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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Use Not Only the Brains You Have, But All You Can Borrow

Osgary 10, 1014

“None of this,” murmured Sir William, flipping through the parchment on his desk — the reams of notes, reports, and reflections assembled by Tawiel, Christopher, and Sir William himself — “is adding up at all.”

Long practice as warden of Tower Prison in Glasonland had made Christopher quite adept at knowing when to keep his mouth shut. He availed himself of that knowledge now. Sir William had decided that Sir Lamorak’s death was not what it seemed, a simple misadventure of a man having crossed paths with the wrong sort of ruffians. Christopher had no idea how to talk him out of that conclusion. Therefore, he said nothing.

Tawiel was not so circumspect. “But, my lord — we’ve been investigating for weeks. We haven’t found anything to support any theory but the obvious one!”

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Time and Girlfriends

Jaban 13, 1014

The trouble with having babies, Dannie decided, was that they did tend to interfere with Young Mothers’ Club meetings.

The club had four members, and had welcomed three new offspring since the year’s beginning: Cressida’s Paul, Dannie’s Elena, and now Sandra’s Ruth. Ruth was not even three weeks old, but Sandra had packed her and her Susie up for the trek to Dannie’s house, because what with Elena’s birth a week and a half before Ruth’s, it had just been too long since they had a chance to get together.

“All right, Nicole,” Dannie said by way of opening up the meeting. “Cressida and Sandra and I are all off the hook for the rest of the year. So spill. When’s your next one expected?” Dannie leaned back, hands folded behind her head. “No pressure, of course … except, of course, you haven’t got a mother-in-law around to put …”

She stopped. “Wait. None of us have mothers-in-law around to put pressure on us. How did that work out?”

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The Quality of Mercy

Imsdyn 8, 1014

“And now, gentlemen,” Pellinore said, shuffling the papers on his desk, “since Sir William could not join us today, I do believe it is high time we turn to the appeals for clemency.”

“Er …” said Tawiel.

“Yes, Master Raben?”

“For–forgive me for asking, my lord,” stammered Tawiel, “but why is it that we never do this while Sir William is here?”

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No Attorneys to Plead My Case?

Jaban 15, 1013

“… And the men want me to tell you that there’s been a bat flying around the bars of her cell last night and the night before. I can’t imagine why they think it’s important, but they insisted that I tell you, sir,” Master Tower sighed. “I don’t know what to do about her, sir, and that’s no mistake. I’ve had prisoners who don’t eat once they’re under a sentence of death, but … she hasn’t even been tried yet.”

Will took a deep breath and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He had been up to his elbows in the business of Marigold Thatcher since Ada, Corentin and Celeste’s nurse, had nervously knocked on her office door the day before yesterday with her even-more nervous husband in tow. Artyom Orlov had had quite a story to tell — and Will was afraid that his story was only the beginning.

No. He was not afraid. He was determined that Orlov’s story would only be the beginning — of Will’s involvement, that was.

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Judges are But Men

Ververe 14, 1013

Christopher hurried across the courtyard, cursing under his breath. Of all the days to leave his most recent reports in the family apartments! There had been another robbery near the Glasonland border. Sir William had asked him to keep track of all the robberies and attacks, noting every possible detail that could be gleaned from investigation of the scene and questioning of victims and witnesses. Christopher couldn’t imagine what Sir William wanted with all of this information, but gathering it and keeping track of it were no real chore. It was even a way to stave off boredom — running Tower Prison in Glasonland had been much more complex and time-consuming than running the much smaller Albion prison.

Not that any of that mattered if he didn’t have the damn reports with him!

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