Evening was beginning to fall and Martha wasn’t home yet. Sarah hoped everything was okay. She breathed a soft swear when she realized she was going to be in charge of tonight’s dinner. Hurriedly leaving her herbs Sarah went into the house to light the fire. It took a bit of coaxing but at last Sarah got it going. She set Travis to tend it. Then she went over to Griffon’s to light his kitchen fire. This one was even worse, having seemingly been doused with water rather than having been banked. Sarah grumbled at it until the fire finally took. She called Trevor in to tend this one.
How in the world did Martha manage this all, Sarah wondered, as she flicked from house to house. Ralph helped some by carrying things for her from one kitchen to another. He was no use with a knife, but apparently Trevor and Travis were. Even still Bear’s big boys, who chuckled to see the little one’s helping Sarah as they were, came home before dinner was set.
“Mother is still at the Temple with Ryan,” the youngest of the oldest informed them.
“I saw Uncle Greg consulting with Sir Ashton. He had a bandage round his ankle,” the second oldest added.
“Well I wish I’d known cause I’dve stayed at the Barracks for supper,” the eldest grumbled.
“Excuse me?” Sarah stopped serving them. “My father always made us take three bites before we could make any judgment about the food he served us.”
She set the pot down in the middle of the table, leaving the eldest to serve himself. All four of them were old enough, in Sarah’s mind, to have better manners. Then again she was more of a stranger to them than she was to the four youngest. Not to mention the fact that if you are used to seeing your mother everyday when you come home, her absence could be disconcerting. Sarah stopped, door halfway open. She turned back to the four older boys.
“There was an incident during our exploration today," she informed them. " Greg has at least a sprained ankle and Ryan was knocked unconscious.”
The eldest stopped, ladle halfway to his bowl, “What happened?”
“Sarah!” Ralph’s whine could be heard coming from next door.
Sarah sighed. “Hopefully your mother can tell you when she gets home, right now I think I’d best try and keep the peace next door.” She left the boys to their dinner to see what the fuss was among the younger group.
Trevor, apparently, had taken it upon himself to dole out the soup. It was sloshed all over the table. Ralph’s complaint was that he hadn’t gotten any of the good part of the soup. Sarah quickly scooped up all the bowls and dumped them back into the pot. She made a show of mixing it up and fishing out the contents for each and every one of them. Thank god for memories of my father, she thought as she realized she was imitating him.
At last Sarah got Trevor, Travis and Ralph upstairs to bed. She paused as she began washing the dishes. How strange, she thought, to be following her father’s ways when here it should clearly be her mother’s. As she scrubbed again there was a soft knock on the back door before it opened. Sarah glanced over and saw the four elder boys quietly walk in.
“Mother not in yet?” the eldest asked.
Sarah sighed. “No not yet,” she turned back to the dishes.
“She normally comes over to tuck us in,” this came from the youngest of the four.
“More likely to make sure Henry hasn’t snuck off to see his girl.” One of the middle two snickered.
Henry, the eldest flushed and turned the topic away from himself by asking, “What happened today?”
Sarah turned back to them. She had them sit down at the table. Drying her hands Sarah thought about what to say. When at last she sat down they were all eagerly awaiting her tale. She kept it as simple as possible. By the end, they were all wide eyed and full of questions.
“Why would the Gods send a Nigiri after you?”
“Why would a Nigiri take an innocent child hostage?”
“Like little Ry’s innocent,” one of the youngest grumbled to scathing looks.
“A Nigiri assassin, Paul? Using an innocent to obtain the guilty is not in their code. Right Harold.” The youngest looked at the second eldest.
“Well as far as what I know of their code. You’re closer to the Gods than I, Peter”
Sarah looked from one speaker to another, becoming all the more confused by their conversation of Gods and Assassins. Had the man who had come after her been a paid assassin? She hadn’t met many people so far and none that she could think of that she’d angered enough…
Sarah stopped mid thought. No that wasn’t true, The General probably wasn’t happy Prince Hermanos had been taken. Sarah was about to tell the boys to hush, as their voices were beginning to rise, when a quiet calm voice broke through.
“All shall be well.”
Chairs scraped against the floor as the boys stood and respectfully nodded their heads to the newcomer. Sarah too stood and turned to find herself face to face with a woman clothed in white. Behind her Martha came in, a sleeping Ryan resting against her shoulder. The woman stepped aside so Martha could take her child upstairs to bed.
“Is he okay?” Sarah asked, watching the weary Martha.
The woman placed a hand on Sarah’s shoulder. “He will be fine. The Gods watch over their own as they watch over you.”
“And the man?” Sarah wanted to be sure he had been taken care of. She had choked on bile when she’d heard his knee crack.
The woman’s face hardened as she moved her hand to her side. “He has much to answer for. I doubt he will bother you again.” She looked around at the boys. “Not a breath of this to anyone, the Gods do not wish ungainly rumors to be spread, do you understand?”
“Yes, Moyther Mary,” each one spoke in turn as she looked at them.
“That goes for you too,” she looked at Sarah.
“Not even Jay?” Sarah whispered, sensing that now such statements did include him.
The woman squeezed Sarah’s shoulder in comfort. “His faith has been tested enough recently. There is no need to shake it further.”
Sarah bowed her head in acquiescence. It felt odd to not tell Jason something. She had grown up telling him everything, even the secrets she was suppose to keep. But back then, she’d thought he was her imaginary friend. And it’s not telling a secret if you’re talking to yourself. Sarah’s conscience felt sick, suddenly realizing how many trusts she’d broken. When she looked up Moyther Mary and the boys had left.
Forgive me father, for I have sinned, she thought as she readied herself for sleep.