Chapter Thirty-Two (part I)

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The first Winter was a bitter thing, dark and cold and grim. Younger Brother did not like it.

Younger Brother turned north to the valleys, crying, "Sister, Sister, come to me! I cannot bear this Winter."

But Younger Sister would not come to him. "It is too dark now," she said. "I'll come when the rain wakes the new buds."

He turned south to the woods, crying, "Brother, Brother, come to me! I cannot bear this Winter."

But Elder Brother would not come to him. "It is too cold now," he said. "I'll come when the sun ripens the barley."

Younger Brother turned east to the mountains, crying, "Sister, Sister, come to me! I cannot bear this Winter."

But Elder Sister would not come to him. "There shall be many Winters," she said. "If you cannot bear it, you should die."

And so, Younger Brother turned to the heart of the New Land, and there he dug a great hole. And when the hole was wide enough and deep enough, he laid himself down in it and died.

Father called Younger Brother home gladly. "Come, my son, thou brightheart, thou weaver, thou keen one!"

And Younger Brother went home gladly. He ran across the islands and the seas, following Father's call til they met in the Old Land.

Days passed, and the rain woke the new buds. Younger Sister went to the heart of the New Land, and there she found Younger Brother's grave. Quick tears filled her eyes. Quick tears fell to the cold earth. She cried, "Brother, Brother, why did you leave us?"

Younger Brother did not answer. He gathered sweet nuts and ate them with Father, glad to be home again. But the sweet nuts were too sweet. He longed for the bitter walnuts of the New Land.

Days passed, and the sun ripened the barley. Elder Brother went to the heart of the New Land, and there he found Younger Brother's grave. Fat tears filled his eyes. Fat tears fell to the cold earth. He cried, "Brother, Brother, why did you leave us?"

Younger Brother did not answer. He gathered red berries and ate them with Father, glad to be home again. But the red berries were too bland. He longed for the green apples of the New Land.

Days passed, and Winter came again. Elder Sister went to the heart of the New Land, and there she found Younger Brother's grave. Bitter tears filled her eyes. Bitter tears fell to the cold earth. She cried, "And what shall we do without ye, you fool?"

Younger Brother could not answer. Hot tears filled his eyes. Hot tears fell to the old earth. He left the hunt and ran, quicker than flame, across the seas and the islands, calling to his siblings in the New Land.

He called to the valleys in the north, "Come, my sister, thou greatheart, thou watcher, thou clever one!"

He called to the woods in the south, "Come, my brother, thou stoutheart, thou dreamer, thou striving one!"

He called to the mountains in the east, "Come, my sister, thou ironheart, thou keeper, thou wise one!"

"Come, dear ones! I shall make even Winter bright and hot and gladsome!"

And so, Younger Brother returned to the heart of the New Land, and there he built a great fire. And when the fire burned bright enough and hot enough, he sat himself down before it and sang, glad to be home again.

(folk tale, How Brother Wyrm Learned to Sing)

.:.

My first acts as queen were, perhaps, not the most auspicious. I startled when kith and kin slapped their fists to their hearts and shouted, "Hail, Queen Eadgyth!" A second shout, a third, a fifth, and finally a seventh, left me trembling, and then I just stood there, waiting, til Lady Baelward asked, "And what shall we do now, my lady?"

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