The air in the attic was musty and stale, filled with tiny motes of dust that sparkled in the light slanting in through the window at the far end of the storage space. Murdoch picked his way through a lifetime of memories, stacked in boxes or packed away in trunks, until he found the thing he was looking for. Tucked into a corner, under the eaves, was the first piece of furniture he had ever made.
Murdoch had begun working on it the day Catherine had told him he was going to be a father. He’d spent hours each night after dinner, sanding, polishing and waxing the thing until its finish was as smooth as satin. There would be no splinters, no snags, for his firstborn to get caught on. Not if he had anything to say about it.
Only, the child that it had been made for had never had the chance to use it and the one who had, had used it for far too short a time.
Murdoch heaved a sigh and shook his head. It was best not to think of such things. Of the regrets and the might-have-beens. No, it was best to look to the future and the reason he was here in the attic.
At long last, the cradle would see a new occupant. A grandchild. A little boy or girl – the first of many, God willing - for him to bounce on his knee and spoil shamelessly. Lost in such happy thoughts, Murdoch didn’t hear his elder son’s approach until he was just a few feet from him.
“Is that it?” Scott asked, voice hushed. Although his father hadn’t come right out and said so, he knew who the cradle had originally been meant for.
The two generations of Lancer men stood - father and grandfather to be - contemplating the yet to be born third generation and the cradle he or she would occupy. The only sounds were from the mice that could be heard skittering in the dim recesses of the attic, apprehensive about the human interlopers in their normally quiet domain.
After a few moments, Murdoch cleared his throat and reached for the cradle. Scott moved to assist him and together the two men carried the cradle down the stairs, leaving the attic to the mice once more.