Last month, I promised to highlight the second chapter, so here goes:
“How much longer?” I reached to pat the back of my head, but she swatted my hand.
“Not much if you’ll stop your squirming.”
I sat cross-legged on my bed with Lark behind me arranging my hair in what she considered a fitting fashion for a celebration. When Sven and I returned to the village with the buck, the council immediately deemed it cause to celebrate. Yesterday, several village women including Grandmama skinned and cured the deer. With Friar Hildric’s consent, Uncle Danith and Flynn erected a large cauldron before the meetinghouse in the village square. This morning at dawn, villagers filled the cauldron with water, chunks of deer, and all the vegetables they could spare. Friar Hildric then lit the kindling beneath the cauldron, allowing the stew to cook throughout the day. At dusk, the villagers would gather at the meetinghouse for food, dancing, and games. It was a chance to celebrate, but more than that, it was an opportunity to fill one’s stomach.
The war had taken its toll on the village. Several men still served the king’s army, while many died in service. Those who were fortunate enough to return bore physical or mental scars to the degree that providing for their families proved a greater challenge than the war itself. Some families had little more than bread to eat while others had even less. This celebration would provide everyone with a decent meal without injuring pride.
When Lark arrived an hour earlier to help with the preparation, her mouth formed a small O when she saw me.
“You are not going to the celebration dressed like that.” Her sweeping gesture encompassed my tunic and trousers.
I swept my braid over my shoulder. “I left my braid loose instead of wrapping it around my head. Isn’t that enough?”
It wasn’t. With a sigh, she herded me up the ladder to my chamber, insisted I change into a dress, and immediately set to work on my hair. She tried several arrangements, but none suited her. I resisted the urge to protest and endured her ministrations, for I wanted something in return.