By Wendy De-Veryard

"You will have to say something to them Father. This just cannot go on. It was bad enough before...but this! With the two of them together...well, we just can't get any sleep at all now." William as speaker told Jacob Wells, as quite a few of the tunnel dwellers congregated in his chamber late into one night. The sounds drifting through from Vincent's chamber were only emphasising the point.

Father shuffled uncomfortably, he hated embarrassing problems, especially when Vincent was concerned. "What can I say to them though? It will be so difficult."

"As head of the community and being that he's your son, it is only right that the job falls on your shoulders, Father, but you have our every sympathy." William told him honestly.

Mary listening in, and hoping to alleviate matters for all concerned, but especially for Father, suggested, "Perhaps we could move them to another chamber further away. Are there any available? Far better to offer a new chamber by way of a gift, then to actually come out with why we insist they move out of the home chambers."

Father was doubtful, until a high pitched squeal split the night. Catherine's squeal coming from Vincent's chamber, followed by a deep and husky roar.

Groaning, Father buried his head into his hands, whispering, "All right leave it with me, I shall endeavour to speak to them. And Mary that idea of the new chamber has suddenly become very appealing."

It had been continuing for some days now. At first the tunnel dwellers were amused by it. But as night after night, the sounds of passion between Catherine and Vincent echoed through the tunnels, with each of them oblivious to it, the other occupants of the world Below were left climbing up the wall, some with unfulfilled desires of their own. The exploits of the two lovers served only to enhance their own longings, and their own memories.

Father for one, had lain in bed at night thinking of himself with Margaret. The only good coming from it as far as Mary was concerned, was the way his eyes had started to follow her every move, even though Father wasn't aware of it, as a long diffused hunger started to burn within his loins. Mary too, seemed more attentive towards him, trailing a hand longer than necessary over his shoulders, touching his fingers more often when passing a cup of tea, or a plate of biscuits, their eyes meeting and holding that bit longer. Father shook himself when this happened as if out of a trance. No one was unaffected from the obvious love displays between Vincent and Catherine these days, but it was sending their usually peaceful community into a strained atmosphere, as people who were kept awake at night, suffered from lack of sleep, frustration or both.

Short tempered, adults had started to snap at one another, while the youths were seen lingering with members of the opposite sex in the tunnel ways, as every night they were stirred by the sounds drifting along the tunnels. Sounds of Vincent and Catherine making love.

Before was bad enough, like William had said. Those days when Vincent would return from Above, unfulfilled and frustrated, roaring of his need into the night. And oh the bliss when the two had eventually given in to the drive of passion and had become lovers, because then for a time Vincent returned from Above satisfied and at peace. Until Catherines need of him drove her out of the world Above to come to live Below to be with Vincent. From then on the tunnel dwellers were entertained nightly by the love these two shared whether they wanted to be participants or not. Then to top it all, while they were forced to get up and go about their daily chores, Vincent and Catherine on the other hand could sleep until late afternoon catching up on lost sleep. Something had to be done. Changes had to be enforced, and only Father could do it.

While he pondered over the problem, Father reached across to Mary who had lingered behind, and taking her hands within his own he asked her, "What should we do my dear. You know how Vincent will take this don't you? I mean everyone else lives in and around the home chambers, even the married couples, yet they haven't been asked to move further away. Vincent will see it as being singled out, and for only one reason, that being that we feel it is his animalistic side that is the cause of this noise, and that could destroy him."

"Perhaps we could get them to marry, and give them their own chamber as a wedding present Jacob?" Mary told him softly as her eyes met his, and fleetingly Father thought he saw an unmasked light of love within their depths, yet he chose to ignore it, as he replied, "That's a marvellous idea Mary. At least it would be easier to bring up. Yes that is what we will do." His eyes lit up, "I'll speak with Vincent tomorrow."

