A solitary man walked up the path from the stables to the Manor House. Dan Mangan was lost in thought. He was home for Christmas after completing his first semester of college. It was the sixth of January, the feast of the Epiphany. As he walked, he hummed “We Three Kings”,, his favorite Christmas Carol. Deep in thought, he didn’t notice Jim Frayne coming toward him.

Jim greeted Dan as he caught up. Dan seemed to look through him, not even seeing him. “Hey, Dan,” he said one last time. Dan finally recognized Jim. “I’m amazed and confused that you didn’t see me.”

Slightly embarrassed, Dan tried to brush Jim off. “Sorry, I’ve got a lot on my mind.”

“Thinking about those wild college gals?” Jim teased. “I hear there’s a Kentucky woman that’s been stalking you.”

Dan shook his head. “Boy, word travels fast.” Only his roommate, Mart Belden, knew about not-so-sweet Caroline. She had been in his English Lit class. Somehow she had found out that he had once been in a New York City gang.

Caroline Vanderbilt was one of the Vanderbilts and apparently thought dating a supposed bad boy would be cool. Ever since that September morn, when he had offered to share his coat as a makeshift umbrella as the rains broke out on their way to class, she’d been stalking him. The last six weeks of the semester had been the worst. She’d show up wherever Dan went. He’d see her hanging outside lecture pits waiting for him. It never failed. As soon as he sat down in the cafeteria, she and her friend would find their way to a table next to his. Then they’d stare at him and giggle all through the meal.

About the only place they didn’t follow him to was the restroom. He didn’t doubt if they could have figured a way to get in there, they would have. He had been looking forward to not having to deal with her for the next three weeks.

“Well,” Jim admitted. “Mart did mention something about how frustrated you were. He said something about you hiding up on the roof, of the dorm to avoid her.”

“I almost did resort to that. I can’t go anywhere without her showing up. I wouldn’t be surprised if she showed up in Sleepyside sometime over break.”

Jim shook his head. “Oh, what I would give to have your problems.”

“No you don’t,” Dan countered. “It’s creepy. I’ve done nothing to encourage her. In fact, I haven’t said a word to her for months. If I even make eye contact with her, she giggles and acts like a twelve-year-old.” He shook his head, still amazed at how obnoxious she had been. “Let’s talk about something else. Where are you off to?”

Taking the hint, Jim replied, “I have to run down to the stables. Regan called up to the house to say that Moonrise was about to foal. He wondered if I wanted to watch.”

“I forgot all about it,” Dan said. “When I spoke with Uncle Bill yesterday, he thought she might go today. I know he was hoping she would go soon. He’s supposed to go to that horse sale in Saratoga next week. There are some really good horses up for sale.”

When the Bob-Whites had started heading out to college, Regan had been afraid that Mr. Wheeler might sell off the horses and he would be out of the best job a guy could ever have. He had been surprised when Matt Wheeler had offered him a partnership in a new venture. They expanded the stables and began breeding horses for pleasure riding and show. There was a market for saddle-broke horses.

The first year or so was spent with the construction of the new barns. Their first foal, Cracklin’ Rosie, had been born about a month ago. Moonrise’s baby would be their second.

“Is Honey coming down, too?” Dan asked.

Jim chuckled. “She’s coming down in a little while. You know how girls can be. She said something about putting her face on. I called down to Crabapple Farm to let Brian know. He was hoping he’d be able to see the birth. Ever since Mr. Bojangles, had litter of kittens, Brian’s been fascinated with animal births.”

Mr. Bojangles was a cat that Bobby had found wandering at the end of their driveway. It had been in fairly good shape and looked like someone had just dumped it off on the road because they didn’t want to take care of it any longer. Before he had carried the cat up the driveway, Bobby had already named it. After cleaning it up and feeding it, he and Moms took it to the local animal shelter.

Unfortunately, the animal shelter was overflowing with cats and couldn’t take it in. Moms had given in to Bobby’s pleadings and agreed they could keep the cat. While it wouldn’t replace Reddy, who had passed away, it was nice to have an animal in the house again. It turned out that Mr. Bojangles was not a boy. Several weeks after Mr. Bojangles had joined the family, Brian came down the stairs early one morning to find her delivering a litter of four kittens on the guest room bed.

“I bet by the time we get to the stables that not only Brian is there but Trixie as well,” Dan said. “She’s been as excited as Regan is about this foal.”

No sooner were the words out of Dan’s mouth when Trixie and Brian rushed up the path from Crabapple Farm.

“Are we too late?” Trixie cried as she skidded to a halt in front of Dan and Jim. Brian followed behind, just slightly slower than her.

