It was odd, in a way, Josis reflected, being a Journeyman. Suddenly, she thought, I'm all grown up and with responsibilities! She said so to Elissa.
"You were all grown up before and ready to take the responsibilities" the Lathecraft Journeyman said. "It's one of the things that defines you as ready to be a Journeyman! I mean, interfering over getting Saskia recognised as a Crafter, it's the sort of classic cheek I thought only I was capable of!"
Josis flushed, but chuckled.
"Right is right" she said. "I'd been denied my right to be a crafter – and there she was, patently a crafter, and a fardling good one too!"
"Which is why your constructive interfering paid off. Oh, I don't use the word pejoratively!" as Josis looked uncomfortable. "Only what else can you call what we nosy, interfering, logicator types do?"
"Taking an interest?" she suggested.
Elissa pulled a face.
"How milk-and-water! Sounds like a Lady Holder putting in an hour a week visiting the Holdless to show willing, with her handkerchief to her nose!" she laughed.
"Mm, I see what you mean… all right, I confess I can't find a better word than interfering. Some people do use it pejoratively though" said Josis.
"Oh, but they're the ones who would use it pejoratively even if we had a better word" said Elissa cheerfully. "Some people will always hate the idea of logicators, mostly those who have something to hide."
"And that's Faranth's own truth!" she agreed. "I think it's all right to interfere and so does the Weyr so I guess I shan't be in trouble there either!"
"Mm, I can just see you marching off to see T'bor to explain how a fellow candidate needs their parents to be sorted out" grinned Elissa. "Although if you take my advice for that sort of sorting, go to T'lana or R'gar first; or to Pilgra for administrative questions – or Keerana, the headwoman, she rules the Weyrfolk with a rod of iron and we all love her! Or go to any Queenrider for advice."
"The etiquette is different yet" she said. "Soon I'll have had experience of Hold, Craft AND Weyr; that has to be fairly unusual, I guess!"
"It is; and gives you worthwhile insights in to the differences – and similarities!" said Elissa, seriously. "Which will be of great help to the logicators!"
Gradually the season was turning as Saskia and Josis got used to their new knots. The sun was not so fierce at midday, and there was a chill in the air first thing in the morning. The afternoon sunlight was golden in hue, gilding the broad leaves of the deciduous trees even before colours other than green started creeping into them as inexorably as the turn of the seasons themselves. Saskia and Josis found themselves close to Elissa as a fellow logicator as well as a fellow Journeyman close to them in age.
"Clutch'll be laid soon" said Elissa. "We'll be sorry to see you go, Josis, though of course we wish you well! You and Saskia have both added so much to the craft."
"Well, she had, anyway" said Josis. "I've not really added much."
"Oh, only moveable wooden locks, a treadle-driven fretsaw, and drawing the attention of the Masters to Saskia's remarkable achievements!" Elissa laughed.
"I suppose that does sound moderately efficient really" admitted Josis "Though I did the locks and the treadle saw for my own interest."
"And so did Saskia keep notes for HER own interest; and that adds to the craft. It's more than most people manage, my girl, and don't you forget it!" said Elissa. "And it's nice too to have Saskia as a logicator and a friend now you've dragged her into the limelight. I really wish I had spoken to her a couple of turns ago when I was investigating Runa's death. Which shows that even the head of our logicators here – me – can be led astray with assumptions. Saskia had told Journeyman Tull that Runa had killed herself because Ruika had said so. I'm afraid" she smiled at Saskia apologetically "I put you down as an empty-headed gossip easily swayed by Ruika without even meeting you."
"An easy enough and reasonable enough assumption to make, dearie" said Saskia cheerfully. "Let's face it, I had no reason to disbelieve what Ruika said – that the people who brought in Runa's body found her hanged. I ran to tell Tull, not in the spirit of gossip, but to warn him before he heard gossip report it in a twisted way. I knew who Runa had been seeing; and whilst I deplored Tull's treatment of his wife, it takes two to tumble and the girl knew what manner of man her husband was when her brother forced the wedding at spearpoint. How DID the logicators know that Runa had been murdered? I assumed that she'd been worn down by Ruika and the baby made her depressed, I've seen that happen."