The following afternoon as the two lovers came hand in hand into Fathers chamber to say hello before going for something to eat, Father beckoned them to stay a while, offering them tea and biscuits. Vincent sat down pulling Catherine onto his lap, where his arms clasped about her waist, and his lips nuzzled her neck just below her ear. Catherine squirmed, and beneath Father's scrutiny, she blushed, feeling compelled to free herself to go and sit in a chair opposite Vincent.

Father's busying himself overlong with the tea and biscuits, left Vincent perplexed and Catherine bemused, as they wondered what was on his mind, for usually he would be chatting to them as he went about his work. This time he remained silent and they were left in no doubt that what he was about to say was of a very delicate matter. Finally clearing his throat, Father began as best he could, "Vincent, Catherine, none more than me are happy to see the pair of you so, er, er, in love...and obviously you have become, er, ...."

Catherine's lips twitched, and she shot Vincent a look that said, help him Vincent as Father looked helplessly from one to the other still searching for the correct word.

"Lovers?" Vincent asked him softly.

Father's face lit up, and spurned on, he confirmed, "Yes, lovers." then stopped dead once more, What else could he say?

Catherine smiled at Father's acute discomfort, as his lips fumbled for words but no sound came. Taking pity upon him, she asked, "What is it Father, you know you can talk to us?"

Exhaling a great sigh he went on, "I had so many ways to say this, well versed words. But now looking at the two of you sat there so expectantly, none seem right. They are too long and drawn out, the point is...oh hell, I'll come straight out with it. You'll have to forgive me if my words sound harsh, they aren't meant to be, and I don't want to offend the two of you...."

"Get on with it Father." Vincent told him, his eyes laughing.

Ignoring him, Father went on, "Well the fact is, this love making..." there he'd said it, he hurried on, "between the two of you, it is, too noisy."

A moments silence lapsed, then Catherine threw her head back and squealed with laughter, throwing up her legs level with the seat on which she sat. While Vincent too laughed more at her than what was said, his lips drawn back to reveal his fangs, as he watched the tears slide down Catherines cheeks. Brushing them away with the back of one hand she waited for Father to say some more. When he didn't, she apologised profusely, "I'm sorry Father, I don't know why I found it so funny." she suppressed a giggle by hiding her hand over her mouth, but her eyes were alight with mischief and Vincent's lips twitched with mirth.

Eventually pursing her lips tightly together to hold back more laughter Catherine spoke softly, "Please go on Father."

Father's eyes twinkled belying the sternness he was trying so desperately to present and continued. "Perhaps I could have put it better, and perhaps it's because of the nature of our home here, you know, all these tunnels that echo? Nonetheless the community here are finding it difficult to get to sleep at night because of your activities."

Catherine blushed, "You mean everyone?" she whispered incredulous.

Father nodded, "More or less. And it's not only lack of sleep that has affected people though, apparently your antics have stimulated otherwise dormant responses and desires in both young and old. No one it seems has been unaffected." Father looked down, slightly embarrassed, as suddenly he realised that he too, had been a victim of that.

Speaking at last Vincent asked him, "You Father?"

Wearily Father replied, "Yes Vincent even me." He sighed, "I thought I was long past all of that, but it would appear that listening to the two of you night after night, something within me has re-awakened and has manifested itself upon Mary."

Vincent smiled deeply, "But that's good isnt it?"

Looking up Father enquired, "Good?"

"Yes, for Mary I mean, she has been in love with you for years." Vincent told him happily.

Father was clearly very surprised, "She has?" He whispered, more to himself than to Vincent. How could he have been so blind? The revelation of Mary loving him thrilled yet frightened him, and when he thought about it, it should have come as no surprise, it was so obvious. So perhaps he had noticed but had chosen to ignore it, was that it? Whatever, he knew he would have to do something about it now.

Vincent's voice interrupted his thoughts, "So what would you have us do Father? This is what you are leading up to isn't it?"

Over the rim of his glasses, Father looked hard at his son. This was the crunch, the time to tell them what he had in mind, and carefully he answered. "There have been some suggestions Vincent, the most obvious choice is that you are to marry and go to occupy a chamber of your own further away from the rest of us, where you can make as much noise as you like."

