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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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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Roots and Wings

Imsdyn 15, 1015

The trouble with thinking is that it so often led your mind places where it didn’t necessarily want to go.

Ash watched the four eldest of his kids — Thorn, Betony, Ginny, and Bran — as they weeded and watered the vegetable garden. As always, his feet itched to go down there and talk the plants into good health, but he stayed rooted to the spot. Lyndsay said it was good for the kids to learn some responsibility. The arrangement was that Ash could swoop in to save plants that were dying or were failing to thrive, but otherwise, he left the vegetable garden alone. He supposed it was a testament to Lyndsay’s ideas and the kids’ green thumbs that most of the time, when the plants got into trouble, it was due to things the kids couldn’t do much about — disease and blight, over-watering thanks to the rain, insect infestations. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had to step in and save a plant that wasn’t being weeded or tended often enough, or that was dying of thirst.

He supposed he owed that to Bran.

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The Memory of Trees

Radenth 9, 1014

The rain had more of autumn than of summer in it. It was the kind of slow, steady rain that carried just enough chill to remind the world that summer was waning and winter gaining. From the other side of a window, with some hot wine in one hand and a poker to tend to a roaring fire on the other, the rain might have been pleasant. One needed cold times as well as hot. But from the back of a horse, having ridden for the the better part of an hour, the rain was …

Bloody miserable, thought Will.

Tonans trotted his way down the mud-drenched road, choosing to hit or avoid puddles with a capriciousness a cat could only envy. Will’s hosen were soaked; his shoes would probably squelch when he put a foot down. He wished he had thought to bring a cloak, but it hadn’t been raining this morning, and without the rain, the weather had been just warm enough to make a cloak seem more like an encumbrance than a blessing. Which showed how much Will knew.

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When You’re Having Fun

Jaban 4, 1014

Glenna couldn’t believe her baby was a year old already. It was a horrible cliche, but the time had sped by like it was tied to a runaway horse and Glenna could only cling to its mane. And now, here they were — a whole year later, and Seona wasn’t a baby any more, not really.

“Come on, Seona,” Seumas said to her, “say Uncle Seumas. I know ye can do it.”

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