A gushing letter from Selle

She has reason to gush!

Ranei Selle astin Hayan, in Tal-Valein, to Raissei Cora astin Velain in Turenay

Dearest Cora,

It’s so good that Aidan is back! I can’t imagine being without Arin for more than a few days now, you must have been famished for him. And worried. I understand completely that you rushed to where he was as soon as you could see him, I’d have done the same thing (if Arin and I had both been able to see each other like that, of course).

Your letter was in the pocket of my apron for days before I even got round to reading it, because we have a baby! A little girl, called Aine because Arin’s mother came to help, I couldn’t avoid calling her after her! But my next daughter will be Cora, I promise you. I want to have lots of sons and daughters. She’s so cute! Invisible hair, which probably means she’ll be blonde like me, not dark like Arin.

It was a bit scary because she wouldn’t turn properly at first, and then when Arin was already getting the wagon to drive me to the midwife in town she did turn, and then promptly wanted to be born! I do feel battered, because I’m about as small as you and Arin is a lot bigger than Aidan so it was a big baby, and the priestess had to stitch me up. Pissing is a disaster, but there’s nothing for it and Aine says that it will only get better and the first is always the worst because you stretch a bit.

You know what’s strange? Next Midsummer will be my first as a lady. There are bound to be all kinds of customs in the village that I’ve never seen. But Arin has been here at Midsummer before so he’ll be able to tell me what to do.

Come to think of it, did you ever tell me you were going to have a baby, too? I don’t think so, but I’m not surprised that you tried before Aidan went away. You’ll have to come here next summer so the little girls can play together.

I’m sending you some cheese, but we don’t have any fruit that’s ripe enough (except the early strawberries and I must confess that I’m eating them all). The cheese is good and firm, it’s last year’s that’s been ripening all this time in the shed I showed you when you were here. I couldn’t go and turn it for the last few weeks but Lysna has been doing it so it must be all right.

Radan, who brought your letter, is ploughing the fields now for the barley sowing, which he can do with one arm. I think he can also sow with one arm! As Arin says, “you don’t need more than two fingers to plough with those oxen.” (They are very sweet oxen. If they were cows, I’d probably be able to milk them!) But the priestess says that the other one won’t be useless for ever, he can already lift it and turn it a bit. Is it really true that almost all of Aidan’s regiment were killed? He must be so sad. But it’s really good news that the king is winning the war. I can’t imagine that it would be different, after all he’s the king, but from what we’ve heard from Radan it was really very bad.

Darling Cora, all blessings for you and Aidan and your own little girl when she is born, from a very happy