The uncounted -- A Sequel to Gail's Fergus and the Bountiful Farmer
They left one behind, Fergus and Shula. One of the children. Left her behind at the farm house that had given them such a lovely Christmas dinner.
Oh, it wasn't on purpose. Tara had never fit into the count, although as you've been told, the count was imperfect to begin with and fluctuated according to circumstances.
The babies themselves had been perfect when they were born, but one twin is always weaker and Thomas had left the world after only being in it a few months. With twice the milk, Tara grew quickly; survival of the fittest some said, will to live, instinct! Whatever you name it, Tara scrabbled with the best of the brood for scraps of food and bits of bread. Feisty she was, but a sad little girl with a torn dress and a sorrowful look in her blue eyes and a pale skin that no amount of sunshine would tan.
Unnoticed, she tagged along behind her tinker-father, barely seen, she peeked into the warm kitchen, where only the farmer's wife sensed her presence and afterward came out to give her an orange. While her siblings were thieving potatoes and butter and burying them in the snow covered fields, Tara crept into the loft, to eat the luscious fruit, then covered herself with fragrant hay, and dreamed of floating and holding one who saw her, knew her, loved her.
When she woke to the twilight and silence, the others had left and the falling snow had erased their footprints. She ventured out and trudged to the farmer house but her timid knock was not recognized for what it was.
The good wife, troubled by intuition, looked outside again and again, and imagined a flutter of tatters in the distance, white on white--a pale tinge of blue. All that night, she glimpsed fragments of Tara reflected in mirrors and in shining holiday ornaments and when spring came, at long last, a ripple in the pond smiled at her and the wind blew a contented laugh her way.