ladytimedramon: (Default)
ladytimedramon ([personal profile] ladytimedramon) wrote2009-07-27 05:56 pm

Real Cats Don't Wear Boots, Chapter 8

Things did begin to change at the mill. Neither Henry nor William seemed to be welcomed into the house for anything other than meals. Anne took over all of William’s “domestic chores”. Don’t think that left the boy free to study… far from it. While Anne did the cooking and cleaning, William came home from his classes and went right to work helping Michael in the mill. Normally this would have been Henry’s job, but the middle brother started coming home less and less.

When Henry did come home, he and Michael fought. Henry maintained that Michael should pay him a wage for the use of the horses and cart, as well as for his labor. Michael contended that Henry owed it to the family to keep the mill running, until there were sons to help run things.

Speaking of which… Anne soon became pregnant with the next generation of Millers.

Henry often took the horses and cart and went off somewhere, not returning for hours… occasionally days (and frequently when Michael needed the cart to deliver goods). Finally, Henry stopped coming to the mill entirely. William was worried, but Michael angrily returned that Henry was perfectly capable of taking care of himself. For all his bravado and ire, I overheard Michael telling Anne that he was also concerned about his brother.

William managed the best he could. Mornings I accompanied him to the church school. Afternoons he toiled in the mill (at which time I would retreat to my camp for a two hour workout – watching the millers at work lost its appeal within two weeks after I crash landed on this planet… and trying to get flour out of my fur was one of the biggest headaches EVER). Anne spent her time doing the household chores and preparing for the baby, which was even less exciting. Late nights, William stayed up in the hayloft (which became “his bedroom” as Henry predicted – the empty room in the house was designated for the baby) where he would do his homework or study by candlelight. A few times, I heard him cry himself to sleep.

Despite having two brothers, the teen was alone in the world. Brother Bartholomew tried the best he could to stand by William. When Michael had nearly convinced William to go to school one less day a week, the priest was there in a flash. “You promised your father on his deathbed that you would not interfere with your brother’s education,” admonished Brother Bartholomew. “Would ye go back on your dying father’s wishes?” Then he launched into a sermon that would have even given Ogarius a guilt trip.

No, I hadn’t forgotten about Ogarius. He didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Not that he could leave the planet…. Besides, from the tidbits of news I was able to glean, Ogarius chose to use the Marquisate of Carabas as his base of operations. He was using his shapeshifting powers to make the populace cower in fear. Once the entire area was under his control, I’m certain he would expand his range of influence. Without the advanced technology we were used to, my guess would be that Ogarius would need an adjustment period, like I did, then he would take action.

Part of my plan was to make sure William went to the university. It may sound odd, but from what I discovered, the university was in a larger town. There would be greater access to knowledge beyond the limited amount of books in the church library. There would also be from places other than this tiny village. More people meant more news. Sadly, this was as far as my plan went for now.

By mid summer, life temporarily settled back down. Anne became used to her life as a housewife and mother-to-be. Michael was adjusting to running the mill. William continued to split his time between school and work. And Henry resurfaced.

Michael had finally invested in a hew horse and cart (for a time, he hired out transports when he needed them). He sent William into town on errands (of course I joined him). After stopping by the baker to deliver flour and pick up a cradle that Anne’s father traded goods for, we visited the tavern. “William, I thought Michael would’a chained ye to the mill!” The next thing we knew, Henry had William in a tight hug. Henry even greeted me.

It turns out that the middle brother had taken the horses and cart and traveled the kingdom for a couple of months. William’s eyes went wide as Henry talked about the big cities. By my standards, Henry didn’t go far – he never left the kingdom (and from my research, this was one of the smaller kingdoms on this landmass). But then, some people went their entire lives without going any further than the next village.

Unfortunately for me, Henry didn’t have any news about Ogarius. What news he did have nearly floored William. “Molly and I were wed when I returned.” His face reddened. “It seems that when I left town, I left Molly in a family way. I sold the horses and cart and bought a little cottage not far from here. We went to the old church north of town to get married – I could not bring myself to face Brother Bartholomew and his sermons. Old Bailey wasn’t too pleased to lose one of his barmaids though. So I’ve been tending bar here at the tavern. Seems like I’ve found my calling.”

“I am glad for you,” said William. “You and Molly will be happy together.”

Henry didn’t seem to notice that William didn’t appear that glad of the news. Still, just before we left, Henry offered William a place to stay. “The cottage is small, but there is enough room to make up a bed, and it will be far more comfortable than the hayloft.

William gratefully declined the offer and, after bidding his brother farewell, we began the slow ride back to the mill.