02 - Chapter 2 - A Daughter's Secret
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A Daughter's Secret 



Chapter  2





September 1107

Two months after she had realized she was pregnant, Maryse MacArdry McLain had still not found a way to tell her mother the news. Her justifications were reasonable, she had thought. First, she told herself she just needed to find the right words, then the right time. Maryse kept putting it off; after all, she didn't want to upset her mother, not when Lady Adreana herself was pregnant. Maryse knew her mother thought of this unborn child as a replacement for her slain Ardry, and Maryse would do nothing to put the baby in danger, especially since her mother had lost several of the babies she'd borne. But Maryse knew that time was running out. She was unquestionably beginning to show her condition, and it wouldn't be long before her own impending event was obvious to all.

Her anxiety made her stomach begin to roil, and the smell of dinner drifting up from the kitchen made it inevitable. Maryse barely made it to the nearby garderobe before she vomited up the remains of her last meal.

"Maryse?" Lady Adreana's voice said from behind her. A cool cloth touched Maryse's forehead and her mother's hand rested on her neck, pulling back the long white-blond strands of Maryse's hair. "What's wrong, dearest?"

"Oh, mother," Maryse whispered, bending her head in shame. "I don't know how to tell you."

"Start at the beginning, dearest. But perhaps, first, we can make ourselves comfortable."

Maryse got to her feet and came back into the solar. She sank down in a seat and finally looked up at her mother. Lady Adreana had settled herself in another chair, and was waiting patiently, one hand resting on her swelling abdomen.

Screwing up her courage, Maryse finally blurted out, "I'm with child, mother." And sat waiting for her mother's reaction. Lady Adreana simply sat there for a little while, obviously considering what her daughter had said, and her own response.

"How far along are you, Maryse," she eventually asked.

"About five months. The babe will be born in early January, I think." Maryse paused, and then asked, "Aren't you going to ask me how it happened, how I could shame the clan so, who the father is?"

"Dearest, after bearing 10 children myself, including this one, I think I know how you conceived. And as for who the father is, I'd be right in saying it's young Duncan McLain, wouldna I?"

"Aye," Maryse whispered, getting up and going to kneel beside her mother. Lady Adreana reached out a hand and caressed her daughter's cheek.

"Why don't you tell me how it all came about," she suggested.

Maryse told her mother how she and Duncan had agreed to wed in secret, and had said their vows before the Presence Light in the McLain chapel in Culdi in April, the night before the MacArdry's had left.

"But what am I ta do now?" Maryse asked when she'd finished. "I canna hide it much longer."

"Let me think on it a while," her mother said.

While lying down for her daily rest, Lady Adreana Calder MacArdry found her mind whirling restlessly. Her daughter's situation would have no easy solution.

Adreana knew that Cauley would never accept Maryse's unconventional marriage as valid. Fir that matter, she wasn't sure if the church would acknowledge it either. Border tradition did allow for marriages to be declared before witnesses, and later have vows said before a priest. But this hadn't happened, and according to Maryse, there were no living witnesses. With only Duncan's and Maryse's word on what they had done, it would be too easy to say that there had been no marriage.

Given this, Cauley would view his first grandchild as illegitimate and his daughter's conduct as shameful. Both mother and babe might even be cast out of the clan. Adreana didn't intend to let that happen, but she wasn't sure what she could do about it.

Inspiration came by way of a surprisingly strong kick from the baby in her womb. Adreana smiled and considered this new option. By her reckoning, both she and Maryse were due to give birth at about the same time. There were few enough people at Castle Transha these days, so the number who would know the truth would be small. Adreana felt sure that she could count on her women's' loyalty…and silence. She did feel a few minor qualms--Cauley wouldn't be pleased if he ever found out that a child he'd raised as his own was actually his grandchild. And she did regret that, with her plan, young Duncan McLain would never know about his child, and Duke Jared and Duchess Vera would never know their first grandchild, but her own family and clan came first. Adreana was sure that she would be able to gain Maryse's agreement.

The next day, Adreana broached the subject with her daughter.

"Maryse, I think we both realize that it will be quite a while before our two clans will be friends again as they were before. But we must decide what to do now. Wi' only your word, and Duncan's, about the marriage, I fear that few will believe ye. Your father likely won't--might even denounce ye and cast ye out. Ye'd have nothing, daughter."

"I'd have Duncan, and our child! Maryse exclaimed. "We'd live in Cassan or Kierney somewhere. Duncan's father has manors and to spare."

"Would Duke Jared allow his son to marry a girl cast out o' her clan for shaming them? Would he no' believe ye were trying to snare his son to ease your troubles?" Lady Adreana was trying to be kind, but Maryse had to realize how tenuous her situation could become. "Daughter, I'm no' saying that ye must gi' up your child to a stranger. Listen ta' me. My own babe is due near to the time that your's is. I could raise your babe up wi' my own, as twins.

Eventually Maryse had succumbed to her mother's persuasions, although it had taken quite a while before she would agree.

"But Mam," she said, "Duncan and I agreed to truly wed as soon as we could, as soon as the feud was over. How could I possibly gie away our first babe, even ta ye?" Maryse still dreamed that her union with Duncan could be solemnized with a Marriage Mass, and that they would then raise their child together.

"If ye and Duncan do wed someday, then we'll see what can be done about the child. But this is the best way for now, dearest, for us all." Lady Adreana soothed her daughter.



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