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Hi there! To make any sense, I needed to select a larger section of The Queen of Bears than usual for today’s WIPpet. Therefore, I will make my introduction very short. The excerpt below, though under 500 words, is 15 paragraphettes long. My math goes thus: from the date, 6-1=5; from the month, +10.  :-)

When the sun glared at them from a full fingerbreadth above the horizon, the Grandmother stepped up to the large grindstone. For the first time, Arvid realized the woman carried only a small, empty bag. Arvid looked around. Surely someone waited nearby with a bag of grain to grind for the Grandmother?

The woman propped one crutch against the lower stone to free an arm. She leaned forward, precariously balanced between the remaining crutch and the lower grindstone, to sweep dusty, leftover flour into her small bag. Meanwhile Old Grizzle, the owner of the mill, aptly nicknamed for his long, bristly beard, held his donkeys still. Arvid crinkled her brow in disapproval. With so little, the woman would need to return to the mill for gleanings the next day as well. Arvid sidled up next to Grizzle, moving slowly and quietly to avoid startling the beasts.

“Grizzle?”

“Eh?”

“Doesn’t she have someone to help her?”

Grizzle shook his head. “She lost her husband and sons to battle, her daughters to pox.”

“She has no other family? Nephews or nieces?”

Grizzle’s brows drew together in an expression of contempt. “She do.”

Arvid decided she didn’t want the rest of the story. She patted Grizzle on the shoulder. “Find some way to keep her hear.”

Grizzle shook his head, clucking his tongue. “Your mother will be sore ‘nuff you bringing home rough grain. You sure you want to give her more reason to be angry at you?”

Arvid shrugged. “She’d be upset to find out there’s a Grandmother with living kin surviving on gleanings.”

Grizzle shook his head, muttering something. The widow labored into standing position. Before she hobbled toward the door, Grizzle called her over with some ridiculous question. The sort of thing everyone in the Kingdom knew, but all the Grandmothers liked to be asked about anyway. Arvid took the reins of donkeys herself. She patted the beasts and spoke soothingly to them as she guided them round and round the millstone. Copious compliments on their long ears and sleek hides later, she happily swept flour nearly fine enough to please her mother into her bags. It would be a little dustier than usual, but it should make decent bread.

Grizzle gave her a look of exasperation. The Grandmother still chattered enthusiastically about the qualities of elderberries. Arvid nodded to Grizzle.

“Oh! There’s my donkeys done with their days work. I best curry them up and finish my own chores.” Grizzle beat a hasty retreat. The Grandmother watched him skitter away, her face falling in disappointment and awkward realization that she’d been tedious.

Arvid  followed the sad widow as she shuffled on her crutches toward the east gate of the town.

 

WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by K. L. Shwengel. For novel excerpts from more authors, click on the appropriately labeled, smiley, little, blue fellow in the right-hand menu. To join, post an excerpt of your current WIP or a new WIP that somehow corresponds to the date. Then add your blog to the link-up so the rest of us will know where to find you.

 

MJenia and Fenia grinding out misfortune for an Frothi, their ungrateful master. From Wondersul Stories From Northern Lands by Julia Goddard, 1871.

Menia and Fenia grinding out misfortune for Frothi, their ungrateful master. From Wonderful Stories From Northern Lands by Julia Goddard, 1871.

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