“I don’t think so,” Jim said. “We just got here, too.”

Just then Regan came out of stables. “It’s going to be a little while longer. Momma is doing well though. I don’t think we’ll need to call the vet.”

Trixie’s impatience got the best of her. Quickly, but quietly, she entered the stable. As she walked up to the stall, she saw Moonrise lying down, appearing to struggle. While she would have liked to race in to comfort the mare, she knew better than to distress her. She just hoped that she would be able to stay and witness the birth.

The guys followed behind her. Dan came up and stood on one side of her and Jim on the other. After watching for a few minutes, they could see the front legs of the foal coming out. Dan deadpanned, “Moonrise, old girl, you’ll be a woman soon.”

Trixie turned and smacked him on the shoulder. “You’ve got one weird sense of humor,” she said.

They continued to watch the mare. Soon, the rest of the Bob-Whites had joined them in the stables. There wasn’t a lot of room so they took turns watching. Fortunately, one of the additions they had made to the stables was a state-of-the-art security system that included cameras in the foaling stalls. That way Regan would not have to come down and check the animals hourly during the night. He could just check from his computer in his apartment. So, if they couldn’t physically be there for the birth, they could watch on the computer.

Trixie was concerned that the mare was struggling too much. “Regan, isn’t there something we can do for her?” she asked. “She seems to be in a lot of pain.”

“It’s best to let nature run its course,” he replied. “I’m here if she needs me, but it appears that the head is just behind her front feet. It’s sweet of you to ask.”

“Yeah, Trixie,” Mart teased. “You’re so sweet horse flies keep hangin’ round your face.”

“If there are horse flies hangin’ round my face, it’s because I’m standing next to you and they smell the food that’s left on your face,” Trixie retorted. She marched out of the stables.

“I think you hurt her feelings,” Diana whispered to Mart. He had enough sense to blush and feel bad.

“I know,” he replied. “I’ll go out and apologize in a minute. I want to give her a minute to cool off.”

For several minutes, Diana, Mart and Brian, who were watching over the mare, sat in silence. Mart finally asked, “I wonder if playing soothing music would calm her down. I’ve heard of women who have wanted soft music piped into their birthing rooms while they were in labor. Diana, you could recite Longfellow, serenade her with a song.”

Diana blushed, “I don’t know. What do you think, Brian?” Diana might have had a crush on Mart but she was wise to some of his crazy suggestions.

“Mart is right. Some research has indicated that soothing sounds calm not only the mother but the baby in the womb as well,” Brian said. “I would think any song sung blue wouldn’t hurt the situation. That is, of course, unless Mart is doing the singing. Then it might put the mother in more distress.”

Diana started to sing an old Irish lullaby. Honey came into the area to check on how things were progressing.

“That’s a pretty song,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve even heard it before.”

Diana blushed. “It’s one Grandma Lynch taught me. Her mother had taught to her before they immigrated to America at the turn of the century. She used to sing it to me whenever I would visit her.”

Regan, Trixie and Dan re-entered the stables. “How’s everything going, Dr. Belden?” Regan asked.

“Well, as best as I can tell, pretty good. It shouldn’t be too long. She’s started to push the feet out,” Brian explained.

The all turned to look as the mare gave one more push and the head appeared. After another big push, the rest of the body slid out onto the ground. For what seemed like several minutes, the mare lay on her side resting, not paying any attention to her new baby.

“Regan,” Trixie said. “Moonrise doesn’t seem to want to own the colt. Shouldn’t we do something?”

Regan hadn’t taken his eyes off of the mare and her foal. “Let’s give her a few minutes. I’m a believer in giving the mare time to find her foal and not push it.”

Trixie could hardly contain herself. She wanted to go over and help the foal to make sure it was fine. From where she was sitting she could see that the foal was jet black with white socks. Despite not having been cleaned she could see a diamond-shaped mark on her forehead just like her mother.

Sure enough, after Moonrise had rested for a few minutes, she got up and nudged the new born and began cleaning it. All of the Bob-Whites stood in awe as the minutes-old foal stood up and tried to take its first steps.

“It always amazes me that they can walk as soon as they are born,” Mart said. “I remember when Bobby was born and waiting for him to be able to crawl on his own.”

Brian chuckled. “You just wanted someone else to play Hot Wheels with you instead of Trixie. You hoped you could beat him.”

“Yeah, I remember you asking Moms every day if today would be the day Bobby walked,” Trixie said. “Then the minute he started running before he could walk and taking the track apart instead of sending the cars down it, you changed your tune. I seem to remember you asking if Dad could build a pen to keep him in.”

