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Eva was done with her philandering husband. He excelled at penitence, but he failed miserably at follow-through. Now he took a new tact, acting as if he’d been wronged, because he’d seen the Wise woman flirt with another man at the green. Rather than feeling sorry for him, as he intended, Eva was livid. In the spring, Eva had given Rhett another chance, and now, he had thrown it in her face, several times. He had made overtures to the keeper of the Foundling Home, and carried on his hot and cold passion with Ella Wise, all in full sight of her and everyone else. His disrespect of her and every other woman in Ayre was becoming legendary. He had even publicly proposed marriage to Gabe Gothard, but of course, that was a drunken jest. Eva didn’t find it to be funny. She told him, early in summer, that she would leave, if he did not. She said the next time he returned from the forest, he needed to tell her what he decided.
Then, shaking, Eva left and walked to the well. Luckily, Hilda Berry was there and Eva almost broke down, crying. Where could she go? And what would happen to her children if she left without them? Hilda listened, and said anyway she could help, she would. She reassured Eva that the other followers of the Goddess knew that Rhett brought dishonor on her, and did not care for her as a husband promised. Eva and the children needed to be free of him in order to thrive. Hilda promised to talk with Zelda and Mildred, so they could all work together to help Eva and the children through this situation.
While Eva was talking with Hilda, Gervase, her youngest son, was admiring Brice, a tournament champion from years’ past, one of the men-at-arms. Gervase was anxious for the tournament at the mid-summer faire, so he could see the knights joust.
Eva’s oldest son, Ralf, escaped the conflict in the family at the Forest’s Edge. There, the breeze passed over the cool stream, and gave a respite from the hot, still air of summer. Meanwhile at home, Lora, Eva’s eldest daughter, planted a garden with seeds that Mildred Wise had given her. Lora had spent a lot of time at the Wise’s home lately, and although she spent most of the time with Bentley, Mildred had taken an interest in her. She offered to teach Lora how to plant and care for vegetables. Lora felt better about the uncertainty between her parents, knowing that she was helping provide for the family to have enough to eat.
Dusk was coming soon, and Eva had prepared a simple summer meal of bread and wild green shoots. She sent Gervase to find Ralf, to bring him home for dinner. Gervase suspected his brother was at Forest’s Edge, and he was on his way there, when he saw the Captain of the Guard talking to a stray mastiff at the palisade. The mastiff was growing, but the Captain was talking kindly to him. Gervase did not think the dog was truly angry; he was just worried at meeting a stranger.
Gervase had always wanted a dog and he playfully clapped and shouted to the dog, who turned and wagged his tail at him. Almost forgetting his mother’s instructions to find his brother, Gervase played with the dog. But after a while, he remembered his mission and went to find Ralf. The dog followed, which thrilled Gervase’s heart. When they reached the stream where his brother was fishing, Gervase begged a bit of fish from his brother to feed the dog as rewards, if he continued to come when he called.
Eva told the children that she was planning to leave. She might go to the almshouse, or stay with a neighbor, but she was not going to continue to live with their father. Eva knew she could count on Ralf and Lora to look out for Idonae and Gervase. The children understood that although the Goddess did not condemned love, or passion, she also upheld honor and respect. They knew that their father had not kept his promises, and that everyone in Ayre was aware of his dishonorable actions. There was no dishonor in a wife leaving a husband for good cause. The Goddess endowed each person with dignity; unlike the Allfather, a woman was a free agent. However, that didn’t keep them from fearing the unknown of life without their mother, and the older children knew enough to fear the retribution of those in power if they disagreed with their mother’s choice.
Rhett could not truly believe that Eva was done with him. She had always forgiven him in the past, and he expected her to do so now. After all, how would she leave the children with him? She knew the children needed her.
Little Idonae was sleeping next to the cooking fire, and when Rhett looked at her trusting little face, he knew his wife would not follow through with her threat.
The next time Rhett and Ralf returned from their woodcutter’s camp in the forest, Rhett went inside, as usual, to rest. Eva stopped Ralf and told him she was going to leave. She instructed her son to run to the Wise family for help if Rhett tried to stop her.
