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Rosalin was seated on the garden rock, crying hoarsely. News of the terrible tragedy that befell her family had reached her ears. She couldn’t believe it what she heard. Her mother and her cousins were not involved with the rebels. They were her family, innocent and yet they were killed. She knew Marcos and Antonio were directly or indirectly responsible for their death. Yet Marcos had given a different story. He had reported that a couple of rebels while trying to escape had killed Rosalin’s mother and set fire to their house in retaliation since Rosalin was a part of the royal family. Rosalin didn’t believe a word of it but she had no choice and as she cried bitterly, she cursed the day she married in this royal family. She had been a fool.
Isabella saw her and slowly walked up. She down next to her on the rock and put her arms around her. No words were spoken as she gently rocked with Rosalin in her arms. She shared in her pain. For some reason, she felt close to Rosalin. Maybe the fact that both of them loved the same man. She had no qualms that Antonio favored Rosalin over her. It was destiny. But was it destiny that her family should die so cruelly?
Isabella had a doubt that Marcos did have a role to play. But how could she accuse her brother? She put aside all her thoughts and gently consoled her. She let her silence do all the talking. They had the funeral of her mother to attend to or rather Rosalin had. The Viceroy had warned the members of the royal family from venturing out for the funeral. The fact that Rosalin’s Tia was a part of the rebel group had gone against her. Isabella knew she couldn’t defy the Viceroy’s order. But she had to see that Rosalin attended her mother’s funeral. She had to safely board her on a chariot.
There were just a handful of villagers as they carried her mother to the burial ground. There was a tensed atmosphere even with just a few of them as they walked in through the gate. Rosalin stood inside the burial ground, sobbing silently. Fr. Kane led the small procession to the burial pit. He himself had dug the pit in the morning as soon as of the villagers had informed him. With just one Christian casualty among a whole lot of other pagans, he had a nasty feel about some dirty politics. He thought of the two kids who had charred so badly that their body was not to be found in the burnt down house. His eyes fell on Rosalin sobbing silently, all alone and terrible pain filled his heart. His heart grieved for her in her time of despair. The coffin was gently laid down next to the pit.
Rosalin took a step towards it and watched her mother’s face. Tears loomed in her eyes and she cried bitterly. Memories of her mother flooded her mind as he recalled scenes after scenes of hers. She had saddened her mother by marrying Antonio. If only her mother was alive, she would gladly give up the marriage to live with her again. Fr. Kane signaled to the villagers who closed the coffin and raising it, gently lowered the coffin in the pit. Fr. Kane said the final prayers and then scooping up a handful of mud, splashed it on the coffin. The others followed suit. Fr. Kane walked over to Rosalin. He gently held her hand and made her scoop up a handful of mud. He then made her drop in the pit. And she did so, she gave a loud wail and burying her face in his chest cried bitterly. The villagers looked at each other unsure what to do next. One by one they quietly walked of the burial ground leaving just the two of them.
It was a long time before her tears stopped. Regaining composure, she realized she was in his arms and she quietly disengaged herself. Fr. Kane picked up a shovel and got around filling up the pit. He then pushed a makeshift cross at the head of the grave. He said a short prayer and giving the grave one last look, took Rosalin’s arm and gently led her out of the graveyard. She stopped to take one last look at her mother’s grave and then walked out.
She rather than taking the chariot, decided to walk. It was a long walk back to the palace but to his surprise, Fr. Kane found her leading both of them to the village. Fr. Kane gently tried to dissuade her but she continued with determined steps towards the village. They entered the village or what was left of it. Death loomed large on the village and there was an atmosphere of despair all around. She slowly walked through the village. She could some of the houses scorched to the ground. Women and children were to be seen huddled together tearfully. Some were still wailing over their lost ones. But as they saw Rosalin and Fr. Kane walk through the village, their faces turned from grief to anger. They gave Rosalin a mean look as if to say that she was responsible for all their sorrows and grief. They had no remorse for the fact that even she had lost her family. As they reached her house, a sense of premonition filled her. She was afraid to step through the courtyard gate and she regretted the minute she took a step inside. Her house was burnt to the ground. There was nothing left of it, just a big pile of smoldering ashes. Tearfully she climbed the steps and looked around. There was helplessness all over her face as she gingerly walked around. What was supposed to be her room was just a pile of rubbish now. And she came to her cousins’ room or what was left off it and in the rubble, she saw what looked like a clay doll. She gently picked it up. It was still warm and blew the dust away. It was Marie’s doll. She gave a loud cry of anguish. Fr. Kane rushed to support her as her body shook with spasms. My babies, she cried as she wept and wept.