Tree day

It’s been a busy day.

Min is a smart woman, though I suppose I knew that. She had the brilliant idea to take Pen with us today. We went out and looked at cloth for dresses and had luncheon in Min’s parlor. Pen was fascinated. She so seldom leaves the house. I can count the number of times on my fingers, I believe, mostly for ceremonies of Sev’s. She’s always quiet at these times, something I appreciated at the time.

Still, I am a bit taken aback by how little she can be gracious under adversity. She met Min’s eldest and was quite frankly rude, snubbing him terribly. He replied by telling his mother, “Why mother, I didn’t know we were in the habit of entertaining urchins.”

Pen glared at him, and Min and I between us agreed silently to smooth it over. He was sent away and I gave Pen leave to make an ink drawing of Min, to keep her occupied. She has talent I hadn’t bothered to notice, but her day in the life of a noblewoman seems to have calmed her insistence that she would be a calligrapher and tutor and artist herself when she was grown. It is all very well for an aspiring commoner, but what a set-down for her. How terrible for her.

Min murmured to me that she’d actually been meaning to propose a betrothal between her son and my daughter, and what did I think of the air between them? I laughed, for I could think of nothing else to do. “They seem of a sort,” I remember saying, but I was covering for my shock.

Min is of a very high family, and her son would doubtless bring wealth and prosperity to my daughter. I think highly of his mother and value her council, for she has a great many friends and knows what occurs in the imperial household better than anyone I know. It’s rumored a sibling of hers married into the royal house, though of course after being absorbed into the royal house you have no other family.

Still, her son struck me as odiously arrogant, whereas I know my daughter and she was simply struck with an inability to deal with such a stranger person, neither tutor nor brother nor mother. She does not even know how to speak to her own father, a situation I deplore. She is a quiet one, and her art is quite adept, but I really must find her in some way a course towards social adaptability.

It’s difficult, though, to think of an acceptable way for her to learn to speak to people. Girls, unmarried girls, do not go visiting in the way of women. They stay in the care of their families, where they’re safe, and then they go to the homes of their new families. If they’re lucky, as I was, the transition is slow, going back and forth over the course of years to be made easy with the loss of one family and the opportunity to become part of another.

Perhaps Pen should be married as soon as possible, and take her place in the adult world before she locks herself away in some prison of brush strokes. The sooner she starts as she must go on, the better.

Still, I would not want to engage her to Min’s son. It is a problem, for I now owe Min an answer. I do not wish to offend her, and she has obviously been thinking about this for some time. It had the feeling of something planned, especially in the way he was waiting at the door to greet us. They are of an age, but I do not like him.

Urchin, indeed. My daughter.

As if I would allow her to marry someone so bad-mannered.

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