With a heavy heart, she gave her son a hug and he wished her well. Ralf loved his father, and even though it hurt, he also understood why his mother was leaving.
Eva went inside. Rhett was standing at the fire. She asked him if he had made his decision, and he replied that she wouldn’t truly leave him.
At that, her heart filled with indignation, and before she even knew what she was doing, she stood her ground, and demanded that he leave.
And he left.
That night, Eva looked at her sleeping children, and hoped, against the odds, that they would not have to grow up thinking such disrespect had to be borne. She wanted her sons to respect their wives, their sisters, their daughters. She wanted them to know what the marriage promise meant to a follower of the Goddess.
Little Idonae practically worshipped the ground her father walked on, and Eva did not know how she would react to her mother asking her father to leave. Her youngest child was growing fast, and took in everything her parents did. Eva wanted her to expect to be treated with respect. But what would happen now, she wondered? Would her husband demand to return? Would she regret her rash actions?
The next morning, before the family had even dressed or eaten, Rhett did return. Ralf could not help being relieved and happy to see his father, and Gervase happily started to tell his father a joke he’d made up the night before. But Eva, who was watching for Rhett, told him he was no longer welcome there. Gervase ran into the house, crying, when he saw his parents arguing. Rhett, who thought Eva would have calmed down and changed her mind, was flabbergasted. He argued with her for a few moments, and then left.
Ralf and Gervase realized their father was not going to be back, at least, not for a while. Ralf dreaded doing the work of woodcutting without his father, but he knew it must be done. The next day, they began taking the trek into the woodcutter’s forest each morning before light, working until the light failed, and often, sleeping at the woodcutter’s camp. Gervase’s new dog came with them.
The first time Ralf looked at tree to buck, without his father, he felt overwhelmed.
Ralf began to work. Hours later, it felt like he had made almost no progress.
Ralf and Gervase slept at the camp that night.
Finally, the next day, late in the afternoon, all the cutting of the main trunk was done.
Ralf bathed his sore muscles in the waterfall, crawled into the tent, and collapsed.
At home, the neighbors were rallying around Eva. Zelda came by, and when Eva told her how she had told Rhett to leave, and he did, Zelda heartily laughed. Anyone who knew Zelda, knew that she rarely laughed. But Zelda also reassured Eva that the women of Ayre were behind her and would help her anyway they could. She insisted that Eva send the children to her, if needed, or call for help.
The next visitor was Mildred Wise, who was excited to hear how Eva had stood up for herself. Mildred also asked how she could help, and offered to keep the children if needed. Then, she told Eva, that when Eva was ready, they should discuss the developing romance between Mildred’s son, Bentley, and Lora. Eva whole-heartedly agreed, and asked Mildred to come back that evening. “Although it’s Ralf I really need your help with,” she sighed. The boy longed for a family of his own, but Eva was at a loss who to negotiate betrothal with, for her son.
That evening, Mildred returned, and the two women began to talk earnestly about Bentley and Lora. Mildred was pleasantly surprised to hear that Lora had a dowry, but money was not her main concern. Mildred shared with Eva that she hoped to train her daughter-in-law as a midwife. She wondered what Eva thought of Lora’s disposition and her potential as a healer.
Eva shared that she did not know much about being a healer. She knew that Lora cared conscientiously for her little sister, and did her share, or more, to help around the house. Cautiously, she told Mildred there was something that worried her about Lora. Sometimes, she was afraid, Lora was too much like her father. She was charming, and Bentley had fallen for her, but was it fair to either of the young people to commit them to each other if Lora did not have the desire to do so?
Eva looked at Mildred, worried that she may see her daughter in a bad light. But Mildred seemed to understand. She agreed that she wasn’t sure if Bentley was ready to marry yet, either, because although he obviously cared more for Lora than other girls, he was young and impetuous. Mildred proposed that the women keep an eye on Bentley and Lora, and give them some time to mature before making a formal betrothal. “I believe they may make a good match, but time will tell,” Mildred reassured Eva.