Vincent chose not to reply, and as Father shifted uncomfortably under those penetrating blue eyes, he heard Catherine ask, "But won't that be like being exiled Father?"

Grateful for the distraction, he looked away from Vincent to turn his attention to Catherine, who was still smiling, "I suppose it could be taken that way my dear, but in all honesty Catherine what else are we to do? I well remember what it is to love, and to try to be quiet is so off putting and not easy at all. Surely then it would only be better for the two of you to be able to be some place, where you can make as much noise as you like, especially now you know how it is at present for the rest of us."

Catherine blushed, she hadn't thought of that. They could no longer act as they were used to doing, knowing everyone could hear them.

Looking at Vincent, she smiled to see his lips twitching, and wondered what impish thought he had in mind. In response he told her via the Bond, "Listen to this Catherine, I have my own suggestion to make. This one is for Mary." Then to Father she heard him say, "Very well Father."

Father sighed, and let out a long steady deep breath, unaware that he had been breathing shallow for some time, anticipating their answer. Vincent went on, "Catherine and I will move to another chamber, but as to marriage, I have yet to ask her, however, whatever she says, our moving to another chamber is on condition."

"Condition?" Father queried. He didn't think he liked the sound of this. There was something very mischievous in the way Vincent had said it.

"Yes, Father, on condition that you and Mary marry first."

As Father's mouth gaped open, Catherine giggled again, increasing in volume as Father spluttered, "Vincent!" but no other words would form.

"Take it or leave it Father." Vincent's penetrating gaze met and held Father's, whose eyes were filled with such a ray of emotions that Vincent wanted to laugh.

Suddenly Vincent's stomach rumbled. Not to be appeased by a few biscuits after the night hed had, he continued, "Catherine and I are going for some over due lunch now Father, so we'll leave you to tick this over in your mind, and you can tell us your decision later."

With that Vincent rose, kissed his father's temple, and offering Catherine his arm, the two of them left Father in a somewhat dazed state.

Just outside, Catherine slumped against Vincent as his arms wound around her waist, her eyes lighting up as she looked at him. Hugging him tightly, she told him softly," "Oh Vincent." then began to laugh quietly, lest Father heard her.

Looking down at her, Vincent whispered, "I can't wait for his answer Catherine, thats got him well and truly cornered." He told her as he brought his mouth down to capture her own, and the ripple of laughter she felt upon his lips amused her.



Father sat in his chair, unmoving; his mind void of rational thought, while words scattered through his mind like autumn leaves blown about by a furious wind. And to make things worse, Mary came down the steps to his chamber moments later, before he had time to gather his thoughts together and make some sense out of them.

"Tea Jacob?" he heard her call.

"What? Oh, er, no thank you Mary, I've just shared one with Catherine and Vincent."

"You have?" Mary enquired looking down at the still full cup on the table before him, "This one Jacob?" she pointed.

Following her direction, Father blushed slightly, "Yes, I suppose that must be it." Absentmindedly, he focused on anything but her, embarrassed suddenly to have her near.

"Hard was it?" Mary asked him.

"What?" Father's brows drew together.

"Your conversation with Vincent and Catherine. I take it that it didn't go well?"

Father didn't seem to hear her.

Mary exhaled a short sharp amused breath, "Jacob, I take it you did speak with them?"

"Eh, who?"

"Why Vincent and Catherine of course."

Father nodded, "Oh them, yes I did."


"And what?"

Mary frowned, "Jacob aren't you listening to me? Whatever is wrong?" When he made no attempt at reply, she exasperated, "Did you tell Vincent and Catherine about the noise or not?"

Father shook himself, trying to shake his mind free of cotton wool while he watched Mary, as if really seeing her for the first time. He could not visualise life without her, and he realised somewhat belatedly, that she was a very attractive woman. Even hidden away beneath the city streets, she had kept herself well, and even though she dressed appropriately for the temperature Below, still her choice of clothing emphasised her beauty.

That they made a good team was unquestionable, but love? Marriage? Did she love him as Vincent had made known? And more importantly, did he love her?

