Finding a place
They really can’t stop working, can they? It would be so much more convenient if they set up a workshop before they got any patients, and explored the town before they committed themselves to weekly rounds.
Luthjul pulled out a trundle bed from under the bedstead and we put the sleeping children in it, then Amre and Serla and I got straw mattresses in front of the fire while Luthjul and Eirith crawled into the bedstead. The small house got very warm with all those women sleeping in it, but we slept well. In the morning Eirith was gone; she came back while we were washing and dressing. “Emergency,” she said, “but it was a false alarm, seven months gone and she thought the baby was coming.”
“She doesn’t need a doctor?” I asked.
“No, everything’s all right, the child is alive, I felt its heartbeat.”
“Do you want breakfast, or to go back to sleep?” Luthjul asked.
“Breakfast,” she said and crawled into bed and was asleep at once.
Then we went to see the woman who did need a doctor, where Serla had been last night. We were quite a procession, because Jeran and Orian came along, and Monster as well, but there were so many people in the streets going about their work that nobody paid any attention. There were hardly any children, which reminded me that we had to go and see Master Fian about enrolling ours in the school. Two teenage boys herding a dozen pigs greeted Orian. “They’re from my village,” Orian said, “bringing pigs to the butchers.” And indeed we passed an alley a bit further on where pigs were being butchered right on the street. Several scrawny dogs prowled around and got a kick when they got too close. Monster wouldn’t even deign to growl at them, but when we were almost out of sight she gave a little whine.
“We’ll see about a bone or some blood pudding later,” Jeran told her.
We found the woman upstairs in a small house, nursing her baby. She was very young, perhaps our age, and the man sitting next to her no older. “Is there anything wrong?” he asked when we’d said who we were.
“Copper poisoning,” I said, “our apprentice found that out last night.”
“I told you that you didn’t need to work while you were pregnant!” the man said. It turned out that the woman worked in the workshops where the ore was sorted into iron and other metals. There was a lot of stuff coming out of the ground with the iron: copper, tin, antimony, and sometimes gold and silver. Almost all of those except gold and silver were poisonous in their raw state.
“Remember the big chunk of silver?” the man asked, and told us that if you found gold or silver you were allowed to keep a third of the value. “That’s the law!” he said as proudly as if he’d made the law himself.
We tried to get hold of the copper in the woman’s blood, but it was as if you’d try to get the iron out of blood and iron is what blood needs to do its work, Cora had taught us. The only way to get rid of it would be to live in a place with clean water and clean air, and even then the poison had already done damage. The baby also had poison in her blood but it hadn’t had time to do damage yet. “I wish we could send you to Tal-Rayen,” I said.
“With the lepers?” the man asked, shocked.
“They’re not lepers any more,” Amre told him, “Doctor Cora healed them all! They may lack some fingers and toes but everybody is healthy.”
But of course these people had their work here, and we could hardly send everybody out of town. “You’re not going back to work for a year, not while you’re nursing,” the young father said. “We’ve saved enough!”
“Eat well, drink a lot of clean water,” we said. “Where does your water come from?”
“Why, from the lake.”
There were two lakes, in fact, one up on the mountain and one lower down. We resolved to go there and see how clean the water was. When we came to a bridge across the river (it was a grey stone bridge, and I looked for Ishey carvings on it but it was straight and plain) there were two town guards standing at the near end. Fortunately neither of them was young Arin. They greeted us, “new in town? If you’re looking for work, Mother Erne has the best house!”
We thought that yes, we could do some work at Mother Erne’s house, but not the work the guards thought we were looking for! “Where is it?” I asked.
The guard pointed. “Right opposite the big house,” he said, “but on the west bank.”
We walked along the west bank, until we got to a neighbourhood that seemed to be all inns and brothels. The big house was easy to see too, squat and grey with a small tower. This must be the house that Master Rayin had talked to us about, where he would be willing to sponsor us setting up a hospital. But it looked as if we’d do better to start a small practice first and see what it would grow into. Anyway, it was too close to the foundries, even the houses on this side were encrusted with sticky soot from the smoke. The air was bad in the whole town, but some parts were worse than others.
