"Poor, poor Aunt Aideen," Ena said, with a sardonically mournful edge that made Meriel smile, "I would've cried at the news of her death, if I had known her."

Meriel and Ena stood in her cottage, tearing the leaves of cabbage apart and throwing them into the black kettle, sizzling with heat over the fire.

"Did you even know who she was before she passed?" Meriel asked.

"No idea," Ena said flamboyantly, tossing a bad piece of cabbage over her shoulder, "All I know, is that this unknown relative of mine passed away not long ago leaving me her cottage deep in the Wicklow Mountains for me to use whenever I wish! I was planning on leaving anyway."

"And does your father know any of this? Of your inherited house?" Ena asked softly, not looking up from her green stained hands.

Ena's soft face hardened and her hands tore viciously, "No, not that I know of, thank god. The dirty bastard would have sold it to pay off his gambling debts most like." She said, acid seeping into her normally cheerful voice.

"Oh," Meriel said softly, sighing with the breeze that blew in from the open door.

"Anyway, it would be for the best to get you away from here. We shall wait another month and if your dear boy does not return by then and marry you, we shall away to that little cottage and you shall have your child," Ena spoke, back to herself, looking up at her dearest friend and smiling.

Meriel smiled back, feeling a lot more confident than she had earlier that day, "Alright then, if you've gotten everything planned out, what if he returns while we are gone?"

"Then we shall inform Mrs. Donahue of our plans and she shall be our messenger. I won't be surprised, however, if he returns before we leave, but it's good to have a backup plan."

Ena hissed at Meriel's cat as he nosed the corn beef curiously. The cat spit back and jumped off the table. Meriel gave a weak smile and walked to the door, looking out at the sea. He had to return soon. He wouldn't be long. He couldn't be long.

"I don't know, Ena," Meriel said, putting her hand to her breast, "Maybe, I can just stay here and wait out my confinement."

"You, of all people, should know of the mouths in town." Ena said walking over to her friend and leaning against the door frame, "After the rumors of your mother, and you living alone here once she and your grandmother both passed. If they found you with child and without a husband, they'd hang you for a witch and adulteress."

Meriel nodded and watched as a seagull swooped down. Within its beak dangled an unfortunate limp fish. Both fish and bird flew high into the sky, disappearing into the sun.

******

December, 1761

Over a fevered bed, Meriel stood, dabbing her mother's warm, moist forehead with a damp rag. She was delusional; turning and tossing on clammy sheets. The cold, winter wind blew ferociously outside her door. Meriel felt too dry to weep anymore. Quietly she brought the bowl over to the hearth and refilled it with fresh water.

Her mother moaned in her sickness. Her already weak will to live made it easy for the disease to slowly drain her body of verve. Meriel was powerless as she stood, watching her mother slowly die. The doctor had been able to get out to the cottage briefly to check in on her. He had bled her to balance out the revolting humors in her body, but succeeded in only making her worse. He had told Meriel to prepare herself, and that she did. Meriel had sucked in the cold December air and froze her insides till she was hollow of emotion. Steeling herself was something that she had always been good at.

A banging at the door brought Meriel out of her dream like state. She walked over and opened it slightly, wondering what imbecile would be out in this storm.

"Meriel," A voice said and she knew who it was.

"Donagh," She replied opening the door completely.

He entered, covered with snow and sea water. He was shivering terribly, "I heard your mother took the fever."

"Aye," Meriel answered, taking his dripping coat and hanging it on a chair by the fire.

"I just came from the Donahue's, they lost a child."

Meriel frowned. Many children would be lost in this epidemic.

"But, I managed to be used by the good Lord to save one, or at least let her sleep peacefully."

Meriel looked at him curiously, his dark curls dripping on his dark, wool shirt. From his coat, he retrieved a dark, glass bottle.

"It was my grandmother's concoction. Made of seaweed, lavender and other herbs it soothes the mind and allows them to sleep peacefully so their body can recover," He explained, his green eyes looking at her hopefully, "Sometimes it works, and other times it just allows to patient to wake up in Heaven gently, but I knew that your mother was sick and wanted to try to help ease her pain."

Meriel smiled sadly, appreciative of his kind act, "Thank you,"

Donagh took that as an acceptance of his remedy for her mother and walked over to the sick bed. Meriel brought over a bent spoon and gave it to Donagh to administer the medicine. The beautiful mother of Meriel lay quietly almost immediately after taking it, her breath evened out but her forehead still on fire.

"St. Hildegard grew lavender in her garden, to help soothe her patients with its scent. But she never thought of administering it to them as a medication, probably because it can do more damage than good when given raw," He sat back in the chair, Meriel standing with her back to the table watching him as he talked, "But, my grandmother found a way to extract the evil part of it and be conferred without harm."

He stood and took his steaming coat from the fireside, shaking it before putting it back on.

"I hope all goes well for you, Meriel," He said starting to the door.

She followed and stood by the door as he opened it, "Will you not have some tea?" She offered, wearily.

"I'm afraid I cannot," He replied turning and looking at her solemnly, "There are many others who suffer from the same ailment, and I want to get to as many cottages as possible before dawn."

"You will catch your death out in that storm," She protested quietly, looking up from the floor to his eyes.

He gazed back for a moment, lifting his hand and touching her face softly with his thumb. He smiled sadly, "Ah, Meriel." Was all he said before he withdrew his hand and opened the door upon the tempest outside, venturing out into the darkness.

*******

July, 1763

Bree Frances McCarthy 1727 - 1761

The grey slate read simply.

It had been two years since her mother had slipped quietly away, starved of life by the fever. Meriel had planted flowers around the humble sepulcher by her cottage and they grew beautifully about the gravestone. There was no wind today, as Meriel washed her skirts out in the sunlight. How the babe seemed to sprout within her. She felt like a vault, a seed holding a flower deep within the most sacred pits of her belly. She stopped and laid a hand over her swollen abdomen that sloped out just a bit from her waist. With her long skirts, no one could tell that she was expecting.

A storm had ripped the shore apart the night before, leaving sand high up on the mainland, driftwood lying in scraps about Meriel's garden. No matter how angry the sea became, churning and brooding like a fuming child, Meriel still loved it. The storms were merely a part of its way ancient, inexplicable way; the sea speaks in ways humans can just barely understand and sometimes, God has a hand in its workings.

"Meriel!" Ena ran up the narrow path to her cottage, her basket dropping from her hand, "Meriel! Come quickly!"

She stopped in front of her friend, breathless with her cheeks pink as blossoms.

"There was a wreck-" She managed to pant, her breast heaving.

"A wreck?" Meriel breathed, putting her hand on her friend's shaking back.

"Yes, in the night, come!" Ena said, turning and bounding down the hill.

Meriel chased after, her unbound hair flying behind her shoulders. Fear crept into her mouth like bile.

It couldn't be Donagh's ship. It couldn't be.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks sooooo much for the reviews!!! I hope y'all liked the chapter.

Poohba - Thank you so much! I was hoping the descriptions weren't too wordy, but I wanted so badly to paint the best picture possible of the shoreline. I'm glad it reads well! I'm sorry about the jumpiness, but I guess that's what I'm going for in this story. I wanted to try a story that goes back in time to explain things that happen in the present. I'll try to make it less confusing though.

Ravynne - thank you so much for your review as well! I wanted to choose just the right words to help set up the scenes. You're a wonderful poet btw, I read your pieces and they are beautiful! Thanks again!