Weekend Writing: Three Ladies of Middlesbrooke and a Baby

Technically, “toddler”…

So, for today, a story in nowise inspired by my own experiences around small children.

Also, FYI, this is the same little girl from the Art Gallery.

“I’d just like to remind you both that the last time we babysat, we got jumped by assassins!” Lucia notes, holding the little girl in her arms.

The girl gasps.

Sassins! Uh oh!”

If Lucia didn’t know better, she’d swear the little girl was making fun of her.

“Well,” Petra notes. “That baby was a potential claimant to the Duchy of Colline in the middle of a succession crisis.”

“We are not going to have to fight off assassins today, Lucia,” Apolline insists.

“No sassins!” the girl reassures Lucia, patting her head.

Lucia, Apolline, and Petra haven’t found much real work lately. Though they did meet a frazzled young mother at the Art Gallery, and since her daughter seems to love the three adventurers, they’ve volunteered to babysit.

The girl has decided that Lucia is her favourite of the three, and that Lucia’s ears are her new favourite plaything.

“Why are you hands sticky?” Lucia cries as the girl grabs handfuls of her ears. “Apolline! Help!”

“Not Bunny,” the girl says, gravely shaking her head. She points to Lucia’s ears. “Big ears. Foofy ears.” She shakes her head again. “Not Bunny.”

“That’s right,” Lucia says. “I’m a lynx.”

Inx!” the girl exclaims happily.

“Close enough,” Lucia mutters.

The girl looks over to Apolline.

“Song, peese?” she asks.

Apolline smiles warmly. “Would you like a song, Elisa?”

“Song peese! Song peese! Song peese!” Elisa says eagerly, punctuating her words by punching Lucia in the face.

“Alright,” Apolline says, “why don’t you and Lucia sit down on the couch, and I’ll sing to you.”

Lucia sets herself on the couch and Elisa hops excitedly on her lap.

“Song peese! Song peese!”

“You have to sit still, Elisa,” Apolline says.

Elisa nods and immediately drops down on to Lucia’s lap.

“Ow,” Lucia mutters.

The girl smiles expectantly up at Apolline.

“Song peese?”

Apolline sits down beside Lucia and Elisa and begins to recite another traditional Aurorean song for them:

Sauvaherra, standing by the river, wandering by the water,
His songs was singing, voice as fair as sunshine
Where Goldhorn’s stream was falling,
At foot of the smoking waters —
Where the pool was swirling, where the stream was churning.
River-woman’s daughter, fairest maid of Goldhorn:
Tulva of the Waters
Sat by her pool and listened
To doughty Sauvaherra.

Lovely Tulva, she of smoking waters,
Heard his song rising up the Goldhorn
Resounding up the mountain.
She gazed from her pool and saw him:
Handsome Sauvaherra, singing by the river
Where Goldhorn’s stream was falling
Tumbling down the mountain.

By the time Apolline is finished her song, Lucia and the little girl are curled up on the couch sound asleep. The girl is in Lucia’s lap, sucking on her thumb — not her own thumb, Lucia’s thumb.

“Look out!” Lucia murmurs in her sleep. “Assassins! I knew it! There’s always assassins!”

Elisa stirs slightly in Lucia’s arms.

Sassins!” she gasps “Uh oh!”

She rolls over in Lucia’s lap, settles down and goes right back to sucking Lucia’s thumb.

But, seriously, why are small children’s hands always sticky?

It’s a riddle for the ages.

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