The next day started out uneventfully for Thomas. He worked in his woodshop, met with a few customers, then resumed working. After taking a break for a late midday meal, he heard Pipi and Riporty suddenly begin to bark, barking happily like it was someone they knew and loved. Thomas quickly put his tools down on his workbench and walked out to the front of his woodshop to find Pipi and Riporty eagerly jumping and prancing around his parents! He ran to them, lifting Mary into the air and twirling her around, then happily hugging David. It had been several months since he had seen his parents so he was extremely excited to see them, more so than he would have thought. He invited them to the back of his woodshop where there was a small table and a few chairs. He offered them some water and something to eat, which they gratefully accepted.
Thomas asked them what brought them to his village since it was at least a two-day journey from their home. David and Mary looked at each other, gleefully smiling like two young children who had a secret. Mary could not hold back any longer and excitedly revealed to Thomas that she was with child! Thomas, feeling stunned and shocked, gazed at David for confirmation. David smiled, laughed, clapped him on the back and confirmed it was true; Thomas would be a big brother. Tears came to Mary’s eyes as she told him that she had about another five moons until the baby came. She had not told anyone yet because of past experiences trying to have children. She hoped that she was far enough along so the baby would be born healthy without any problems. David mentioned that he was the first person that they told except for the healer that has been helping them and she was sworn to secrecy.
Still feeling dumbfounded by the news, Thomas hugged Mary and told her how happy he was for her and for their family. He could hardly believe that he would be a brother, it was something he wanted his entire life. Even though there would be a large age gap between them, Thomas was definitely old enough to be the baby’s father, he was thrilled. His excitement for his mother was beyond belief. He decided that he was done with work for the day and asked his parents to join him at his house.
Before heading to Thomas’s house, Mary and David openly admired at all the work that Thomas had done. David was especially pleased and commented that his work had greatly improved, especially in the small intricate details in the animal carvings. Thomas beamed with delight at being praised by his father. He expressed his love for carving and became more adept with each piece he carved. He also revealed that he had some training from an expert wood carver who demonstrated to him several techniques to add detail and a more realistic look to his carvings.
Thomas showed David a couple of chairs that he had struggled with; then asked them how long they would be able to stay. David answered that they would be there for about two days and then needed to head back home. He explained that the healer wanted Mary back home as soon as possible. Thomas then asked his father if he could help him with the chairs, David examined them and stated he would be honored to help.
Mary walked to the house, David and Thomas enjoyed a lively conversation while they unhitched the horses from the wagon they had traveled in, put them in the barn, and gave them grain and water. They walked back to the wagon so David could retrieve a few items and handed Thomas a large rectangular item that was covered in cloth. Thomas glanced at him with curious eyes. David smiling and with a twinkle in his eye told him that he could see what was under the cloth once they were in the house. Thomas instinctively knew it was a painting that his mother created, but had no idea of what it could be.
Mary seated herself on a handcrafted chair that Thomas made out of hickory wood, anxiously awaiting her husband and son. As she waited, she admired the quality of the chair and the other items that Thomas had made.
As soon as Thomas and David entered the house, Thomas set the rectangular bundle upright on the floor; then eagerly asked if he could now remove the cloth cover. David and Mary excitedly told him he could. He pulled off the cloth and stared in amazement at what he saw. It was an exquisite painting of him in his woodshop. It depicted him with an unfinished bow in one hand and a carving tool in his other hand. He was looking forward steadfastly. In the background was a faint image of his beautiful Nara, dressed in a pale white dress with her hands out, appearing as if she were encouraging him to move forward. The painting was framed in a light maple wood that David crafted specifically for it. Thomas appreciatively gazed at the many elaborate details in the painting—carved animals in the background, tools scattered on a tool bench, Pipi and Riporty laying on the floor, Nara’s long beautiful hair flowing behind her, among so many other details. Thomas, with tears flowing down his cheeks, went to Mary and held her in his arms, crying into her shoulders. David joined the hug. Once he regained his composure, he told he mother how much he loved her and expressed as much gratitude as he could for the painting. They examined the painting together and identified many of the small intricate details imbedded in the painting, including Jesus Christ in the top left corner with his hands outstretched to Thomas. The image of Jesus was so subtle, Thomas did not see it at first. Mary disclosed to Thomas that she felt Nara’s hand as she created the painting; ideas of the small intricate details came to her as dew settles on grass in the morning.
