Because I'm no longer doing Tuesday advisory sessions with Nomen, that gives me an extra hour to read after Chemistry class, so I put my Chem notes to one side and, while Isla's busy transcribing hers, I spend some time skimming through the new book. Unfortunately, the book has neither index nor useful chapter titles, so I'm going to have to plow through this from one end to the other.
Well, Nomen did warn me. The dislike for elves drips off the page, with quite a few references to them as spiders, which I finally decide is a reference to political webworks rather than physical attributes.
I lie back on the bed and read for a while, digging my way through the preliminary chapter on the interactions of human culture with elvish where it seems that there's been a centuries long—the book was published in 1931, so add another century on top of that—ebb and flow of immigration between the two peoples. Elves come to live among the humans, humans go to live among the elves, everyone is happy for a while, then people start blaming the newcomers for problems that may or may not be their fault and want them to go away. The writer describes three different times in history where there might have been a war save for calmer politicians among the human magic users—of course—keeping things under control.
But it's clear from early on in this book that the author considers the elves who come to live among humans a problem. And children born to those newcomers are even worse. There are specific terms for children who are half elf, quarter elf, and so on. It makes me squirm just reading it.
"What is that look on your face?" Isla asks from her desk.
"Urk," I groan. "This writer is awful. I mean... it's like reading the comments. I feel gross now."
Isla sighs. "Why did Professor Nomen assign you that, then?"
"Well, he did make sure I knew it was prejudiced going in," I admit. I set the book aside. "I guess I'd better get onto my calc work."
I do manage to get my homework done before Mitchell—Finn—comes by to double check his answers against mine. Fortunately, I'd already tucked the culture book into my bookbag so he won't see it. Since Brown has accompanied him, we all end up going down to the dining hall together and manage to keep Segredi at a distance for long enough. We do not eat barbecue, unfortunately.
The next week is calm. Calculus is moving slowly through the limits sections and toward derivatives. We're about to start qualitative analysis in chemistry, and Nomen has Finn and I making larger and larger aether glass structures. Then we take them apart, which makes absolutely no sense.
A lot of school is like that, my mom always says. It makes no sense until about six weeks later, six months later, six years later, when you suddenly find out why you had to do something that seems utterly wasteful now.
And I've finished the horrible book Nomen gave me. I've learned a lot about the elvish culture, even though the book's author has never experienced it firsthand. Only through interviews.
YOU ARE READING
Mary Quirk and the Secret of Umbrum HallFantasy
Mary Quirk's prime directive at Umbrum Hall is to keep her head down and work hard so she can reach Cadet level. After all, that's when they start learning real magic. But someone else has decided that it's time for Mary and her friends to level up...