03 - Chapter 3 - A Daughter's Secret
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A Daughter's Secret 



Chapter  3





December 1107-January 1108

Christmas in that year of 1107 was quietly kept at Castle Transha. Neither Lady Adreana nor Maryse had much energy to spare for elaborate festivities, not with their babies due at any time. And with Laird Cauley and his troops still away, helping to keep the peace in Meara, there was no need for celebrations.

As the first day of the New Year dawned, Lady Adreana writhed on her bed as the contractions rippled through her body, each one stronger than the one preceding it.

"I'm so afraid," she whispered to Morna, the clanswoman who was wiping her brow. Morna, who had been with her Lady for more than twenty years, knew why. Lady Adreana had been brought to delivery of a child nine times before this one, and six times had seen the child die, either at birth or shortly after.

"Ach, dinna fear, milady," Morna soothed, "the babe will be born livin' an well--I've Seen it."'

Morna was proven right. Just after midday on the first of January 1108, Lady Adreana MacArdry was safely delivered of a healthy daughter. Later that same night, her daughter Maryse's labor began. The delivery was long and hard. As the pains continued, almost without respite, Maryse struggled to keep her spirits up.

"I canna do it," she panted. "Just leave me alone."

But the midwife, Maelis, would not oblige. She kept after Maryse to focus and to push, reminding her that the babe wouldn't be born without her efforts. But the afternoon wore on, with the birth no nearer, and the young girl had begun to bleed some. Maelis sent for Lady Adreana who, although still weak from her own delivery, came at once to her daughter's bedchamber.

"Maryse," she whispered, stroking her daughter's brow, "ye must see your child born. The pains will pass, but ye must push. Wee Caldreana wants to meet her niece or nephew."

Just after midnight, on what was then January 3, Maryse was at last delivered of a living, healthy son. "Dhugal," she breathed, when asked what name she wished him to have. With her grandson safely born, Adreana gratefully returned to her own bed to rest and to nurse her own newborn daughter. But her rest was short.

Later that morning Maryse began to bleed again, much more heavily than before, and a high fever soon developed. The midwife, Maelis, as well as Morna and other servants, tended Maryse all that day and into the evening. Just after vespers Morna sent young Jamie for Father Justus the Parish priest, for they feared Maryse might not last the night. He had arrived and given solace to the sorrowing household and offer prayerful comfort to Lady Adreana. An hour after Matins he gave Extreme Unction to Maryse, then remained at the foot of the bed praying for her.

Lady Adreana, who had not left her daughter's bedside throughout the vigil, sat beside her daughter unable to give any comfort other than her presence. “Oh, Maryse," she breathed, "I dinna want ye to die. Ye should live for years ta come, and see yer son grow, and hae other bairns too. I dinna want ta loose ye, but I dinna want ye ta suffer either." Adreana began to cry, and through her tears she beseeched Uriel, the Archangel who guided every soul across the divide to death, to come and take her daughter gently on. As the bells began to toll Lauds, Maryse's breathing began to falter, and Adreana could almost feel the Archangel's presence, like a warm blanket bestowing comfort and peace.

"My Lady," came the tentative voice of the castle priest, Father Justus as the last bell of Lauds fell away into silence, "I'm sorry, My Lady, but she is gone." Lady Adreana nodded tears running down her face, but did not reply, as the priest began to intone the prayers for the dead.

In the early hours of the morning, Adreana wept as she sat beside her dead daughter, Caldreana in one arm, and Dhugal in the other. How tragic, this death was. Adreana looked down at her dead daughter and made a vow. "I promise ye, Maryse, that he will know the truth someday. Dhugal will know that he was your son and Duncan's. I swear it."



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