Maynard stormed out of the birth circle and groped his way through the long beaded strings that concealed the mouth of the old midwives' den, an ancient lean-to made of pine logs strung together by twine and sealed with oakum and moss. The beads crackled as the strings swung back into place.
The hum of the shriveled womens' hoodoo prayers still rattled in his ears, louder than the crack of thunder that rumbled in the distance. Luci, his wife and newly become mother, called out to him, delirious from the rapture of birth, but he ignored her.
On the wet grass stood his younger brother, Jonah, a sturdy lad in sooty overalls. He wore a weathered Stetson with a brim as wide as a moat. "How she be, Maynard?" His question asked of something else.
Maynard's furious eyes met his, and they revealed no sign of his uncertainty, or his fear. "Well, she a breathin', and 'live, as far as I can tell."
Jonah remained quiet, waiting for the rest to be spoken, and Maynard knew it would come out soon enough. He looked away and caught site of a huge raven circling low in the dark-grey sky. It gave out a long miserable caw that echoed dread.
"The blood sigil above the left brow." He sighed. "No mistakin' it, Jonah." Maynard shook his head in silent despair. "They'll be eyes on her, Jonah. Hateful eyes from now until the day she passes, expectin' eyes, s'spicious eyes waitin' on her to someday spill their kin's blood."
Jonah only stood there and listened.
"I'll be burnin' in Hell soon enough, Jonah." His weary eyes, filled with hopeless acceptance, watered up and overflowed with small tears. "I jus' can't let her live that life. Death now, by her Daddy's own hands, would be better, a ticket direct to them Pearly Gates." Manyard, uncertain, paused before he locked eyes on Jonah who remained still. "An innocent babe's soul always has a spot in Heaven, sigil or not, don't it, Jonah?"
Jonah only stood there and said nothing.