Exactly opposite the big house there was a house set back a bit from the street, and on the little square in front of it a sleepy-looking girl was sweeping. “Morning!” we said.
She looked at us curiously. “Morning! Are you here for a job?”
“Well, we do intend to work here, but probably not the way you think. We’re doctors.” We gave our names, and she said hers was Doryn.
“Hm, I don’t hold with doctors much, they give you expensive pills and cut you with a sharp knife.”
“We’re not that kind of doctors,” we said, “we’re apprentices of Doctor Cora from Turenay.”
“Oh, real doctors! Are you going to all the houses?”
“Then you must warn them against the new man in the town guards, he’s horrible!”
“Yes,” I said, “that’s Arin, I know him, he was brought here from his village because he’d raped a boy.”
Doryn rolled her eyes. “Sounds just like him. He’s dangerous!”
She brought us into the house, where another young woman was stirring a pot on the hearth and two others were sleeping in a corner. “Mother Erne isn’t up yet, it got late last night. But we can give you some warm wine.”
We got cups of wine with a big dollop of boiling water and sat down at the kitchen table. After a while a man came through a door at the back: middle-aged, portly, dressed very richly, friendly-looking, and in the Guild of Anshen. A tall woman in her twenties was hanging on to him. “Wine, Master Ardan?” Doryn asked.
This must be the Master Ardan Luthjul had told us about, who had a twin sister in the other Guild.
Presently Mother Erne appeared as well: a generously built woman with a thick grey braid, also dressed in silk and velvet. The whole house looked rich: the furnishings were of good quality though gaudy in colour, the women who worked here seemed happy. “It’s always merry here,” Mother Erne said, “and if it isn’t we make it so!”
We did a general checkup like we’d done so often in Turenay with Cora, and later on our own: the guards had been right, this was a really good house. Only one woman had a trace of the clap. “The day before yesterday, or the day before that,” Amre said, and Mother Erne looked it up in the book and narrowed it down to a handful of possible men. “This one comes every day, he says he’s in love with me! But he’s married. If it’s him his wife will have it too, and she’ll be livid!” I thought privately that if it was him, he might even have it from his wife!
“Well, we caught it early, it’ll clear up with ointment. I suppose Mother Erne has some. No working for two weeks, and then we’ll come back and check up on you.”
Mother Erne paid us two riders. “Thank you,” we said; if that was the going rate we’d practically be able to live on brothels alone! “Are you coming every two weeks?” she asked. “Or every month?”
We supposed we could do every two weeks. Just like in Turenay all the brothels were close together. “Except the one in the new town,” someone said. “There’s a brothel there that looks like an ordinary house! I met a man who offered me a job there, could earn twice as much, but I like it here, I’m not going somewhere I’m not sure how I’ll be treated.”
At some point a woman came in with a tray full of the best white bread, a jar of butter, a jar of honey, and a steaming pot of porridge. Even Jeran came in to eat. The girls promptly started to tease him, making him blush. “Better call Orian in, he might like some bread and honey too,” we said.
Erne knew Orian. “I’ve asked him so many times to come and work for me as night porter,” she said, “he’d get good money and two square meals every day and an extra treat from the girls from time to time!” But Orian shrugged and said, “I’ve got my own girl at home. And a job already.”
All the time we were doing doctor’s work Master Ardan had been looking at us with an appraising gaze. Now he said, “You’re Cora’s apprentices, aren’t you? Rayin said you were coming this way. You wanted to see the lake? I’ll take you there. I live right next to it anyway. Spent the night here because my sister has a friend visiting, I didn’t want to be in the way. We live in the same house since she’s been widowed, can’t live without each other, though we hate each other’s guts.”
