Vincent and Catherine were spending a quiet, pleasant evening together and talking about how to spend Halloween when some of the younger children came to ask for a bedtime story.
"Were you talking about Halloween?" one of them asked.
"Yes," Vincent answered, lifting the little girl and sitting her on his knee. "Itís only two weeks away, and we were making plans."
"Like what kind of costumes youíre going to wear?" one of the boys asked as he rested his elbows on Vincentís other knee and looked up at him excitedly.
"We havenít talked about costumes," Catherine told him, smiling as the other three small children gravitated to Vincentís side and also attached themselves to him in one way or another.
"You have to have costumes for Halloween," the youngest boy asserted.
"What kind of costume do you think Vincent should wear?" Catherine asked mischievously.
That question set off suggestions, some accompanied by childish giggles, of all sorts of things - a ghost, a pirate, a knight, a bunny and many things in between; and Vincent thought Catherine was enjoying the childrenís proposals a little more than necessary.
"All of you go to the nursery and choose a book," Vincent told them, cutting short the costume suggestions before they grew any farther-fetched. "Catherine and I will be there in a few minutes."
"Okay," one of them answered as they all bounded out of the room, telling Vincent and Catherine not to take too long and talking to one another about which book to choose.
"I could rent you a bunny costume," Catherine volunteered with a big grin after she was sure the children were gone.
Vincent met her grin with a lift of his eyebrows and looked down at her. "I donít believe I shall honor that offer with a response."
"Iím sorry. It was too good a pictureÖ."
"A picture that does not warrant painting."
"What a shame," she answered playfully. "Iíll need a costume, though," she said more seriously, realizing how soon she should have it, "and I need to do something about it right away. Iíll be lucky to find anything at this late date."
"Perhaps you will have to dress asÖa bunny," Vincent countered with one of his small smiles, leaning his head slightly to one side and looking rather smug.
Catherine laughed at his retaliatory remark and good-naturedly pushed him before getting back to business.
"I could arrange a costume for you if youíd like, or bring what Mary or Sarah would need to make one.
"I have no need of a costume in your world."
"No, I donít suppose you do," she answered with a smile, and slid her arms around his waist, resting her head against his chest. "Other than a bunny, do you have any suggestions for what I might wear?"
He returned her embrace and was quiet for a moment, then he hesitantly suggested, "Something medieval?"
"I think Iíd enjoy that. Any special reason?"
"Do you know the definition of the word renaissance?"
"It means rebirth, doesnít it?"
Vincent was more serious now, and Catherine waited patiently for an explanation of the new turn in their conversation.
He pulled her closer, resting his head on hers, and spoke softly. "You have given me a new life, Catherine. You have brought me a life I never thought to have, a view of myself that contradicts many of the things Iíve believed for most of my life...opened my eyes to new possibilities. You have been my renaissance."
"And you have been mine," she responded, placing one hand gently over his heart and looking up at him. "My life is so much richer, so much fuller since Iíve known you." Wanting to stay right where she was, but knowing the children would be back any minute if she and Vincent didnít arrive in the nursery soon, she moved back slightly and put both hands on his chest. "Renaissance it is, then. Even if I have to coerce some poor, unsuspecting seamstress into making something for me between now and Halloween, I will meet you that night looking the part."
"And I will look forward to it," he answered. Taking a regretful deep breath, he again changed the direction of the conversation. "I suppose we should go and meet the children before they become impatient." With that he stepped away from Catherine, took her hand and led her into the passageway and toward the nursery.
"Are you sure you donít want a renaissance costume, too?" she teased as they left his chamber. "Youíd make a fine, dignified MerlinÖor King ArthurÖor maybe Robin Hood? Iím sure I could find you some green tights."
"Catherine!" he half warned, half pleaded.
"All right. Iíll behave," she laughed.
Father reached the door of his chamber as they entered the passageway and caught only the last snippets of their conversation. Shaking his head and chuckling quietly to himself as he hobbled off in the other direction, he knew he would have to ask Vincent later about those green tights.