The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter Five, page 1 of 17)

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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.

I had never felt that I knew John Belden well. He was so citified and educated; all of us planter's children, educated at home in the colony, were quite different from him. He could play cards and fence and race as well as any of the boys; but to him these activities were but childish diversions. He was more interested in poetry and Greek, Latin and business and government; his musical talent and ability set him apart from anyone any of us had ever known, and in our minds did not mesh with his other interests. He was a manyfaceted person, compared to the rest of us, who were simple country people who lived our simple country life with all of our hearts.

Perhaps on this visit I would begin to know him better. I took his arm and went in to supper; he seated me on his right. There were only the two of us at the table.

"Cathy looks well," I said, having taken a sip from my glass.

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