The House Over the Hill
The family left, leaving the two of them alone in their bower. “We know where we stand and what is going on, or so we think,” Eitilt held Bee Bee while he stroked her hair. “The immediate threat…we are prepared for that as much as we can be. Now, I think it is time to ask the question. How did you come into possession of the family jewels? Cecil said they were part of the horde that they left with the MacBreen family for Arthur’s keeping. Since Arthur had no visible dragon markings, he probably lived out his life as human and then passed on into the bosom of home. But he would have left descendants, I think. Possibly your descendants as well. And that is how the jewels came into your possession.”
“Well yes, but the flaw in your thinking that I am related to you is that I am female. And no females have ever been born into the House of the Son.”
“We are talking dragon mating with dragon. We have not mated with human except for the first Mer’lyn. Then Keevan and Dechtire. There are exceptions to every rule, Bee Bee. And Arthur might have been dragon in his bones, but his mother was human. And there might have been enough of the human-Mer’lyn-genetic-mix in Keevan that Arthur would never pass as dragon.” Eitilt sat back against the headboard and took Bee Bee with him. “Now here is a thought. During sex, you present as dragon. What if…” he paused, “what if the only way wynd ryders are born is to have a dragon who is descended from the first Mer’lyn and some sort of human heavy/dragon mix for parents? And let’s say, that true to their overriding human genetic markers, this child that is produced lives as human. Perhaps a bit longer and is healthier, but just like you, no one would be able to tell they had a dragon for an ancestor.”
“So can males be wynd ryders?” she asked.
Eitilt shrugged. “Or is it only the females that they give life too?” he shrugged, again.
“Do you think, do you think Dechtire and Keevan knew on which side of the line Arthur fell?”
“I think, my everlasting love,” his voice was gentle, “that we would have known,” he smiled at her and tightened his grip on her hand. “That you would have never sacrificed yourself if Arthur was capable of flight. Cecil would have fought so you could escape with our son and return with him when he was older. And not the other way around. I know Cecil did not question you about doing this. Obviously, he would have given his life for yours.
I can safely say, he will not ever do that again no matter what you order. He will stand until he falls so that you are safely, away.”
Bee Bee was quiet. “We would not have parted with our son…” her hand gripped his tighter, “we wanted him to survive,” she felt the beginning of tears. “If I would have left with him,” she sobbed, “they would have tracked us across the ley lines.”
“Yes,” he held her to him. “Yes, Rowan follows in Ryland’s evil steps closely. We did this so our son would survive.”
“My gawd, Eitilt, what type of monsters are they?”
“The kind that would eat their own young, my wife,” he held her that much closer. The tears started down her face. “We knew, we knew what would happen to our boy,” she shook with the remembering of holding her infant son and knowing she had to leave him with someone else to raise. That he would call Mother and Father someone who would love him and cherish him because she would not be able, too.
They were wrapped in each others arms with her head resting against his chest. “Not this time,” she said wiping her nose, tears still falling. “They do not fucking get away with it this time.”
“No,” he said with vehemence, “no they do not.”
Lifting her tear-streaked face to his she whispered, “Do you think Cecil remembers how to get to Arthur’s safe house?”
“I am sure he does,” Eitilt said placing his forehead on hers.
“I think I would like to see where he grew up. And try to understand how Granny’s family came to be.”
“No time like the present,” Eitilt hugged her closer to him. “Cecil,” he spoke, “if you have a moment, please.”
Cecil was most specific as he looked at the map. “My Queen, there was a river and a village. The manor house was outside by a bit and a bit. It would be this village they now call Slane. Do you see, there sits the runes on what they call the Hill of Slane. The manor is East of there. I have no doubt.”
“Well, fine then,” she smiled. “Let up pack a picnic lunch and be on our way first thing tomorrow.”
“Yes, my Queen. And where do I acquire a picnic, from?”
Eitilt suppressed a smile. Some words Cecil was not familiar with and it was charming to watch him assimilate. “If you like, Cecil, you may ask Sandra to tell one of the cooks that we required a picnic basket, for tomorrow. I want the nice china and silver and some crystal goblets. Egg mayo on a whole grain bread and some type of hearty meat sandwich as well. I think, once we arrive where our son grew up, I will be in the mood to eat an entire sheep and that is probably not good for the farmer or me.”
“Yes my King,” Cecil bowed and smiling was out the door.
It rained all that night and into the early morning hours. Bee Bee thought she should sleep but found it impossible to do so. From a time that she did not remember, she had birthed a son and had left him for another to raise. Today she would see for herself where Arthur had lived and been loved.
Her husband was not asleep, either. “The rain hitting the roof,” she spoke softly as she turned to Eitilt, “you would tell me that the rain drops were the tears of your never-ending joy that Arthur and I had brought to your life.”
