#NaNoWriMo 2014: To be a Bhean
Bhean is the word for young woman in Frewyn, but in Westren it's used as an affectionate and respectful term reserved for wives or close female friends. There aren't many who would use it in odd company, but it's always nice to hear it wherever and whenever it might be said.
Marseidh leaned over the counter, and said, in an audible whisper, “The man bets again’ ye
Eadmharid raised his brows. “Does he?”
“Heard ye were bringin’ the brigadesmen wit’yas,” said the groundskeeper, his attenuated fingers browsing a drawer of old letters. “Figured if they were trained by Tearlaidh, they oughtta give ye a good run for it.”
“I believe they will.” Here was a glance at Bhaunbher and Dirrald. “If they allow me to win and the hunt is over this evening, they have to return to the mountains.”
“Ah liek bein’ up there, “ said Bhaunbher, “but it’s good tae be in town again, even if onlae for a little while. And Ah’d liek tae see mah brother, if he’ll come. Eadmhaird, anybodae can come here tae visit, aye?”
“Aye, anyone is welcome at anytime.”
“Ah’d like to invite mah brother here for the hunt. Ah promised Ah’d see hem when Ah came doun. Is it o’ right if Ah have pen and paper from ye and ask ye tae send out a letter for meh? I’d pay for the sendin’ an’ everythin’.
“Never ye mind it, son, “ said Marseidh, her two eyes focusing on Bhaunbher for a moment before baltering off in opposing directions. “Ye just take pen and paper from yer room in the dresser, and when yer finished, ye bring the letter here and we’ll have it out by the Scoaleigh whenever yer wantin’, so we will.”
Bhaunbher bowed his thanks.
“Well, then, I outta give yis one o’ the larger rooms if yer havin’ a guest.” She wrote on the ledger before her, miffling and tootling to herself over their names and the number room they should be receiving, her better eye following the hand that was scribbling furiously away, but presently she stopped to ask, “And will yis lads be wantin’ a tent for outside or have ye brought one with ye?”
“Ah thenk we’ll be o’ right without a-yin,” said Bhaunbher. “We’re used tae sleepin’ without it.”
“Aye, like Eadmhaird, who likes to freeze himelf to death, sleepin’ under rock and snow just to set those traps o’ his.”
“It is well worth the effort,” Eadmhaird asserted. “The feast in the dining hall makes up for whatever trials I endure to provide for it.”
“And yerself proud, and so you should be. Yis lads are in for it, if yer stayin’ for the dinner. Ye’ll never eat again like ye do here, I’m tellin’ yis that.”
“Never,” said Gearrog, shaking his head with affected sincerity. “Marsiedh sure is tellin’ yous lad how it is: eat here, and ye walk out ten pound heavier. Ye never ate like ye do here, all ‘em vegetables piled up with salted butter and garlic, all ‘em meats, sliced and roasted just how ye like, all ‘em fruit tarts and pies—“ He sighed and looked pleasantly pained. “Borras, I’m starvin’ mesel’ just thinkin’ about it.”
“And it isn’t merely the fare, lads,” said Eadmhaird. “The ale here, and indeed everything on tap, are the finest brews in all of Westren.
“So the two oo’ yis’ll be stayin’ for dinner in the hall then?” said Marseidh, already writing their names on the dining registry.
Aimiably and honourbly it was said, but Marseidh felt the appellation in a more tender style; an address she had always been used to hear in her youth was being offered her again, flattering the slender vanity she still secreted away, and while her features remained crumbling and decrepit, and her eyes roved about at random, she could not but help a slight blush at hearing Bhaunbher address her so reverentially. Her eyes drew round to the middle, her jowels tinged with a muted erubescent glow, she grew coy, her shoulders curling demurely as much as the confines of her taut attire could allow. “Go ‘long with ye now, son,” said she, trying not to giggle. “I ain’t a bhean. Haven’t been one since I was a pretty thing many years ago now.” She gave an amorous sigh and clapped her hands together, causing her roaming eye to twirl. “Ye make an’ oljin feel young again, son.”
“Yer on yer way to a free room, I says,” said Gearrog, in a half whisper.
“Nonsense, son. He has a free room by bein’ in the brigade. He don’t need to make no compliment to me for that.”
“Perhaps you should have saved your flattery for when it would have counted,” said Eadmhaird, smiling.
Marseidh chuffed. “Go along wit’ ye now, sure’n it always counts, ‘specially to an oljin like me who hasn’t been called anythin’ half so nice in years.”
“Called ye that to ye the other day,” said the groundskeeper, in a quiet and wounded voice.
“And ye should so. Ye married me a bhean, and that’s what I am to ye, so I am.”
The groundskeeper stopped rustling his papers, righted momentarily, and exhaled before straightening his fine black doublet and returning to his work, rifling through a list of menus for those staying in the state rooms whilst trying to resist murmuring to himself of his having called her his bheanrin not ten minutes ago. It was useless, however, to beg a remonstrance here; he knew he was being provoked into professions, and he would make them later, once all their business for the day be over and the last insorbietious hunter succumb to a drunken sloom. It was the game they played for the better part of thirty years: he would love her, she would pretend not to hear his declarations, he would show his affection by why of private reminiscences , she would surrender her contrived injury and affront, and the game would begin again. To the observer, it seemed as though they were any cantankerous couple, one a haggard old gammer and the other a dry old stick, but to one another, they were the most unexceptionable person in the world. They teased, they taunted, but never in a bitter style or with an angry character; they were all for old wedded love, and their devotion to one another as business partners and collaborators betrayed a conjugal felicity and concordance that only those who are perfectly easy and loving with one another possess. Their playing at being an old disagreeable couple only served to strengthen the relationship they had cultivated and coveted over the better part of forty years, and though each did the chief of their duties with their backs facing one another, one managing about the grounds and settling the accounts in his white gloves and tapered suit, and the other arranging the matters of the house with indefatigable good wit and sensibility, their hearts were collocated in all the cares and minutiae of the day. A look was exchanged, one imperceptible to those who watched and thought they saw an accusatory glance, for in its feigned air of allegation was the indelible and unmitigated affection of forty years spent in joyous matrimony.
“A bhean so I am now,” said Marsiedh, trying to hide her flushing cheeks and failing miserably.