Story for the Day -- Paudrig's Hunt - Part 3
Paudrig, racing in from the common room in full gradulation, afforded him no opportunity of rest,
“No’ yet, Paudrig-son,” said Mithe, pulling a few oats from Fionntra’s hair. “Twas sent aff last night. ‘Twill be a few days before we hear from hem. He needs time tae receive it an’ then write a letter in reply.”
“Aw,” Paudrig lamented, his spirits diminishing.
“When it comes, son, Ah’ll no’ let ye wait a minute—“ She was interrupted by the sound of a familiar bell, clanging tintinabular and accompanied by the lowing of a certain freemartin. “Oh, tha’ll be Ronneigh. Ah’ll go oot tae see hem.”
Paudrig had a monent’s hope of there being a letter from Tearlaidh regardless of Mithe’s explications, but the instant he stood from the table, thinking to wait at the front door in anticipation of something, he remembered Tuatha, remembered his quest to secure her horns and subdue her ill temper, but the horns, after having beheaded a bear, seemed a mere trifle now. Horns were a meager trophy where a bear’s head was concerned, and what were the horns of an indolent cow when he might go in quest of a beast far more ferocious, promising teeth and claws, flame sacs and scales of gold and a hundred other more precious acquirements from legendary creatures roaming the church grounds. Horns were far too easily got for a hunter of his distinction, the acknowledgement of which made him finish his oats in solemn celerity and thrown down his spoon with firm conviction. “’Mon, Gaumhin,” he pronounced, pulling Gaumhin’s arm. “We have tae hunt the cockatrice before lessons.”
Gaumhin, staring absently into his bowl and eating his breakfast without tasting it, allowed himself to be dragged off to he garden, where Paudrig went in search of the church hen and discovered a trove of beasts and gapenests, monstrosities and fabulous fiends that were in want of taming: the baleful basilisk that lived in the fallen bough and tried to turn Paudrig to stone when he neared slid under a patch of moss and slithered away, the gruesome griffon that descended and perched on the white birches ate a few grubs and then flew into the rising sun, and the hideous tarantula that crawled its way through the grass and scaled the wall of the church, breathing fire and leaving trails of lingering smoke as it went-- all presented a wealth of adenventure for a child who only wanted to be out, improving his powers of woodland venery and availing himself of his endless imagination. To Gaumhin, the garden snake, the gorm flying over heat in search of a field mouse, and the long-legged spider were but common features on a land he had grown to love, but to Paudrig they were bounties to be banned and boasted. Gaumhin watched Paudrig in all his joyous endeavours, stalking after spiders and leaping over rock and bough, and once he was awake enough to join him in catching venomous worms in hopes of using them to lure the cockatrice, who was yet undiscovered, he must own himself gratified to see Paudrig so well pleased with his new home and so unaffected by how uninterested the other children were in being his friend.
Ciran, too, was pleased with Paudrig’s rapturous state, observing his blithesome diversions from the dining hall window, leaning back in his chair and eating Gaumhin’s leftover oats. His lips pursed in a broad smile to see the child so well satisfied with his place, and if he could have Gaumhin as a playmate and himself as a confidant, he should never have any scruples with regard to the child’s comfort. A hand touched his shoulder, and he turned to find Mithe standing at his side and sharing his admiration of the view.