Water day

Dec 17, 2008

I do not think I have ever remembered this in so many words, but the quiet and solitude of the rainy season is a surcease from the summer’s demands of war. Sev only rode on one rainy season campaign, so I am used to having him here, but it is not so different as all that, despite missing my garden and so many things besides.

I was chastised by my lord son today. He and Heiye were whispering on corners, so naturally I asked what they were about, and if it would interfere with them having some tea with their mother – with me, that is. What an odd thing to write. I said, “It is said by the wisest scholars that even the most dire of conversations must be accompanied by good and healthsome tea, of which there is aplenty here.”

In any case, my lord son and his slave had tea with me and with some kind words I drew from them their planning. It seems that there is much to do with territory and battles even in microcosm, for their gang has been challenged for the prime territory of the market by another, older gang, and they threatened a lady of their acquaintance. That is how they put it, a lady. I doubt the ladylike qualities of any girl found hereabouts, but I have been wrong many times this year. As long as no one feigns to marry her, I shall support their ever so masculine defense of womanhood.

I could not fathom’s Pang’s explanation, which relied upon both the private language of children and the private language of the streets, so I settled for having him lay it out for me with carved stone soldiers, the ships and horses and men that his father carved in odd moments.

“Perhaps best to leave be,” I said. “These are not your people.”

“I’ve stood by them for months, mama!” he said, startled into informality. “What good a man am I if I don’t? I’m almost eleven, lady mother, and my lord father is at war even now. How shall I know how to help him if I don’t start?”

It is true that their birthday has crept up on me, less than a moon from now. I had meant Pen to be betrothed and safe with her new family at eleven, twelve at latest. This rebellion makes a fool of me.

I would feel nothing but empty talk if I spoke at temple of men’s work and women’s work and then scolded my son for taking up men’s work in some small way, but if I think too long on it I feel the place in my mind where everything is shadowed and hopeless threaten. I dread slipping back into that mode, for it was quite alarming and more alarming in retrospect. I know not how I came there, nor yet how I escaped. I shall pray for good health and no stray spirits to sicken me.

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