The bangles shifted and clinked together as his feet twitched to find a comfortable position. The wool blankets scratched his bare skin. Soon though, he drifted off into a deep sleep.
He had considered more than once her suggestion to find employment at a big house. Then he was reminded of his impediment at every turn. It would never work. Miles passed under foot as he left the highlands and the low lands. It took him four weeks to walk and catch carts to get from the Hebridies to Bath with his two boys. His grandmother had provided him with enough to see him to the wall, but it became more difficult to afford substantial meals for the babes. He exchanged some of his medical talents here and there for milk and mash. There were those that took pity on him, only seeing a mute ward in a poor homespun dress who needed the help.
On the outskirts of Bath, exhausted and famished, Eoin found himself on the outside of a lopsided fence and open gate for a wheelwright’s shop. The tinking thump of mallet against metal and the call of master to apprentice was soothing. Eoin eased into the courtyard and found an out of the way stack of crates to spread his skirts. He had to admit, stays were uncomfortable, but the skirts were much warmer than his kilt, if restrictive. He breathed a sigh of relief.
Albin and Callum were beginning to wake. This gave him a moment to pull out a canister of milk that a farmer had given him. He poured it off into a pair of small, long earthenware pots that had fine spouts and cloth nipples. The boys, over the past couple of months, had gained weight steadily. They were beginning to eat mashed foods, when he could find some to provide them with. He knew they would be better off with a wet nurse, but he could neither afford the cost to place the children with one, nor afford the time. His pressing goal was to escape the island and find a new home for himself and the boys on the mainland. They were just old enough to hold the pots for themselves, as long as they had a prop to rest against.
With a quick twist, he had their slings undone and had them set up amongst the crates. He rolled his shoulders and enjoyed the sense of freedom from their weight for a moment. He got them settled in for their feeding when a sharp twang and a guttural scream caught his attention. One of the apprentices was on the ground, bent over his hand. The wooden wheel had lost it’s metal band. It had snapped out in an odd angle.
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