Siobhan told the Tailors this would be the last night. Bardic, Keltic and Gaelic law all said the limits of common hospitality was only three nights. Anything more than that outside of official hosts was considered abuse by the guest or guests. Young Tailor was not having much of that explanation. She kept on telling Siobhan and Toot-Toot that if they, the Tailors, insisted, then that should be an exception to those stupid laws. She did not notice, but both Siobhan and Toot-Toot noticed that neither of the adults were protesting. So, Siobhan simply turned on her Scoti charm, with a little mid-level brogue thrown in for effect. She explained that the visit was magic…right now. But it would age and lose its appeal with too much exposure. That familiarity created complacency. She explained how she used to be able to get Toot-Toot to do anything she wanted. He would rub her feet every night. Now look at him! He was all, ‘rub your own stinky feet!’
They all looked at him…young Tailor with in incredulous, ‘tell me it ain’t so’ expression, Mr. and Mrs. Tailor with amused understanding. And then Siobhan went in for the metaphorical kill…she confessed she only had 21 days of stories! If she stayed too long, Young Tailor would find her boring the next time. In the middle of her protesting exactly how highly unlikely that would ever be the case, Siobhan started singing. Low, barely audible at first. Without words. Just her voice as a musical instrument underlying young Tailor’s protests and arguments. Background music. Neither the Tailors nor Toot-Toot were really familiar with background music, but it was another thing Siobhan had studied Mag Raith. It took a couple of moments for young Tailor to notice. Toot-Toot was not really sure how long it took him, either, but he knew he noticed it before she did, because as soon as she did…she stopped her argument and asked, “what are you doing?” She asked with curiosity…not anger. Her eyes widening a bit as she realized Siobhan had been underscoring her.
Siobhan did not give a direct answer. But the melody and tune changed. And she began weaving words into the fabric of the song. Then she underscored her own music with slaps against the table to start a rhythm. “Come on…join me.” Soon, they were all were keeping score on the table, providing a base beat. “Keep going,” she encouraged them, and then picked back up her singing, walking around the table the table to young Tailor, and directing her to a complimentary clapping beat. Siobhan started adding lyrics to the melody. Coming over to Toot-Toot, she walked him through a baritone humming line. And then started a chorus refrain where everybody joined in on the chorus. It got loud. It was fun. It probably lasted only a few minutes…but it could have been hours. And then she slowed the tone down. First stopping her own beat, then Mrs. Taylor’s, followed by Toot-Toot’s, then Mr. Taylor’s. Then a hand on Toot-Toot’s shoulder and a finger from the opposite hand on his lips to stop his baseline hum. And then a gentle hand on young Tailor’s hands to stop her beat as well, along with the lyrics. Then just the voice…trailing off…just the opposite of the way it began.
And…quiet. The room was charged with excited energy…but quieter than a tomb.
“And…” Siobhan’s voice was low, but easily heard by all of them, “…you were saying…you will miss us when we are gone …but tonight…tonight you are going to enjoy an evening of singing…and maybe a dance or two?”
Sure…it was phrased as a question to young Tailor, but everybody there, probably even young Tailor, understood it was really a statement. Toot-Toot was not sure if he should be alarmed at how easily she could manipulate an audience in a controlled environment, or if he should be impressed at how easily she de-escalated young Tailor’s stress. He decided on the latter…not seeing much upside on the former.
Songs. Dinner. More songs. Staying up way too late for any of them. But such glorious music. Music that made everybody but Siobhan tear up. Songs that got everybody riled up. Songs that got everybody to laugh. And songs that filled everybody with hope and light.
* * * *
That night, he did not even try to sleep away from her. He believed…or at least hoped…he was safe with Siobhan plastered up against him for another evening. And…was actually looking forward to it. And he wondered just where had this creature been the last several months.