The day dawned bright and cool and I gave myself the morning off. I had an appointment in the afternoon and decided any but the most pressing chores could wait until tomorrow.
And there would be chores, not the least the annoyance of having used up almost my entire stock of rosemary and sandalwood candles on the very day I made them meant I was going to need to chat with the bees about wax.
Mind you, since they were the ones that suggested I make them when I did, I can live in hope that they’re already working on replacement supplies for me.
I checked the animals, they were all making good starts on their winter coats, which reminded me, I needed to sort out my cardigan pocket and look into wool for a replacement.
Leaving that for another day would inevitably lead to problems, so I settled into my favourite chair and took up the darning needle.
Naturally, as soon as I threaded up, someone knocked. I was not about to untangle myself for someone else’s convenience.
“It’s open, just make sure you shut it behind you.”
The door inched open and a freckled little face appeared around it.
“And who might you be?”
The girl slipped through the little gap, then carefully pushed the door closed. She turned and gave me a neat little curtsey. Nice to see some children these days have manners.
“If you please your ladyship, Mrs Mayor sent me to see if you would be so kind as to take tea this afternoon and if not, then maybe tomorrow?”
I smiled. “I’m afraid I do already have a commitment today but I would be delighted to join Mrs Mayor tomorrow. What time should I arrive.”
“She said three o’clock, Your Ladyship, and, um, she wondered if you had anything that could help out with a little challenge she’s having.”
Now, I laughed. Never an invitation without a request, but I like being useful so it’s a fair exchange. “And what might this challenge be?”
The girl flushed. “I think it might be me, but she didn’t quite say it like that.”
Intriguing. “What makes you say that?”
“She was saying about wanting to hear the patter of tiny feet and I’ve grown a lot since I came to work for her so my feet aren’t tiny any more.”
I tried to keep a straight face but failed utterly. “I think you’ll find it’s something else entirely and she’s probably very happy that you’re growing and thriving in her household. Please tell her I have a couple of ideas and we can discuss it further tomorrow.”
The girl curtseyed again. “Yes ma’am, I mean Your Ladyship.”
I narrowed my eyes at her, she hadn’t moved to leave. “Is there something else, or are you curious about my home?”
She flushed scarlet. I smiled again. “It’s only natural. Now I need to finish this sewing or it’ll never get done but it’s a quick job. You can either look around this room or have a wander in the garden until I join you.”
“I’d like to look in here if you don’t mind.”
“Go right ahead, but remember to be careful about touching things, not all of my trinkets are quite what they seem.”
She puttered about happily, her questions were not too frequent and they were intelligent. Mrs Mayor had made a good decision. As had the girl’s parents, any child placed in the Mayor’s household received an excellent education and this one wouldn’t waste it.
I finished up my darning and mentally adjusted my plans for the following day. If I was going into town anyway, I might as well stop by the weavers and see what wool they had available for my new cardigan. Or at the very least put in an order for some. Much easier than waiting to shear my goat and going through all that rigmarole. No, I much prefer going to the experts when it makes sense. Much as people come to me.
I slipped the cardigan on and went to join my little visitor, showing her how some of my prettier odds and ends worked. I wonder how she’d get along with a ghost. Chloe might like a friend around her age and it would be far better for her to spend some time with fellow children, rather than only with adults. I would need to add a new crystal ball to my shopping plans, the other one was better left at the tower for the time being.
I ushered the girl out of the front door to show her the garden. “Do you have a name?”
She really did go red a lot. “It’s Sarah Your Ladyship.”
“And a nice name too, it means ‘princess’, you know.”
“Really?” She looked pleased.
“Really, and you can call me Mistress or ma’am, it’s not nearly as much of a mouthful as ‘your ladyship’ or ‘madam sorceress’ or any of the other titles people like to cook up for me.”
I didn’t think it would be that much of a relief. Funny.
I decided not to mention Chloe to Sarah until I’d mentioned Sarah to Chloe. No point building someone up if the other party then decides not to play.
We wandered in the garden for a while, Sarah had a keen interest in the plants and a good grasp on the use of some of the common ones. It would be interesting to see what path she decided to take as she grew older.
After waving her off, I realised I’d managed to take up most of my morning off with my little visitor, and headed round the side of the house to talk with the bees. They hadn’t looked into the extra wax but promised to do so as a special favour.
Then I locked the front door and headed for the dragon’s cave, to chat with one of the more unusual items in her horde.
I arrived at the mouth of her cave, to find her enjoying the sun, with a large, ornate brass urn by her side. I greeted her and turned to the urn. “Grath, how are you today? Any progress on methods of getting you out of there that doesn’t involve cursed wishes?”
A deep voice echoed from the depths of the urn. To be accurate, it sounded like it echoed from some chamber deep below the urn; such is the nature of pocket dimensions.
“None as yet, although I have heard rumour of a fellow djinn in the far west who has been able to cast off their servitude and I have sent them a communication to ascertain the truth of it, and the method.”
It was good to hear there might be an end in sight for Grath. I know most djinn are overpowered sociopaths but every now and again, there’s a decent sort among them and it was hardly fair for him to be condemned for the reputation of others.
“Let me know if I can help, once you hear.”
“I will, my thanks for your trust.”
We sat and chatted for a while longer. Grath was an intelligent, studious soul who longed to learn everything he could about the world, and people. He found humans endlessly fascinating but, given his situation, it was a little hard for him to be able to observe the townsfolk’s antics first hand, so he had to make do with second-hand gossip from me. My news of Mrs Mayor’s request sent him into such a flurry of excitement, he nearly tipped his urn over. I left the cave a while later with several more suggestions and interesting cases than I’d arrived with, and made a note to tuck a couple of extra items into my cardigan pocket when I headed to town.
All in all, a pleasantly social day, and one I should be glad to repeat at some point.