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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A Minor Form of Despair, Disguised as a Virtue

Imsdyn 6, 1015

Patience is a virtue. It was a hackneyed line, a perfect cliche. It was something that Tamsin had heard from her mother’s mouth a thousand times — usually growled at one of her siblings, showing just how close Lady Lilias was to running out of her own virtue, that is to say, patience. Relatively speaking, Tamsin was not often at the receiving end of that sentence. But she could still hear that growl as clearly as if her mother was sitting by her side.

She wondered if her mother would have been growling it now.

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Send Up a Signal; I’ll Throw You a Line

Warning! NSFW!

Endskel 22, 1014

There was something peaceful, almost soothing about preaching to an empty church. The rafters and buttresses were designed all with one goal in mind: to amplify and project the Sim voice. (And to keep the roof from falling on the worshipers’ heads, but that wasn’t as important.) When Galahad spoke, his voice ballooned and filled every last nook and cranny. And when he paused, for effect or emphasis or just to remember what came next, the silence was complete.

Adding other people to that picture would have just spoiled the effect.

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Same Love

Jaban 8, 1014

What a long day! Margery stretched and strained, trying to push the pain out of her back. St. Coral’s Day was always a special one in the school, but special, Margery had realized soon after she grew up, usually meant “more work” for the adults in charge. The littler children loved the special service in the cathedral, led by Mother Julian; the older ones appreciated the fact that they weren’t doing any work. Then there was the school feast, after which the children were dismissed early, and then …

Well, then there was the cleanup. That explained why Margery was coming in so much later than she should have, given the children’s early release.

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Paying it Forward

Lenona 25, 1014

The gifts had been a hit. Lynn felt herself begin to relax, although, really, she didn’t know why she had been so tense. If there was any self-appointed “Crown Princess” mission that was likely to go over well, surely it was delivering toys to orphans.

The girls were sprawled on the floor, some devoting themselves to the dolls, others to the wooden horses, and one little girl with adorable brown pigtails hugging a stuffed bear like she would never let it go. Watching her with that bear reminded Lynn of her own childhood, when she had a bear her mother had made for her when she was just a baby. That bear, whom Lynn had imaginatively called “Bear,” had been her constant companion until she started her schooling, and it had a place of pride in her bedroom until she went to Camford. Now it was on a shelf in Elise’s nursery, too fragile for a three-year-old to put it through its paces, but in good enough condition to keep watch.

Her eyes still on the little girl with the bear, Lynn decided that she would devote some of her charity budget to giving every orphan a stuffed bear when he or she entered the orphanage. She would have to discuss strategy with Garnet as soon as the latter had a minute.

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The Lighting of a Fire

Tyves 13, 1014

“Now, class, it is time for our religious instruction,” said Mother Julian. The class groaned. “We shall be considering the founding of the Church today and the conversion of Brutus. Carefully attend all that I say, as this is a common topic on the Camford exam.”

That made the class groan again. Maybe it was understandable — most of them wouldn’t be going to Camford. Geoff had learned by listening around that the cathedral school had been founded with the idea of educating the nobility and the wealthiest of the commoners of Albion. Unfortunately, the nobility and the wealthiest of the commoners only had so many children … so in order to keep the classrooms full and the tuition money coming in, the nuns had opened the doors to anyone who could afford to pay. But they still taught according to the Camford preparation curriculum, in no small part because most of the parents realized that this was the best education their children could get, short of Camford itself.

And some students …

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