The Witch's Quilt Begins



The Witch's Quilt by Kitty Pearl
Part 1

Mrs. Leeds was extremely stern. Even the way she served tea had austere airs. Is she always like this? wondered Emily, Or is she afraid we will change things in the castle?
Jeremy sprang from behind the velvet draperies that framed the leaded glass casement of the castle library and bounded over to the divan to peruse the tea cakes and china service. His four-year old's exuberance startled Mrs. Leeds and earned an exasperated sigh from his father, coping with jet lag on the giant sofa across from Emily's overstuffed wing back chair.
Emily decided she was right on all accounts:  Mrs. Leeds was perpetually stern, her family's arrival had already challenged the castle calm, and although she had been trying not to admit it to herself, her husband Andrew did not want to be on this trip. 
"Sit here, Son," she called after Jeremy, now charging over to the library's grand piano. "We can have some of Mrs. Leeds's nice cakes, shall we?" 
"Melissa," Andrew waved to get his daughter's attention at the end of the couch, competing with her head phones. "Would you like some tea?"
Melissa began her usual teenage rant about not preferring whatever was offered, but her father's voice was just short enough to remind her of her manners. She said nothing, but sat up straight and managed a 'no thank you' nod to the cup and saucer Mrs. Leeds offered her. 
Emily looked about the room, seeking a topic of conversation in the looming silence of tea time. It was not like Andrew to be so short with the children. She had hoped that once they had arrived at Castle Anwryn, her ancestral home, that the trials of travel would melt beneath the adventure of a new and wondrous place. If anything, Andrew had become more agitated since Mrs. Leeds had welcomed them in from the rain at the Castle's stone portico. What was so odd about this place?
As if in answer, the silence of the room deepened, perhaps Silence herself had come to tea. Emily could even feel it directly behind her. You are just tired, she told herself, all the while unable to resist the urge of setting down her tea and standing to turn and look behind her. 
Looming above her chair was a strangely dark quilt. It was large enough to cover the wall down to the chair rail. The quilt had four quadrants, each of a bi-color theme. A central spider web shape encompassed the corners of the varicolored regions. Deep red stitches mapped the quilt's black border. 
"The Witch's Quilt" confided Mrs. Leeds, gripping the cross on her necklace while answering Emily's obvious albeit yet unasked question. "An heirloom by the hand of your ancestor, so the Laird had it hung for your arrival."
"Yes, it is, ug...imposing," laughed Andrew nervously, gaining a reproachful glance from Mrs. Leeds, in addition to the recently all to familiar why must you embarrass me from his wife. "I mean," he tried again, "You would only keep that, if it were an heirloom, right?" 
But Melissa was first to accomplish the mental math on the topic. Taking out her headphones she asked, "There was a witch in the family?"
Andrew's phone buzzed in his jacket, instinctively, he reached to check the status of news from his office before remembering he was 5000 miles from California, from home and office, in a genuine Welsh castle no less, on the banks of an entirely different ocean. His expression bode the conviction that there would be no reprieve from the tediousness of the trip and these constant little considerations of tea and quilts and whatever.
Emily noticed his obvious relief at the incoming call. "Mrs. Leeds, I believe my husband has business to address. Would it be possible for him to see our rooms?" She hadn't meant to sound so dismissive.
"Of course," Mrs. Leeds's likewise sounded dismissed. "This way," she gestured.
"Yes," agreed Andrew without looking at his wife. "Come on, Jeremy, you can help me unpack, okay buddy?"
"Lord George will be here shortly, mum, if you care to finish your tea," and Mrs. Leeds sealed the directive with a brief curtsy. Only Jeremy waved goodbye to his Mother as he left the library in hand with his Dad.


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