Alaise writes from Valdis at last

Cora has been so worried about Alaise and Arin– but they’ve just been busy. (And Arin isn’t much of a writer, but she knew that.)

The letter also contains several pages copied from a herbal. (Keşniş happens to be the Azeri word for coriander.)

Here is Cora’s reply.

Dear Mother Cora,

Here we are in Valdis! Sorry we haven’t written before because we’ve both been so busy. Arin doesn’t write very well anyway, though the master sends him to school every week on the Day of Mizran at the temple where there’s a school for apprentices to learn figuring and accounting and things like that. That’s for when they get their own business. I think I’m going to ask if I can go there too. It sounds so interesting and useful and I’ve found out that I like numbers, much more than I did when I was at school.

Arin is working on someone’s house, one of the big merchants, with Master Aldin. He was very upset, Arin, not the master, because the master made him start all over again at the beginning right from stacking bricks and stirring mortar, but he said that the master said that if you can’t stack bricks and stir mortar properly you’ll never make a builder. But now he’s allowed to measure, and then the master measures it too and he has to get it right and he mostly does.

And I’m working at the hospital! I didn’t know when I gave the letter to the apothecaries’ guild that that was what it said, I thought Master Halla had just written for me to be apprenticed with someone she knew. Well, she has, it’s Master Teran, but he is an apothecary at the hospital.

That means I can have a room in one of the houses were nurses and apprentice doctors live, and Arin too, because everybody knows that we belong together though we won’t get married before we’re both at least journeymen. (Anyway I won’t be fourteen until the Feast of Mizran, and Mother Cynla at the orphanage always said that fourteen is a good age for a girl to marry. Or older of course if she likes.) That saves a lot of money, Rayin who is the other apprentice where Arin works pays a shilling a week for a room that he has to share with two other people.

I’m sending you some pages I copied from the herb book in the hospital because I don’t think they’re in our herb book in Turenay. It’s all about those yellow roots and what they do and what you do when someone has been taking it. I don’t think you get that in Turenay but you said you want everything that works to be in the book, and Doctor Janam Isal knows that this works because he used it and it did. You need the ripe seeds of keshnish for this, not the leaves, though the recipe doesn’t say that, and steep them in wine or better in alab for five days in the sun until the oil comes out. (This is what the doctor said which is not in the book, but I’ve copied everything exactly as it is in the book because then you can write the right things in your own book without any mistakes I might make.) I’ve drawn the picture of the keshnish myself and Master Teran says it’s exactly right.

Mother Cora, kisses for you and Father and Halla and all the little ones and especially Jeran. I’ve written to Tamikha too and the letter goes with this letter, but if she’s away travelling I will probably see her before she reads the letter and we can tell one another everything.