After spending several minutes admiring the painting, Thomas retrieved some bread, cheese, and deer jerky for an early evening meal. While they ate, Thomas asked more questions about the baby and how Mary was doing. She reported that she had a couple weeks where she felt sick, but for the most part, she felt good, just tired. After all, she stated, she was not as young as she used to be! They all laughed. Thomas complimented her, stating that she still looked beautiful and did not look a day older than 25. Mary laughed and thanked him for the compliment.
Becoming more somber, Thomas informed his parents that he had some news to share with them. He first talked about Maren and Daniel, only mentioning that her husband had died. Both Mary and David looked at him with hope in their eyes; they wanted him to move on with his life and find someone he could love. They both expressed interest in meeting Maren and Daniel before they left to go home. Thomas mentioned that right now would not be a good time to meet her. He then reluctantly recounted Helki’s visits and the threats made to him, Maren, and her family.
Feeling like he was stabbed in the heart, David expressed remorse in the actions of Helki. David and Mary knew Helki’s parents well and knew they were good people. They were well aware of the problems Helki had created for them and expressed that they had hoped he would have changed as he matured, but declared that it seemed to have worsened.
Thomas recounted the details of how Maren’s husband died. Mary’s face paled as her heart went to Helki’s mother and the grief and pain she must be feeling. She commented that Helki’s mother, even though she attempts to put on a happy face, looks as though she is deeply burdened. Now that Mary had a greater understanding she resolved to spend more time with her once they were back home.
David and Mary expressed deep concern for their son. They suggested that he go back to their village. Thomas mentioned that he considered that but did not feel it would be right to run away from the problem.
About that moment, there was eager barking from Pipi and Riporty and a knock on the door. Thomas opened the door to Micco and Rowtag filling the space with their large bodies. Thomas excitedly welcomed them into the house where he introduced them to his parents. They all shook hands and Thomas invited them to sit on cushions, since he did not have enough chairs for everyone. David and Mary moved their chairs so they were facing Micco and Rowtag.
Micco and Rowtag’s eyes immediately turned to the painting. They carefully and admiringly studied it as Thomas explained some of the details. They turned to Mary looking at her with awe and admiration at her astounding work. Micco expressed the desire to have Mary paint something for him in the near future. Mary replied that she would be happy to create a painting for him.
Micco conveyed his appreciation to David and Mary for raising such an amazing son. He recounted Thomas’s experiences with Satordi and that he knew he could completely trust him. David agreed that Thomas was trustworthy declaring that he was honored to call him his son.
Micco then asked David if Thomas had informed them about the recent happenings and threats. Thomas answered saying that he told them part of the threats, but had not had the chance to finish. Mary expressed concern for Thomas’s safety as well as Maren’s. She added that she looked forward to meeting Maren and Daniel. Micco smiled and told her that he hoped that it would be sooner rather than later. He also mentioned that Daniel was pretty smitten with Thomas and constantly begged to see him again so he could fly. They laughed as Thomas explained how he held Daniel in the air like he was flying. Mary put her hands to her heart and expressed how she longed to meet him.
Thomas spent a few moments informing Micco and Rowtag about his encounter with Helki the previous day. Concern spread over both Micco and Rowtag’s faces as Rowtag explained how a few men, and even women, had been taken against their will to Helki’s community. Mary immediately gasped and asked how Thomas could be protected, and again brought up the possibility of him returning home. Because Helki made a direct threat to Thomas, David asked if that wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him. Rowtag answered that it probably was not, since no one else heard the threat, but reminded Thomas to tell a member of the king’s army next time they stopped by.
As the group discussed the situation, they determined that Thomas’s returning home would not change their situation or the threats. Thomas assured Mary that the king’s army were discretely working with him and Micco’s family to help protect them and to find those who were making the threats. After discussing the situation for several more minutes, Micco and Rowtag announced that they needed to head back home. Before leaving they expressed to David and Mary what a pleasure it was to meet them and that they hoped to see them again in the near future.
After Micco and Rowtag left, Mary, with tears in her eyes, hugged Thomas and made him promise to be careful. Thomas promised her that he would.
(To be continued…)