Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter Thirty-Five



Properly chastised by one and all I am under orders to remain off my foot for at least a day which means that despite tomorrow being Luna and the beginning of a new work week I am going to be stuck inside with my foot propped up making menus, going over lists, and in general being reminded that I am a widow and not a monkey crawling about all over the trees.

I suppose I should be insulted at the comparison but I'm not.  They mean well and disliked me getting injured.

Monkeys are filthy little irritants.  I remember when I was very young and they first expanded their range into the forests surrounding Harper.  They bred like rabbits and people were soon having to keep their shutters and doors locked tight all day whether they were in or out.  And even capping their fireplaces when they weren't lit or the monsters would send their smaller members down that way to break into a cabin.

They stripped trees, ransacked food silos, and spread disease and created the worst mischief by loosening the pins holding animal gates closed, throwing tack onto the floor, and dumping their waste down unprotected wells.  Some thought them cute and funny until they were upon the receiving end of their onslaught and then they were no longer such harmless, adorable characters.  Father finally contacted other woodsmen throughout the region as well as a few from outside it and was given tips on hunting the vermin.  It was only luck that we found that the monkeys were susceptible to most of the same plagues that affected us and after the plague that took my family hardly any monkeys remain in Harper and the few that are there are kept in check by local hunters.

"You are laughing at me," I fussed, after everyone else had returned to their homes.

The Sheriff smiled, "A bit.  At least now that I am assured that your injury is slight.  Still, do not do that again Widow, it could have been much worse."

"Yes, yes.  I do not need another lecture.  The punishment I will feel tomorrow as my work piles higher and deeper is flogging enough."

"So bad as all that?"

"It will be."  I added judiciously, "Though I do plan on using the time wisely and if a few people come to me rather than me to them I might just ..."

"I brought you something."

"I ...," I stopped, losing my train of thought.  "I beg your pardon?"

"I brought you something."

Cautiously I asked, "What?"

"A letter.  From your cousin."

"What?!  How?!  Where is it?  Did you see him?  How is he?  Oh I've wondered so."

He chuckled as he pulled the missive from his pocket.  "I was bringing it to you when I heard you scream."

When he handed it to me I hugged it and almost felt like crying again.  "Thank you," I told him despite my throat feeling like it was going to close.  "Thank you so much."

He smiled as if seeing my pleasure repaid any possible inconvenience.  "The town that Tosh and I were at was so close to the Seminary that ... well ... I rode over and caught him in the middle of a lecture.  I'm afraid I rather disrupted things but he didn't seem to mind.  And he's no slouch either; introduced Tosh and I around to several Deans and professors.  Now if you're sure you will be fine I need to go give a report to Tomas and James.  Likely they're anxious to hear how things went."

"Why didn't you say so?  If they are displeased, please tell them it was my fault and that I ..."

"Hush that nonsense.  Tomas may be The Linder and the Guardian but I warned him when he gained his status that he'd have to find another Sheriff if he expected me to bow and scrape.  I've not got it in me.  Besides, the man's my brother and I know of so many of his youthful peccadilloes that he doesn't have the capacity to awe me or roll me like he does with others."

"I'm almost afraid to ask what his response was."

"Tomas?  He just laughed and said good because he needs someone to help balance out his elevated consequence.  That's what James and I are for.  John too somewhat.  We each serve our purpose."

"Doctor Cummins to balance out his temper, the Chancellor to balance his authority over the Law and Funds, and you to keep his head from swelling the size of Linderhall."

The Sheriff nodded and left on a hardy laugh and leaving me to enjoy my letter from Nat.

The letter from Nat was quite long which told me he'd been writing it well before the Sheriff visited.  If I had known the Sheriff was going to be so close - and would actually take the time - I would have sent my letter to Nat with him.

I was happy to find out how well he is doing and how excited he is at the opportunities being presented to him.  He told me that when he has more time he will try and put together some book binding supplies for me, that he has learned some new recipes that put the old ones he was using in the town library to shame.  I am afraid I am going to need those recipes as when the trunk with the last few books in them fell, a few of the bindings on my tablets cracked.  Perhaps I will recover the most useful tablets of notes and recipes.  I'm not above spending some of my stipend if I know that it will benefit me in the long run.

Which reminds me I need to make a list so that I can go to the market on Veneris.  My foot should be healed by then and I will ride Nanny and use saddle bags to bring back what I purchase.  My problem is that I must find out from the Chancellor when I may apply for my stipend.  I have some of my circles left and since they are stamped with the Linder family crest I shouldn't have trouble redeeming them; nevertheless, I don't want to spend them all until I have a better idea of when I can replace them.

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