Wednesday, 11 April 1798
Her words warmed my feet and her low scraping voice caressed me as if she touched my back: as if her fingers walked over my vertebrae, softly touching each one separately for a second or two. I shivered.
‘Are you cold?’ she asked.
I smiled and whispered, ‘No.’
‘It all started in the north,’ she continued, ‘where Firbreac, the king of the forest, lived. He fell in love with Tadhg’s beautiful daughter, and after winning the annual jousting championships, Firbreac chose her to be his wife.’
The chair creaked as she cuddled into it, pulling her shawl closer. She slowly started to rock a crib at her side; in it lay her sleeping baby. She looked at the child so tenderly and then at your empty chair with the exact same expression about the eyes, with that look she always gives you, full of pleasure and affection. I think she loves you like her own. But I shall not say another word about the matter for I know you do not like me to mention it. I hear your hushing breath already, so I shall quickly continue with the story.
The other noble lords grew jealous of Firbreac’s love for his beautiful wife and their happiness together; they said he cheated the contests. They wanted to rid themselves of Firbreac, to murder him, so they met in secret and made up a plan. Tadgh heard their mumbling echoing through the dark corridors, hiding in corners where they thought he could not hear them. He warned Firbreac, he told him to leave as quickly as possible, and to take his wife to a faraway place, an isolated place in the south, where the chieftains still governed, and the fairies still loved this land. “A magical place,” he assured Firbreac, “Where you will be safe, and happy.”
Finally, after traveling for many days they arrived safely at the forest. There Firbreac built for them a beautiful wooden house. A wooden castle Alana sighed, swearing that God must have assisted her husband in the building of it. Alana became pregnant with their first child and everything went very well for them. A son was born and not long after a second child: a healthy baby girl. But the birth had been too much for poor Alana and she died soon after. Firbreac was heartbroken, and tried to care for the children as best he could, but they were still so very small and he was ill from grief.
Tadhg heard of the terrible fate that had befallen his son-in-law and sent his second daughter Aoife to help him with the children. Aoife was a beautiful woman; and Firbreac was quickly impressed by her kindness towards them. The loving way she took little Fionnuala upon her lap while she sang lullabies in Gaelic, gently lulling her to sleep. Firbreac marveled at the sight, the shimmering whiteness of her skin, her slender arms wrapped around the child, the moonlight burnished her fiery red hair. Every morning, as soon as the toddler was awake she would run into her aunt’s bedroom, calling out her name; climbing onto her bed, and resting her warm head against Aoife’s shoulder while she sucked her thumb as Aoife plaited her glistening hair, tying the ends with yellow ribbons. Firbreac loved looking at them together.
It did not take long before Firbreac declared Aoife his love, offering her his heart and all his devotion.
(End of part one; more to follow. Please leave a comment in the comment bar below.)
© Anita Salemink 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Anita Salemink with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.