"Crystalline, highness, like unto the River Styris when it falls
cascading into the Pools of Ixmir, like"
The demon abased himself again and backed out of the room, its
The woman fell into a chair and sighed. "I don't see why
domestic arrangements always become so complicated. Including a child in a
household cannot be any more difficult thanthan"
Her thought was interrupted by a cattish cough from the pantry
shelf. She turned to find Falance gazing at her with an expression even more
smug than usual.
"Yes, Falance. Did you have a comment?"
"My lady," purred the cat, "it may have slipped your notice, but
in less than an hour it will be moonrise and the moon is full tonight."
The woman shot to her feet and clapped hands to her cheeks in
alarm. "Oh, blast! And I had it written down, too."
It was, in fact, astounding that the woman had forgotten this;
the moon is as essential to magic as seed is to a farmer. It was the most
powerful indication of how the arrival of the baby had upset the woman's
"I have no doubt that it is written down somewhere," said the
cat. "Perhaps the note is under the bear. In any case, do you intend to work, or
will you be rocking the cradle?"
"Falance, one more word . . ." said the woman menacingly.
"I beg your pardon," said the cat smoothly. "Merely a figure of
speech. Nevertheless . . ." He indicated with a movement of his head the waning
light at the window.
"Yes, I know, I know! Give me a moment." She went over to the
bear, moved a fold of fur away from the sleeping Lump, and kissed his cheek. The
kisses of witches are supposed to be icy cold. This is a lie, or was in the case
of this particular witch. It was as warm as any baby could wish. Lump stirred
comfortably in his furry nest and blew a tiny bubble.
"Ysul," said the woman, "take care now. I'll be back before the
dawn. Mind that Bagordax does his work and doesn't make a wreckage."
The bear grunted sleepily in assent. The woman gathered up some
necessary items in a woven bag and went out into her garden. A breeze had sprung
up with the setting of the sun, and it brought the scent of new grass, pear
blossoms, and violets. The frogs were starting to peep by the river. The woman
dropped her head and started to focus her powers. She found it more difficult
than usual. Thoughts of the day's odd events disturbed her concentration, and
she could not help thinking about the child and how strange it was that she, for
so long the unchanging center of all change, should be herself transformed. She
found herself longing to be with the baby.
"Well," she said to herself, "I'll be able to spend more time
with him when he's older."
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...