Story for the Day: Two Such Doting Fathers
Aldus and Searle are always professional when in the company of others, but the moment their daughter is before them, they become a wreck of fondness for the girl who made them happier than they ever thought they could be:
The presence of Rosamound, as she quietly walked into the room, interrupted their moment of unreserved affection, but before Searle and Aldus could detach themselves from one another and move away their chairs, Rosamound, coming to the threshold with a silent step, saw with what unabated regard her parents doted on each other, their hands entwined, their heads leaning atop one another, their shoulders touching, their sides pressed together. She had caught glimpses of their open admiration before: by the fire in their sitting room, at their dinner table, at their writing desk, always when they thought she was not looking, but growing up in so quiet and loving a house, where every gesture and expression was revered, she could not but be aware of a touch, a glance, a momentary protest of unyielding admiration. Affection was never suppressed in their home; it was rather coveted and respected, to be shown to her when she was by and to one another when she was not. Catching them in the midst of their fond professions was an employment she forever enjoyed, and seeing her two fathers relinquish their practiced professionalism in favour of their more endearing attitude was all her private regale. The creak of the door when she pushed it farther open summoned the scudding of chairs, the rearranging of robes, the adjustments of hats and tailcoats, and as she passed the threshold, Searle was standing with the teapot in his hand, Aldus was sitting with the cup in his, and Searle was in the midst of asking whether Mr Craughliedh would care for any sugar, when they turned, pretending not to have been rapt in the throes of doting appreciation, and seemed genuinely surprised to find their daughter entering the room.
“Ros,” said Aldus, standing and opening his arms to embrace her.
She came forward and was instantly welcomed with all the devotion that two such conscientious fathers could afford. After the pleasantries were gone through and Searle apologized for not being able to see whether she had got anything to eat beyond the breakfast they had aet together that morning due to his tending to the preparations for the evening celebration in the Great Hall, Aldus began assailing her with the anxious entreaties of “Did the noise disturb you? Was your reading interrupted? Were you unable to concentrate? You may take the remainder of your work into my office and finish it there. The fire is still lit from this morning, and the blankets have just been pressed. You will be warm and well-furnished in there. Do not stay in the treasury to be cold.” He caressed her cheek with his thumb and passed his hand through her long cinereous locks.
“Have you aet anything since breakfast, my dear?” Searle added, with a beseeching look. “It is nearly late afternoon, and you should have something if you do not mean to go to the banquet in the evening.”
She smiled at their earnest consideration and said, in a diffident voice, “Thank you, but I did have something small not long ago. I managed to finish the rest of the receipts before the noise was much, but I did not hear most of the cheering in the treasury. It was only when I came upstairs that I heard the chief of the noise.”
“At least you were not upset by their riotous goings-on,” said Aldus. “I have rarely heard such a tumult in the keep. Someone might tell them that holidays need not be noisy things. We always have a pleasant and quiet holiday by the fire. Would that most of the rest of the celebrants do the same.”
Rosamound looked subrisive and said something civil about those who were more disposed to high revel being permitted to celebrate as they would just as those who delighted in a quieter style of revelry were allowed to celebrate amongst themselves. Aldus heard none of it, however, or he heard and did not care to agree, and he only drew his robes about himself and glunched, not wishing to ever disagree with his daughter, but hating the increase of noise all the same.
“I have a dinner prepared for both of you while I must be away,” said Searle, straightening Rosamound’s collar for her. “It will be brought into you whenever you are ready, and we can have tea together after the celebration in the hall is cleared away. Will you like that, my dear?”
“Yes,” Rosamound smiled, “I will.”
“Your father means to stay with you, my dear, if you will absolutely stay at home.”
“I will. I believe I should rather that.”
“A sensible and a good girl,” Aldus crooned. “Why cannot all young people follow her example? None of them knows how to properly amuse themselves. They must all be hollering and leaping about to have anything that resembles amusement. We will have our own amusement. We have our game of Ardri to finish from yesterday, and I believe I was winning.”
“I only let you think so,” said Rosamound, with sagacity. “I have a strategy planned.”
“And I have two of my own to work on your half of the board. We shall see which of us proves the better strategist. Probably you.”
Rosamound’s cheeks blushed with smiles, and Aldus was all doting affection.