To everything there is a season, and a
Time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance
- The Holy Bible
The streaming sunlight from the only window of the birthing-chamber fell on the blood-stained bed- containing the Lady of the household in an utterly disheveled state.
“Push, my lady. Push.”
The midwife almost shouted over the hassle inside the small, warm room.
Saya felt as if her body was on fire. The room felt hotter than ever and the sweaty air suffocated her.
She gave another cry of anguish as the next contraction hit her.
It was the early hours of dawn and the contractions had started last night while she was still trying to sleep.
Altogether, it had been almost eight hours of labor and she knew she had very little strength left in her.
“Saya, please. You have to be strong. Do not loose will.”
Lady Margaret held on to her hand even tighter.
She had been there all the time and Saya was grateful for that. She did not know if she could have done this without her and Eleanor.
Her sister-in-law, who was more like her dearest friend, stood at the edge of the bed, wiping her forehead with a wet cloth.
“You can do this, Saya. Just push. I cannot wait to see my niece or nephew.”
Eleanor spoke in a voice that was trying hard to sound light but Saya could easily make out the worry in her eyes.
She knew she had lost a lot of blood and had very little time left.
But she did not say anything.
She couldn’t waste any strength. She had to fulfill the duty of bringing her child to this world- for herself as well as for the two women standing beside her.
Saya wished her husband was with her.
Though she had not forgiven him yet, she felt an inexplainable need to see him. If only for the last time.
Saya whispered, her voice hoarse from all the crying.
Lady Margaret stole a quick glance at her daughter, before turning to her daughter-in-law.
“I’ve sent the men to call him. He will be here any minute now. You just keep your strength. Do not worry, my dear.”
Saya tried to smile at her words but it quickly turned to a frown as she felt more blood gushing out of her entrance.
She felt dizzy and light-headed.
“My Lady, may I have a word with you?”
The midwife asked approached Lady Margaret with a very grim face.
Lady Margaret’s heart sank but she still nodded her head and motioned for the midwife to follow her in the corner of the chamber, near the wooden crib that had been placed there earlier.
“My Lady, I am afraid that Lady Saya has lost too much blood and she is still bleeding. The flesh has been torn to a large extent. The babe’s positioned upside down in her womb and if he remains in there any more, I - I fear he will suffocate.”
Lady Margaret let out a gasp and put her hand on her mouth.
“We have to be fast, My Lady. Even if we save the babe, I fear there is not much chance of Lady Saya’s survival. The babe is big and his shoulders will only tear more flesh.”
The midwife’s face was sympathetic as she spoke in an anxious tone.
Lady Margaret felt her heart sink down to her stomach as she listened to her words.
No. This could not be happening. She could not lose any of them. Neither Saya nor her grandson.
Unable to utter any words, she simply nodded her head and the midwife rushed back to her work with a quick bow.
Eleanor threw a confused and questioning glance at her mother, while still holding Saya’s hand.
She could see something was wrong by the way her mother’s face had gone white as a sheet and she feared for the life of the woman lying on the bed.
Lady Margaret said nothing, even ignored her daughter’s questioning eyes, as she quietly made her way out of the chamber.
The cold breeze hit her face as she stood outside the chamber, facing the hills and the sun from the corridor. She felt utterly numb and helpless.
Soon, there came the thuds of feet behind her and she turned abruptly, her mind at once active.
The three soldiers were standing in front her, panting heavily with their cheeks flushed red, as if they had run all the way there.
“What happened? Where is he?” Lady Margaret’s voice was as anxious as her heart.
The three men hesitated.
Lady Margaret’s patience was running out and their reluctance to answer her was not helping the situation.
“His horse was found at the residence of Lady Scarlet, My Lady.”
One of them spoke in a deliberately low voice, keeping his eyes fixed anywhere but her.
Lady Margaret sucked in a sharp breath.
“Did you not inform him of the situation at his home? Did you not inform him that his wife- your Lady- is in labour?” Her voice was as cold as ice.
The three men fixed their glances at the floor.
“We have strict instructions form Lord Hayworth himself that we are not to disturb him when he is with Lady Scarlet. We apologize, My Lady. We did not find it appropriate to disregard his orders.”
The first man spoke again, his voice filled with regret.
They all knew what was going on and they all respected their Lady, lying in the birthing-chamber, but they could not act against their Lord’s orders.
Lady Margaret eyed the men furiously, her anger bubbling in her heart.
“What do you mean to say? Do the instructions by your great Lord matter more than someone’s life- that too your Lord’s wife- the Lady of this household? And does it matter more than my urgent instructions?”
Her voice was a notch higher and even sharper.
The men said nothing and continued staring at the floor.
