Chapter Seven (part I)

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DARWULF, Ethelwin
Born: 13 Sowing 489 CR, Beckham, Wulfrad, Wolfmarch
Father: Luthwig DARWULF, Beckham, Wulfrad, Wolfmarch (W)
Mother: Ethel Birch, Ewert Town, Oakhurst County, Northerns (F)
Married: Grover Roberts, Ewert Town, Oakhurst County, Northerns (F)
Issue:
Darlene Roberts (1/4)
Noble Roberts (1/4)
Steadfast Roberts (1/4)
Darwin Roberts (1/4)
Died: 12 Midsummer 511 CR, Ewert Town. Second purge.

(Excerpt, Known Wolves A-G, 3rd ed.)

.:.

And so, I kept a cat. By the week's end, I had a chicken coop, and chickens, too -- six little speckled pullets with yellow legs, ready to begin laying any day.

Mr. Woolsey seemed to grow a bit eager about the post as the days passed. If there were letters, he rifled through them immediately -- they never just sat on his desk again. And if there were no letters, he often asked me if I'd been to the Post Office yet.

It took about ten days, but soon enough, Miss Goodwin's answer did arrive. As soon as I laid the post on his desk, Mr. Woolsey stopped all his work. He sat reading it a long time, and then he just sat a long time, staring into the fire. At length, he picked up his pen, quickly wrote a reply, and sealed it all up, telling me, "Make sure the post goes out first thing." He would tell me four times more before the day was over.

Early the next morning, I took the letter over to the empty hall of The Boar's Head and opened it up.

Mr. Woolsey had thanked Miss Goodwin and said, so far as he knew, her description did sound like the same Freeman Brand. He asked her again who she was to my father, writing, You mentioned he had a child. I would be much obliged for any information about this child. Was it a son or a daughter? Perhaps, are you she? You did not say what connection you had with him.

Of course, this particular line of inquiry needed to end immediately. I added my instructions in pencil: Tell him you are not his daughter, and you cannot tell him anything about this child save that there was a wyrm on his thumb. And tell him if he's owed a debt or has some other unfinished business, you shall do your best to settle it. Within half an hour, I'd sent it off, again disguised as my own letter.

A week passed, and a mason's apprentice dug out a garden bed for me. Bram helped me plant onions and parsnips and carrots, and one of the little speckled pullets proudly became our first hen. I heard her clucking and crowing her egg-laying song from my bedroom.

The next morning, I found two proud hens and two eggs in the roost, and then there were three, and then four, and one bright morning, there were six. The chickens soon saved me enough money to buy bacon at last, and Mr. Woolsey ate it with a noisy joy, just as I'd hoped. In truth, it rather warmed my heart.

Grassmonth had waxed and was waning by then, and my thoughts were turning more and more to my birthday. I wanted to ask for the day off, but of course I didn't want to tell Mr. Woolsey why I wanted the day off -- I reckoned the less he really knew about me, the better. And so, for days, I tried to muster up lies and the courage to tell them. The courage was the harder part. Every time Mr. Woolsey gave me his small smile, I grew more and more certain Aethelbryne Shaw would be working on fourth Blooms as if it were just another day. I could not bring myself to look that man in the face and tell him any more lies.

On twenty-nine Grassmonth, just as Mr. Woolsey was starting to show something that might have been interpretted as impatience, Miss Goodwin's next letter arrived. Again, Mr. Woolsey read it immediately. Again, he sat a long while in thought. Again, he picked up his pen and feverishly wrote his reply... But then he rose, patting his breast pocket, and left with the letter in hand, presumably taking it to the Post Office himself.

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