Books, Characters, Location, Research

MacDougal snippet, Christmas 1871, part 3

Amelia and Ross MacDougal have gone upstairs after their new wedding, held to replace the signed contract that brought her West. She’s just read her family Bible and discovered twins run in her family.

Amelia closed the book and placed both hands on her belly. Suddenly she began undoing the buttons which kept her skirt closed. Not understanding, Ross helped her to stand and drop the lovely wedding skirt.

“Look!”

She pointed to her belly. Since she had slept downstairs, or tried to sleep as the baby was very active at night, he hadn’t seen her without clothes for weeks. Though she was happy about the wedding, something bothered her. She said she was embarrassed to be so big, but she wouldn’t look him in the eye when she said it. He thought her blossoming figure was the most beautiful he’d ever seen.

A ripple ran over her belly, then something the size of his bent thumb pressed out on one side. When it went in another came out toward him.

“Now I understand why I’ve been feeling like there’s a monster inside me.”

“Is that why you were crying out in the barn?”

She thrust out her quivering jaw and nodded. He groaned and swept her onto his lap with her knees to his left. He pressed her head against his shoulder. His thick linen shirt absorbed her hot tears while he cursed himself for a numbwit.

A few weeks earlier he’d found a dead calf with too many legs. He’d mentioned it to Gillis because the mother had milk and no calf, while another cow had twins. They tied the hide around the twin so it would smell like the dead calf and the mother would accept it. The process worked well, but Amelia must have heard him call it a monster. Since then, she’d lost the happiness of a blooming bride. She still smiled, but there was a shadow behind her eyes.

“Monsters happen, Amy. It’s part of nature.” He pressed her tight against him. Something hit him hard in the belly. “Hey! Was that the baby?”

She coughed a laugh. “You should feel it from this side. She, or they, don’t like being pressed on.”

“No wonder you can’t sleep at night.” He frowned at her. “Is that why you don’t want me to sleep with you, because you believe I might think you’re carrying a monster?”

Her expression proved he didn’t need her to say anything. He pulled her snug, more carefully this time. “Kestrel, I may not have chosen you as my wife, but there’s no other woman I want in my life. As long as you are alive and mine, we can get through anything.”

After a few minutes her sniffles slowed. She relaxed in his arms, the tension of the worry and the wedding flowing out of her. A soft sigh, and she was asleep.

He watched her belly flex and ripple while he held her. His child, or children, were in there. A blessing to have one healthy child. It would be a miracle to have two. His mother’s people rarely had more than one babe at a time. It was known, but more as a legend. He silently, humbly, pleaded to whatever gods and spirits were listening, that he wished for Amy to survive the birth. If possible, one child would be healthy. In the back of his mine he hoped for a son to seal their futures, but that would be asking too much. A healthy wife and child were all he wanted.

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