Story for the Day: Building Character
Many of the happiest people I know are those who work hard for little monetary compensation. Two of those people are Adaoire and Aiden. All that dirt builds character.
The twins left the Seadh Maith well-satisfied with the intelligence they had gleaned from Beryn: the drinks had done well to grant them an image of this woman who, by Beryn’s designs, was heralded as the greatest woman in all of Frewyn. The only thing left to do to complete the business was to convey the news to their family and friends, for having reveled in the delectable morsels of gossip for the better part of two hours, they were very ready to spread across the countryside. Their hands twitched, their fingertips grinded together, and the anticipation of their needing to tell someone of what they had just learned surmounted them. They gave Beryn all their congratulatory approbation, and once they had shaken hands, had embraced, had patted one another on the back, and had reminded Beryn of his promise to think about his coming to their home more often, they waited until Beryn was on his way to the farrier and out of hearing to say, “We gotta tell Lochan,” with utmost animation. They watched Beryn’s long shadow vanish as he walked toward the main part of town, and when he had turned into the craftsman’s row of the square, the twins hastened home, eager to be finished their work and to be at Lochan’s by early gloaming.
They arrived at the house all eagerness and smiles, ready to convey the handsome report whereupon they were met with disappointed looks from Triskillien and Dealenna. With the two women standing over the boys and scraping their faces clean, the twins could be under no mistake as to why their arrival was treated with a less than inspired glare.
“Beryn’s got a girl,” said Adaoire, hoping to vanquish the vicious stares he was receiving by relaying the excellent news.
“Aye,” said Aiden, averting his eyes from his wife’s glower, “A chandler too. Adaoire and me were thinkin’ we’d tell Lochan after we finish the harrowin’.”
“Of course,” said Dealenna, feigning a smile. “You can go after you clean the two boys we’ve been scrubbing.”
“Aw, Deal,” said Adaoire, in a lamenting voice, “A little dirt’s good for a boy.”
“Sure,” said Aiden, “That there dirt’s buildin’ character.”
“It is also leading to starving husbands,” Dealenna rejoined.
The twins groaned and look down at the boys’ bright eyes and brimming smiles. Fond looks were exchanged, and Aiden and Adaoire placed a hand under a each of the boys’ chins, rubbing their cheeks with their worn thumbs, their complexions tinged with the blush of fatigue and their eyes sparkling with the gleam of youthful mischief.
|Aiden doing what he does best:|
making love to his wife
“They weren’t doin’ no harm,” said Adaoire. “They were just helpin’ us harrow.”
It was said with marked fondness, one to quell all Dealenna’s qualms. The tension in her shoulders dissipated, and she sighed as she tucked the scrubbing brush into her husband’s hand. “Cleaning children also builds character,” she said, smirking. “Tris has another brush for you, Aiden. I’ll see to the dinner. If you’re going to visit Lochan, you should eat something before you take the long drive.”
The danger of being harangued by their wives over, the twins silently proclaimed their good fortune and began scouring their sons. The boys fidgeted and fussed and declared they should never help their fathers again, but at last they relented when Aiden said, “You can be dirty all you want when you’re older.”
“Aye,” said Adaoire, passing the bristles over his son’s shining nose, “you take after your old man, and when you’re full farmers, you can be dirty all you want.”
“Sure, by then you earn the right to come home smellin’ somethin’ terrible, and won’t need your Da and your Uncle to wash you.”
“The more you smell like the pigs, the happier you are. There ain’t no truer words I heard of.”
“And when you got two such beautiful girls to come home to,” said Aiden with a sagacious look to his wife, “you’re the happiest man there is.”
“Even happier if you come home and there’s a warm meal waitin’ for you,” said Adaoire in a hopeful tone.
Dealenna, who was standing at the range and placing the veal steaks in the skillet, smiled to herself and shook her head.
“There,” said Aiden, scrubbing the last smudges from Little Adaoire’s forehead. “Cleaner than you were when you started.”
“Aye,” said Adaoire, buffing his son’s hands, “and remember: bein’ dirty, smellin’ terrible, lovin’ your girls, eatin’ good food and drinkin’ spiced ale is the life the Gods intended for us farmfolk.”The boys made a firm nod, acknowledging that a life could be no better unless there should be caramel apples involved, and exchanged grins of immense partiality with their father and uncle, admiring them for their ceaseless exertion and their never lamenting their choice in profession a day in their lives.