On Arboreal Advice

“Put down the hammer and listen to me!”

“If I stop now,” the smith continued to work, ignoring Annabel’s demands, “the metal will cool and crack. Cracks mar the writing and the writing is the only thing keeping the magic in place. And magic,” he dipped the proto-blade into the fire, “is not cheap.”

Annabel, who had been getting that exact same lecture ever since she learned how to talk, sat down on one of the rainwater quenching barrels with a sigh. “I know that Uncle Verri, but you aren’t listening to me! This is important!”

“I’m listening to fairy tales.” Annabel’s uncle, pulled the blade from the fire and resumed hammering. “Fairy tales are not ‘important’ Annie. Money is important, security is important, health and long life, but not princes and balls and your mother’s meddling, rest her soul.”

“She’s not meddling.” Annabel glared at her Uncle’s back. “She gave me a gown, and shoes!”

“Unless she can get you the horse to get you there, the provisions for the three week journey, and an actual invitation to the ball, then she’s meddling.”

“She said you’d say that.”

“And that is why our family stopped burying people under trees.” Uncle Verri turned to point the hammer warningly at the pile of fancy clothes in her lap. “Meddling.”


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