Leigha watched Gordon take the stairs two at a time, and wishing she could do the same so as to leave her in-laws alone, she turned and began to walk towards the parlor. Dan Dougal had dispatched all of the servants from the room when he had realized the seriousness of the situation, and so the great hall was empty as she crossed. Suddenly, she was struck with a tremendous cramping in her stomach and back, making her double over as she fell to her knees. She trembled with fear as the first strong wave of her heretofore unnoticed labor came upon her, easing almost as quickly as it had come but leaving her weak and confused.
“Leigha!” Charles exclaimed, rushing to her from his wife’s side. “Emily, come quick! There’s something wrong with Leigha, she’s ill!”
“She’s not ill, my love,” Emily laughed softly, quickly replacing her thoughts of sorrow with ones of joy as she came to their side and looked closely at Leigha. “‘Tis her time is all. Though ‘tis early, the babe knows that he is home and wishes to be welcomed as well! Now hurry!” she ordered as she helped him to lift the dazed girl to her feet. “Go and get Kirstie! She’s out in the gardens with Jesep MacFee. I’ll help Leigha into the parlor. Go!”
Charles stared openmouthed, unable to move for a moment, so stunned was he by the news. When Emily’s last command came sternly, he found his legs and ran quickly from the house to do as he was told, leaving Emily to help Leigha to walk slowly across the hall and on into the parlor before lowering her gently down upon the soft cushions of the couch.
“There now, don’t be afraid,” Emily said softly, trying to comfort and ease the fear so plainly seen in Leigha’s eyes as she asked, “When did the pains begin? They must have been coming on for quite a while now to have gripped you that strongly.”
“I . . . I don’t know,” Leigha exclaimed, staring wide-eyed up at her mother-in-law. “I mean I’m not sure. I’ve been quite uncomfortable and restless all day, but I thought that it was due to all of the traveling and the fact that we were almost home.”
“Perhaps that was part of it, but you have obviously been in labor for several hours.” Emily smiled, holding Leigha’s hand in her own and stroking her dampened forehead with her other slim hand as she spoke, “Now just try to relax, dear . . .
. . .
The silence in the great house was broken later that evening by a piercing scream, bringing everyone in range of the sound to full attention, alerting them to the faint wailing of a baby’s first cry in the stillness that followed. The women in the parlor with Leigha wept openly with joy as they set the new Dagon child in the arms of its exhausted mother. Leigha smiled weakly down at its cherubic face and tenderly touched the dark, downy fuzz upon the babe’s head before looking up and beaming at the faces that surrounded her. The pain which had wracked her body only moments before was forgotten and blurred, pushed aside by the tremendous warmth and happiness that the child who squirmed so gently now in her arms brought to her heart. Her face beamed brightly with her tears of love and joy as she gazed upon her perfect, healthy child.