Story for the Day: Price of Serenity

Bou and Sheamas
                As the party had not been to the cottage in Sethshire in a season, there was much in the way of cleaning that need to be done: the grass must be tended, the flower beds must be tilled and replanted, the trimmings along the sills must be cut and the vines of ivy growing languidly about the house must be pulled back from the windows to allow the warm of the sun to pervade the glass. A short journey to Sethshire town was proposed for all the items necessary in the maintenance of the cottage and environs. Half the party would remain in the house sweeping the floors, replacing the linens and taking charge of any spider removal, and half the party would venture to the seaside town for the needed materials.
                After an hour or so of titivating the cottage and carrying the collection of spiders safely off to the nearby edge of the Tuar Forest, the commander sat in the kitchen to rest and enjoy some tea while the remainder of the party continued with what work could be done while waiting for the others to return. She was soon joined by her father who, after having trimmed the hedges and replaced the stones in the archway of the bridge himself, was milling about the house and making a thorough inspection of it.      
                “What do you think of it, father?” the commander said, smirking to herself and knowing by his countenance that he enjoyed the house very well.
                “This is real nice, Bou,” said Jaicobh after a moment’s pause. “You got here two floors, good piece land, pond for the little ones.” He gazed at every corner of the large kitchen and his expression soon saddened. “You didn’t build this yourself.”
                “By the Gods, no. I couldn’t build something this splendid, not with all my years of farmstead repairs and fence mending,” she said smilingly. “Shayne is a very proficient carpenter, Tomas as well. I’m certain that the two of them together could contrive something similar if they had the time and supplies to do so. Perhaps even Aiden and Adaoire could do as well. They did rebuild our farmhouse after all.”
                “Aye, that they did. But this must have cost you a right fortune, Bou.”
                The commander could hear the remorsefulness and conscious disappointment in her father’s voice. She felt the impending remonstrance fast approaching and she sought to quickly squelch it. “Not when split three ways, I assure you,” she said with polite firmness.
                “Three ways for a house this big? Darlin’,” Jaicobh pleaded, “You can’t tell me you didn’t give up a few years of your commander’s compensation for this. I would’ve helped you-“
                “It was all done before you returned to us, father,” she insisted. “Now we have only to sit and enjoy it, or rather to enjoy pestering one another over the matter of the price and if it was worth the determined sum.” She sipped her tea and gave her father a sharp look.
                Jaicobh placed his hands on his hips and rejoined, “You know I’m gonna ask you now, Bou.”
                “It was handed to us for the first price we offered, which was relatively low for a cottage of this splendor. As I was made to understand, this charming house belonged to one of the lords in Sethshire Greater. After numerous attempts to produce an heir with his lady with no success to follow, he thought it advisable to separate from her rather than take a ward.”
                “How terrible,” Jaicobh said quietly,
                “How noble,” the commander corrected him. “Even more scandalous, he wished to keep the separation a great secret from the Church as to not incur any injurious remarks on that account. He gave the lady a comfortable living, sold all his properties here and removed to Varalla where he could enjoy all the comforts of obscurity and the serenity of a mistress who could give him what he so desired. He was so desperate to have it all done as soon as possible that he took whatever we offered.”  
                “What did you offer?” Jaicobh made a short glance to the side.
                The commander sat forward in her chair and observed her father with circumspection.“Why are you so interested in how much this-” She paused, realized to whom she was speaking, and then said, “No, I will allow you to compensate me.”
                “I don’t like that you and your man brought this all by yourself,” Jaicobh ardently contended.
                “We did not purchase this cottage on our own. Unghaahi carried the chief of it, father, I assure you.”
                “Well,” Jaicobh pouted, folding his arms. “I’m a father. I’m allowed not to like my family payin’ for things.”
                “You will be gratified to know that it was a present for Kai Linaa. The land is in her name, father. Therefore, I am obliged to tell you nothing about price or particulars.”
                “Bou,” Jaicobh sighed in entreaty.
                “No,” she shook her head. “I shall not submit. I know you are in a humour to guilt me, but after being your daughter for a great many years and living with an obdurate giant, I am immune to all forms of conscience.”
                Just then, the party from town returned to the house and Kai Linaa was first to enter the kitchen. She gave her smiles to see Jaicobh and the commander together and was disposed to display the sand pails and sandals she discovered in town when her appearance was treated with sudden fright on the commander’s side.
                “Kai Linaa, you must escape,” she warned her. “My father wishes to interrogate you on the price of this house and reimburse you for it.”
                Kai Linaa dropped her articles immediately and moved to run away but was impeded by Jaicobh’s firm glance.
                “If you believe Adaoire was insufferable with his guilt the last time we were here, do consider that my father has at least a hundred years more of experience.”
                Kai Linaa gasped in terror, knowing that any remorse Jaicobh, the kindness man in Frewyn, could conjure within her should destroy her spirits and melt her soul. She took a few steps to flee when she stopped and observed, “Actually, Mr MacDaede, I don’t know how much they paid. Unghaahi never told me.”
                Jaicobh made a suspicious look but Kai Linaa’s broad grin conveyed that she was irreproachable.
                The danger of being attacked with guilt was over, and Kai Linaa sighed in relief. “You’ll have to ask Unghaahi if you want to know.”
                “I would love to see a match of Haanta civility against Tyferrim guilt,” the commander said. “I daresay you shall lose to the most diplomatic creature on the Two Continents, father.”
                At that moment, Sheamas entered the kitchen, but in hearing the exchange taking place immediately leapt away to save himself from his father’s guilt-tendering inquiries. It was the business of every Tyferrim child to feel compunction on his parent’s account, but due to the over-willingness of the parent to assist, and Sheamas would not be subject to such feelings of remorse by his father again. He warned others with less resolve than himself to stay away from the kitchen at present, and due to the nature of the conversation, everyone obeyed.    
                Jaicobh pleaded with his daughter for some time in the same style but she being too used to his brand of culpability would not concede.
                “You realize I shall give you an arbitrary number to appease you,” was her final word on the subject.
                Jaicobh grumbled and wished his family would not be so inclined to disallow him the advantage of his goodwill. “Where’s your man? He’ll tell me,” he asserted.
                “He’s just as stubborn as you are, father, if not more so. You shall be lecturing him all day with nothing to show for it but an exhausted will.”
                “Aye, well,” he said, going to search the cottage, “I’ll feel better for havin’ tried. Don’t no one want help around here.”
                He wandered off with thundering steps, and when he had gone, Kai Linaa sidled the commander and stared in Jaicobh’s wake.
                “I’ve never heard of him so upset,” Kai Linaa observed.
                “You must understand, Kai Linaa. My father is at his happiest when doing something for others, whether it is building a fence, paying for a home or saving the world. He must always be useful to someone for his own serenity. You see now why he rarely leaves his farm.”
                Kai Linaa laughed and with all the pleasantness Jaicobh’s kindly character could afford, she replied that she did.


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