Story for the Day: Signs of Growth
Signs of Growth
After a day of trials, the evening had at last reached its summit of tranquility: Jaicobh and Calleen had gone for a together walk along the castle battlements, Rautu and Hathanta went to the training yard to begin their match at Hophsaas, and Sheamas was disposed to dozing in his comfortable chair while the commander superintended the two children at the kitchen table.
Their activities soon moved to the floor where Soledhan and Jaicobh joined the former’s large white cat lounging at Sheamas’ feet. As the two children seemed to be determined to continue their games and lively conversation while on the ground, the commander procured warmed drinking chocolate and drawing paper for them, furnishing them with coloured chalks and crayons as she sat beside them with some warmed almond milk in her hand. Although Little Jaicobh and Soledhan were having their own blithesome merriment between themselves, all the commander’s gaiety was in watching them: Soledhan performed the office of speaker and Little Jaicobh took the role of listener and laugher. Every phrase Soledhan iterated warranted a giggle from his cousin, and through their pursuits of drawing and colouring, they remained in perfect coalescence with one another’s tempers: Soledhan made the lines, Little Jaicobh gave them hue and form; one made a suggestion, the other agreed; one exhibited his artwork, the other lauded and cheered.
The two children were in the height of their good humour and high spirits, giggling and chattering the night away, when Sheamas was roused from his languid slumber by their tiny voices. His eyes peeled open and he smiled at his son and nephew, watching them play together in his state of pleasant drowsiness.
The commander simpered at her brother’s lethargic smiles and patted his leg. “Now you know why Hathanta is so indispensible,” she said, sipping her milk. “His attendance keeps me from falling asleep earlier than is tolerable for one of our age.”
“Aye, kin,” Sheamas yawned.
The commander grinned and shook her head as her brother began drifting into slumber once more. She studied the two children, descried their manners and characters, and after a few minutes of seeing their blending dispositions, she began to wonder if their fellowship was the same as that of Otenohi and Unghaahi. Soledhan could not be called sinister in his japes as Otenohi could, nor could Little Jaicobh be considered as proprietous or mountainous as Unghaahi, but she thought that the good humour and equal agreeableness spent between them must have been similar to the close connection between their two giant counterparts. She smiled for it being so; all her aspiration was that the cousins should be more brothers than not, and they did seem more as brothers, barring their differing appearances, for they were always together in their lessons and slowly becoming the most intimate of friends. It was true that Little Jaicobh had a late bloom for speech and general maturity, but she supposed this was due to the trauma of losing so exquisite a mother early in his life. She began to consider what each of them would be like when older: their persons, their builds, their heights, their proclivities, their temperaments; her mind began to fathom their professions, their mates, but soon, all her fancies ceased when her awareness became active to what her eyes were perceiving.
From a dare Soledhan had made his cousin to balance the bowl of the spoon on his own nose, Little Jaicobh had taken the spoon from his chocolate into his hand, and instead of licking the end and placing it on his button nose, he took both ends into his little hands, placed all his attention upon it and began to bend it. He bent it until the bowl and the handle were touching and then held it up to show his cousin. “Look, Soledhan,” he exclaimed with a toothy grin. He gave the coiled spoon over to his cousin and entreated him, “You do!”
The commander, mesmerized by the event, plucked the spoon from Soledhan’s hand and stared at it with vehemence. She examined the sturdiness and the heaviness of the item and surmised that a child of his age and size should not have been able to twist so solid an item with such little force exerted. “Sheamas . . .?” the commander said, rapt in wonderment while gaping at the spoon.
Sheamas sat up in his chair and his eyes fluttered. “Aye, kin?” he murmured in an accent laden with sleep.
She raised the spoon for him to assess. “Are you aware of your son’s talent to bend metal objects?”
Sheamas raised a brow and canted his head when scrutinizing the twisted spoon in his sister’s hand. “He’s too young and too small to bend this,” he said cautiously, taking the spoon into his hands and uncoiling it to its normal state. It was not difficult for anyone of moderate strength to do, but for a three-year-old as small as his son, Sheamas ruled it as impossible. He did not wish to deny his sister’s allegation but he must see it for himself. “Cub,” Sheamas said, slinking down from his chair and onto the floor. “You wanna show your Da how you bent this?”
The child grinned sheepishly at his father and shook his head.
“Aw, c’mon. I bet you can’t do it twice.”
A dare had been made and now the child could not resist. He took the spoon into his hand and without a flinch bent it completely in half.
Sheamas gawped at the article as his gloating son placed it into his hand. “Never seen him to that before,” he declared.
The commander kept her gaze on her giggling nephew and gazing his black hair as she said quietly to Sheamas, “I am well aware that you had no desire to raise him as a Haanta. I think it might be advisable, however, to allow Hathanta to inspect him. There may be something surfacing we do not quite understand.”
“Aye,” was all Sheamas’ wary reply.
“Shall I speak with him?”
Sheamas nodded and took his son into his lap as the commander hastened to the training yard where Rautu and Hathanta were just finishing their Hophsaas practice. He regarded his son in wonderment and bemusement, pleased that he should exhibit such a talent but confused as to what such a gift could be for. He held his finger up to him, encouraging to grab it and squeeze. He pried his hand from his son’s grip and shook it from the mild pain inflicted. His worry remained for a few moments, but seeing the red glow of his son’s cheeks and the sparkle of his blue eyes made him almost smile. “You got somethin’ special to share, don’t you, mho cri?” Sheamas purred, combing his son’s feathery hair. “Sure, you’re Ma would be proud and all.”
And she was proud.
From the hallway leading to the yeoman’s quarter, Jaicobh and Calleen, who were just returning from their walk, perceived a glowing figure standing behind Sheamas and the two children. The golden shimmer momentarily formed a smiling and familiar image and then faded just as Sheamas turned around to tell his parents the excellent news.