"That makes a kind of sense" said Elissa "Especially as you knew how Ruika might wear someone down. Did you never hear the story then?" she was mildly surprised "Ah, well, I suppose the Master sat on the gossip. You see, it was Gerney and I who discovered her, a rather shocking end to what had been a romantic foray. She was hanging from the branch of a tree. Her feet were at waist height, but there was no ladder or stool she could have jumped off. It would have been a stiff climb to have climbed the tree both to tie the rope to the branch and then jump off it, especially in skirts. And there was no moss from the tree on her clothing. Suicide was out of the question. The knots were amateurish, and when I cut her down I could see finger marks on her neck too. Ruika actually gave herself away by saying that the people who brought her in had found her hanging. She was cut down and I'd removed the rope before the stretcher party arrived. And I already knew it was murder – double murder, her and her unborn babe" Elissa's hand strayed briefly to her own belly. "It was horrible; that a mother should be so vicious towards her own child, and care so much about a little thing like illegitimacy!"
"It's not a little thing to most crafters" said Saskia. "And that's the problem, I guess. I know Runa was going to brave it out; I thought she'd lost heart and I was so sorry because I admired her for it. DO admire her for it, because she didn't lose heart. I'd like to think I'd have the courage to do the same."
"And like me, you don't need to; your man is happy to wed you" said Elissa.
"Oh yes; but if he had crooked his little finger I'd have lain with him any time and Thread take the consequences" said Saskia. "Being a figure of speech there; I'd not expose an illegitimate baby to Thread."
"Well at least in the High Reaches the dragonmen are encouraging girls to leave their babies with a sign if they don't want them, so they can be cared for. And by the way, I'd have gone to Gerney on any terms too. But I'm weyrbred, so that makes you the braver. Have you parents?" she asked.
"My father's a logger. My mother died when I was small. I was passed around the few loggers' wives for my upbringing – I was happy enough, nobody made me feel unwanted – but when my father made noises about it being time I was wed, and said that he had a good logger in mind for me, I upped sticks and left. I had been washing clothes for the loggers for turns so getting a job in the laundry of the Crafthall was simple, especially as I was technically craftbred" she shrugged. "That was five turns ago. I'm twenty two and a Journeyman and best of all I have a man who loves me and respects me. I wager my da will be opening his eyes wide when he reads the letter I wrote him! What more is there for life to offer, really!"
"Babies?" grinned Elissa.
"Oh, babies will happen in their own time; and I'll foster them out too, because if I'm teaching a new craft I shan't be able to give them the time they deserve" said Saskia. "I've asked Tuon to have one of my aunties collected – the note to my da is with the trader who's fetching her – to see to it. She was a widow and as tough as old boots but kindly; she did most of the raising of me. It'd be an easier life for her here too now she's not so young, and I'd like our children to be raised by her."
"It's good to keep it in the family as it were" she said. "Gerney's mother is going to help me with any that we have, during their infancy at least."
"Be sooner rather than later, I'm thinking" said Saskia, casting a significant glance at Elissa's belly.
"Oh, I was right then" said Josis.
Elissa flushed becomingly.
"I lost one last turn; about a turn ago in fact. Not planned, I have to say! This one is planned, but I dare not hope yet, you know… it's just a couple of months gone."
"Well we'll cross our fingers!" said Josis. "And of course, you'll both write to me in the Weyr?"
"Gladly" said Elissa. "Probably a sort of logicator epistle by my hand and with comments from everyone. Boys do NOT write willingly or with facility!"
"That's Faranth's truth!" she agreed.
Redlan was also regretful to think of Josis going.
"I'll miss you" he said, blushing.
"You've been a good friend to me" said Josis. "I appreciate you and your uncle's hard work in helping me to catch up; I guess I couldn't have had a better substitute brother if I'd had one for real."
