Chapter 15 – Samuel

Fidele by Jenna Lynn Brown

Caleb refused to sleep alone the next night, and the night after that; all week, in fact, he would not go into his room at bedtime unless someone else was with him. Mrs. Bell bathed him and got him into his pajamas, and after that Noel took over to hear his prayers, read him a story, and sit with him until he fell asleep. When I got up in the night myself, as I often did, I found Noel either asleep in Caleb’s bed with Caleb in his arms, or on the floor beside his bed on a makeshift bedroll.

I offered to sit with Caleb at night, but Noel shook his head. “You look after him all day. I don’t mind looking after him at night.” Still, even after a few days I could see the weariness that settled on him; neither of us slept much, but now even the few hours he was able to snatch were not restful, and he moved slowly, no doubt stiff from sleeping on the floor.

Thursday night, after Mrs. Bell took Caleb and Emmanuel was in his study, I said to Noel, “Let’s go for a walk,” and with a small, mostly-in-the-eyes smile, he said, “Let’s.”

We left the house for the gardens. The moon was out, casting the gardens in a silvery light. We walked near each other, bumping a few times and murmuring, “Sorry,” until Noel offered his arm. “This is not a statement on your ability to walk.”

I huffed — I hated it when people treated me as if I were fragile — but took his arm anyway. “Aren’t you worried about Emmanuel seeing?”

“No,” Noel said. “Even he can’t object to chivalry.”

“Maybe I should have suggested a drive instead.”

“Maybe.” Noel cut a look at me, and I smiled to myself. “I want to take Caleb to the pictures tomorrow night. Would you like to come?”

Rene and Angelique had invited me to join them in the city, as they did every Friday night, but this was a much more appealing offer. “I’d love to.”

“We probably ought not stop on the way,” he said mildly, and I smiled to myself again. “Saturday morning he’s playing with Alex Christie’s son for a few hours, so I don’t want to keep him up late.”

“About that,” I said. “You can’t keep going on so little sleep, Noel.”

“I slept less than this during the war.”

“The war’s over.”