Nov 19, 2008
The water started coming through the roof today, so we were well occupied fixing that. Sev helped, clambering about on the roof. He seems to love the heights, and is far too familiar with them. I did not before realize that his secret ways took him up above, not down to hidden tunnels or via disguise in the streets. I could wish that he would not travel by such roads. My dreams shall not be lighter with him balancing on rain-slick pottery in the downpour.
I talked to Heiye. He was reticent. I shall try again.
Nov 18, 2008
I did not speak to Heiye today. Call me a coward, I will agree with you.
Nov 17, 2008
I gave the children the day off from their lessons, but had them stay indoors. It was raining very hard today. Today was relatively peaceful. Sev did not come home last night or tonight, so I have yet to speak to him about the children’s latest discovery of the world.
I don’t know if I will tell him. He hates slavery. We don’t argue about it, because it is not something you can argue about and disagree charitably, not with his strength of feeling.
I did spend the day in meditation. I failed to clear my mind, for the most part, between the children making noise and arguing and the constant little tasks I am still not entirely used to doing – picking things up, cooking, finding things, taking things away when they are about to be used in violence.
Heiye meditated with me. It actually became something of a lesson. I think I should talk to him about the market trip, but not today. When the children are otherwise occupied, perhaps when their father is here. I don’t want to have that talk with them yet.
Nov 16, 2008
I don’t know what possessed them. Possession is a strong word. I do not know what fancy took them, that they would think visiting the slave market was a good idea. I have been dealing with three very upset children since they came tumbling through the door, and I do not know if they will sleep tonight.
I think I understand why they are upset. It is an ugly place. I do not remember being so upset as all that, when I have visited there. I don’t want to think about it.
Nov 15, 2008
Having the day almost entirely to myself illustrated something to me. No, it did not illustrate it. It invited a choir to sing of it. It lit the streets with fireworks and the halls with glory. I think the only way it could have been more clear was if a saint had come to my door with a message of its truth. I need to take a day a week to myself, as I did before life changed for us. For meditation, prayer, and right thought. I start the day after tomorrow, as that day was my usual day for such things and I see no reason it should not be such now. My education of my children is haphazard in any case, and will not be greatly harmed by a day a week they do not learn. They will be delayed by this adventure of ours and I accept that. I shall not rush them towards their adult responsibilities. Perhaps this will cause fewer arguments for us.
The children demonstrated for Sev today their continued mastery of pickpocketing and thievery. I found it very uncomfortable, but Sev was thrilled. He laughed, and had Pang teach him for a while. Then they fell back into old habits, stone soldiers and little carved ships arrayed across a fan-shaped cloth. Our empire is the shape of a fan, half-opened, pointing towards the sun. At the hilt is this city and our oldest province. The next provinces are quiet in Sev’s imaginings, stirring only with a strategic one or two pieces. The outer provinces, near the edge of the fan, were the most complex.
Pen joined in, but it took some encouragement and time. I thought it a very clever way to interest them in geography.
Nov 14, 2008
Dri invited us to live someplace within his sphere of protection. With him, in effect. It made Sev and I practice our plain-speaking.
“Do you trust him?” I asked.
“As much as I trust most people, at least. Do you?”
“I don’t know. You’ve worked with him, these past months. What’s he really like?”
“Driven. Not very charismatic, despite his following. I’m not quite sure what people see in him.”
“What do you see?”
“A vision. A better one. A freer, fairer one.”
“I suppose. And he hasn’t moved against us, these past months. We are, at least for now, on the same side.”
“I would trust Dri with my own safety, at least and mostly as a show of faith, to make him feel secure. I do not think he feels comfortable with you, yet.”
“He doesn’t. Go on.”
“I wouldn’t trust him with the children.”
“Then it’s settled then, isn’t it?”
“As long as you aren’t going to argue?”
“How do you always put it? Separate spheres? The children are yours. It’s your decision.”
I also spent a while talking to Meyni today, and some four hour sewing. Between that and the children I suppose it is no wonder I am tired. I am looking forward to Sev taking a turn at lessons tomorrow.
Meyni intends to seek out further custom for my sewing, since I am making such progress on the lingering projects Nima left behind. Meyni is making a good mark selling them on to folk at the market, apparently. The profits are small compared to the numbers I am used to working with, but so are our expenses. It is simply a different order, and must be handled in the same manner – with precision.
