"The weather is changing. Why don't you stay longer? You just got here." Then he said, "It is a hard ride with such a little one. Why don't you wait until I make another trip."
"If I don't go now, the weather may not permit me to go back until Spring. I told Joseph I would return with you. He is expecting me."
"I understood he thought you were staying longer. Oh well, I'm leaving as soon as I feed the horses."
"I'll be ready."
When he left, Nancy said, "I think the man tries to control his son's wife as he does the Cherokee people. I am proud of you little Nest for speaking up to him. I think he planned to leave you here for the winter. Good bye, little one. I will pray for you."
Nest was saddled and ready. John Sevier would not wait for anyone and would gladly have left without her, she was sure of it. I was much colder now than when they rode here. Nancy was right. A storm was coming. They rode into the wind that sometimes spit sleet. Nest had taken the buffalo robe the trapper offered. It helped to keep them warm. The baby slept much with the motion of the horse. The man rode ahead. They did not speak. It made her teeth ache with the cold if she opened her mouth.
It was a very long day that was beginning to tuck into the night when they arrived at the Sevier home. She was surprised when she rode her horse to the barn to see Joseph's horse there as well as a team she did not know. A strange wagon was in the yard.
"Go ahead and take the baby on in, while I take care of the horses."
Nest slipped into the house. The family was seated around the table. There was a woman sitting beside Joseph. He had his hand on her hand and was holding a little boy. Nest felt faint and let out a small cry. They all turned to see her there. Joseph stood up suddenly knocking over a chair and set the toddler down.
"Nest! I didn't know you were coming home so soon. Father said you had planned to stay in the village for awhile."
Nest saw pure hate from the woman's eyes. It had to be Charity, none other. Nest felt like a caged animal. She wanted to be free.
Bonny Kat took her by the shoulders and turned her toward the stairs. "Go sleep in Ruthe's old bed. We'll sort this out in the morning."
Her grief was too deep for tears. Her heart was broken and all the bleeding was inside. Only little Mary Margaret cried. Exhausted in every way, mother and child escaped into sleep.
Nest's eyes flew open panicked. The nightmare was one she could not wake up from. It would be hours before the sky would flush with light, but a full moon spilled its shining when the dark clouds swept past. Nest saddled up and rode toward her cabin. The wagon was there. She was there. It was dark when she entered where she knew Joseph and his first wife lay. She quickly gathered her mother's dress and all the baby's things in the faint light of the embers. His dogs thumped their tails. Nest looked at the pegs where her two dresses hung. She did not want them, but she kept the shawl to wrap over her head and around the baby to wear under the buffalo robe. She paused as her eyes laid on the holy book. Her husband had broken the words. She wished she had learned to read it, but she had not. Nest left if knowing its words were hidden in her heart. Nest slipped the ring off her finger and laid it on the holy book.
Even in the dark, the woman's eyes followed Nest with hatred. The baby was beginning to fuss. Her boys stirred on their pallet on the ground where they curled up with the hounds. Joseph appeared half crazed looking from one to the other of his wives in the dim moonlight.
"You were there on the raid with your father when my mother was shot, weren't you?" Nest could see it in his face. It was a question she had longed to ask for months. Before that she had been too afraid to even think of it. Now she was brave. Goodbye, Joseph."
Nest left the white world in a swirling snow. She gave the horse his horse his head and lay low protectively over her child. When the wind would die down, she could see they were still on the path. Without the buffalo robe, they would have froze to death. At least she knew her warmth above and the horse below was protecting little Mary Margaret, for now.
Finally, Nest saw a hollow tree. It has the one that burned out with a lightning strike. Nest remembered it as a marker on the trail and the tale that Joseph had told about the frontiersman who wintered in a tree. Tying the horse to a branch of a tree. Nest climbed in with the baby and covered them with the buffalo robe to wait out the worst of the storm. She shook with the cold, but was grateful the baby still had warmth and nursed constantly.
Nest remembered another song. She had not like it so had not learned the whole of it., but now it came back uninvited. With chattering teeth she sang to soothe the baby.
"I told you I would be patient. You are broken now. The healing of a break will make you stronger than before. Your wound will heal, Nest, and you will be a strong woman, a Beloved Woman just like Nancy. The babies belong to you. That is enough for me."
Nest finally turned and looked into his eyes and only say the fie of love. It kindled the embers in her heart.
Mary Margaret stirred and let out a little cry. He lifted her up and kissed her holding her tenderly studying her face. "She has your eyes, Nest. She will be a beautiful Welsh Indian like her mother." The baby smiled.