The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter Five, page 1 of 29)

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Cathy's time was drawing near; I found her on the balcony outside her bedroom.

"I'm so sorry, please give my apologies to Kevin, Jessie dear," she said, holding her hand out to me from the chaise where she lay.

I felt my eyes grew large. Cathy wore only her shift and her beautiful face was swollen and blotchy. Her belly was enormous. I was appalled by the change in her.

"Cathy dear," I said, kneeling beside her. "Are you well?"

"Oh, yes, dear, I am quite well," she said, smiling at me. "I'm told that I am in perfect health for a woman about to explode!"

I laughed with her. "Oh! I'm sure you will not do that," I said.

"I just do not know how I shall live for another week," she sighed, and tears filled her beautiful green eyes.

Tears sprang swiftly to my own eyes. "Oh, Cathy, surely it cannot be so long!"

She patted my hand. "Pay me no heed," she said. "I'm told also that it is quite ordinary for a woman in my condition to weep often and copiously!"

I kissed her hand. Her fingers were like sausages. "Is there anything you need, dear?"

"No, thank you, Jessie. I have everything I need. I must only wait."

At dinner, I was equally shocked by John's appearance. His face was haggard, and deep shadows marked his beautiful blue eyes. I tried not to stare at him, and attempted to make polite conversation.

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