Lady Margaret was immensely frustrated by their behaviour and was completely ashamed by the information she had just received.
She willed herself to remain calm and spoke again in an authoritative voice,
“You are to go to your Lord at once and inform him that his mother is demanding him to be here- at once. You tell him that-” her voice broke when a gut-wrenching scream sounded from inside the room.
Controlling her emotions, she continued, albeit with a lump in her throat,
“Tell him his wife needs him; that she is dying, trying to bring his son into this world.
Tell him that this might be the last time he sees her alive. Leave. Please...”
At last the tears flowed freely down her cheeks.
The men flushed at her words and after a quick bow, ran down the stairs to get their horses.
Zachary gazed at the figure of the beautiful woman sprawled beneath him, her hair spread on the red sheets like molten-gold.
Her face was the definition of angelic. Porcelain white skin, plump, red lips and her green eyes filled with desire.
He blessed his luck for having the love of someone as ethereal as Scarlett Roentgen.
She chose him, accepted his love despite the fact that he was married. She didn’t care about the barbs of the society or how she would be scorned for having an affair with a married Lord.
She was in love with him and she asserted that his love was all she needed.
No wealth or social status mattered more.
She had given him her love, her soul and her body, just as he had given his to her, not caring even when her father threatened to disown her and now she was going to give him the most precious gift.
Zachary had tried his level best to get his marriage with Saya annulled so that he could marry Scarlet, but there were no grounds on which he could do that.
He knew it would be better for both him and Saya.
She had suffered enough.
It would relieve them both from this undesirable marriage.
He tried to put forward the argument that Saya was unable to bear him children, even after four years of their marriage but his mother had reminded him that it was because he seldom visited her in bed and he had been quietened.
Then came the news that she was with child and the last hopes of annulling this marriage vanished.
He would be lying if he said that the news had not sent him reeling with happiness.
He could not disown his own child.
He cared for his wife too. Particularly now that she was carrying his child.
However, there was no love or even friendship.
He had felt nothing for her even when she had submitted herself to him that one time he came back from the war.
But it was different with Scarlett.
She ignited his passion and his wildest emotions.
The moments of intimacy with her were like Paradise. She was his angel and he could not get enough of her. Also, she loved him and he loved her.
With Saya, he had only felt bound, tied and constricted.
The only emotions he felt when in her company were shame, guilt and sympathy.
Her presence filled him with regret over his actions.
He also knew that she was aware of his affair with Scarlett.
Everyone was; but he could not do anything about it.
He loved Scarlett.
“What are you thinking about? You seem worried, Zach.”
Scarlett spoke softly, her husky and velvety voice too inviting. The look of worry and the love in her eyes ignited his passion once again.
“Nothing, my love. Nothing to worry about.”
And saying this, he planted his lips on her in a long and passionate kiss, starting the third round of love making since last night.
Lady Margaret Hayworth stared out in space once again, her cheeks stained with dried tears. She had no courage to enter the room.
“She will be alright, My Lady.”
A grave and deep voice spoke from behind her.
She recognized the voice immediately but said nothing. The person shuffled to move away but was stopped by her words-
“She deserves better.”
Geoffrey turned around to face her, his face eloquent of his worry and confusion.
He had been awoken by the ruckus in the manor and had come to know of Saya’s labour.
He knew that Zachary was not present at the moment and it had intensified his disappointment in him.
Lady Margaret turned to face him.
“He was a good man. I raised him better, Geoffrey.”
Geoffrey nodded his head, understanding her anguish. There was no noise from the room.
Everything was still- the stillness before a storm.
“But he does not deserve Saya. I know you love her.”
Lady Margaret continued in a defeated voice.
At this Geoffrey’s eyes widened with shock and he made as if to protest but Lady Margaret stopped him with a raised hand.
“No, Geoffrey. You do not have to refute. I can see your love and concern for her clearly in your eyes. I have known for quite some time but I was a selfish mother. However, now I wish she had someone like you in her life. I love her like my own daughter, Geoffrey. She is a wonderful soul but my son does not know what he has and I fear that by the time he realizes her importance, it would be too late.”
Her voice chocked and a new trail of tears began pouring.
Geoffrey’s eyes moistened and a lump formed in his throat.
Her words terrified him. He was not ready to lose Saya. Not now. Not ever.
She did not deserve this and he knew it. He knew that if she died today, she would be taking a part of him with her.
“I do not want her to leave us, Geoffrey. I am happy though, that you’re here for her.”
Lady Margaret’s voice became more strained.
Geoffrey blinked back his tears and nodded his head.
“I love her.”
He whispered to himself but Lady Margaret could easily hear that although she gave no indication of the fact.
The corridor was engulfed in silence when another anguished scream rang through the air.