He took us further along the river, going up a bit, until we came to a house — a villa! it had three stories and balconies — at the lakeside. The lake itself was shallow, no more than knee-deep, and on the far side a waterfall came down into it with a huge water-wheel in the middle. “We have a waterfall with a water-wheel at home,” I said, “but only a little one!”
“This one drives the moving belt,” Ardan said, and pointed to something that looked like a bridge full of boxes that moved steadily from one end to the other, and then tipped over, dropping their contents — it looked like rubble — and went back on the underside. “The slag heaps are on the other side of the mountain.” He took us up further, on a staircase hewed into the rock, until we could look over the mountain and see the slag heaps. A whole landscape of blackish-grey rubble! “We used to drop everything in the water but then your Doctor Cora came and said it was poisoning the water, so we invented the belt. I must say that people are healthier since then.” If they were healthier now, they must have been very unhealthy indeed when the water wasn’t fit to drink!
When we passed the house again on the way back a woman came out, who looked almost exactly like Ardan so she must be his twin sister. She had a young man with her, who she kissed soundly and sent on his way with a playful tap on his buttocks. He passed us, whistling. Serla grabbed his arm. “You’re the lady’s boyfriend, right?”
“Well, boyfriend is a big word, I keep her company when she’s lonely. I live down there.” He pointed to the neighbourhood full of brothels that we’d come from.
“Do you live alone, or in a house like Mother Erne’s but with boys?”
That made him grin. “In a house like Mother Erne’s but with boys, yes. Also girls.” He grinned at us, too. “If you’d like to try out, come along, we might be hiring. I didn’t know Master Ardan had exotic girlfriends!”
“We’re not his girlfriends, but we’ll come along. We’re doctors, we want to visit all the pleasure-houses anyway.”
This house was in a side street, clearly made of three houses side by side and plastered over. It was still early enough that the front room was empty. “Mother!” the young man called. “I’m back and I’ve brought the doctors!”
A woman came from a side door, not young, but very attractive, with long thick dark hair and merry brown eyes. She embraced the young man and he gave her a purse. “Here are the doctors,” he said. “They’ve already been to Erne’s.”
We laughed at that: everybody seemed to know the difference between us and Master Orin. “From Turenay,” we said. “We’ve come to start a practice here.”
“I’m Valyn,” the woman said. “I’ve got six sons and daughters here. Only Ruyin here is my own son, but the others are just as dear to me.” And she had a husband too, Erian, who ruled the kitchen.
In this house, too, almost everybody was healthy: someone had pubic lice but no head-lice so all she had to do was shave and wash and powder herself with sulfur.
A young man, Torin, said earnestly, “I’ve got this cough that doesn’t go away, but when I take just a little opium in my wine it keeps it at bay for the evening. No good giving a blow job with a cough.”
“You don’t want to take that for long at a stretch, though,” Amre said. “How long have you had it?
“Since the Feast of Naigha, more or less.”
It turned out that he’d had the lung sickness, and a tiny bit of it was waiting until it got another chance. Now we remembered the booklet that little Hylti had written in Rizenay and sent to all the doctors’ guilds, we could try to put that into practice! “We can probably rid you of it,” we said, “and then you won’t need the opium any more.”
“Doctor Orin prescribed it,” Torin said. “Smoke some southweed to keep awake, he said, but that’s vile stuff and I’m not doing it.” He took us to his workroom upstairs. “Can I put my breeches back on?”
“Sure. We only need your bare chest.” The breeches were splendid, close-fitting and striped in purple and pink velvet.
Only now we saw that there was a woman in the bed, sound asleep. “Hey!” Torin said. “I’d completely forgotten that Yssa was still here! She’s a good friend, often stays the whole night.” He blew on the woman’s face but she only grunted and pulled the blanket closer around herself.
“She can stay there, no problem,” we said, “we want you upright anyway. Do you have a stool or something to sit on?” There was a stack of towels on a chest and we gave him one. “Now you’re going to cough up a lot of filth.”