“I love you with all that I am,” he replied as he pulled her onto the top of him. “Sleep now, my beloved. We are here and our son is protected in the bosom of home until he is once more safe in our arms.”
It was a cold rain when they woke. The air damp, chilly, and not wanting to give way to the sun that they knew was theirs to claim as the morning progressed. They loaded the car with food, drink and Cecil.
“I have never been outside The Gate,” he said in a hushed whisper. “This is exciting. It will be good to travel these roads and see the sights. Sandra has said that the rain will clear away shortly and we shall have sunshine.”
“Sandra is correct,” Eitilt said as he started the car. “Dragons are never wrong about the weather. If you blow a little smoke, the pressure dictates if the smoke goes, up, down, or straight across. You can gauge the weather by this. Also the weather app on your phone,” he chuckled, “works as well.”
The drive North was pleasant. The rain did stop and the sun did come out, making the green countryside sparkle like a million jewels.
Cecil was enchanted by the hedgerows. “I can see,” he kept saying, “how that would work. You just drive the cattle from pasture to pasture. Very clever, that. No wonder you picked this time to shelter Prince Arthur. Ryland would not think to look for him in such a bucolic setting. He could not abide the quiet. And must always be surrounded by folk and noise. He believed all others felt the same as himself. And finery….” Cecil rolled his eyes. “Nothing was ever splendid enough. When he came to court, he must always outshine his king and queen.”
“Interesting,” Eitilt glanced in the rearview mirror at Cecil. “Rowan is the same way.”
“Rotten fruit with blow-flies, both of them,” Cecil responded with disgust.
“Yes, there,” Cecil pointed ahead as they started down the hill and headed for the next one. “The house with four chimneys and the remains of the old fort. This is the place.”
“We checked on-line last night. The tour starts at twelve-thirty. We’ll have lunch and then we’ll go inside.” Eitilt squeezed Bee Bee’s hand. “He was loved, my dearest,” he said. “Let’s eat, you’ll feel better and I will also and this should prevent me from wanting to go and flame Rowan’s ass wherever he is this minute.”
Once they paid to enter the estate, they were invited to picnic, just to clean up after themselves. “I want to see the barn,” Bee Bee said, unwrapping her sandwich. “Let’s walk and eat. Arthur would have been taught to ride.”
Sitting on a bale of hay, she could not take her eyes off the support beam in the middle of the stables. Finbar was carved on one side and Arthur on the other. There were marks cut into the wood, showing the boys growth and at certain stages a name; Bee Bee supposed that to be of a horse, carved by that tick mark.
She could not bring herself to touch it, for fear she would somehow mar the perfection of what was before her. “He was tall,” her eyes rested on the top mark, “like his father,” she smiled as Eitilt stood, his hands hovering above the marks.
The bell from the courtyard was ringing. It was time to start the tour.
“Small pox and the great famine,” Hugh the guide said, as they went through the house, “just about finished off the family. The oldest son, Finbar, and the youngest son, Arthur survived. Finbar survived the pox but that is about all that can be said for him. It left his body ravaged. Eventually he married a widow with children. Arthur, the baby of the family, was not infected and after his brother married, immigrated to the U.S. The family records say he landed in Boston. Fought in the War for Independence and eventually moved on to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and married.
When Finbar died, so did all contact with Arthur and eventually the bank took possession of the land. There was no one to work the fields and there was no money for buying seed. Livestock was out of the question. It is not noted what happened to the rest of Finbar’s family, other than they returned to Cork County after his death. The English gave the deed to Lord Admiral Smithson and his family keeps it going to this day. They come out on weekends and holidays.”
“Thank you so very much,” Eitilt responded in the Gaelic as they returned to the main floor.
“Yes, thank you,” Bee Bee and Cecil both responded in the same language as their group headed out the front door.
“Needs repair,” Eitilt said as they walked toward the car. “Starting with a new roof on not only the house but all the buildings. Original, everyone of them. Eventually the family will have to start selling off the furnishing if they want to keep the house and lands. Tourism is not going to help them pay the bills this estate is racking up.”
Getting into the car they drove out past the gate and pulled into the first turn-off on the hedgerow. Eitilt held out his arms. Bee Bee crawled into his lap and they both cried. For what was and for what had never been and for the painting of the ten-year old boy on his horse above the fireplace. Arthur was the spitting image of his father. Black hair, green eyes and a serious face with a hint of mischief about him.
“I want the house and all the furnishing,” Bee Bee hiccupped. “Every last thing that our boy touched,” she sobbed.
“Yes,” Eitilt nodded, tears in his eyes. “Yes. All of it. Our son shall grow up here with his parents. Time to get started on that.”