The Ghosts of Childhood

Tyves 11, 1015

Sandra wished she knew why Mother Julian had requested to speak with her.

She hoped it wasn’t about how Coralie and Jason were doing in school. They were good children, they really were. But Coralie, she knew, could be easily bored and once bored, was easily distracted. Jason could stay focused for longer, but he was an active little boy and needed a good deal of running-around time if he was to be able to sit still long enough to learn anything.

But they’re respectful, both of them, Sandra tried to remind herself, and if the worst they do is get bored or antsy every now and then — surely that’s not enough to merit a visit from the chancellor of the school?

If only she knew what this was about!

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Wisdom is the Reward of a Lifetime of Listening

Tyves 6, 1015

Tuesdays were the days he went fishing with Wulf. Even with everything that had happened in the past few days, Edmond had determined that he would keep his implicit promise to Wulf. If there was anything he had learned in nearly fifty-eight years of living, it was that life went on, whether you wanted it to or not. It was better to go with the inevitable ebb and flow than to try to swim against the current.

And more than that … it felt good to have a bit of normalcy breathed back into his life.

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Thou Hast But Taken Thy Lamp and Gone to Bed

Tyves 2, 1015

Everything that could be done, had been done.

Ella had drunk nothing but yarrow tea since the moment her mother arrived. When the Pelleses had run out of yarrow, Rhoslyn had been sent to Ash Thatcher’s tree house to beg some off him. And when Ella began to sweat more drinking Ash’s tea, Kata had kicked herself and swore up and down that she should have gotten Ash’s from the first. Ash’s was the best.

But it hadn’t helped.

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The Progressive Discovery of Our Own Ignorance

Clatan 27, 1015

“Glenna, I can’t be thankin’ ye enough fer doin’ this.” Kata hugged the younger woman. “Rhoslyn needs as much help as she get get ter learn –”

“Hey!” protested Rhoslyn.

“Shush, ye, I didn’t mean it like that.” Kata pulled away from Glenna, rolling her eyes. “What I meant was, Rhoslyn needs ter practice lookin’ things over on as many women as possible. But ye’d be amazed how few women –”

“Are comfortable with lettin’ a thirteen-year-old stick their fingers up their … ye know?” asked Glenna, laughing a little. But there was no hiding her nerves.

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Until Someone Loses an Eye

Clatan 23, 1015

“Now that’s better,” said Mark as he put the last log into the stove and shut the door.

It was unbelievable. They weren’t even four months into fall yet. As far as Mark was concerned, that meant this was still time for apple picking, and cider drinking, and raking leaf piles for the kids to jump in — all activities practiced when the temperature was reasonable. But today they had woken up to a bone-chilling cold that froze the water in the horses’ troughs and made going out and about impossible if you weren’t bundled up to the point where you could barely move. It just wasn’t fair.

But … Mark stepped back and let the warmth from the stove wash over him. That was the weather for you. Just when you thought you had a handle on it, it went and changed on you. In a few weeks, they’d probably be fanning themselves and searching for cold drinks as summer decided it wanted to make a comeback.

And in the meantime, he had work to do.

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Who Does Not Desire? Who Wishes to See More?

Clatan 14, 1015

Another day, another … what?

Some might say another copper. Some might say another task accomplished, another check to mark on the great list of life. Some might even point to all the things they had enjoyed, all the little bright spots that shone like stars in a darkened sky.

Delyth was not one of those people.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day …

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Them Richest Who Dare to be Free

Clatan 9, 1015

There’s my chubby little lad,” said Simon as he bent to pick up the baby. “Good mornin’, Andre. Did ye sleep well, m’lad?” He hesitated. “Well — other than those parts when ye were wailin’ fer yer dinner.”

Roma yawned as she got the knife out to begin to chop the peppers and shred the cheese for their morning omelets. Having a newborn in the house somehow never got any easier, even though this was the third time she’d done it. Maybe it was because only one party in the equation ever had any experience in the matter. Roma might think she knew what she was doing — but the baby never did.

And not for the first time, Roma was glad that she worked evenings and nights, not during the daytime. There never were enough hours in the day to get anything done — that was a constant. But during the day, she could let the washing slide or hurry through the mending to catch a quick catnap when Andre and Jemmy were down for their naps.

And … as much as she hated it … maybe there was something to be said for the odd hours Simon kept, too.

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Gonna Try with a Little Help from My Friends

Clatan 4, 1015

Of course Freddy would be here first.

Rob managed a small smile as he crossed the worn flagstones that made up the floor of the Dragon’s Teeth. He wished he could be in a more cheerful mood tonight. He was having a guys’ night out, wasn’t he? Far from being annoyed or put out by that, Dannie had practically chase him out the door with a broom, hadn’t she? Business was going well, the children were happy and healthy, Elena was blessedly between teeth at the moment.

But he could never manage to be as happy as he ought to have been at their impromptu fraternity reunions. Not because of the men who came without fail. But because of the one man who couldn’t come any more.


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Welcome to the Family

Darid 30, 1015

“We should have a fire in here,” Gino muttered, jumping from his seat on the sofa. The tinderbox was always kept on the mantel, and the servants were good about leaving a fire laid and ready to light now that the weather was cooling. So it wouldn’t take Gino very long to get the fire going.

But that didn’t matter. Sometimes, a man took all the distractions he could get. Like when his wife was in the next room, laboring to give birth to his child.

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