Redlan flushed deeper.
The pangs of first love for him centred around Josis – though he would have died rather than admit it! To be thought of as a brother was both a pleasure at the affection that implied and a torture that she did not reciprocate or even realise his carefully hidden passion!
Josis knew very well how Redlan felt; she had suspected it for a long while. It seemed to her that he would get over it better if he believed that she had never known how he felt. He was just sixteen and a half, three turns younger than her, and he still had a lot of growing up to do. Her embrace was warm; and sisterly.
Josis also found time in the whirlwind of preparations to leave to visit Master Bendarek.
The Master affected a look of mock alarm.
"Now what?" he demanded.
Josis grinned, sheepishly.
"I AM interfering cheekily again" she confessed.
"Well, well, my dear, perhaps one day you will bring me news not history!" the Master laughed, pouring klah for both of them as he waved her to a seat. "What can I do for you this time?"
"It's Redlan" said Josis. "I know his work is up to standard to be a Journeyman; and he'll have had his seventeenth birthday by the time you make people up. But he's a little young and I thought he might – if you did make him up – do better having to fend for himself in a small Hold for a turn before he went back to help his uncle."
"Have you heard the phrase about teaching your grandmother to hunt tunnel snakes, my dear?" he asked, not unkindly.
"I'm sorry Master! Only I know him so well…."
"I always like to hear the assessments of my journeymen on apprentices who are in the running for promotion, though the decision to make up an apprentice lies with a majority vote of the Masters; and from what I have seen of the lad, I concur with your opinion. I was thinking a relatively quiet Hold with no problems would suit him very well. There's a small Hold called Fleecytops Hold; it's in the High Reaches but not near enough to his Uncle to conveniently visit. The Holder is a good man and has sons, the oldest of whom is Redlan's age. He'll make him welcome but expect him to work as hard as he does himself."
"That sounds ideal; thank you Master" said Josis. "Sorry to interfere."
"Oh you have a very constructive brand of interference my dear" said Bendarek. "I'm sure a dragon will soon be waiting for you; so sure that I'm not even going to waste my breath suggesting that you take a teaching post at Threewoods Crafthall if there isn't a dragon for you."
Josis flushed in pleasure both at his certainty that there would be a dragon for her, and his confidence in her that he would suggest a teaching post if there was not – and at a Hall which had had its troubles and would want only the steadiest of Journeymen!
"Thank you sir" she said.
The news came at last; a clutch at High Reaches Weyr, including a Golden Queen egg!
"Will you stand for the Queen?" asked Saskia, her eyes filled with awe.
"High Reaches etiquette is that all females – except some of the youngest – stand for the Queen," said Elissa, "to give her the widest choice. Some who are too modest to put themselves forward make fine Queenriders. Those who choose also stand for Greens."
"I wouldn't want to be a Queenrider" said Josis. "But if it's etiquette I shan't make a fuss about it, I'll stand. And if a Queen chooses me, then I guess I'd have to adapt to it."
"That's the spirit" said Elissa.
"Well, we'll miss you; but we wish you the best" said Saskia. "Is that your dragon lift?"
Elissa squealed with pleasure as she glanced up at the dragon that had winked out of Between and was lazily circling down.
"It's Nefrith and L'sya! HOW appropriate!" she cried.
Nefrith landed neatly.
"Heya, Cousin Josis!" said L'sya. "Nice to meet you – er, I think that's nice to meet you again, I THINK I met you when I was a pre-harper babe!"
"Sounds about right" grinned Josis. "I'm glad to meet you PROPERLY, Cousin L'sya."
L'sya had hugs and kisses for both Elissa and Saskia; she had of course known Saskia from her own time as part of the support staff.
"Congratulations Journeyman Saskia!" she said. "You presented all your experiments then?"
"Josis demanded that the Master look at them" said Saskia. "And so he did. And…" she blushed fierily "I'm getting wed."