Mary blushed at his open scrutiny of her, feeling a warm glow start in her toes, quickly sending wave upon wave through her entire body. Shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot, as a sweep of desire loosened itself within her, she heard herself question him softly, "Jacob?"

The spell broken Father visibly shook, and opening his mouth to speak, found no words would come.

Concerned now, Mary asked him, "Jacob, what has happened. Did Vincent take it badly?"


"Jacob!" Mary's voice rose, as she shook her head in disbelief, "Whatever happened?"

Instantly Father was brought back to the present, "I'm sorry my dear. Come sit beside me", then taking her hands in his he went on, "I did speak to them." A short burst of nervous laughter followed his words, "And Vincent is agreeable."

"Well that's wonderful...." Mary began, then catching sight of his face, added, "Isn't it?"

"Ordinarily yes, but Vincent placed a condition upon the agreement. I'm afraid my dear I allowed myself to become cornered, I walked right into his trap." he paused, "Mary, there is something I have to know?"

Mary had began to laugh, wondering what condition Vincent had come up with, clearly it disturbed Father, yet his next question stilled the laughter upon her lips, as her mind tried to come to terms with what he was asking, "Mary, do you love me?"

Clearly shocked, Father watched Mary's face; her eyes stared wildly at him. Self-denial had over the years manifested itself between them. Whenever her heart had been about to betray her, Mary had managed to mask the love that she felt for this man from him. Even now, when confronted with the question she desperately sought to keep her feelings hidden, "Love you?" she queried, the words catching in her throat, then shakily went on, "Why, everyone loves you Jacob." While she thought to herself, who would have told him this? Vincent? Catherine?

Squeezing her hands more tightly, Father told her, "That's not what I asked Mary. Perhaps it was too cruel of me to have asked it at all. Please forgive me Mary?"

"There is nothing to forgive Jacob." She told him, though her eyes lowered from his gaze and her hands entwined in his began to tremble.

"Mary" he told her gently, "You and I are a good team, and I could not imagine life here without you. You are so much a part of what we have down here. I also expect others see you as much as Mother, as they see me as Father, but that doesn't mean...." again he stopped, what was he trying to say? For one so well versed in literature, today he was finding it increasingly difficult to find the words he needed. Extracting one of his hands from hers, he ran his fingers over his brow, massaging his aching temples.

"Doesn't mean what Jacob?" Mary prompted him gently, as hope flared and died in her heart. Was he letting her down gently or what? "What are you trying to say Jacob?"

Taking a huge deep breath, and exhaling it sharply in a long sigh, Father replied, "Oh Mary, I don't know what it is I am saying, only that it is coming out very badly, and you don't deserve that. Mary can you leave me for a while, I simply have to think things through in my mind, lest I shall be compelled to make utterance to words I may later regret. Please my dear, don't be offended, but please Mary will you leave me alone this day."

Despite his gentle words, Mary did feel offended. Always they had shared every trial, and this one so raw, so obviously about the two of them, they could not share, because he chose not to share it with her, and that hurt. Really hurt. Mary rose, "As you wish Jacob", she told him, and was gone, leaving him only to stare and gape after her retreating back, feeling forlorn and alone.

Mary's fury took her straight to the kitchen, where she had seen Vincent and Catherine heading, and she exploded the moment she entered the doorway, "Whatever did you say to him?" She fumed at a startled Vincent, who had been sat beside Catherine, just asking her to marry him. "Who?" Vincent queried.

"Your Father. Whatever did you say to him?" her voice a fraction lower repeated, then in a whisper lest anyone outside the kitchen overheard she went on, "Vincent did you tell him, that I loved him?"

Shamefaced, Vincent looked away, unable to meet her eyes, giving her the answer she needed, "Why Vincent? In Heavens name why?"

"I thought it would help." he muttered softly, still keeping his eyes averted from hers.

