Tree day: Letter

Folded letter pressed between two pages:

Dear wife,

Tell Pen that she needs to concentrate on the future, not the present. Tell Pang to concentrate on the present, not the future.

It is too cold here. Perhaps I should take a lover to warm my bed. Either of the two here would do. His highness has hair dark as ashes, and your friend has pretty eyes for all his pale looks. I know you agree, because as my wife you have to.

I told you once about rivers in the northern jungles where fish strip the flesh from men in moments. A man would go for a quiet swim in peaceful waters, and he would find himself beset by tiny, persistent creatures. I lost men at a ford because I believed appearances and didn’t listen to natives. I have had so much bad luck with fords.

I have been walking with his most royal highness these past weeks. I lean on him when I have to. He likes being helpful when I am helpless.

I am thinking at you. You won’t mind.

His most royal highness does not like owing anyone anything, and yet he wants to be around me. If he learns from me, he will know himself better than me.

I bet you’ve grown fat in my absence.

Your friend will stay here until I am well. It might be simpler to kill him. You will point out that we need to know what he wants first. A slap on the wrist might be worth the lack of trouble.

His highness would intervene on my behalf.

Her royal highness, his imperial majesty. The priest of the Father. Politics.

I can walk again, slowly. The scar pulls, but holds. My legs are weak, so I strengthen them.

Write to my friends with my regards and regrets that I will not be in the city to visit over the spring festival.

Stop pretending to like Jai. Pretense irritates me. Spend a week at that temple of yours. No children, no work, no friends-who-are-not. Try not to drown yourself out of boredom. Finish it by the time my next letter arrives.

His highness learns quickly. His progress is better than a snail, worse than a snake. My valet has hidden my shoes so that I cannot go far on my walks.


If one is angry at everything, one is angry at nothing. Sev makes me want to tear things to bits, but I ended up all the calmer for it.

Tomorrow, I shall do as he orders.

I shall say goodbye to Min.

I shall talk to the children for him.

I shall give his valet a bonus.

I shall arrange a temple stay.

I shall talk to the children about my week’s absence.

I wonder if I will have a chance to write at temple.

I shall write Sev back, and be as insulting as I know how. Fat indeed.

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