Meyni is blessed because she was taught her numbers and letters early. It is not common to a girl of her class. It makes one less marriageable, but she did not think she would marry. I really should be less educated than I am, but Sev’s mother persisted in tutoring us in odd things and odd hours. I think she would have liked it better if I were more like her, and asked her less often why it was necessary that I learn such things. I learned not to argue too much. It just made Sev cross. I think she was probably a good person, to take the term Dri does not think exists, even if probably heretical.
Nov 13, 2008
Here is something for you to think on, my girl. You went up on the roof of a building with your children and your husband on a clear night and pointed out constellations together. I think the better of you for it.
I like myself when I am busy. I did fear that I was being a burden. Now I do not feel that. I do feel tired, but I have a bed to seek.
Nov 12, 2008
I look ahead and I see sunlight on the water, a high marriage for my daughter and an appointment at court for my son. I look behind and I see the green leaves of a plum tree, and flowers falling so thickly on the grass that they turn it the color of sunrise. I suppose what I mean to say is that all darkness fades today, and I am pleased. Meyni is pleased with my work. She even smiled at me. Sev told me something or other about his work and I was busy thinking up new lessons for Pen and did not attend. I glanced at him and said, “What was that?” and he grinned and said, “Obviously not as important as what you are thinking of. Tell me about it.”
So I told him about teaching the children the weather of the provinces, as part of their natural philosophy training. The wet northern climes, with their warmth and their proximity to the jungles, and the chilly southern mountains. The way the rain rolls in from the east and hits our cliffs and falls because the spirits of the rain cannot climb mountains, because the spirits of the mountains fight them. We talked about the fight of thunder and lightning.
Sev made a very dirty joke, and I said I would not speak to him. He said I would. I said I would not.
Apparently Heiye is asking Sev’s advice about girls. Sev asked my advice about girls, because as he put it, “I had only to make you happy enough to put up with me.”
I cannot say I was all that helpful. What know I of pleasing girls?
Nov 11, 2008
Today I sat down with Heiye and we went over escape routes and contingency plans for the children. While I commit many confidences to this journal, this will not be one of them. It feels good that the children have someone to watch them who knows what steps need to be taken if necessary.
Sev is in a good mood lately. I do not quite know what to make of it, but I suppose I cannot object. Really the only problem today was the headache sitting behind my eyes that refuses to budge despite me sending Heiye out for appropriate powders.
Nov 10, 2008
First, let me note this down so that I may remember it plainly for later thought. Sev and I had this conversation this morning.
“Would you call yourself unusually controlling, my husband?”
“Unusually? No. What brings this on?”
“My latest correspondence with the duke.”
“Ah, yes. Your duke.”
“I don’t think he is mine.”
“I think I shall save that argument for another time, fun though it might be. What’s this about me being controlling, my wife?”
“Dri said you were. I didn’t think he was correct.”
“What did he say exactly?”
“Nothing much. He said you were controlling, and then rambled on about the evils of man.”
“Ah.” He stilled, thinking. “I shall answer your question with a question, then. Do you think I’m controlling?”
“No. Frustratingly lacking, sometimes.”
“Yes. I know all about my failures as a husband.” He reached over and took my hand. “But you must consider, my wife, that when we met, you barely wished to have your own name outside of my own. That is not what I wanted in a wife. Is it so terrible that I wish you to exist apart from me?”
“I think, as a philosophical question, the answer is clear. A wife must be what her husband wants, even if what her husband wants is that the wife be something other than completely faithful to his ideas and designs. I admit, those parallel wishes are trying at times.”
“If you are only acting independent to please me and your view of piety – yes, I imagine that would be trying.”
“I very seldom act.”
“I know. I don’t really think that’s what I meant, my lady.”
“Well, my lord, what I mean is something like this, though forgive my lack of polished wording. I meant – I meant that I enjoy having my own name. I do not mind the challenge. The challenges. Forgive my lack of precision.”
“I think I might understand. Would you be very bored with a different husband?”
I considered other husbands.
“I would be bored. Yes.”
He kissed me.
Other than that, a rather routine day. I did a great deal of sewing, until my hands cramped and my eyes and shoulders ached. Heiye supervised the children at their morning lessons while I looked on. They went out in the afternoon to their pursuits. I am strongly considering curtailing that again, though the weather may do it for me. There is less enjoyment in dashing about in the rain and fog when it is ever-present than when one may dash from awning to awning between showers. I penned a letter to Dri of less vigor than my last, and consider it a day well spent.