"Well it hasn't! You know Vincent, for over twenty years I have loved that man. Prayed and hoped that one day he would return that love, never letting him know how I felt. I knew you see, the torch he carried for Margaret. I would never allow him to feel cornered into something he was unprepared for. But you knew, and a few others knew, what your father chose not to see, nonetheless I always hoped that one day..." her voice faltered, "Do you know what you have done Vincent? You have killed that hope. Smashed it beyond revival." Vincent winced and as Catherine reached for his hands, he snatched them away. Mary went on, "How can I stay here now Vincent, answer me that?" She asked though she did not wait for his answer. "How can I bear to see the look in his eyes, the pity and hopelessness? You have ruined everything Vincent. Everything!" She made to leave, but Catherine's words stopped her, "Where are you going Mary?"

Turning to Catherine she told her quietly, " I must leave. Go Above, and start a new life for myself there."

Jumping to his feet, Vincent hurried across to her, "No, Mary, please don't leave me."

"You! You!" Mary flared, "If I never saw you again Vincent it would be too soon!"

Stung, Vincent roared with the pain of her words while she went on, "I never thought I would ever say this to you Vincent, but right now I almost hate you." Then she was gone, leaving Vincent gasping for breath, as his lungs seemed to collapse along with his heart.



Three days came and went, leaving Father, head in hands groaning inwardly on the forth day, as Catherine came down the steps of his chamber from being Above. "Still no sign of her Father, I'm sorry. I went to all the helpers that you gave me on that list, but no one has seen or heard from her. They promise that they will be in touch immediately if they do."

Vincent had hardly spoken at all in all those three days, and when sleep did finally overtake him, his rest was fitful, nightmarish as he continued to see Mary's fury directed at him.

Father patted Catherine's hand. "It's all right Catherine. Thank-you for trying. I'm sure you must be tired, come sit down and rest."

"Yes I am tired, I've forgotten what it is to walk the streets, Father."

Suddenly amused, almost like old times, Father chuckled, "Really Catherine, and there was I thinking you were a lawyer."

Going over her words to him, Catherine blushed, "Oh Father, you know what I mean. Still it was worth my embarrassment to see you laughing again."

Glancing across at Vincent, Catherine frowned, wanting so desperately to comfort him, but knowing from experience he would shake her off, for since the day of Mary's outburst, Vincent had refused to allow anyone to try to console him, believing he was entirely at fault for Mary's departure.

His heart weighed heavy, and despite their denial, he harboured thoughts that everyone else blamed him for Mary's exodus. What was worse, was Father's continued torture, for having at last realised that perhaps he did love Mary, he had found himself unable to express himself to her, and that hurt dreadfully. However much Vincent believed he was to blame, Father also carried the weight of the burden upon his own shoulders. All the same it was most uncharacteristic of him to allow himself to shift the blame upon an already over-loaded Vincent, and found himself continually being sharp with his son unable to help himself.

* * *

Far across the city, in Mary's mind, nothing could be further from the truth. She neither blamed Vincent nor Father for her leaving. She blamed only herself, regretting her outburst deeply, especially telling Vincent she hated him, which of course she did not. She loved him, and it hurt her to know of the pain that her words would have caused him. Wanting to apologise, she knew that nothing short of telling him face to face would suffice, and she was not prepared to go back Below just yet, there were still many things she needed to concentrate on. If Father was unprepared to return her love, then she did not know if she could live Below ever again, for to be there beside him with all her hopes shattered, would be unbearable.

In the three days of her absence, Father had given himself time to analyse his feelings towards her. It wasn't that he didn't care for her, for he did, but he had promised himself he would never love another after Margaret, and felt that to do so, would betray her memory. After he had spoken to Mary that day, he had gone along to her chamber, his mind made up on telling her that she should not entertain any thoughts of the two of them having a life together in that way, when suddenly he had met Vincent and Catherine coming to seek him. Both were in such a state, as they repeated to him all that had taken place, and on going to search for Mary, found her wardrobe empty and her already gone.

In the days that followed, Father's emotions got the better of logic. Logic told him that he must be true to Margaret. While his heart told him that in twenty years Mary had never let him down. She had been his constant companion in all that time, and was the backbone of the community, never asking for anything in return, giving all of herself without reservation, willingly, tirelessly.

