He could speak his language only with her. And he had lost her, let her go. The double heart has no true speech. From now on he could talk only the language of duty: the getting and the spending, the outlay and the income, the profit and the loss.

And beyond that, nothing. There had been illusions, little spells, pebbles that turned to butterflies, wooden birds that flew on living wings for a minute or two. There had never been a choice, really. There was only one way for him to go.

GOLDEN WAS immensely happy and quite unconscious of it. “Old man’s got his jewel back,” said the carter to the forester. “Sweet as new butter, he is.” Golden, unaware of being sweet, thought only how sweet life was. He had bought the Reche grove, at a very stiff price to be sure, but at least old Lowbough of Easthill hadn’t got it, and now he and Diamond could develop it as it ought to be developed. In among the chestnuts there were a lot of pines, which could be felled and sold for masts and spars and small lumber, and replanted with chestnut seedlings. It would in time be a pure stand like the Big Grove, the heart of his chestnut kingdom. In time, of course. Oak and chestnut don’t shoot up overnight like alder and willow. But there was time. There was time, now. The boy was barely seventeen, and he himself just forty-five. In his prime. He had been feeling old, but that was nonsense. He was in his prime. The oldest trees, past bearing, ought to come out with the pines. Some good wood for furniture could be salvaged from them.

“Well, well, well,” he said to his wife, frequently, “all rosy again, eh? Got the apple of your eye back home, eh? No more moping, eh?”

And Tuly smiled and stroked his hand.

Once instead of smiling and agreeing, she said, “It’s lovely to have him back, but” and Golden stopped hearing. Mothers were born to worry about their children, and women were born never to be content. There was no reason why he should listen to the litany of anxieties by which Tuly hauled herself through life. Of course she thought a merchant’s life wasn’t good enough for the boy. She’d have thought being King in Havnor wasn’t good enough for him.

“When he gets himself a girl,” Golden said, in answer to whatever it was she had been saying, “he’ll be all squared away. Living with the wizards, you know, the way they are, it set him back a bit. Don’t worry about Diamond. He’ll know what he wants when he sees it!”

“I hope so,” said Tuly.

“At least he’s not seeing the witch’s girl,” said Golden. “That’s done with.” Later on it occurred to him that neither was his wife seeing the witch anymore. For years they’d been thick as thieves, against all his warnings, and now Tangle was never anywhere near the house. Women’s friendships never lasted. He teased her about it. Finding her strewing pennyroyal and miller’s-bane in the chests and clothes-presses against an infestation of moths, he said, “Seems like you’d have your friend the wise woman up to hex ‘em away. Or aren’t you friends anymore?”

“No,” his wife said in her soft, level voice, “we aren’t.”

“And a good thing too!” Golden said roundly. “What’s become of that daughter of hers, then? Went off with a juggler, I heard?”

“A musician,” Tuly said. “Last summer.”

“A NAMEDAY PARTY,” said Golden. “Time for a bit of play, a bit of music and dancing, boy. Nineteen years old. Celebrate it!”

“I’ll be going to Easthill with Sul’s mules.”

“No, no, no. Sul can handle it. Stay home and have your party. You’ve been working hard. We’ll hire a band. Who’s the best in the country? Tarry and his lot?”

“Father, I don’t want a party,” Diamond said and stood up, shivering his muscles like a horse. He was bigger than Golden now, and when he moved abruptly it was startling. “I’ll go to Easthill,” he said, and left the room.

“What’s that all about?” Golden said to his wife, a rhetorical question. She looked at him and said nothing, a non-rhetorical answer.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132

Categories: Ursula K. Le Guin