'Hallo, young Ege-wick!'

“Hallo, young Ege-​wick!” Egelric said as he swept up his godson.

“Hallo, old Ege-​wick!” the toddler laughed.

“You just love that joke, don’t you?” he asked, tickling the boy. “Laugh while you may, for Bertie has already promised me that he will name his son Egelric, and then you too shall be old Ege-​wick, my little man. Of course, then I shall be old-​old Egelric, shan’t I?” he laughed, turning to Gunnilda.

'Of course, then I shall be old-old Egelric, shan't I?'

But Gunnilda busied herself with the fire and did not laugh.

“It’s a fine thing to come in to a warm and cozy house after hours spent slogging through the mud and rain. But I shan’t go back now until after the new moon. I don’t mean to be trapped over there by a snowstorm or broken leg or other unfortunate accident.”

Egelric put young Egelric down and walked over to the fire, shaking the water out of his hair with his fingers. Gunnilda turned away and went to scrub the already spotless table, but Egelric only watched the burning log for a while as he thought about the coming interview. He would, as the elf woman had predicted, not fail to meet her this new moon.

Egelric only watched the burning log.

“What’s for dinner?” he asked suddenly.


“So I had assumed,” he laughed. “Surprise me, then. Where are Baby and Wynn?”

“Over to Githa’s. She’s teaching the girls some fancy sewing.” She did not look at him.

“Say, Gunnilda—you’re not yourself today.”

“I’m just who I always thought I was.”

'I'm just who I always thought I was.'

“That’s a cryptic reply. Well, dear, now that I think about it, I’m not sure you’ve been quite yourself these past few Sundays either. I suppose I’ve been so wrapped up in my own problems that I haven’t noticed. That’s selfish of me. I’ve been neglecting you dreadfully, haven’t I?”

“Oh, no, never mind,” she muttered, turning to the oven.

“Now then, this isn’t like my girl at all. You must at least smile at me or I shall be worried.”

“Don’t call me your girl,” she snapped. “And don’t ask me to smile.”

“Gunnilda!” He began to have a dreadful feeling that he had done something to offend her again, and he hadn’t the slightest idea what. He had scarcely even seen her the past weeks. Perhaps he had had too much to drink at Dunstan’s dinner and had said something foolish? But he didn’t think he had—and Gunnilda and Alwy had left quite early. “Well, I hope you will tell me what I’ve done, at least,” he said, half-​jokingly, “so I may properly apologize.”

'Well, I hope you will tell me what I've done, at least.'

She stood with her back to him, but he saw that her arms trembled.

“Gunnilda, please,” he begged, his voice gone grave.

“Well, Egelric,” she said, still without turning around, “I guess I got to tell you. I guess you won’t let me alone till I do tell you. And afterwards I guess you will leave me alone, and that’s what I want.”

“What is it?” he asked softly, beginning to feel sick. What had he done?

“Well, I guess I learned a secret about you. I guess the Duchess told me about something you told her.”

'Well, I guess I learned a secret about you.'

Egelric remembered that conversation. “Oh, Gunnilda,” he whispered, stepping closer to her. “I begged her not to tell you. I didn’t want you to know.”

“Is it true then?” she asked, and the quaver in her voice showed him that she still had some hope that it was not.

“I’m afraid it’s true.”

She bowed her dark head, and her shoulders drooped, and her body shook with a sob she wrestled down.

She bowed her dark head, and her shoulders drooped.

“I’m terribly sorry. I hope you will be able to forgive me some day.”

“Oh, I got nothing to forgive. I just can’t be friends with you any more, that’s all.”

“That’s precisely why I didn’t want you to know.”

“I guess that was real selfish of you!” she said, turning to him at last now that she had some anger to provide her strength.

'I guess that was real selfish of you!'

“I guess it was,” he admitted. “Well. Perhaps I should eat at home today.”

“Perhaps that would be better.”

“About Baby…” he began awkwardly.

“Oh, never mind about Baby. I guess she’s my girl too. I love Baby, anyhow. You just leave her with me. And you can still be friends with Alwy and still come visit him. I just don’t want you coming to visit me, is all.”

'I just don't want you coming to visit me, is all.'

“I understand.”

She turned away again and watched the water streaming down the panes of her window.

“I suppose I should get home,” he said after a moment.

“Good day.”

“Good day, Gunnilda.” He drew on his cloak and went back out into the rain.

'He went back out into the rain.'