Moon day

October 27, 2008

“What are your plans for the day?” I asked Heiye this morning. His hair begs me to cut it, falling in his eyes despite being newly wet from my comb.

“P- the young lord and lady wish to see their friends, lady mistress, this afternoon.”

“What do you think they will be doing?”

“Stealing, lady mistress.”

“You say that so matter-of-factly.”

I despair.

“It is something between and a game and a profession.”

“Are they orphans, then?”

“Some. Some are escaped slaves, runaways. Rakka has a family, but they are drunkards and she must provide for herself. Some, like Pang, come from families of thieves and are honing their art.”

“Oh. Yes, you would have to use his name.”

It had not occurred to me consciously.

“Yes,” he agreed, as we heated water and he began assembling tea cups and dishes to wash. “You don’t mind?”

“You’re very steady for your age. I trust you to remember propriety when it matters. What matters now is, I suppose, obeying the rules of our situation.”

“I’m sorry we ran off. It won’t happen again.”

“I think my children will find something new to try, yes.”

Heiye scrubbed at the large pot in contemplative silence.

“Rakka is the girl you – have an interest in?”

“Yes. I like her.”

“What’s she like?”

“Happy.” He smiled at his busy hands. “She doesn’t let things upset her. I think the word is – vivacious?”

“Yes,” I said, also smiling. “I know the appeal of those full of life. It’s nice to see you paying attention to language.”

“Pang isn’t very precise. And I like knowing things.”

“And being helpful, I notice.”

“That’s my place, lady.”

I changed the subject by asking, “What does she look like?”

“She’s very tall, very adult. She has short hair. Her favorite color is green, so she wears that often. Pretty.”

He scrubbed methodically, lost in some pleasant memory.

“What of the girl Pang so emphatically dislikes this week?”

“I think she has as little idea of his dislike as she had of his like. He has not been straightforward.”

“Probably for the best.”

“Yes, lady mistress.”

“Hand me the big spoon. I’ll make soup tonight, if you bring home chestnuts this time. Do try to remember.”

“I did remember. Things are just busy, sometimes.”

“Life often is.”

“Are you very busy?”

“My sewing occupies me. Thank you for asking, Heiye.”

“My lord says it’s my job to keep an eye on you.”

“Pang said that?” I asked, surprised.

“No, lady, Lord Uru. He gave me instruction.”

“Oh. Of course. What instruction?”

“He said I wasn’t to bother you with it.”

I was abruptly impatient, jaw tight, mind still and clear-edged. I was angry, I think.

“I am here, and he is not. You will tell me his instructions, and that is an order, Heiye.”

I had put down the big spoon. I picked it up. Heiye’s eyes followed it.

He told me. Quite the little apprentice soldier. Nothing I disagreed with, except not telling me.

Heiye seemed pleased to leave this afternoon, but calmer this evening. Nima slept through her afternoon, and I finished a great deal of sewing. Meyni paid me for my efforts, a most amusing feeling.

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