Sun day

Well, our plans for today were certainly shattered most thoroughly. I am not sure what I expected today to bring, but I certainly never wanted this.

It started at breakfast, with Sev’s announcement to the twin’s delight that we would be going out as a family to picnic by the water from midmorning until midafternoon. Their lessons were to be put off until late afternoon. I did not comment on his destruction of my careful scheduling, because they all seemed so happy. I didn’t want to ruin it.

It was ruined anyway. After we’d all spent something of an hour cleaning ourselves up and Cook had recruited Heiye to help with packing our picnic lunch, we were in the entryhall assembling and waiting for Pang to make his way dreamily down the main staircase when a man entered without knocking and stumbled into a chair placed by the door.

I swept ’round to confront him, but I caught myself before I spoke. I recognized the uniform, after all. How could I not? It was Sev’s, lacking only a few marks of rank.

Sev was the first to speak. “Parol, what is it? What happened?”

We knew something had happened because half your head isn’t bandaged and bleeding for no reason. I learned later that Parol lost an ear. He was also breathing terribly, a combination of a bad congestion combined with running through the streets to reach his lieutenant as quickly as possible. I put him to bed with a hot compress on his chest, later.

First, though, he answered. “It’s the valley, sir. It didn’t work, sir.”

My husband swore, drawing gasps from the maids attending with the picnic baskets. What did they think? He is a soldier, after all. Soldiers swear, though not often in the company of women.

He then said, quite briskly, “Come into the parlor and brief me. Children, you have the morning to yourselves but I’m afraid we won’t be going out.”

He glanced at me and didn’t say anything, and I nodded. I know what he needs in times like this.

I set Heiye to attend them. I wanted no gossip, and Heiye I can control. They requested paper and pens, ink pots and honey rolls and sweet tea.

Heiye asked me afterwards what ‘acceptable losses’ meant. I told him it was a military term, and bade him attend my son. I lay down for a while, for I felt faint.

I have only just gotten up from that, and I believe I shall lie down again.

Will Sev leave so soon? Please, gods.

Please let it not be so.

I will attend to the temple tomorrow to pray.

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