“How are you going to do that, with your mind? Doctor Orin says that’s quackery.”
“It’s medicine,” I said, “the way we learned it.”
Hylti’s invention worked! We got all the badness out of Torin’s lungs. “The lung sickness did a lot of damage, and we’ve scraped over all those places and it’s going to hurt for a while, but don’t take opium for that, it’s been poisoning you long enough already.”
Now the woman in the bed woke up, all at once, and looked at us aghast. “Torin! Who have you brought in now? People of the Nameless!”
“We’ve just cured him of his cough,” we said. And Serla said sweetly, “I’m in your Guild, shall I check you for lice and the clap and things? But first you must wash because you smell.”
Torin called Varyn — he was gifted but didn’t seem to belong to anything — and she brought a washing-bowl with warm water. Serla started to wash Yssa, “you can do it yourself if you want,” she said, and Yssa took the cloth out of her hands and finished the job.
“No clap, no lice,” Serla said, and pushed Yssa’s body in various places, “no lumps in your breasts, no lung sickness. Only an ingrown toenail. Two shillings for the consultation, please.”
That made Yssa laugh so hard that she needed to sit on the chamber-pot. “Torin, you know where I put my purse, give the girl two shillings.”
We warned Torin about nightmares from going off opium and he said, “I don’t dream much anyway! But if I’m going to scream in my sleep I don’t know if I can do it, it’s so bad for trade!” He did have an aunt living nearby who he could move in with, just to sleep, for a couple of weeks. Varyn said that he could get money from the guild funds, “we don’t pay in for nothing!” We promised to come every two weeks to keep his lungs clear, and as soon as we had a practice he could come to us in the other week.
“You keep your two shillings for pocket-money,” I said to Serla, but she insisted on putting it in the general purse.
“You need money, though,” I said.
“On the Feast,” she said firmly. “And new clothes.”
Goodness, that was less than a month away. “We’ll give you a rider and new clothes on the Feast, then, just like any craft apprentice.” We all needed new clothes, anyway! The children were growing out of everything, and Hinla’s old things weren’t enough for both her brother and her sister.
Varyn gave us a very good meal, and two riders like Erne had done. We saw two other houses, not as well-appointed but without any great problems. Then we were really too tired to do any more of this work, especially Serla whose first experience of pleasure-houses this was. We were so used to going on rounds with Cora in Turenay that we hadn’t realised what a shock it would be for a sheltered twelve-year-old noble girl.
“I don’t think we can do all the houses in one day, even when we’re used to it,” I said. “Half one week and the rest the other week, I think.”
Someone — it must have been either Erne or Ardan because it had been while we were eating bread and honey — had suggested asking at the Temple of Mizran which suitable places were for sale, but we went to the Temple of Naigha first. Now we also saw the new bridge, almost at the beginning of a straight street that ran from the gate we’d come in through to a gate we could see far away on the other side. This one was of wood, and indeed very new. On the near side was a square with the Temple of Naigha. We already knew Sidhan from the doctors’ guild meeting, and now we also met her apprentices: her own daughter Tylse, almost grown, and Airyn, a few years younger and clearly gifted. “I used to live with my mother and my uncle,” she said, “and they confused me so about the gods that I thought it would be better to go and live with Naigha! I like it, even now the midwives are doing so much more than they used to there’s still a lot of interesting work, it’s not all about dead bodies!”
Wait, her mother and uncle confusing her about the gods? I thought I saw a family resemblance, too. “You’re Ardan’s niece? Arlyn’s daughter?”
“Yup.” She thought for a bit. “Are you really going to build a hospital? My uncle says that in Turenay the temple apprentices work as nurses. I’d like that.”
“We’re starting with only a practice first, but we do need nurses, and it’s really good to have temple apprentices for that, they know what they’re doing and they learn useful things. You could each come in one day a week, or a couple of half-days.” Sidhan approved, and thought she could even take on more apprentices if we did that because there would be enough work for them.
