he sound of a woman's scream broke the silence of the Autumn night. The moon, full and aglow, had no power over the black storm clouds rolling across it. Lightening filled the room in its stead, the hard beating of rain beginning to vibrate down from the thatched roof of the small cottage on the outskirts of town.
"Don't hurt my son!" she shrieked.
Ignoring the woman cleaning up the blood and afterbirth, she struggled to reach her newborn crying helplessly in her husband's arms.
"It's an evil eye, Molly!" he quietly hissed, as though afraid of summoning demons.
"It isn't evil, Charles," she cried, still trying to pull her son into the safety of her embrace. "It's only sickly. Please, don't hurt him!"
She screamed again as he laid the infant still covered in blood and mucus from the womb onto the nearby table. Its shaking body and flailing limbs beckoned for the warmth of its mother. The soft whimpers and cries did nothing to warm the heart of the man moving a knife over his tiny heart.
"Charles!" screamed Molly, finally able to break free of the overbearing midwife.
With blood dripping down her legs, she held tightly to his wrist and arm to still the blade from piercing her son's chest.
"We'll call a priest! Let the Church decide what's wrong with him," she reasoned. "Please, Charles! He's your son! Your first child!"
Charles glared down at the boy as his small eyelids cracked open to look upward at his father. The man shook his head at the single white eye gazing back.
"He's no son of mine," he growled.
He looked at his wife and angrily clenched his teeth. "You've cursed my name with this ... thing. You want me to bring in the Church to see evil has befallen upon my house?"
He shoved her to the floor but threw the knife away rather than continue with his deadly intentions.
"Have it your way, Molly," he relented. "If the Church tells us he can't be saved, then so help me God, I'll kill you both!"
Molly and the midwife watched him grab his coat and leave out into the storm.
"If we're lucky, the good Lord will strike him down before he gets to the rectory," mumbled the midwife. "Come, Molly, dear," she said as she helped her to stand.
"My son, Aida," Molly cried.
They hurried to the table and Molly pulled the boy into her arms. She and Aida washed him before Molly returned to the bed. As Aida cleaned her and tended to her medical needs, Molly nursed him.
"I think I'll call him Garson," Molly said softly. She smiled down as he nursed and looked up at her. "His baptismal name will be Gabriel. He'll be as sharp as a spear and as gentle and brave as an angel. He's a beautiful little boy, isn't he, Aida?"
Aida watched Molly caress the baby's cheek and play with his fingers that reached for hers. She shook her head and gave a woeful sigh.
"Ye oughtn't be namin' him," Aida warned. "Ye don't know what that man will do when he returns with the priest. Best ye can hope for is he spares you after he's done with the babe."
Molly glared up at Aida with a determined and angry expression.
"He'll not touch my son, Aida," she spat in a fierce tone. "It'll be him that dies before I let that happen. If you're going to take his side, you can leave now. I don't need you here agreeing with either of those men."
Aida quickly shook her head. "No, Molly, I would never abandon ye in yer time of need." Her tone was remorseful and seemed hurt over the suggestion. "Yer like a sister to me in this lonely old province. I'm only sayin' yer settin' ye’self up for heartache if that priest agrees the boy can't be saved.
He said he'd kill ye both, but I don't think he'd be so bold with a man of God here. I know it's a cold thing to say, but at least ye can live to have another to replace this one."
"Shut your mouth!" Molly yelled, her voice so loud it could be heard over a sudden boom of thunder that shook the house. "If there's nothing I can do to stop it, I'll die with my baby. Before that happens, I'll do what I must to keep him safe.
I'll give Charles as many children as he's after. I'll suffer through his yearnings as often as I must. He won't take this child from me.
My Garson will endure this and become a gift to this world. You'll see. No matter what my husband believes or the Church says, this boy is my sweet angel. He'll prove it someday. Just watch, Aida. He'll be a great man and nothing like his father. I'll see to it no matter what I have to do."