, Frank. Sometimes that’s the best of all.” She was interrupted by the sound of a horn beeping outside.
“Pizza’s here,” said Frank, holding his hand out to her. “Coming?” he asked.
Tipper took his hand. For a moment when she stood she saw Faraday looking at her, a smile on his face. She saw him nod, then he vanished. The heaviness in her heart disappeared as well.
“Dibs on mushrooms! “ said Tipper, smiling.
“Will you help me write my report?” Frank asked as they walked to where the others were.
Tipper nodded. A glass was pushed into her hands. She looked at it, and then raised it. “To family. May we always believe.”
She saw Toot nod, and Willie hug Rosemary. Somehow, Tipper knew, it was just the beginning of something more.
George walked over to Toot, and asked something quietly that caused Toot to place his glass on the table and walk over to an area where they would not be overheard. Jessica stepped next to Tipper, and by her expression Tipper knew the discussion was serious.
“What will happen to Toot, Jessica?”
“Given the circumstances, it’s difficult to say, but George feels the courts may understand and remand him time served…”
Cove never looked so beautiful The sea was crisp, the gulls hung in the air
demanding food from the tourists, and even the yelps of the dogs in the back
kennels of the “Puppy Paradize” where Lucky and
“Hey, there’s the treasure queen!” she heard one of the patrons say. She regarded them, curious, then had a newspaper thrust under her nose. “Could you sign your photograph please?”
“My what?” she said, looking down at what was a fuzzy blob until she moved it far enough to see what she was looking at. The headlines were bold: “CABOT COVE RESIDENTS DISCOVER BOUNTY OF IRISH TREASURE.”
“AP network picked up the story from the local media…”
Tipper flipped the paper over and saw a second photo. She shook her head. “I’m sorry, I’m not into autographs...”
She walked into the office with the paper still in her hands, looking at the photograph. She didn’t remember the photo being taken; it had to have been when they were gathered to leave, and the swarm of media that came, chiding Willie for not letting them in on it. He’d shrugged and said that Toot was the head of the family now, and it was his decision.
There was a knock on the door, and Carolyn Fahey entered. “Tipper, are you alright?”
Tipper didn’t look up from the paper. Carolyn closed the door and knelt beside her friend. “Tipper?”
“His name was Faraday and he was so beautiful…and his kiss was heaven… I still see him, in my dreams…he died in my arms. I - I…he saved my life, but I couldn‘t save his.”
“Oh, Tipper… do you need some more time off?” Carolyn asked softly.
Tipper shook her head. “No, I will be okay.”
She saw her friend nod, then stand up” Okay, but, if there is anything you need, let me know,” she said as she left the office.
“Just Faraday,” Tipper said to herself as she tucked the paper under her arm and went out the back way. She didn’t want to be with people yet, but there was a person she needed to be with, someone who she knew would understand what she felt. She found herself walking to Jessica’s house, knocking on the door, and seeing Grady.
“Dr. Henderson... We were just going to have dessert, would you like to join us?”
She shook her head. “I was wondering if I could speak with Frank…”
Grady nodded, and watched as the two of them walked down the street hand in hand. It was almost an hour later when Frank returned and sat down in the living room. Grady went into the room and looked at his son. “Is everything alright?”
“It will be, dad… Thanks.”
Leaning forward Frank pulled his spiral note book off of the coffee table and picked up a pencil. The summer wasn’t even half over. He pulled a coin out of his pocket and regarded the soft gold metal. No one was going to believe him. Replacing the gold in his pocket he began to write.
Lucky padded into the room and nudged his leg before jumping on the sofa next to him. Her warm brown eyes regarded him, asking, “What next?”
“Dunno, Lucky,“ he said, patting her head. “Just, dunno. Something’s bound to happen though…”