We asked directions to Master Fian’s school. “It’s across the new bridge,” Sidhan said, “easy to see, there’s a little park in front, all green.”
“That’s where the schoolchildren learn to grow herbs and vegetables,” Airyn said. “My uncle paid for the school.”
The school was indeed easy to find. The moment we came in and looked for one of the masters, our own twins ran up to us and grabbed us, “You have to see the school! It’s great!”
“You’re already here! We were going to ask Master Fian if you could.”
Master Fian came towards us, grinning. “We thought they’d end up here anyway so we sent for them,” he said. “Better than leaving them with the midwives. There are more little kids here, when their parents both work all day.” Well, yes, their parents had been working all day! “But your eldest is ready for the proper reading class.”
And there Hinla was, clutching a slate and holding the hand of a slightly older girl. “This is Serla, she’s my friend, she can read and write so well! And draw, too! And I’ve got three other friends!”
Fian gave us a tour of the whole school. It had been built as a school — not a converted barn or townhouse, but with a front hall like a porch, a large classroom on each side, and a kitchen and dining-room and playroom at the back, all around a courtyard. There was another garden behind the kitchen, kept wild for running and playing and tree-climbing, and off it on the kitchen side there was a well and on the playroom side a row of outhouses. The windows of the classrooms were made of something that looked more like stone than glass, that let through light but you couldn’t see through. “Mica,” Fian said, “to keep the pupils from looking out of the window all day!”
“I think this is the most beautiful school I’ve ever seen,” I said.
“Master Ardan paid for everything,” Fian said. “We told him it would probably be better to divide the money over all the schools so they’d all be good enough, but he wanted the school that the queen had dreamed of.” There were children from all kinds of families in the school, from paupers to well-to-do merchants, everything but the really rich. Perhaps they had private teachers, like Serla had had.
In the courtyard a couple of women were nursing babies, and a very old man was consoling a little girl with a scrape on her knee. “I fell!” she said between sobs. “Aldin pushed me and I fell!”
“And now your knee is bleeding,” I said, “but this master here cleaned it up very well, there’s no dirt or sand in it and it’s going to get whole by itself.”
“Run to the kitchen now,” the old man said, “and Mistress Hylse will give you a sweet and you’ll be as right as rain.” Then he greeted us: he was Rovin, who took care of the smallest children, while his wife Hylse did the cooking. “Yours, too,” he said to Amre, making us both laugh.
“Mine, in fact,” I said, “well, ours, but I gave birth to them. Their father is very dark, he’s Ishey.”
We enrolled the children in the school with Master Leva, who had a desk in the front porch. “Five shillings a season for the little ones, and a rider for the eldest.” We paid three riders, for all three until the Feast of Naigha.
“Now we really need to go to the Temple of Mizran.” I said, but Amre has a strange fear of the Temple of Mizran so she said “You go, we’ll stay here and do the first lice check.”
“I want either Orian or the dog with me,” I said, and I got the dog as well as Jeran while Orian sat in front of the school and let little kids climb him.
The temple was right next to the lower lake, so close that I thought it would certainly flood in spring. It was built in the southern style with steps and pillars, the floor made of slate. Easier to get that here than marble! The statue of Mizran wasn’t made of silver or silver-coated wood like in Turenay or Veray, but of iron! “Imagine that there’s a smith here who can make such a thing,” I said.
“I think it’s cast, like bronze,” Jeran said, and perhaps he was right. Then I noticed that the face of Mizran looked very much like Master Rayin’s face; perhaps he’d had it made!
While we were looking, a priestess came up, a good-looking woman of about thirty with an embroidered shawl. “Can I help you?”
“Yes,” I said, “we’re starting a doctor’s practice here, and we need a house with a workshop. In the town, we’d prefer to have it where shops and workshops are, not outside because people wouldn’t come.”
