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datatime: 2022-09-26 19:55:16 Author:MBkFantP

"Dear old Geoffrey" He spoke it aloud this time as he stepped into the huge and stuporously warm West Country kitchen.

He remembered Geoffrey saying You must not cry in front of her, old man - that is the one thing you must never do

"Of course. I'll just put a few things away and come right back." As soon as she was out of the room he was reaching behind him, bringing out the boxes and stuffing them under the mattress one by one. The layers of gauze kept thickening, moving steadily from gray toward black.

"Annie, could you wait five minutes?" he managed. She looked at him, gaze narrowing slightly. "I thought you were in a lot of pain, buster."

"All done?" she asked a few moments later.

Now I must rinse, he thought.

"By the sound o" ye coat a-drippin" out there in the entry, ye nairly drowned between the sheds and the hoose"

"To let the medication work?" she asked, and he nodded gratefully.

"Just a minute longer, Paul, and you can take a snooze."

"Annie, could you wait five minutes?" he managed. She looked at him, gaze narrowing slightly. "I thought you were in a lot of pain, buster."

There was an old strip of towelling hung from a hook in the entryway, and after hanging up his dripping coat and removing his boots, he used it to towel his dark-blonde hair dry.

"Just a minute longer, Paul, and you can take a snooze."

Get them as far under as you can, he thought blindly. Make sure you do that so if she changes the bed she won't pull them out with the ground sheet. Get them as far under as you . . . you . . .

"All done?" she asked a few moments later.

He remembered Geoffrey saying You must not cry in front of her, old man - that is the one thing you must never do

Now I must rinse, he thought.

Writing does not cause misery, it is born of misery.

Her labor had been long and hard, but no longer and no harder than that of many other young ladies she had seen, the midwife declared. It was only after midnight, an hour after Geoffrey had ridden into the gathering storm to try and fetch the doctor, that the midwife had grown alarmed. That was when the bleeding had started.

"I am," he said. "It hurts . . . too much. My knee, mostly. Where you . . . uh, where you lost your temper. I'm not ready to be picked up. Could I have five minutes to . . . to . . . " He knew what he wanted to say but it was drifting away from him. Drifting away and into the gray. He looked at her helplessly, knowing he was going to be caught after all.

Get them as far under as you can, he thought blindly. Make sure you do that so if she changes the bed she won't pull them out with the ground sheet. Get them as far under as you . . . you . . .

The moisture running down his cheeks now was not rainwater but tears.

"Yes." He actually had needed to urinate quite badly - in all the excitement he hadn't had time to think of such things.

"Dear old Geoffrey" He spoke it aloud this time as he stepped into the huge and stuporously warm West Country kitchen.

"By the sound o" ye coat a-drippin" out there in the entry, ye nairly drowned between the sheds and the hoose"

Geoffrey was right, of course - dear old Geoffrey was rarely wrong - but sometimes when he was alone, the Gearless of Misery's escape from the Grim Reaper came forcibly home to him, and it was nearly impossible to hold the tears back. He loved her so much; without her he would die. Without Misery, there would simply be no life left for him, or in him.

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