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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Curling with Tortoises

Darid 2, 1015

“Well,” said Joyce, “this is it.”

Berach swallowed and nodded. He was saving his actual words for the meeting they had set up with Master Carey.

He wasn’t sure why they had to come to the capital to do it, though. Master Carey had wanted to meet in a tavern, which was all well and good. But Berach knew he and his family lived in the same square that he and Joyce had lived in for a time, and there was a tavern there. So why come all the way to the capital?

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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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Third Time’s the Charm

Lenona 16, 1014

This was the third time Berach was waiting out a birth, and he was finding that it simply didn’t get any easier the more you did it.

He had to keep walking to keep the thoughts at bay. Joyce wasn’t cursing him out this time. Berach wished he knew why that was. Was it because, three times into it, the pains weren’t so bad that she felt the need to make him suffer as much as she was suffering? Was it because the pains weren’t so bad yet? That was certainly a possibility … she hadn’t been at this very long …

But — damn it! — weren’t later babies supposed to come quicker?

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