Birth of The Free Bird

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Jill had been waiting anxiously for Angus to come back home with Edmond since yesterday afternoon. She did not know if Angus’s mission to find his youngest son went well. Her anxiety had increased when she found neither Edmond nor Angus at home in the morning when she woke up. She went to Neil’s bedroom to see how he was doing. Thank goddess that the boy did not have temperature anymore. His face still looked pale, thou. But Jill was certain that he was getting better.

Neil asked Jill about whether his father had come back home with Edmond or not. He heard what had happened yesterday from his father’s conversation with Jill that Edmond went missing. As much as he got irritated by his younger brother a lot, Neil did not wish anything bad happened to him. He was worried. He knew his brother so well that he would have gone to the forest. He was worried that he might get lost. He hoped that his father had found him.

But Jill shook her head to Neil, indicating that none of them had come home. His face turned down and he felt a rush of tears in the back of his eyes. He could have gone and talked to Thomas who knew about where the girl lived. That way they could have found Edmond sooner.

“I will have to go to the Mayor’s house, child.” Jill said. “But you will have to eat first. I will get some food for you. Do you feel better now?”

Neil nodded his head. “Yes, Ms. Jill. I’m worried about Papa and Edmond.”

“Pray that they are alright. I will seek aid from the Mayor and the magistrate to find them.” Jill rubbed Neil’s face, smiling at him. Her eyes were full of hope, trying to reassure the boy that his brother and father were alright. Oh, she did pray that they were alright!

The forest had never been a good place as far as she knew. It was a place where evil lurked around, waiting for its prey to come. The thought of something bad happened to them made Jill shuddered with fear. But she quickly brushed it off, not wanting to scared the boy in front of her.

Jill excused herself to the kitchen, preparing the food for the boy. She made pumpkin soup, mixing it with herbs that she got from the shop at the market. She believed that the herbs were the things that made Neil felt better. She silently praised the man at the shop.

After putting some soup on a bowl and few slices of bread on the tray, Jill take them to Neil’s room. She put it on the bed side table and helped the boy to sit up on the bed. She then carefully put the tray on his lap.

“Would you like me to help you eat, Neil?” Jill offered. She was still concerned of the child’s strength after being sick. She sat herself on the side of the bed.

“I’d be fine, Ms. Jill. Thank you.” Replied Neil. His tune was polite. He took a spoon of the pumpkin soup into his mouth. The taste was wonderful but he could taste strange thing on it, something tangy.

Jill studied his face attentively. “Do you like it, Neil?”

“Yes.” He answered too quick that got Jill raise her brows. “Nice, but tangy.” He answered truthfully after looking at Jill’s expression.

“That must be the herbs. They’re good for you.”

Neil nodded. He did not want complain. Jill had been like a mother figure to him. Ever since he lost his mother, Neil had been looked after by Jill. He cared and thanked for Jill to be by his family brother side those whole years. He did not know what his family would have become if Jill was not there for them after his lovely mother passed away.

The boy ate the soup till its last drop. He felt full from the food Jill gave him. So he leaned away from a cup of tea that Jill was trying to hand it to him. “I don’t think I’ll be able to drink that right away. I’m so full.” Neil explained.

“Alright, child. I will leave it here but you will need to drink this tea.” Jill ordered him seriously. She did not want the boy to forget drinking the tea that she had prepared.

“I will.” Neil’s promised.

Jill smiled at him. She then got up from his bed, lifting the tray off of Neil’s lap. “I will get ready to go to the Mayor’s house. Hopefully the Mayor would be helping us.”

“Ms. Jill, you could ask Thomas as well-“

They were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the front door opened. Jill quickly dropped the tray on the bed side table and ran to the front door. Even though Neil was still feeling weak, he could not help to get off of his bed and follow the house keeper to see who had come.

“Papa!” Neil exclaimed in happiness. He ran to his father and wrapped his hands around his father’s waist.

“Oh Sir Angus!” Jill cried upon seeing Angus at the front hall. She then caught the sight of the little boy who had been their source of trouble hiding behind his father’s leg. Instantly, relief washed over her and she let out a loud sigh. Her vision started to blur from the tears that flooded in her eyes. “Oh, Edmond! Do not do that such think again!”

She started to sob and opened her arms wide for Edmond to embrace. He grinned at the woman and came to her embrace, burying his head on her stomach.

“Sorry, Ms. Jill.” He mumbled.