Jeran nudged me, and I continued, “And also a farm, or a piece of land where we can build one, for our herd and herb garden and for convalescents to work. No more than about half a day’s journey outside the town, but in a place with good air.”
She thought for a while; it looked as if she was considering and rejecting possibilities. “I think– I might have exactly what you’re looking for.”
“But there’s something about it that you don’t like?”
“Well — that might not be a problem for you. The family that’s selling it has always been of the Nameless.”
That was us, from her point of view. I laughed. “No, that probably won’t be a problem for us.”
“Do you have time now to view it?”
“I’ll call the other doctor and our apprentice, so we can go together. She’s at Master Fian and Master Leva’s school at the moment.”
“Oh, let her come to the end of the New Bridge then, it’s not far from there.”
We reached the end of the New Bridge at the same time as Amre and Serla and Orian, and went due north until we got to a little square with a well in the middle. There was a bakery, a smithy, a carpenter’s workshop and a few other shops, and a somewhat larger house with huge double doors, all shuttered and locked up.
“This was a wainwright’s workshop,” the priestess said. We’d exchanged names on the way: she was Jinla. “It’s been empty for a couple of years, the wainwright was killed in the uprising and his widow and children moved out of town. His old mother is still living in town, she wants to sell it but we haven’t had any takers. It’s too unwieldy a place for most trades.”
She unlocked the door next to the double doors and let us in. On one side there was a room that might have been the wainwright’s living room: it had two bedsteads and still some furniture. When Jinla opened one of the bedsteads a whole tribe of mice ran away indignantly. “You’re a big strong man,” she said to Orian, “could you lift the shutters so we have some light here?”
At the back there was a kitchen, with a heavy wooden table still intact, and outside of that a little yard with a medlar tree concealing an outhouse, a place that could have been a pigsty once (and could be a pigsty again, I supposed) and a cherry tree full of almost ripe cherries.
Upstairs at the front there was one large room, and at the back a lot of partitioned-off cubicles that made me think the wainwright’s apprentices had slept there. A ladder led to the attic, where there was another partitioned-off bit that looked like servants’ rooms. “We’ll probably need servants,” I said to Amre, and she agreed, “we’ll never be able to keep something this size clean by ourselves!” I thought of Orian and his girl — if she was a farmer, she was likely to know how to run a household. Perhaps we should ask him if she’d be willing to come to town, marry him, and work for us together.
A ham was still hanging from the rafters, beautifully dry and black, but the house had inhabitants with four legs and a long tail who had been sampling it.
“We do have cats,” I said to Jinla, “but they’re still about that size!” — pointing to a particularly large rat.
Then, the workshop! It was next to the house, two stories high, with small windows in the roof on the south side. It was so large that I couldn’t imagine that we’d ever fill it, but also high enough that we could have another floor there to make more rooms and perhaps start a small hospital. It looked as if they could have worked on four or five large wagons at the same time. “Most of the wainwrights are in the new town now,” Jinla said when I remarked on that, “it’s difficult, if you make something really large, to get it out of these streets.”
There was a bit of the house in the middle where there must be something but Jinla seemed to be avoiding it. “I think I must show you this,” she said eventually, “excuse me!” and laid a seal on herself and opened a door from the passage.
It was a tiny cottage, or at least it had been until the wainwright’s workshop and the house had been built around it, with a little fireplace, and the fireplace was so much of Anshen that the cottage felt like a temple. No wonder that Jinla had been reluctant! “This is one of the reasons we can’t sell it,” she admitted, “but perhaps you won’t mind!”
Well, that clinches it, I thought to Amre. “No, we don’t mind at all.”
“There’s one thing — the old lady insists on getting the full price for it. Two hundred and fifty riders. She won’t negotiate.”
“We can cure a lot of people for that money,” Amre said.
“We can’t cure people if we have no place to do it, and no place to live. I don’t think there’s a better place in this town. The fund we’ve got letters of credit for is exactly to pay for things when they’re needed. And when we go on to Istila, we’ll have built up something that the next people can use just like that.”
