Galleries of Stone, Chapter 11: Picking and Choosing

Author’s Note: Although I have a general plan, Galleries of Stone will undoubtedly be shaped from day to day by Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day. Learn more about my impromptu tale here.

Word of the Day for January 11, 2012 – expostulate [ik-SPOS-chuh-leyt], to reason earnestly with someone against something that person intends to do or has done.

Chapter 11: Picking and Choosing

Freydolf hated to lose more time in training his new servant, but the sculptor knew the value of a solid foundation. Though his hands were twitching to get back to the flowing mane of the dragon he was in the midst of carving, he turned his back on the statue and asked, “Can you grow things?”

Tupper nodded, offering, “Mother has a garden.”

Most Flox did, which made things easier. Beckoning for the boy to follow, Freydolf led the way out and up a flight of stairs. As they climbed, he explained, “We’re high and dry here, so anything that’s planted requires watering. My trees will need you.”

Again, the curly head bobbed.

They proceeded through a narrow, wrought-iron gate set into a natural gap in the stone; the passage opened onto the outer courtyard. Because it was nearer Morven’s summit, this wide terrace enjoyed greater exposure to the sun. A garden of sorts was planted here, though there was no rhyme or reason to the jumble of plants that managed to survive in the shallow, rocky soil. Each keeper had added to the collection depending on his tastes.

Freydolf’s contribution was a set of oft-neglected fruit trees, which were espaliered against the cliff face along a narrow ledge overlooking the courtyard. His sister had badgered him into planting them during her first visit, expostulating loudly and in great detail with regards to his ineptitude at hunting and foraging. These trees were both a concession to her concern and a reminder of home, where orchards sprawled along the coastal plains.

Even though he only fussed with them when his sister took the time to check up on him, Freydolf’s meager grove survived; indeed, it thrived. A dozen trees lined a rock face with a westerly angle, so they benefited from sun-drenched afternoons. Here, the air was thick with the scent of ripening peaches, and the usual stillness was broken by the hum of bees. It would be several weeks before any of the pears would be ready to pick.

“Mind the edge,” he warned, glancing back at Tupper. The sure-footed lad didn’t balk at the precipitous drop they were skirting, which was a mercy. If there was one thing The Statuary had aplenty, it was heights.

In Flox, summers were hot and dry, and winters were cold and wet. Between rainy seasons, this small orchard relied on him—or rather, his servant—to sustain it. “You’ll need to tote water from the cistern,” Freydolf explained, pointing to a small stack of upturned buckets.

Glancing at the boy to receive his usual nod, the sculptor was surprised to find that the boy wasn’t paying attention to his instructions. His nose twitched as he cast longing looks into the laden branches. Breakfast had been a paltry affair, so Freydolf cleared his throat. At Tupper’s guilty glance, he generously offered, “Help yourself, lambkin.”

In a twinkling, Tupper was up the nearest tree, barely bending its thickly-gnarled branches with his slender weight as he perched. Feet swinging, eyes roving, the lad reached for one of the blushing fruits hidden amidst green leaves. He pressed the softly-fuzzed peach to his lips, but before he took a bite, he plucked another. Freydolf thought the boy a trifle greedy… until Tupper held it out to him.

“Aye, thank you,” he accepted warmly, taking the offering with a smile. Freydolf knew he was better at picking rocks than picking servants, but for once, he knew he’d chosen well.

COMING SOON!

Galleries of Stone will soon be published as a trilogy.
BOOK 1: MEADOWSWEET will be available in Autumn 2013
Watch for more information in the near future!

Galleries of Stone, Copyright © 2012 Christa Kinde, all rights reserved. Abscond Not! This story is mine to tell. If you want to receive email alerts whenever Galleries of Stone updates, consider subscribing to this blog! You can also watch for notifications on Twitter.