It was a sweltering summer day; the merciless sun and the stale odor it procured from the crowds in the neighborhood streets and the market squares had overpowered the fresh air that usually circulated through the city from the harbors. Gabriel glanced out of the windows in his brother's study, watching the birds in the bright sky as the heat seeping through the glass panes began to raise the temperature inside of the room. At length, with an annoyed sigh, he drew the curtains shut and turned around to face the entrance, wiping the beads of perspiration that had formed at his hairline with the back of his hand. He disliked the unbearable July climate, but at present, wished more than anything that the sweat on his brow had been the cause of the unbearable heat, and not the worries and anxiety twisting up his stomach. He let his gaze wander to the man fretfully pacing to and fro in front of the doorway and tried to put himself in his place, shuddering uneasily as the realization that within six month's time, he would no longer have to imagine.
"Nathaniel," he said after a brief silence, "do have a seat. You're wearing yourself out."
His elder brother paused momentarily in his strides to run a hand through his hair. "How many hours has it been?" he asked, turning his head slightly to meet the younger man's gaze, though the question was more rhetorical than directed at him.
Gabriel lowered his eyes to the ground and strode over to the desk, replying, "I do not know, but if you do not sit down, I'll be forced to put you into a chair myself."
Nathaniel glared at him, as if daring him to do as he claimed. Gabriel stood his ground, and his brother soon discovered himself marching over to the nearest seat, mumbling expletives under his breath. Gabriel gave a sigh of relief and quickly cast a glance in the direction of another door in the study, this one leading to his sister-in-law's chambers. Just the thought of what was occurring on the other side made him queasy and he was on the verge of sitting down himself when Anna's deafening screams filled both rooms, and perhaps every other in the whole of Tournerling Abbey. Nathaniel immediately got to his feet and raced towards the door, but as he reached for the handle, it opened on the other side. Out stepped Clara and Dr. Campbell, the latter bright-faced and smiling and the former pale, with the sleeves of his shirt rolled up and a large handkerchief in his hands.
Gabriel, too, stood up and made his way over to his wife, as his brother grabbed the doctor by the shoulders. "How is she?" he demanded, his voice shaking with fear and excitement.
"Well," Dr. Campbell replied with a weary smile.
Nathaniel breathed out a long and deep sigh. "And the baby?"
The smile on the doctor's face spread, bringing a sparkle to his light eyes, as he said, "A beautiful and healthy little girl."
His own relief showing through the warm expression on his face, Gabriel watched his brother nearly crush Dr. Campbell in a huge embrace. "Oh, thank the Lord!" Nathaniel cried, before disappearing inside of the room to welcome his daughter into the world.
"Dr. Campbell, there is a bathroom across the hall, if you do feel the need to excuse yourself," Clara said suddenly, having already noticed the sickened look that had come over the elderly man's face. She smiled weakly, and was returned the gesture. With an apologetic nod, the doctor quickly made for the door.
Shaking her head as an awkward laugh slipped past her lips, she turned towards Gabriel, who was leaning against the door frame, watching his brother hold his baby, and caught his attention by suddenly coming to his side. "It's too bad Emma and Liam chose this month for their trip to Ireland, don't you agree? I think she would've been most delighted to see Anna's child. She's always been so good with children."
He smiled warmly and placing an arm around her waist, drew her nearer. "Yes," he murmured, stepping behind her so that he could rest his chin atop her hair.
She glanced back and up at him, her dark eyes bright and glistening. "You ought to go and see the baby for yourself," she said. "She is very beautiful."
"No," Gabriel replied, "I think Nat and Anna would like a moment longer with their daughter."
Clara nodded as he planted a kiss on the top of her head. "Yes, I think you're right."
His lips curled into a smile against her hair, and slipping both of his hands over her stomach, he asked, "Do you think ours will be a girl or a boy?"
She leaned back and laid her head on his shoulder. "I do not know, but if it is a boy, I think we ought to name him William."
"William?" Gabriel repeated, testing the sound of it on his tongue.
Clara glanced up and met his gaze. "Yes, William, after your uncle."
"Ah," he said, his hazel eyes lighting up with realization. "I'm sure he would've liked that very much."
Clara placed her hands over her husband's and nodded, on the verge of replying when Nathaniel and his wife called them into the room.
::sighs:: Well, Clara and Gabriel's tale has finally reached an end. Many thanks to everyone who has been reading and reviewing. You guys have no idea how much your comments mean to me. Thank you!
As far as new stories go, I'll probably start another one sooner or later—whenever I decide to quit putting off my final paper for English class and finish that first. =P
Again, thanks everybody. I hope you all liked the epilogue.