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It was quiet at the new hut, which was beyond the ridge that the Henge sat upon, in the deep forest, outside the hamlet of Ayre. The Berry family had escaped the old hut just before the roof caved in during the sudden tempest. They ran with the few belongings they could grab quickly, and carry. Fortunately, Zelda had grabbed the gold and dried berries from under the floorboard, and Hilda had her cauldron and spellbook. It almost seemed to Esmerelda that the tempest had blown most of the orphans away: Mari had left, to make their way in the wider world, Alfred was a novice at the Hermitage, and Cassie served the daughter of the baronet, in the Vale. So only Esmerelda and Harold remained with Hilda and Zelda.
Harold had grown taller and lost his baby fat, although he was still outgoing and charming. He still spent most of his days gathering berries, wood, and nuts, or going fishing, preparing for winter. Harold taught his dog, Hunter, to come when called, but Esmerelda felt that was sort of redundant, since Hunter followed him tirelessly already.
Esmerelda’s shy side came out more as she grew taller and began to look more like a woman. As children, there had been relatively little difference in hers and Harold’s personality, but now, she felt that everything came easier to Harold. Like when they walked to market in Ayre with Zelda one day, and Esmerelda wished she were able to talk to Bentley Wise as easily as Harold did.
Or when they went to the Glen, and Harold laughed and played with Ralf, while Esmerelda stood by awkwardly.
She thought Ralf’s brother, Gervase, seemed friendly, but suddenly felt very awkward after she tried to talk, and flirt, with him and he shut her down.
Harold, on the other hand, befriended a messenger that came by the hut one day. Esmerelda wasn’t sure, though, if Gruoch liked Harold, or Hunter, better.
Esmerelda played fetch with Hunter sometimes,
And she felt at ease with Zelda, when they would knit, or work together in the hut.
But then, Harold turned out to be better at knitting too.
Esmerelda longed to make more friends. But that seemed like an impossible dream now that they lived out here in the middle of nowhere, even if she weren’t so shy.
Not so far away, Alfred was adjusting to life as a novice at the Hermitage. When he spoke up at dinner the first evening, he found out that even though he was shy, he was outgoing compared to most of the brothers. Conversation for the purpose of distraction was discouraged, although speech was allowed for administering the monastery, communicating valued ideas, or prayer.
The next day, Brother Diarmid showed him how to care for the chickens. The chickens, their eggs, vegetables from the gardens, and fish from the lake were the main diet of the order. Alfred, who had never been around chickens, soon found them to have distinct personalities and preferences.
The Priory at the Hermitage was a small, ancient church built over the remains of Liam of Ancaire, the founder of the order.
The brothers of the order of Ancaire believed in retreating from the world, along with it’s power, riches, and comforts. They lived a quiet life, sustained by their own hard work, and were free to study or contemplate with the extra hours in the day. Brother Diarmid, for example, studied the stars and their movements each night after dark. Although the order was egalitarian, if there were a Prior, Brother Diarmid would be the leader of the brotherhood.
Alfred wasn’t the only novice that had entered the hermitage this season; Christopher, the third son of a noble family from far away, had been sent to join the order, by his family. Although Christopher never said so when the monks were present, whenever he talked to Alfred, he talked of romance, so Alfred suspected that Christopher may not take vows when the time came to do so.
Alfred, on the other hand, thought that he would be able to make a good life as a monk of the order. He quickly came to love the quiet peaceful rhythm of each day’s labor, solitude, study, and then, a shared meal. He was not plagued by longings, for comforts, for romantic company, for wealth, or for loud entertainment. It hadn’t even occurred to Alfred that he missed his fellow orphans, although he cared about their well being.
Through the Autumn season, the brothers spent all the daylight hours gardening, collecting wood and nuts, fishing, or foraging. With winter coming, it was essential to put up food stores in the earthen cellar.
Winter would provide more time for study, if the brothers were able to save enough food to avoid starvation, enough wood to avoid freezing, and enough candles to light the long, dark hours.
Back at the foragers’ hut, Harold was doing his part to put up food for winter. He had caught several nice fish, which had been salted and dried.
Each day, he and Esmerelda gathered as much wood as they could carry, and then spent the rest of the morning gathering nuts and berries.
Esmerelda asked Zelda, how well prepared were they, for winter.
And Zelda, in her usual, brusque manner, replied that they could never be well enough prepared for winter. “Taxes, rent, tithes, all must be paid, and then, if we can, we save enough to eat,” she complained bitterly.
However, when Alfred gave her his stash of berries, she smiled at him gratefully, and said that he had done well.
The family had done well. Leonid Stroganov came to buy as many berries, roots, mushrooms, and nuts as Zelda would sell, and was impressed with the foragers’ bounty. All in all, they collected 121 bushels of berries, and 14 bushels of mushrooms, along with bushels and bushels of nuts.
After conducting business with the merchant, Zelda introduced him to Harold, and invited him to eat with them.
She told Leonid that he should speak up for Harold as a potential apprentice to the tailor, because he was so good at weaving, and knitting, or any creative art and craft, for that matter.
One evening Zelda lashed out at Hilda, as she prepared eyes of newt reagents. She wanted Hilda to sell her reagents, so they could make more money.
But Hilda was making the reagents to be able to heal and help, and she couldn’t make enough to sell, too.
When Zelda went away in a huff, Hilda tried out a spell she thought might help Zelda lighten up.
And it worked! Zelda stopped, and laughed.
She went and sat in the other room, and she realized, she needed to help Esmerelda find a suitable occupation, or a suitable match, or both.
Hilda used the chicken spell on Zelda, but she only clucked once, and then she laughed.
The family made $3539 in sales to Leonid (using my Ayre market prices list), and they paid out $2275.00 in taxes, rent, and tithes. The Treasury balance is now $67,757. I don’t know that they’ll be able to collect much in the winter.
Esmerelda is a popularity sim, but she’s also a virgo, so it was tough for her to fulfill her wants, between being shy and living in the hut in the woods. She is attracted to Bentley Wise, and they might make a good match because they are both popularity sims, but both pretty shy.
Harold’s predestined hobby is arts and crafts, so he was excited about knitting. I may have him apprentice with the tailor, or I might have him live next to Marigold and Cadby on the river in the Vale, and be a basket weaver. He thinks Ella is quite hot, and although he’s much younger than her they may be a decent match.