Greetings, my friend!
I greatly apologize for my long absence since your last letter! You probably feared I was struck down by that illness that had swept through the court I had mentioned previously! Clearly, that is not the case. The reasons for my delay are much happier. If you recall, my friend Miri, is expecting her first child near the spring equinox. She is in good health and cheer, and the midwife thinks that the signs point to a boy, but that always remains to be seen. She and her man both are delighted, and have asked me if I would consent to being the child’s foster mother when it comes of age. Of course I said yes, and have been spending much of my free time with them, learning what they would want for their child in terms of learning, spirituality (I am relieved that Miri and her man are of the same mind as I regarding that!), and so forth. I am feeling the pressure of the responsibility, and the child isn’t even born yet. I cannot fathom the way Miri must be feeling!
The sickness that I mentioned in my last letter burnt itself out as swiftly as it came. It took a handful more elders who were ailing and not expected to see out the month, and then it was done. It is such a relief! Even Keith, the old stable master who fell, is still on the slow road to recovery. He may never walk on his own again, for he is terribly old. But at least it seems he is not in mortal danger at this point.
It seems that the plague traveled to you, though! I’m so sorry you were ill. Thank goodness for your wonderful lioness! What a clever girl! It sounds like she did do a bit of thieving for you, but it was for a good cause. Hopefully the villagers will understand, if they ever find out. I hope you don’t mind, but I was able to send some dried beans and corn along with this letter. Hopefully the chest made it to you and didn’t get stolen along the way. They will last forever and are quite filling. They also travel well, which may come in handy if you do take off after your captain. They would make a delicious soup with your sausage and greens. I hope they will help! Even the lioness – what a lovely, onomatopoetic name Murra is! – can eat them, though I’m sure she prefers meat if possible. When stewed with meat broth, the court hounds have made do in leaner months on beans and corn and bones. So have the people, come to think on it!
It sounds like you have some good opportunities opening up to move into the village. I know you love the lighthouse, but being nearer to people would also mean you are nearer to information as well. It could be a tolerable trade-off, at least temporarily. I know you have a wide range of things you could teach to the kitchen girls and maids for new dishes and stitches. You are so creative and skilled in so many things! If nothing else, it might be worth looking into. If you hate it, you can always return to the lighthouse and figure what to do from there! It needn’t be a permanent relocation.
It is interesting that you ask if I plan to travel further afield. While I adore the scriptorium and truly hadn’t thought to leave anytime soon, I did recently have the opportunity to travel to another scriptorium further south. Since the head scribe died, the scriptorium here has lost a bit of its shine for me. Not the work, for that is still a joy, but there is a pall lingering here. Indeed, I think if it wasn’t for my friendship with Miri, I might have moved on already. I might even have turned up at your lighthouse steps!
Anyhow, one of the Duke’s friends, Lord Fen, had need of a scribe for a brief trip south to visit one of his lesser holdings and I volunteered. It was glorious to get out, get some fresh air, and see some of the land. I hadn’t ridden a horse since my arrival at Court; I’d forgotten exactly how sore riding makes me! But what beautiful land is just a few days’ ride away! It is like a whole new world. Court is in the high desert, but a few days away has us surrounded in lush, almost tropical forests. The people there have a very interesting culture as well with many fascinating myths. In a strange coincidence, my name is very similar to their native word for flower. No matter how I tried to tell them I had no connection to their culture in my family history, they insisted that I must be a long-distant relative and so treated me as a sister.
They have a delightful old man there. I don’t know what his function was or his name. Everyone calls him Grandfather, which is apropos because he appears to be as old as God and just about as revered. He is the repository of most of the myths and stories I learned while visiting Lord Fen’s holdings. I wrote down a few of them (included copies at the back for your amusement) and would dearly love to write them all down. It would take more lives than are allotted to me, though, and I still wouldn’t get to all the stories I suspect are hidden away in his memory.
I may get the chance to try, though. As it happens, Lord Fen’s steward needs a scribe and so I may be able to gain the patronage of a high-ranking nobleman. This surely will be to both our benefit, my friend! I have been in discussion both with the steward, a highly competent man named Bryan, and Lord Fen himself, to learn more details of what they expect from the position. There are a few details left to work out, but so far, it seems a suitable arrangement. I hope to have more news to share with you on this matter in my next letter.
If I take this new role, I will gain access to many scriptoriums and libraries in the course of my duties. There will be extensive travel involved, as the lord has numerous holdings across the land. His family, as I’m sure you know, is old and powerful, though fallen recently on hard times and as such, hasn’t had a position for a scribe while they were rebuilding their fortunes lost in the wars. I am fortunate to have come to his lordship’s notice, because just think of the network I could create in his employ! I do feel I would be truly beyond hope to pass up the opportunity. Perhaps I should conclude this letter and go seek out Bryan to give him my agreement!
I do have a very good feeling about this! Keep your fingers crossed! More news, hopefully, will follow soon. Until then, take good care and stay safe and may that captain of yours make his appearance at last! Pesky man…