Don’t be confused by my apparent lack of ceremony…

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Over the centuries and millennia, she still found the architecture of her home of the first five years of life to be constantly shifting in her appreciation.  What was no more than three yards by five in width and length; at most six feet in height from floor to thatch within at its central point.  Dirt floored and constructed of stone and turf and a local thatch of sorts, the family home was situated in part of the Highland area of Alba, now Scotland.  Sometime later, during the fourteenth century, a castle was built there.  What happened to her parents and siblings many years prior, she could do no more than dream and guess. That said, she still could plainly see the spot her Father hid his most precious treasures.

In flight, her mother had taken Bast, depositing her with an elderly couple who had come down the river earlier that morning in an old well constructed, 30 foot, single masted river boat; ”Conditaneus Cepa” painted in an unsteady hand at the bow. It was the sort of vessel found plying transport to all manner of goods throughout inland tributaries, yet sturdy enough though for coastal trade as well. It’s design allowing for power under sail, or to be towed against the tide by a beast of burden in traces along a river bank.

Her mother had seemed to know the couple, though she held them in reverence, not familiarity.  The lady, greying and long of tooth, had seemed to have appraised the situation for what it was, accepting the wee lass aboard with a smile of kindness.  The elderly lady’s long suffering and berated husband, cast off immediately.  The tide taking them on and away. She was never to lay eyes on her mother nor family again. A five year old with exile being much favoured over a death that was certain to follow otherwise.



“What do you mean your name is ‘Bast’?” said the old lady an hour after the comfortable work worn old boat had slipped away.


“It is ‘Bast’! Really it is!” said the scrawny barefoot lass in a high and piping voice.


“But ‘Bast’?  What does it mean, ‘Bast’?” Persisted the old lady.  “Bast?”


“Father called me it.  It is short for ‘Bastard’.” said the lass with great pride, as the elderly lady’s jaw slowly fell open, then closed again.


“Hmmmmmm…….well, I think ‘Bast’ is a better name for wee lasses as the likes of yourself.  Now dear, do you know why your Father gave you that name?  It is something one rarely hears as a name.” said the witch.


“Well, Father was listening to this lad who was travelling all around with a book, and doing the ‘converting’.  My name was in that book, and Father got told it was a good book, and he heard that name from the man doing the converting. So because it was in a good book, that’s what he called me.” said Bast swelling with greater triumph.  


It was the longest conversation she had ever had with any adult that actually listened to what she said.  This was an adult who listened with her ears and eyes, taking in everything about the child, both voice and action.


“Very interesting dear; now what does your Father call your brothers and sisters?” said the elderly lady unable to stop herself picking at the scab of interest.


“I have a big brother he calls ‘Pict’, a sister named ‘Iona’, another sister named ‘Somerled’ then there’s me biggest brother ‘Mad Oengus’ what’s all growed up.” she grinned, for the grin to then fade into something more serious. “But their Mother was different to mine becauses theirs died when she had Iona.”


On completion of their conversation, a cup of suspiciously potent tea was taken by all, followed by a little lie down.


Bast’s education had begun.


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