I wasn’t sure that I’d convinced her; what I was sure of was that I wanted this house, in exactly the right place, and especially with the place for Anshen in the middle!
Then Jinla showed us the cellar: a bit too damp for comfort, but beer and wine and butter in barrels could go there and the dry goods in the attic. “And there’s the kitchen garden behind the workshop,” she said. and took us out through the back door. The garden itself was overgrown, of course, but I saw an apple tree, a plum and an apricot. And in the apricot tree there were very strange birds: two boys of about twelve who tried to scramble out the moment they saw us. One succeeded and sat on the fence between this garden and the next one, waiting for the other one; the other fell and we heard something crack.
“Don’t move!” all three doctors said at the same time, and I said to the boy on the fence, “You stay too, we may send you on an errand.” He was talking to a woman on the other side at the same time, probably his mother.
The boy had broken his shin-bone, a clean break, easy to fix. “You can do that, Serla,” I said.
“Ooh, may I?” She looked at the broken bone with her mind while the boy looked askance at her.
“You’re even younger than me!” he said.
Not much, I thought, and perhaps not at all, but I didn’t interrupt her and break her concentration. She pulled the bone in the right place very carefully, with mind and hands, and then made it knit together. “I think I’ve done it,” she said, and yes, she had.
“Now you,” — the boy on the fence — “run to the Temple of Naigha, I’ll write a note for you, for a splint and bandages. You’re the same size so Sidhan can measure your leg for it, she doesn’t need to see your friend.”
“Brother,” he said, “Rhanion and me are twins.”
While we were waiting anyway, Jinla said, “About the other thing– we may have the right place for that as well. There’s a farm across the peat bog, the other side of the lake, it’s about two or three hours. There’s a house, barns, a market garden, some grain fields, and an hour or so beyond it a vineyard that has quite a good yield if there’s someone to tend it.”
“Pasture?” I asked.
“Some pasture too, but it’s mostly on a steep hillside.”
“We’ve got goats and sheep anyway, that’s all right. I’ll have to talk to our herdsman for that, though, he’ll be in charge.”
“We’re still waiting for the baron of Veray’s judgement on it,” Jinla said, “it’s also an inheritance question, two heirs are disputing it. But whichever of them gets it will want to sell.”
“There’s a very good chance that we’ll want to buy.” I said. Vineyards! A market garden! Nothing better for recovery than working on the land.
Then Rhanion’s brother came back, not only with a splint and bandages but also with Tylse. Serla and Tylse did the splinting together, heads against each other. “Now you shouldn’t walk on it for a while,” I said, “if you really need to go somewhere have your brother push you in a wheelbarrow. And I’ll be back next week and then we’ll go to the carpenter to see about a crutch so you can ease your leg while it heals.”
“Can we expect you tomorrow at the end of the day to seal the bargain?” Jinla asked. Amre and I looked at each other. “Yes,” Amre said, and I nodded. “If for any reason we decide against it we’ll send you a messenger.”
“You can just tell me,” Jinla said, “I know you now.”
“Yes, but I prefer to send a messenger, it’s more decent,” I said. “But I expect we won’t have to.”
Then Orian carried Rhanion around the block to his parents. They were glove-makers, busy stitching on working gloves outside their house. “Haven’t we told you not to go stealing in the wainwright’s garden?” the boys’ mother scolded them. “And now you need strangers to bring you back.” But when they understood who we were and that we were probably going to be their neighbours, they were more concerned than angry. “Doctors! Are you going to prescribe more of those expensive pills like the ones my father takes?”
“Not if we can help it,” Amre said, and then the glove-maker told us about his father who had fallen and broken his hip. That healed much more slowly than a twelve-year-old boy’s shin-bone, of course, and the old man hadn’t been able to walk after it had happened, months ago. We promised to come back and have a look, but now it was really the end of a very full and busy day for us.