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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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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Hope Over Experience

Imsdyn 29, 1015

“Things are lookin’ good,” said Kata, brisk and businesslike as ever. “I’m thinkin’ one, maybe two more big pushes, an’ ye’ll have yerself a baby.”

“Hear that, Meg?” Betsy rubbed Meg’s shoulders. Meg closed her eyes and tried to focus her mind on all parts of her body firmly above the waist — not on the building pressure below it, not on the knowledge that “almost over” didn’t mean “the worst is done.” “Ye’re almost there!”

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Help Comfort You Tomorrow

Endskel 1, 1014

“Sweetie, why don’t ye sit down?”

Betsy knew instinctively that simply seating herself would do her daughter no good. But it was hard to watch her standing there, staring out the window, her breath locked in sighs that never seemed to end. Maybe, in some part of her mind too deep to pay attention to mere logic, Betsy hoped that by taking a load off her feet, Meg would take a load off her mind.

Fat bloody chance, replied logic, speaking, as it all too often did, in Joyce’s preferred idiom.

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First Do No Harm

Radenth 23, 1014

The little boy beside Brother Andy — Basil — was struggling to hold in tears and mostly failing. Brother Andy wished that he had some words of comfort for him. He hadn’t. If he had learned anything from all the many, many times when peasant families had specifically requested that he — the least charismatic, some would say the least caring — of the Pascalian Brothers — come tend to their dying, it was that there was very little he could say that would ease the pain of the young messengers who turned up at the monastery door.

That never stopped him from wishing there was something, anything, that he could say … and that wouldn’t be a lie.

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Have Some Sympathy, and Some Taste

Osgary 16, 1014

“Well, if your sweetheart is dark-haired and dark-eyed, sir, I’d suggest going with the red,” said Rosette. “A bold red on a dark-haired, dark-eyed woman is always very striking. I can assure you that every eye in the room will be going to her — in a good way.”

Rosette folded her hands before her and waited, smiling patiently. She could have said more — she could have brought up how a red would match the guard’s uniform, making the two of them an exceptionally well-matched couple when they went out together. Or she might have suggested pairing the red with a bit of green. She knew that Katie would have said something like that if Katie had the sole charge of this sale. But Rosette was not Katie, and Rosette found it best not to lay it on too thick.

“But …” the guard began.

Oh, drat.

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Blood is a Big Expense

Osgary 3, 1014

Graybeard had sent word: Simon was to meet him at the Dog and Crown this evening. Just past sunset. As luck would have it, this was an evening Roma was working, which meant that Roma would be angry with him if he didn’t get home before she did …

But that was personal. This was business. And sometimes, if you wanted to continue to have a personal life, you worried first about the business.

As Simon slipped into the crowded pub, looking around furtively, he knew that this was one of those times.

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