#NaNoWriMo 2014: Marseidh the Matron
ALAS! Nanowrimo is upon us! At the keep, we're 7000 words toward our goal! If you're participating in NaNo this year, put your word count in the comments and enjoy the story:
Dirrald’s courage was beginning to fail him, and all doubt and anxiety, which he had been forgetful of for the last few minutes, here revived.
“Fear not, lad,” said Eadmhaird quietly. “We can always ask the keeper when we register if he might not look up her name in the registry, just to be sure she is here. That will ease your heart.”
“Aye,” said Dirrald, beholden to Eadmhaid’s considerate attention, “it will.”
“How’d ye know Diarchaidhe’s daughter?” asked Gearrog.
“Grew up taegether in the orphanage. She was adopted and had tae move awae when her Ma passed on.”
“Shame it is, lad, when family and friends leave us. Ach, if anyone knows where she is, it’ll be Marseidh, the old matron. Good lass as they come, but mind her, lad, she’s got a matron’s face on her.”
Thought Dirrald wondered what Gearrog could have meant by ‘a matron’s face’, he soon found out, for the scowl and suspicious glare cast over the counter as they came to the registration desk acquainted Dirrald and Bhaunbher with Marseidh, the resident proprietor of the lodge. Her neat dress and clean appearance recommended her as the matron of so organized and well-managed an establishment, but her grey hair, smoothed back and twisted tight into two braids, her wandering eye which perpetually alternated between floating indolently in its socket and concurrently effecting to escape her head, her gnarled hands, the wikes round her mouth gullied and wrined, the lirks radiating outward from the corners of ther eyes, her forehead etched with profound furrows granted a something like senescence to the otherwise kindly and composed old woman. Her arms moved about in spite of her sclerotic and depreciating form, but her high-necked gown, pulled tight and secured with ribbon and lace at the back, kept together what nature would otherwise have seen disjoint. Whilst one eye went in quest of some secret mission, her stationary eye, which also tended to dirft at the peril of her face, amidst the wreck of her misshapen aspect betrayed whom amongst the crowd she was speaking to, and when Eadmhaird approached the counter, her eye swirled clockwise a few times before fixing on the hunter.
“Ah, Eadmhaird,” said she, in a musical lilt, “and what would ye be doin’ here so early now? Sure’n it’s not like you to be comin’ before the hunt starts. Yerself always showin’ up at the last moment, neither prepared or nothin’, just to take the win from ‘em all and make ‘em come back here sore-footed and sore-hearted. And yerself, Gearrog!” her better eye instantly turning toward the brickmaker, “Sure’n we haven’t seen you here this long while.” And then, in a more accusatory tone, she added, “And yerself stayin’ away so long. I should say malacht on ye fer not comin’ home to mind yer house. Sure’n don’t I look in on it when we go back to the cottage for the holiday? Hmph!” Her vagrant eye jostled about. “And who’re these two strappin’ lads?” narrowing her gaze at Dirrald and Bhaunbher as she leaned over the counter. Her better eye moved slowly up and down as she inspected the two brigadesmen whilst her other joggled off after a child leaping by. “Brigade lads,” said she, with firm decision, giving them a salute by way of a nod and a fervent pout. “Good we see yis now. None of yis have come to the hunts in the last while, busy with all yer business up there in the mountains. Haven’t seen Tearlaidh down here since his last brother was yet alive, Gods rest him. Well, yer work is impartant, so it is, so I won’t say nothin’.”
“But there ye have said somethin’,” said the groundskeeper, whose back was turned to them as he counted the keys hanging from the far wall.
“Aye, I’ve said somethin’,” Marseidh admitted, “and I’ll say more, I will so. Yer brave commander’s never come back when he promised us a visit. And us keepin’ his room ready for him all the while.”
“I’ve been keeping Commander Tearlaidh’s room for him,” Eadmhaird contended, with smiling interest. “Didn’t you tell me that my room was once his when you gave it to me?”
“Aye, I did so,” said Marseidh, snurling and turning aside, staring at Eadmhaird from he corner of her better eye, “but we kept another for him, thinkin’ he would visit, and sure he’s never come back. Well,” she sniffed, her divagating eye bobbing, “yis lads come here tae take his place now? Sure’n ye did, and the room’s all ready for ye how ye like—and don’t be shy about havin’ the garls up there wit’chas. We make no argument over the like here. Just yis keep yer hands to yerselves till she says, that’s all I’m tellin’ ye.”
She stabbed a finger at them, Dirrald and Bhaunbher flushed and hemmed, thinking it advisable to say nothing and allow the good lady to conjecture as she would, and Gearrog and Eadmhaird laughed to themselves.
“What’s all this laughin’, lads? Why ye lookin’ so blank on me?” Marseidh closed her wandering eye and stared at them with the stationary one. “Yer not foolin’ this old gran, so yer not. All the young garls be walkin’ around here for a bit o’ craic before the huntin’, and sure’n ye give it to ‘em, takin’ ‘em up there and havin’ yerselves a laugh. I don’t see the difference when comp’ny is comp’ny: yer gonna have it, or yer not, and that’s it so. Eadmhaird, yer room’s cleaned and ready for ye, son. Gearrog, yer fire’s been started—and don’t be tellin’ me nothin’ about not puttin’ the fire on till first snow,” stabbing a finger at his nose. “I know a snow when I smell it, and there may be none on the ground yet, but the air’s got that scent, and this ol’ nose is tellin’ no lies, lads. Yer hearin’ it from me now, so y’are, that by th’morra, Gods be praised, there’ll be snow on that ground.”
“I hope you’re wrong, Marseidh,” said Eadmhaird amiably. “The hunt will probably go on for a few days at least.”
“Ha!” Marseidh rasped. “Not if yer in it, son. This hunt’ll be done by the afternoon, that’s my wager.”