verity_forsythe: script: I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it (Default)
[personal profile] verity_forsythe
My great-great-aunt Catherine, the one I'm named for, had what they used to call an underhill baby. At least, that's what they used to call them in rural East Coast Canada; maybe they're called something else where you live.

See, Aunt Catherine couldn't have children of her own. So one night her husband Eli, the local gravedigger and general odd-jobs man for the church, brought her home a baby boy. The underhill baby looked just like any other little boy. If anything, he was sweeter than most children: kind and gentle. He loved nothing better than to cuddle up to his adopted mother. Catherine knew all the rules about underhill babies--back then, I guess more people knew about them--so that was all right.

Only thing was, once he got to be about two or so, he stopped aging. You can see it in the old family photos--there are only about five, mind you: Catherine getting older and older, but with the same little toddler in her arms. Creepy.

Eli died, and then, when she was an old lady of eighty-five, Catherine died too. They had her laid out in the church, and I guess someone had decided the baby should attend the funeral. The little fellow got away from whoever was supposed to be minding him, and wandered on down to the front of the church, where he climbed up into the coffin to nestle in her arms, the way he'd always liked to.

Everyone thought it was just the sweetest, saddest thing they'd ever seen. The new young minister went to take the baby out of the coffin, and that's when they found out Catherine's little boy was dead. Not recently dead, mind you: there was just a little set of bones in there with her, bleached white with time. They buried them together, of course. That's what you did with the underhill babies, back then.


verity_forsythe: script: I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it (Default)

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