Story for the Day: Of Suet Pie
Suet pie, depending how it's made, is not my favourite thing in the world. Sheamas has an interesting way of disposing of the crusts, but his secretive schemes cannot last forever.
Meraliegh’s gift secured and the sun making its gradual descent over the horizon, Sheamas closed the shutters to his shoppe, turned the open sign closed, and locked the door with a happy sigh. He went to the cellar to fetch the coarse salt and brick dust that his wife requested, and while he was there, took a second rack from storage and hung it on the smoking hooks. A pile of fresh sawdust was gathered beneath it, a hot iron was applied, and as the dust began to billow with curls of white smoke, Sheamas took the hinged bell jar from the corner of the cellar and clasped it around the rack.
“That’s gonna smoke real nice,” he hummed, remarking his work. “Maybe I oughta make two. Once the Den Asaan smells this, he’s gonna want one. He’s got a nose that can smell what I’m makin’ ten miles off.”
He placed another fresh rack under the glass and cleared the cellar flues before moving to the pantry to retrieve what his wife had asked for. A small measure of brick dust and coarse salt were poured into a small sack, but before Sheamas returned to the stair, he stopped, smiled and said to himself, “She’s gonna need some of this too.” He took a small box of soda ash from the middle shelf, and with his items in hand, leapt from the cellar to the shoppe to the apartment above. At the end of the hall, he found his wife, sitting at the kitchen table and poring over the orders sent from Shirse. He placed the brick dust and salt upon the table, and after she began with “Oh, Sheamas, could you also bring up the-“ silenced her by placing the soda ash directly beside her documents.
“Already done, mho cri,” Sheamas said smilingly, taking the seat beside her.
Margilesse’s eyes sparkled, and her cheeks tinged with a slight blush as she leaned forward and kissed her husband. “I’ll begin preparing dinner, and while that’s baking, I’ll finish filling out the orders for Shirse.”
Sheamas took his hat from his head and placed it on the table, his hand combing through his matted hair as he yawned and leaned back in his chair. “What’s for supper?”
“I thought I’d make another suet pie,” she said, perusing the rest of her papers.
Every former agitation rushed on Sheamas, and he stared at his wife. “Oh, aye?” he said, his voice tremulous and his aspect in feigned excitement.
“You ate the last one so quickly, my dear, I thought I would make another.”
The cheerfulness and expectancy with which it was said beleaguered Sheamas’ heart. He made a nervous laugh and turned aside, desperate to tell her of his dislike for her favourite meal but uncertain how to proceed without destroying all her exultation. Perhaps the revelation might be deferred, perhaps there was something to be ate on the way back from conveying their son home from the keep. A smoked fish from the closing market might do for him, but if his son should tell her- there was no escaping so horrid a fate. He must eat whatever she should make, but perhaps he might be feeling unwell or he might be too tired from so fatiguing a day to finish everything on his plate. There he would be safe until the pie could be secreted away to the shelter or given to the swineherd’s sows, but the more machinations and excuses he contrived, greater the ill feeling in his heart became. He must tell her, for the longer he should hide his aversion, the situation should only worsen with time.
Noting her husband’s downcast eyes and terrified looks, Margilesse lay her documents aside and took her husband’s hand. “What is it, Sheamas?” she said sweetly, her eyes wide and glittering, and her lips in a suppressed smile of concern.
The flush of his wife’s cheek, her doting countenance, and her small fingers wrapping tightly around his large hand ruined all Sheamas’ composure. No longer could he deceive so stunning and devoted a woman, though the truth should pain her considerably. It was wrong, he knew, to keep such a secret from her, but he would rather succumb to all the wretchedness of falsehoods than to injure her sensibilities. What would have been a mild shame must now be a mortifying distress, and while it would have pained her before to know the truth, the impending blow was expatiated by his reticent actions. He must atone his behaviour, and with a most remorseful look, he took his wife’s hand, gently kissed her fingers, and said, “Mho cri, mho gra, you know you’re my heart’s true love, and I love you more than I love you and Cub more than I love anythin’ in the world…” He stopped there, silenced by her attentive and anxious appearance. He exhaled and lowered his head, the ignominy of his transgression overpowering him.
More sensible of Sheamas’ indignity than perhaps he was aware, Margilesse smiled at her husband’s ruefulness. She could be under no mistake as to why her husband was so aggrieved, and he had suffered long enough to repent for his moderate offenses. “If you would rather have something else-“
“Aye, somethin’ else,” Sheamas interposed, his features brightening. “Better save the pie for another time. Can’t have too much of a good thing.” He made a meek smile and looked away, quietly thanking the Gods for his slender escape. “You take good care of me, mho cri,” he purred, drawing his wife into his lap and resting his forehead against hers.
She simpered as their noses touched. “Next time, I’ll make two pies since you enjoy sharing them with Moraig.”
There was a pause, on Margilesse’s side all decided satisfaction, and on Sheamas’ side all agitated horror. He inhaled, wanting to explain the whole history of the business to his wife, but her disappointed expression was enough to sink him into silence.
Margilesse was not a disenchanted as her pursed lips would recommend; her heart was softened against her husband, but a confession would smooth away any lingering disconcertion. “Beryn is right, Sheamas,” she said, “women can hear through walls, but we can also see through windows.” She raised a brow and canted her head, and pretended to be as disillusioned as the situation suggested.
Frannach, she’s murderin’ me, Sheamas thought, unable to screen himself from her disapprobation. His pain, he perceived, was greater than hers, and he was more sorry that she had observed his deceitful actions than he was for having lied. He gave his wife a repentant look, and in a mortified voice, said, “I’m sorry, mho cri. I know you love makin’ ‘em, and I don’t ever wanna take the joy of it away from you, but-“
“You don’t like them.”
“No,” and then he quickly added, “but it’s got nothin’ to do with your cookin’. You know I love how you make everythin’ else. Just not too fond of that. I couldn’t tell you ‘cause I didn’t wanna upset you. I know I shouldn’t’ve waited, but-“ He sighed and shook his head. “I’d deserve it if you’d never forgive me. I’ve been real terrible.”
Margilesse would not agree to this, for though her husband may have erred in one instance, he was right in every other way. A husband so amiable and amorous, generous and dedicated, could only recommend himself as a model of attachment. She should never suffer to be angry with so caring and constant a creature. His penance was all her retribution, and she would not allow him to wallow long in disconsolation and despair. She placed her hand on his square jaw and smiled at him. “If you promise to share Beryn’s mead with me-“
“Done,” was Sheamas’ instant avowal. “If you’re forgivin’ me just like that, I’ll give you a whole keg.”
Margilesse raised a brow.
“All right, I’ll give you both.”
She humphed in triumph, satisfied with the terms of Sheamas’ contrition. “And,” she said presently, “I demand being on top for the rest of the week.”
Sheamas grinned, and all the consternation that had hitherto plagued him was done away. “That’s a deal I ain’t sayin’ no to,” he professed, ardently embracing his wife.