Lady Margaret cast a last helpless glance at Geoffrey and hurried inside the room.
That scream was the last straw and enough to break all of Geoffrey’s defenses.
His eyes shed streams of tears for the first time in the last eight hours since the labour began as his resolve weakened and he felt helplessness grip him.
Standing outside the room, by the door, he prayed to every God out there to save his love from the imminent death.
“Congratulations, My Lady. You have birthed a healthy son, the heir of the Estate.”
The midwife beamed her yellow teeth at Saya as she held her son and let her assistant cut the umbilical cord.
Saya felt her mother-in-law place a warm kiss on her sweaty forehead.
“You did well, my daughter.”
Lady Margaret spoke softly but Saya could not register her words as another nerve-wrecking contraction hit her and she screamed at the top of her lungs.
She registered the panicked voices of Eleanor and Lady Margaret, asking the midwife as to what had happened.
“There’s another babe! The head is visible. She is giving birth to twins.” The midwife cried in an excited voice .
Saya felt her heart well up in delight at the miracle but she had no time to express her happiness as the pain clouded her mind.
“Saya, listen. Just one more push. You can do it.”
Eleanor murmured encouragingly in her ear.
Saya nodded, her eyes squinted closed due to the pain.
She willed herself to bring her child to the world. She prayed for the Gods to give her the strength...
Saya gritted her teeth and with one last cry, pushed for her life, her grip on Lady Margaret’s hand bone-crushing but Lady Margaret didn’t even flinch.
The cries of another baby filled the room as Saya fell back on the pillows, all the strength drained out of her body and the blood now coming out in thick lumps from between her legs.
“It is a beautiful girl! Such a beauty.”
The midwife gushed but she immediately turned serious as her eyes landed on Saya.
Handing the babies to Eleanor and her assistant, she began soaking the blood with the help of sponges, trying to stop the flow.
But her efforts were useless.
Saya felt her life being drained out. She felt numb but she wanted to see and feel her children before leaving this world.
“My- My babies-” she croaked, almost inaudible.
A deathly-still silence had consumed the room, everyone was apprehensive of what was to come next.
Lady Margaret stroked her forehead gently and nodded her head with moist eyes.
She motioned for Eleanor to bring the children to Saya, who did so with tears flowing freely.
Saya looked at the two beautiful angels lying on her bosom.
With extreme will of effort, she lifted her hand to stroke their heads and kissed them tentatively.
Her heart filled with love.
They were the only source of her living for the past nine months. They were her life.
She realized that she would never be able to nurse them or love them. She would never sing lullaby to them or watch them take their first steps.
Her eyes filled with a new set of tears. It was too hard to let go.
Saya glanced at Lady Margaret with dazed eyes, who immediately wiped her tears by the back of her hands and bent down to her level.
“Yes dear?” She whispered.
“Maya- and Brandon...My children- their names-”
Saya spoke in short breathless whispers, trying to catch her breath which seemed to be leaving her.
Lady Margaret smiled softly and nodded her head, all the while willing her tears to stop.
Eleanor let out a sob on hearing her words.
“Beautiful names Saya- Maya and Brandon. Alright now, you need to rest. You need to regain your strength in order to look after the children.”
She spoke in a pleading tone.
Saya smiled wryly.
“No mother- no time...”
Saya gasped, feeling her heart constricting.
She spoke his name full of emotions of love, pain and expectation, causing Lady Margaret to become flustered. She tightened her hold at the hem of her skirts.
“I have sent the word to him, Saya. He is out for some work. He is on his way. He will be here any moment. Then you can say whatever you want to say to him- alright?”
Saya shook her head and glanced at her sleeping babies.
“No time, Mother...Tell him- Tell him to take care of our children...To love them...Even though he did not love me...”
Her body was still and her voice barely audible.
Eleanor let out a muffled sob at her words and covered her face with her palms.
Lady Margaret however, simply nodded.
She had no strength left to say anything.
Saya felt the air escaping her lungs, her body was numb with pain and the breathlessness increased.
She had so much to say. She wanted to see Zachary for the last time.
She wanted to tell him to be a good father to their children.
She wanted to tell him that even though he had hurt her in the worst possible way, some part of her foolish heart still loved him, like a lark that sang for the moon even on a dark night.
She wanted to leave without any inhibitions.
She wanted to let him know that she was ready to grant him the forgiveness that he was seeking, for the sake of her children but she did not have any time left.
With an ultimate effort, she spoke her last words in a strained voice,
“Tell him...I-I love him-”
And with that she closed her eyes, her hand sliding down from its position on her children’s backs to the bed, leaving behind a room full of devastated and wailing women and two hungry, crying infants lying on her unmoving bosom.