“Hush, boy!” She shushed him as she pulled away from him and wiped her tears off of her face. She inspected his whole body, checking if he was hurt somewhere. But the boy looked as fine as he was before disappearing. “You don’t get hurt, Edmond?”

“I did. But Mosley healed me.” He spoke.

As Edmond mentioned Mosley, Angus shook his head in frustration. The peculiar woman wanted him to not tell a living soul about her existence in the forest.

“Who is that?” Asked Jill, burrowing her brows in confusion. Her eyes darted from Edmond to Angus for a second.

“Edmond,” Angus interjected. “Why don’t you go to clean yourself so we can eat. Have you eaten, Neil?” He then asked his oldest son who was sick yesterday but he seemed feeling better today.

“We had eaten, Papa, remember?” Edmond reminded his father.

“Edmond, go clean yourself.” Angus sternly ordered him. The boy looked down and began to sulk, walking away from the hall into his bedroom.

“Neil, you should go back to bed.” Jill spoke. She was well aware that Angus had something to say without wanting to involve the children. “He has had his breakfast, Sir Angus. He’s getting better.”

“I see, Thanks Ms. Jill, for looking after him while I was gone.” Said Angus. He ruffled his boy’s hair, smiling at him.

“I’d like to stay with you, Papa.” Neil said. His father just got back. He did not want to leave his side.

“I’m home now. You should go back to bed. I’d probably go to have a bath. I need to clean myself too.” After spending the whole night in the forest, Angus did not want anything but to relax in his bath and to forget about what happened yesterday. He was still angry with his youngest son. On the whole way home, he did not speak much to Edmond. He was trying to not dwell on it but every time he looked at the boy and the red scarf around his neck, he was reminded of what the boy did.

“I will have a bath ready for you, Sir Angus.” Said Jill.

“You don’t have to, Ms. Jill. I will do it by myself.” Declined Angus. Clearly he just wanted to be alone. He would have to talk to Jill later. “If you could please help Edmond. He might…”

Angus just lost for words. He did not know what to say to her about Edmond and the two persons he met in the forest. There was no doubt that Edmond would start to talk about everything to Jill. That was what Angus tried to avoid. He did not want to Edmond to tell anything to anyone. But he guessed, he could trust Jill for that matter and speak to her later about it.

“I’ll take care of the boys, Sir Angus.” Jill gave him a reassuring smile. “Come, Neil. Leave your Papa to wash himself and we’ll see what your brother is doing.”

Without complaining any further, Neil came to Jill and follow the lady to his brother room.

Just like what Angus had thought, Edmond told Jill and Neil everything about what happened to him in the forest, while Jill helped him to dress up.

Unlike Jill who was surprised with the information she heard from Edmond, Neil did not get surprised except for the part where Finch did not live alone but with a woman called Mosley. From what he heard from Thomas and William, who had been visiting the girl regularly, they were positive that Finch was only by herself. Never he heard about anyone mentioned Mosley, the woman whom Edmond considered as Finch’s mother.

“What do you mean scary looking lady?” Jill asked Edmond when he told them that Mosley was a scary looking lady.

“She has white eyes. Whole white eyes. It look scary.” Edmond was describing it dramatically.

This caught Neil’s attention.

“That mean the lady is blind.” Said Jill.

“No, Ms. Jill.” Edmond shook his head vigorously. “She can see. Finch told me she can see. She really can.”

Neil widened his eyes. Could it be the same lady that he was trying to fool the other day in the market? He asked himself.

“That’s impossible.” Jill insisted. “People who had white eyes mean they are blind.”

But Edmond did not give up. He kept arguing with Jill that Mosley could see. Neil, who was suspicious that the woman he met was actually Mosley, wanted to tell Jill that his brother spoke the truth but Neil swallowed the words. He did not want to tell anyone that he met the woman before for he was embarrassed by his own behaviour towards the woman.

When Jill went to the kitchen to start preparing lunch for them, Angus came in, dressing nice as if he was going out.

“I would go for a while. Please watch over them for me.” Spoke Angus, his voice sounded sad and distant.

“Where are you going, Sir Angus?”

“I’d like to visit my wife. I haven’t gone there for a while.” He murmured the last sentence.

Jill could feel the sadness in his voice. Only she knew, how much love Angus had for his late wife. “I’ll look after the boy, Sir Angus. Take care.”

Angus nodded slightly. “I will see you later, Ms. Jill.” With a genuine smile on his face — a gesture that he had for thanking the woman for looking after his boys — he left the house to the cemetery where his beloved wife was buried.

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