Mart sputtered and tried to defend himself. “Well, how was I to know that it would be years before he would be able to really play with me? I couldn’t remember when my almost twin began to crawl.”

Trixie pulled an apple out of her pocket and started to toss if from hand to hand. “It seems to me I remember someone commenting that it took you so long to walk they were afraid I would walk before you did.” She bit into the apple and started eating her way around it.

Mart looked over at Diana. For years he had been pining away for her but had never gotten the courage to ask her out. “That’s not true. According to my baby book, Moms said I walked at nine months, way before you were born.”

Trixie laughed out loud. “You can’t believe much more than the basics that are in your baby book. With three kids under the age of three, cooking, cleaning, gardening and raising chickens, Moms barely had time to sleep.” She took one more bite of the apple before pulling a napkin out of her pocket and wrapping the core in it. She’d throw it away later.

“Well, she must have found time to write in them,” Mart insisted. “I recognize her handwriting.”

“Of course she wrote in them,” Brian chimed in. “Don’t you remember after Bobby was born? Moms was writing in his book and you asked if you had one.”

“Yeah,” Mart said slowly. “I said something about how big I am. I said I wanted to know if I had grown faster than Trixie when I was little.”

Brian patted Mart on the back. “You probably don’t remember her stalling. She had gotten all of us baby books. Mine had been filled out pretty well until you were born. After that there were very few entries. By the time Trixie was born they dwindled down to none. That night I found Moms writing lots of entries into yours and Trixie’s books. I’m sure she tried to get dates close but with the two of you so close in age she probably made a few things up.”

By now, Trixie was laughing uncontrollably. Diana and Honey were tactfully trying not to laugh. The thought of Moms being the least bit devious was unheard of.

“You’re kidding,” Mart said looking from Brian to Trixie. “Moms kept up with the baby books all along.”

“You mean to tell me that you didn’t know that?” Trixie asked. “I can’t believe I know something that you didn’t know.”

By now, Moonrise had finished cleaning the foal and it had found its mother’s milk supply and was happily suckling. Moonrise kept nudging it, re-directing it when it broke off.

“Can you tell if it’s a filly or a colt?” Honey asked.

“Not from here,” Regan said. “I’m going to see if she’ll let me into the stall. Moonrise needs some fresh water and food. I also want to make sure everything is okay with the little one.”

They watched as Regan slowly entered the stall. He spoke soothingly from the moment he entered. “Hey, Moonrise,” he said as he gently stroked her neck, showing her that he wasn’t going to hurt her or her baby. “Everybody’s talkin’ about you and your baby.” He made his way around to the foal. “Everything looks good. Looks like you have yourself a beautiful little girl.”

“I wish I would have remembered to bring my camera,” Diana said. “Those two diamond girls would make a great picture.”

Dan leaned against the stall, still awed by the miracle of birth. “You sure can’t miss that they are mother and daughter,” he said.

“Oh,” Trixie exclaimed. “You’ve just got to call the new filly Diamond. I know you’re supposed to include the lineage in the name but you’ve just got to, Regan,” she insisted. Honey and Diana insisted as well.

“Well,” Regan said. “Neil’s Spitfire was the stud. If Mr. Wheeler agrees, she could be called Neil’s Moonrise Diamond.”

Honey clapped her hands and said, “It’s perfectly perfect.”


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Author Notes

This is a special holiday giftfic for Vivian. This year she was unable to write one because RL was hitting her. I know how much she loved doing the giftfic so I decided I’d write one. I wrote one for her last year when AprilW had surgery and was unable to get hers done before the exchange. Who knows maybe this will be a tradition.
- I wanted this story to be total fluff, nothing to emotional, not smush, just the Bob-Whites. You can’t think of Vivian without thinking of Neil Diamond. In case you haven’t figured it out, the highlighted words are titles of songs Neil Diamond has recorded.
- The story about the baby books is from my family. My parents had four girls within a forty month span. My older sister’s baby book was filled out well, mine was not quite as much and the third sisters even less. My youngest sister didn’t even have a baby book. When she was about a freshman in high school, she started bugging my mom about it. She swore she was adopted. So my mom gave her one for Christmas. She filled the book out making things up as she went along. The kicker was she put the wrong birthdate in the book. Then my sister was sure she was adopted.
- A special thanks to Jo, Jenny and Bonnie H. for doing a quick edit. I know Bonnie shakes her head every time she edits my stories and wonders if I’ll ever learn where the commas go.
-Thanks to Mal for her awesome graphics. I’ve really been pressing my luck the last few months. Everything I post has been at the last minute and she’s come through.
Word Count, 2,622

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