In which there is a discussion of temperament and professions

Chesterton Township



Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren).

It is early morning, before the opening of the shop.  The children have gone outside for morning chores and Haft sits next to his brother-in-law at the table, cutting up some potatoes to be fried for breakfast.

Megren emerges from the kitchen area with some freshly washed potatoes and sits to peel them and deposit them in the bowl for Haft and Jorgen to cut.

Haft says, “Thanks Meg.  “So, Jorgen, how’s business?””

Jorgen answers, “Not bad.  Been a pretty steady business lately.  Had a little trouble getting a few of the more exotic woods just after the battle, when the southern traders got nervous, but I don’t do too much with inlay and such anyhow.  Give me a nice piece of maple or cherry and I’m happy.”

Haft asks, “The boys taking to it?”

Jorgen chuckles ruefully.  “To varying degrees.  Ven’s real good with joinery.  Nice, precise work.  Good with finishes too.  But bless me if I don’t turn around and see him staring out the window not /doing/ what he should be, often as not.  Ash, now, he’s better at keeping his mind on his task, and his finishing is almost as sound as his brother’s.  He’ll pass him up soon, just needs the practice.  But it’s the carving where he shines.  Does the drawings himself and then executes them.”  He looks thoughtful.  “He’s a little slow with some things.  Afraid of making a mistake, but when he gets lost in carving he’s in his own world.  I told him about the doors of Anvard–remember showing me those?  He loved hearing about them.  Tell him more and you’ll have a rapt audience.”

Haft frowns slightly.  “I noticed he seemed more uncertain than his brother.”

Brigid comes to the table to collect some potatoes to season for the pan.  “He sees his brother doing things he hasn’t learned yet and gets nervous, I think.  The carving, now, that’s something Ven hasn’t tried much of, so Ash never compared his work to his brother’s.”

Megren says, “Sounds like it could make for a good partnership when they’re older.”

Jorgen tilts his head, turning to Megren.  “How so?”

Megren lifts her brows. “Oh, well — I mean, one does the joining and the other the carving.”

Jorgen says, “Ah, yes I see your point, though I’m confident that Ash could do both.  He /can/ do both, just needs to worry less.  But if Ven did the joining and planing and left Ash free to carve, they’d be able between them to produce some mighty fine work, better than what I can usually do myself.  You know,” he adds with a touch of pride,” I’ve already been able to turn over a large portion of the carving work to Ash?  His hand on a gouge is nearly as steady as my own, and his designs are better.”

Haft asks, “What about Calla?”

Brigid says, “We’ve thought about an apprenticeship with a local seamstress, but we haven’t decided yet.”

Haft asks, “Ven spends a lot of his time daydreaming?”

Jorgen squints. “I think it’s more wanting to be outside when he’s in.  It’s hard for a lad to be stuck in on a warm summer’s day.  Even so, he needs to steady himself and keep his mind on his work.”

Haft nods.  “He is getting older.”

Megren squints an eye thoughtfully at the potato she is peeling.

Brigid sighs.  “He spends his free time boxing and wrestling, playing bootball.  I don’t mind that, but I don’t see as it’ll serve much purpose.”

Haft says, “There’s no harm in a bit of sport.  Keep him fit.”

Brigid smiles, “Mother used to say you scrambled all over Andale as a boy.  Is that true?”

Haft shrugs.  “I reckon so.  I think I’d steadied a bit by the time I turned thirteen…was training for the guard by then in earnest.”

Brigid turns merry eyes on her brother’ traveling companion.  “What about you Megren?  Were you rambunctious as a child?”

Haft mouths, “As a child?”

Megren scrunches up her face at Haft before drawing a more serious one to respond to Brigid. “What qualifies for rambunctious?” she hedges.

Haft laughs and slaps a hand lightly on the table.  “I think you might have just answered her question Meg.”

Brigid smirks at her brother.  “I don’t know.  Full of energy.  Prone to be distracted from what you ought to have been doing?  Failing to mind, maybe.”

Megren asks, “You can’t mind distractedly?”

Brigid purses her lips.  “What would that look like?  Having your pa tell you to do something, then doing it but not paying attention?”

Megren lifts her shoulders. “I suppose? I don’t know, I’d say I’m usually thinking of at least two things at once.”

Haft raises a brow.  “One of them being your next meal?”

Megren screws up her mouth at him.

Brigid snorts. “That would be you, as I recall, Haft.”

Haft waves a hand.  “Nonsense.  I am always single-minded and focused on the task at hand.”

Megren says, “To a fault. I can corroborate.”

Brigid’s lips twist.  “Really?  Cause I seem to remember someone’s ma telling then to fetch a bucket of water, them saying yes ma’am, then not paying attention and ending up flat on their face in the mud created from the spilled bucket.”

Haft colors.  “Them taters done yet?”

Brigid laughs lightly.  “Admit it.  You weren’t paying attention.”

“I was…” Haft mutters.

Brigid looks thoughtful.  “Oh, that’s right.  You were.  To the miller’s daughter who was walking by just then.”

Jorgen grins.

Megren shifts. “And you two? What were you like as children?”

Brigid shrugs delicately.  “Perfect, of course.”

Megren nods, “I suspected as much.”

Jorgen says, “Yeah, she was perfect, I’ll bet.  Me, I was a lot like Ash.  Quiet.  I listened to everything though.  I had a bad habit, as a very small boy, of repeating things I’d heard at very inopportune moments, and had to learn better.”

Haft is eying Brigid. “I do believe you’re trying to mislead my friend here.  You were not perfect.  You had a perfectly shrill whine as a child.”

Brigid frowns.  “I don’t remember that.”

Haft says, “That’s cause it didn’t last long once you tried it on Pa.”

Brigid’s mouth forms a small “oh” of understanding.  She nods as if that fully explains it and serves the potatoes onto dishes on the table, then heads to the door to call the children in to breakfast.


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