Book of Days. Reading an Entry.



Ethel came to me earlier today when I had sat down by the fire for a few moments. She was carrying with her a leather bound book that contained many pages. 

“Mama,” she said. “This is my book of days. There is an entry in it I would like you to read.”

I took the book from her, inwardly making that small smile I always did when she addressed me so. 

“This page dear?” I rested the book on my lap as I opened it where she indicated.

Ethel nodded. “But first, do I have your word you will only read that page?” she said.

I glanced up.

“Oh there is nothing dreadful there, but I have written what was in my heart and mind for awhile, and well….it’s this page I want you to look at?” Now she was twisting her hair round a finger. 

“Of course you have my word.”

I did not know what Ethel had written, but suspected some of it may possibly mention her earlier thoughts on me, from the time she first realised I may be part of the family. It did not matter though. Ethel was precious to me. I would honour whatever she wished, unless she was in danger.

“There are a few harder words in there, mama. Maybe ask me afterwards if you are not sure.” She rested an arm on my shoulder and leaned forward. “It will be a good exercise for you in reading, and in writing your book of days, and it will tell you something I want you to know about. Well you already know about it, but not from my perspective.We can talk about it later. But when papa isn’t here, please?”

I leant my head back to kiss her on the cheek. “Of course”

“And maybe you will braid my hair as well? It’s been awhile since I wore it that way.”

I smiled and gently shooed her away. “Let me try and read. We can do all that after.”

She skipped off towards the front door, calling for Herne. “Hedde, Hedde….that’s not your name now is it? But Brinin can call you that if he wants.”

I sat back and looked at the page. 


 

I have a brother, or rather, I did have. 

He didn’t live very long.

It’s strange, because although I like being a spoilt daughter, I would have loved a brother or sister. Younger or older. 

I wish he had lived. Eindride was his name. We would have got on well. 

I think of the sorrow in papa’s eyes when he told me, and wonder how mama felt then. I can sort of imagine. Only...I know it must have been far worse than anything I can imagine. It makes me sad. 

But it was a long time ago. He would have been my big brother, and also spoiled me a lot I think. But we would have had each other. I would have loved him.

Probably I will be an only child forever. Papa and mama Yllfa are far too old for anything like that, and I don’t quite know how I would feel about it anyway? Well, I would always love family, but it would be odd. 

That’s not the thing that bothers me though. Papa also told me about a curse on the family. He told me a lot, probably everything he knows. He was very sad about that as well. I just want him to be happy. 

This curse, if I understand it rightly, was placed very many years ago on an ancestor of papa’s. He had abandoned a woman who had borne his child, and left her with the dead child in her arms. Well I can understand her cursing him right left and center. What a poor excuse he was. But...the curse was placed on all his descendants too. That gets to me. Papa is nothing like that selfish man, nor was his papa, if even half of what I have heard is right. 

I can understand that woman. She must have been in a bad way, but the tale is that every generation of my family has lost a child. Papa said I am of an age where I need to know that. I need to think, that’s what I need to do! 

I can’t help believing this curse is just a sort of family tale, used to try and explain children dying. Children do die, that’s a sad fact. Papa has told me of many losses in his family. I think he is a bit scared in case it happens to me if I ever have children?  I don’t know. I feel for the woman, I feel for the mamas and papas that have had to bury their babies. I feel for my mama and papa. But I am not really scared for me. 

I know what I want to do. I want to try and sort this out, once and for all. Either I prove it’s not a curse, or if it is, then I break it. And that’s where I may need your help, mama Yllfa. Papa told me you already know about this. And you know, I think we could work well together on sorting it out, and stopping papa worrying? Let’s have a good talk about it soon? And if you have read this far, very well done, Mama. Love you! 

 

I lowered the book, with a touch of amusement, but mostly with concern for Ethel. She sounded very matter-of-fact about the matter. And it was very like her to want to put things right. I just wasn't sure how we could accomplish that. But there was one thing I wanted to do straight away, before she returned. Closing her book of days, I went to get my own. I would write something just for her, something her papa knew, but she did not. Not really. A show of trust it would be. And then, she and I would talk. 

I picked up my own pen and ink, and sat with the second page of my book open.

 

I want to write something for you, Ethel. A sort of secret between you, your papa and me.  I know you and I have joked about it in the past. But I have to tell you….

… I am a wolf!