Without her, Father did not know how to continue, and slowly in her absence he came to admit to himself that he did love her. Maybe not in the way she would have wished it, or so he told himself at first, but the more he allowed his emotions their freedom, the more he came to realise the strength of his love for her by the depth of his concern for her welfare. And there was something else, a feeling that would not be denied as he remembered the nights he had lain awake listening to Vincent and Catherine's lovemaking. Always in his mind's eye, Mary's face had arisen, side by side with Margaret's, until finally he admitted it took conscious effort to push Marys image away, and dredge up Margaret's in her place. Had Margaret of lived, there would be no contest, but as that was not to be, it was Mary's companionship that held the key to his happiness. Not that she was second best, but because she was warm, caring, loving, and yes, very much alive, in more ways than one, and Father finally admitted to himself that he did love her. Truly he loved her.

Feeling very much like someone all dressed up with no-where to go, Father could only sit and wait, hoping that Mary would return and soon. "I wish I shared an Empathic Connection with Mary as you share with Vincent," he told Catherine after a great length of silence had lapsed between them, "Maybe then I could persuade her to return."

Vincent looked up, from the pit of his misery, surprised to hear those words; "You say that as if you mean it, Father. Oh forgive me, I don't mean that as it sounds, what I meant was..." He grappled for the right words, and Father cut in, "You noticed the affection spoken through my words Vincent?" As he nodded, Father continued, "Yes, during Mary's absence, I have come to realise what an old fool I have been. I do love her, and I am more that ready to take you up on your challenge, your condition to marry Mary, whether or not you and Catherine marry also."

"Catherine and I will marry Father. Moments before Marys outburst, Catherine had just agreed to be my wife, and though I have great joy at her acceptance and at your news, all this seems somewhat of an anti-climax now that Mary is no longer here to share it with us."

"I agree with Vincent," Catherine told them both, "Unless Mary comes back, I would find it impossible to marry without her here."

"That wasn't the condition though was it Catherine? Vincent made it clear that you two would not marry before Mary and I, so unless Mary returns, I am afraid I have rather ruined it for all of us."

"You've ruined it Father? Don't you mean me?" Vincent asked him somewhat surprised.

"No, Vincent. Oh yes I know Mary was cross with you, but I fear, I caused her anger to start with. Had I of handled things better, she would have been coming to thank you, not to reprimand you, so I am the one with who the blame rests. Now however, my head is clear, my heart pure and sure, and tomorrow Catherine, I insist you let me help you in your search for Mary, we simply cannot let another day pass without finding her."

"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today Father,"she told him, rising to her feet. "I am rested now, come let us use what is left of the day to search together, and if we cannot find her, then Vincent will take up the night patrol. One way or another, as big as this city is, we will find her and bring her home."

Father smiled, hoping with all his heart that her words would come true.

* * *

Mary was unable to settle to anything. Her heart grieved her, more for the pain she would have caused Vincent than anything else. He was after all, only trying to help, and as she didn't have the full picture of all that had taken place that day, how could she blame him? Perhaps something had transpired whereupon he thought he would only be making things right for her. She knew Vincent didn't she? And the Vincent she knew would never do or say a thing unless he truly believed good would come from it.

Exhaling a deep sigh, Mary picked up her as yet unpacked bags, left her lodgings, hailed a taxi and asked the driver to take her to Catherine's apartment building. There she went into the basement and started the long journey through the tunnels that were home to her.

Father had only just changed into his suit, for his trip Above, when the pipes announcing Mary's arrival, made him freeze on the spot. A deep smile lit his eyes, as Catherine, her hand on his arm, squeezed firmly, telling him of her own delight. "Keep your suit on Father, you look so handsome in it. I'm sure that whatever reason Mary has come back for, she will simply find you too irresistible to leave again."

Father's eyes lit up, "Thank you my dear. Now take Vincent off somewhere and make yourselves scarce, I have to eat humble pie, and it is bad enough hearing myself having to do it without an audience."