"What, you got over your crush on Tuon?" grinned L'sya. "Just as well; man's like a Green on heat."
Saskia blushed deeper.
"He – he is just – he – we…"
"What, you LANDED him? Well, I'll be ground into shards and scattered!" she said. "Uh, I'm thinking fidelity might be an issue here, not to dampen your enthusiasm but…"
"Won't be a problem" said Elissa laconically. "The man's going around like a cross between a lovelorn apprentice and a stuck wherry. He's got it bad; she'll hold him. He's just been greening around until he found the right one."
"Well, I'm surprised – but delighted!" she said "And my apologies for doubting him, Saskia; you go for it! C'mon now cousin, let's load you up and ship you out – and good luck to you, Saskia!"
The Weyr was so beautiful from the air, stark against the myriad greens, golds and reds of the trees that covered the mountains around it, the few mountain ash and maples starting to turn colour earlier than in more clement Lemos and further on with their autumnal finery.
Once they had landed, the atmosphere seemed friendly too; people smiled at Josis cheerily as L'sya dropped her off at the Weyrwoodcrafter Hall – in an old Queen weyr – to meet the other woodcrafters.
She had heard about them all from H'llon, and later about some of them at least from Elissa; Elissa did not know D'lin or V'lie, nor Diccon, all new to the Weyr since the Journeyman had left. Radall she knew by tales as well as T'fer, equally large in Elissa's stories and in the annals of the woodcrafter logicators!
T'fer held out a hand.
"Journeyman Josis! The first and last time I intend to be formal amongst ourselves! Master Tuon writes that he sends me a better than competent decorations Journeyman for teaching what is NOT my speciality, and Gerney tells me that you made a treadle fretsaw!"
"I do hope to teach marquetry and other decorative skills" said Josis "AND soapcrafting! I'm not that good yet, but the new Soapcrafter is a friend of mine."
"Well, you DO get about!" grinned T'fer. "Well, they're a good bunch here – and our unofficial apprentice, K'star – which is just as well since Vith has been taking up a lot of my time!"
The half-grown dragonet was a brown so dark as to look black on the shadowed parts of his soft skin. As Weyrwoodcrafter, T'fer and his dragon were entitled to the main weyr from which the woodhall had been built; and Vith was taking an interest.
"We look forward to you being a colleague in all ways" said V'lie, smiling. "But L'sya had better take you over to the candidates' barracks for now! You'll do exercises and lessons with R'gar in the mornings; and do woodcrafter duties after the noon meal. Logicator meetings most evenings, unless there's music; the Harperweyr are very good! I play with them sometimes as a bit of accompaniment, though I'm not to their standard of course!"
L'sya led Josis away; just in time to see a Bronze dragon land with a golden haired passenger and a large young man in addition to the Rider; and a little girl.
Josis cried out in delight!
She recognised the golden haired passenger straight away as Vorinia, and Jado almost as quickly. Vorinia had written about her attachment to the big stable lad, and of their fosterling, Dorine, who had been rescued from a freak show, because of the soft hair that grew all over her body.
"VORINIA!" Josis called.
The girl, who had just got down, turned; and started to run, before prudence and a twinge of pain pulled her up short. Josis did the running instead, and the girls embraced.
Then Josis bopped down to say 'hello' to Dorine, who regarded her solemnly.
"Vorinia told me about you" said Dorine. "You're her bestest friend on all Pern. Will you love me too?"
"Of course I will, poppet!" said Josis. "Why, I'm almost your auntie now!"
Dorine beamed, and hugged her fiercely.
Josis was crying with pleasure.
It had been fun at the Woodcrafter Hall; and she had relations there, which was good. But here was her REAL family – and it was like coming home for the first time ever in her life!
Ok, I've been a bit disrupted by events surrounding Fenella so I may not get together with another as quickly as I had hoped - however I have been looking over suggestions some people have made about following up peripheral characters, and I had started work on that. I'm hoping that I'll get my head back together sometime soon so if you have anyone you want to see more of, do PM me.