"... and to my current third wife - namely Leeda Harper Linder - I leave you your freedom to return to your home town. You and I were a necessary inconvenience, death has finally freed us both. Go with my blessings. You may take the mule you call Nanny for your own steed and food sufficient to your needs equal to the number of months that we were married, namely eleven. The ring you received on our wedding day must be returned to the Linder coffers but in its place you are to receive one plain gold band as a token of our marriage, three plain circles of silver, five of copper, and twelve of brass to sell for your personal needs. I grant you the clothes in your clothespress and linens from the Hall's inventory sufficient to start your own household. I also free you from full mourning so that you may seek a new match at your town's Autumn Meeting should that be your desire."

There were other words spoken after those but they were not meant for me. The few words my husband did leave for me were resented by his first two wives Ceena and Tonya. The truth is they resented having to share his death with me nearly as much as they had resented having to share his life.

Share ... hah, as if The Linder had ever really had time for me. In eleven months he'd only bed me twice and one of those was my wedding night; the other was given to me in a fit of pity after a drunken night when he finally witnessed and accepted my lot in life in his household. And didn't Ceena and Tonya sweat long and hard wondering if I would catch a babe from that night. Both had been trying for years - with a few successes only to lose the children to illness or accident - and were proud to still be of childbearing years though reaching the end of them no matter the potions and notions they daily sought to remain young. But no, God chose not to bless me from either visit and the two of them were surely relieved and not even bothering to hide the fact.

Both still being handsome enough I believe they, after overhearing them conspire, look to catch the eye of The Linder's heir. They have no desire to be relegated to a secondary position in the household they've ruled for so long.

I've heard the new Guardian - who will be called The Linder like his predecessors before him - is a widower and not unwilling to marry again despite already having heirs of his own. It matters not to me one bit. I have Nanny and some supplies and I am going home ... or to what once was my home. I have a letter from Nat. He has become the assistant to the village church Elders and he says I can have the small cabin that once belonged to my grandparents. Mr. Tosh, the Linderhall manager, said there is a small wagon I can have as well to transport my belongings and my portion but no outrider can be spared as the Hall must be made ready for the new Guardian's arrival.

I care not. I am leaving at first light. There is no longer any reason for me to stay. There was barely any reason for me to come here in the first place.