Catherine laughed, and kissing him quickly, she did as he asked, accompanying Vincent to his chamber.

Believing Mary to go only to her own chamber possibly to collect some more belongings, Father intercepted her there. Her surprise registered and her eyes widened as she noted his suit, "Jacob" she cried, "Were you going Above?"

"Yes my dear, to help in the search for you. Please Mary, let me speak." He told her, as she made to open her mouth to say something. "I..." there was so much he wanted to say, so much to say, yet suddenly none of it seemed right. There were only three words he could say that would cover a multitude, and make all other words pale into insignificance. Simply he told her, "I love you."

A smile started at the corners of her sweet mouth, spreading slowly upwards to light up her eyes, as Mary dropped her bags and closed the gap between them. Her heart raced as she slipped her arms around him, to stand gazing up into his dear face, complete at last, finding solace in his arms as his hands slid around her own waist, and his lips sought hers. Breaking away breathlessly, he drew her against him, "Oh my love, how I have missed you. Yet this time apart, torturous though it was, afforded me the time to see what you truly mean to me. Forgive me Mary for all those lost years, and for hurting you so."

Mary looked up at him, "There were no lost years Jacob. What we shared throughout, have been years of joy for us both, look at what we have achieved. However, if any forgiveness is to be offered, then it must come from me, to you for deserting you as I did, and to Vincent for the way I spoke to him. Where is he?"

"He's making himself scarce in his chamber, Catherine is there with him."

"Then let us go together to see them."

"Not yet my love, first there is something I have to ask you if you will only help me to get myself down on one knee, and then back up again."

Thrilled Mary helped him, eagerly awaiting the question she knew was to come, but Father was mischievous, looking up at her he said, "You know, I can tell what you are expecting me to say, so what happens if it turns out to be nothing of the sort?"

Mary laughed, "Then you would have to stay there in that position until someone else finds you, because my disappointment would send me running away again. Do you think your joints could stand the risk of that Jacob?"

Laughing out loud, Father took her hands in his, "Then I had best not disappoint you, and hurry up before I fossilise." Seriously he told her, "Mary, my love, my life, I would be honoured if you would agree to marry me."

Smiling down at him, she whispered, "For more than twenty years I have loved you, that's an awful lot of days spent dreaming Jacob, but this day you make my dreams come true, I love you desperately, and I would love to marry you."

Easing him to his feet, they kissed deeply, then breaking apart, she asked him, "Now can we see Vincent?"

* * *

As the sounds of lovemaking split the night, William groaned. Dragging his great frame from his bed to walk through the tunnels, he was met by other sleepy-eyed tunnel dwellers, and stopped to speak with them. "Whatever are we to do?" He asked them.

"We were coming to ask you the very same question." They replied, "If we thought before was bad, we were wrong. I don't know, perhaps we should get Catherine to buy us all some ear-plugs."

"Better still some sound proofing." William told them.

"I thought it would be better when Vincent and Catherine moved to that other chamber, now this!"

"It was better, it is better, but they aren't the problem anymore are they? It's that other pair." His eyes twinkled, "So whose going to volunteer to speak to them then?" William asked then cried, " What are you all looking at me for?"

"Well you did bring it up last time." Pascal reminded him.

"Yes, I know, but I can tell you without a doubt this time my words will fall on deaf ears."

"Maybe" Pascal told him, "But you have such a wonderful way with words."

William nodded, "Right then. I have a way with words do I? I'll show you just how." Marching ahead of them, he called over his shoulder, "Watch this," and as he approached the entrance of Father and Mary's chamber, he banged his fists on the door that Cullen had erected for privacy, and shouted, "Hey you in there. Quieten down, we can't get any sleep."

William was answered only by a loud burst of hearty laughter from within the chamber, and knew from experience that Father in that mood, was too much of a challenge for him to contemplate saying anything further. And especially at four in the morning, so shrugging his shoulders, he turned and bowed before those tunnel dwellers behind him, saying simply, "I rest my case."


The End.