When Mildred got up to leave, she gave Eva a hug. Eva found herself clinging to the older woman, as if she were the mother Eva barely remembered. Mildred left, and Eva changed into her nightgown, to sleep. Then she heard a ruckus outside.
It was Rhett. He was yelling for Eva to come out. Wondering if she should, Eva went outside. Immediately, Rhett began berating her, that she needed him. Eva was afraid, but she stood her ground. She told him to leave. This time, Rhett threatened her. “You can’t do this,” he said. “This is my home. I will appeal to the Squire.”
Eva lay awake, wondering what would happen. Should she try to gain an audience with the Squire to explain her side of the story?
But Eva did not have to seek out the Squire. The next morning, Lady Jane was, atypically, at the communal well in the village green. Eva bowed when the Squire approached her, wondering if she would rebuke her.
But the Squire reached out, put her hand on her arm, and reassured her. She said that Rhett had come to her, demanding the men-at-arms come and enforce his return to his home. The Squire, who not only knew Rhett’s reputation, but had also seen it for herself, had no intention of enabling him to return home. She told Eva if she needed help from the men-at-arms, to send one of her sons quickly to the barracks. Lady Jane, herself, had told Rhett that he would be fined or imprisoned in the Tower if she found that he harrassed Eva.
The Squire asked if Eva wanted a divorce from her husband. Eva said she did. Lady Jane said that it would be entered in the legal records that Rhett was derelict in his duties and the couple were no longer married. The court cost would be 500 coins payable to the Steward with her quarterly taxes. The Squire asked if Eva would be able to manage it, and Eva proudly said that she would.
Eva returned home with a huge weight off her shoulders. Through the summer, the family was able to supply wood to the neighbors and save enough to pay all their rent, taxes, and tithes, as well as the court cost. Eva was even able to put away money for Idonae’s dowry.
-I was actually dreading playing this lot again, not knowing what to do about Rhett and Eva. I had decided that even without a plan, Eva was going to leave. I thought the kids may have to go to the Foundling Home. But I forgot that when a sim breaks up with the other sim, the second sim leaves the lot and moves out! (I’ve had so few sims break up their marriages). Anyway, it was awesome and it made me realize, that although followers of the Allfather would tend to ignore a man’s infidelity and expect the wife to put up with it, that’s not what I’d envisioned the Goddess’ followers to do. They see marriage not as a transfer of property, but a union between two people who are equally respected. Although divorce is discouraged, if taken lightly, it is not banned and women have as much say in divorce as men. The Squire, a follower of the Reaper, is a radical and not bound by the ways of the followers of the Allfather, either. (Lucky for Eva!) And although I thought I had given the Squire a key to keep her from visiting the Communal Well, she came almost right away that morning when the lot loaded, which saved me the extra trouble of setting up a scene with Eva when I play the Squire’s household soon. Also, once Eva took her brave step, I realized, she’d have lots of support from the other peasant women. And it was funny how they all walked by this round, as if to lend support.
–Followers of the Goddess, Marriage Vows:
I promise to honor you and bring honor to your name, respecting and caring for you, in ease and in trouble, in health and in pain, in warmth, and in cold. I promise to live rightly, so that we and our children may find joy together, as the Goddess desires.
-Rhett showed up every morning and sometimes in the evening. The children were, of course, very happy every time Rhett showed up. And although Eva swooned for him a couple of times, she didn’t have any ACR actions for him. Poor Gervase, though, when he saw them arguing, ran into the house covering his eyes. I don’t know if I can get him to stop coming by and may have the men-at-arms put him in the Tower for a night or two if he keeps it up. Also, for autumn, I will have to move him in somewhere. Not sure where, yet.
-The last two households for this round are the Chevaliers (the Squire) and the Stroganovs (the merchants who run the market). The treasury is at the level that I can build the cloister (still paying everything on the last night instead of first day of the season, it is just easier.) I am pretty excited about building and plan to do that next. When I play the Chevaliers, they will host the tournament that Gervase is so excited about!