Saturday, rainy Saturday... seemed like a good time for reading. Here's an excerpt from the most recent Mystic Valley book. This is Bishop and Samara's story, but as in all the Mystic Valley books, their families are an integral part of the story...
Arturo walked out of the woods, spying Panther and Llynx glumly seated on the pottery dome steps exactly where they were supposed to be. Time to put away thoughts of Ban the archivist and deal with his two recalcitrant siblings. As he approached them, they stood up and waited for him to greet them. “Well, gentlemen? How was your day?”
“Fine,” Panther replied.
“Boring.” Llynx kicked a stone out of the way.
“That is why you are in trouble, Llynx. You’re bored too easily,” Arturo observed. “I have talked to Papa about your boredom. Beginning on the first day after the gathering, you will report to Dan Miller. He has agreed to apprentice you, even though you’re a bit young.”
“What!” Llynx rounded on Arturo with both fists raised.
“Stand down!” Arturo bellowed.
Shaking with rage, Llynx dropped his fists and stood silently with his eyes lowered.
Arturo turned to Panther. “You may go, Pan. Clean up for dinner and report to the kitchen. Ask if there is anything you can do to help. Go.” Panther ran toward the house, more than happy to escape the uncomfortable scene.
When Panther was out of sight, Arturo turned toward the school and said abruptly, “We will walk.”
Llynx trudged along beside him, waiting for Arturo to start yelling at him or something. Instead Arturo continued to walk in silence. When they reached the path that ringed the central village green, Arturo took it without a word so Llynx followed him, uncertain of their destination. The tension in Llynx’s body wound tighter and tighter as he waited for Arturo to speak.
Finally Llynx could bear the silence no longer. “Aren’t you going to yell or something?” he burst out in frustration.
“Why?” Arturo’s reasonable tone enraged Llynx further. “I am not angry. You are.”
“Well, it’s not fair!”
“Perhaps you should tell me what is not fair.”
“I see. That’s a pretty comprehensive statement. Perhaps you should tell me one thing that is not fair,” Arturo suggested.
“I was going to tell the truth and—”
“You were cheated of the opportunity?”
Llynx kicked another stone out of the path. “Yeah.”
Arturo clasped his hands behind his back and nodded. “I suppose that could make you angry. My question is why you didn’t tell the truth earlier. There were many opportunities.”
“Well, Panther was so mad! He was crying and yelling…” Llynx’s voice trailed off and he swallowed hard. “He never gets mad, Arturo, never.”
“So you thought you would fix it, eh?”
They walked in silence for a while. Then Arturo said, “I will tell you a story. A healer lies to his patient and tells him that he is very sick. If the man wants to be healed, he must buy this special salve that costs many credits. Now the man is very poor so he steals the salve from the healer. Tell me. Who was wrong?”
Llynx didn’t make the mistake of answering immediately. Arturo’s stories had a way of leading to tricky answers so Llynx considered the circumstances before he replied. “Well, the man was wrong because he stole the salve.”
“And the healer was wrong because he lied so the man would buy the salve.”
“Also true. So. Which one should I punish?”
After a while, Llynx said in a hushed voice, “Both. One lied. And one stole.”
“What is another thing the man could have done instead of stealing?”
Llynx scratched his chin and thought about that. It hadn’t occurred to him that there might be alternatives. “Well, he could talk to another healer?”
“And then what would have happened?” Arturo asked.
“The second healer would have told him it was a lie.”
“If Panther had told you he didn’t take the picture, then he wouldn’t have been punished,” Llynx muttered. “So part of it was his fault.”
“Exactly.” Arturo turned up the walkway to the bakery where Dan Miller waited in the doorway. It was nearly dark so there were light stones in the windows. The scent of fresh bread swirled around them on the late afternoon breeze. He offered his hand to Llynx. “Come, let us go talk to Dan about your apprenticeship.”
Strangely relieved, Llynx placed his hand in his big brother’s and willingly went in to talk to Dan.
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