Story for the Day: Knowing Cabhrin

Every family has its grievances. There is someone in the family circle who is disagreeable, disgruntled, or simply revolting, and being forced to spend the better part of a holiday in the company of such immense delights is as uncomfortable as it is undesirable. While Cabhrin Donnegal is not disagreeable or undesirable, trying to get him to visit is like pushing a cart sideways, and while no one likes to force him into paying his respects to the family, around the holidays his absence cannot but be felt:

Anyone who knew Cabhrin knew him as a first mate one of Frewyn’s premiere trade vessel, one reputable for its fishing and conveyance services along the northern and eastern coasts, supplying the kingdom with goods form the north, and as some reports implied, of fending off several attacks from Livanese pirates, which Cabhrin had himself never confirmed, probably for fear of worrying his mother. Cabhrin’s place on the Bear was one that all who went to sea knew well, and though not yet a captain even after many years under his own captain’s tutelage, Cabhrin was talked of everywhere as being one of the best sailors in the continents. It gratified Calleen to be able to boast of her son as being skilled in his profession, as much as any of her other children could be, but while Cabhrin was renowned at the ports from Sethshire to Kileen, his reputation as a dutiful and attentive son was wanting. Adaoire was aware of what Cabhrin’s shore leave meant, and while their mother might talk with excitement of how excellent a son Cabhrin was, glorifying the Donnegal name on the seas and working tirelessly toward his captaincy, Adaoire’s furrowed brow and downcast eyes conveyed very different feelings. He could not share in his mother’s enthusiasm being well acquainted with the minutiae of Cabhrin’s situation. Never would Adaoire keep news from his mother-- he should never omit anything from one of Breigh’s letters that would give her some semblance of reprieve from her material agitations-- but Adaoire had half a mind to return the letter with one of his own, castigating his brother for being so close to home and purposely abstaining from a visit. Glad as he was that Breigh would be spending the holiday with somebody, as the lonely master of the royal dairy was compelled to work every holiday and often spent holidays amoungst piggins and cheese rounds, but Adaoire could have wished Cabhrin at sea if he would not come home; his visiting with Breigh would give only give the master dairyman further excuse to stay in Glaoustre, and as Breigh was a most devoted correspondent, he would tell his mother everything without regard for her more secretive feelings. Every Donnegal was aware of the pain Cabhrin’s absence caused their mother, though she effected to conceal her distress with glowing professions, for while Cabhrin’s visit to his brother might appear as though he were making a very particular visit, full of goodwill and solicitation, his visits were a trick, meant to detract from the real reason Cabhrin preferred Breigh’s conversancy to theirs. Cabhrin never came home, a notion which always made Adaoire seethe with resentment; their mother might justify Cabhrin’s personal deficiencies with contrived meritorious claims, but Adaoire and Aiden saw his willful absence as an unforgivable slight. Reverence was owed their mother for the love and attention she had lavished upon them as children: she had done everything in her power to raise them with all the affection that an adoring mother could furnish, and though it could not be denied that some of her children had endured more trying time than others, Cabhrin was the last of the children to have been fortunate enough to remember the love of a sensible and conscious father. Mr Donnegal had been Cabhrin’s oracle: he had taught him everything, from learning how to read to making a curraugh, from tying flies to fishing--everything that a knowledgeable father could have granted a son who would follow his every word had been offered, but Cabhrin’s joyous adolescence had been stunted, cut down by the throes of illness and by his father’s want of memory. Disease had robbed Cabhrin forever of a father and a friend, and Breigh, how was so much like him in every particular, had been Cabhrin’s comfort: he bore his countenance, spoke with the same voice, mirrored his mannerisms and general quietness. Breigh was his ally in a house that was now divided between infection and misery, but their father’s unconsciousness bore Breigh away, sending him to Glaoustre for his apprenticeship at the royal dairy, that he might provide for the family as Aiden and Adaoire had done, leaving Cabhrin with a house to look after and children to help raise whilst their mother was forced to pander to the needs of a dying man who could no longer remember her. Mr Donnegal remembered none of his children when he roused from his two-year semi-conscious, destroying the aspiration of his father being well again that Cabhrin had dearly kept. His father and friend gone, Cabhrin was gone likewise, gone anywhere that was not the farmhouse, the farm, or Tyfferim; gone anywhere that would take him far away from all the dejection and anguish of losing a parent. He applied for an apprenticeship on a fishing vessel, and quitted Tyfferim when he received it, leaving his brothers to care for the farm and leaving his mother to care for a failing husband and several young children. Calleen never faulted Cabhrin for leaving, though Aiden and Adaoire might, for she could not blame him for doing what she had often considered doing herself: the liberation that being freed of an ailing husband would give—but she had children to consider. Fortunate was she that Jaicobh had come to look after them all, and when he had gone once her husband had roused from his ill-fated rest, her imprudence and happiness had brought Sheamas to the family, another child for Cabhrin to help care for. Cabhrin, however, had been in no state to look after another brother;  he was not the caregiver and nurturer that Calleen was, but he left the house in a bad way, done at the worst time, and while his family needed the income that his wages on a vessel would bring, they needed his presence more. Aiden and Adoire and Breigh were already gone on their early apprenticeships, but Cabhrin must go, however, out to sea, to learn his trade, to become a sailor, and to rediscover his equanimity