#BlogBattle Week 25 “Legumes” Theme
The sun was scorching upon the fields along the east bank of the Bear River, and Sylva’s attention kept wandering to the rushing currents of the cool water. She longed to discard her heavy dress and apron to go kick about in the refreshing flow, but instead she settled for a swipe of her arm along her dripping brow and bent her head back to her work.
The legumes would not pick themselves and without the harvest, her family would not have enough money to last the winter months, and winter in Nevin could be dry as well as harsh at the southern base of the mountains.
The only place worse was Tappen with its barrenness and windswept plains and marshes farther east. Sylva shivered at the remembrance of her near escape from having to live there when her father had come close to giving her away as bride to that pernicious blacksmith. The goosebumps raised along her flesh gave her an almost cool feeling when mixed with her sweat. At least this was one good thing coming from that nightmare.
“Sylva! Stop daydreaming and get picking. There’s someone coming.”
“Who?” she asked and set back to work. Idle hands would be bruised ones if the master of the field found out.
“How should I know? I can see them on horseback. Must be the master.”
“Mama, is he really as cruel as Papa says?”
“The old master is a bear, surely taking after this raging river here. Do not be a fool. Work faster.”
Sylva sighed and dug back into the dirt, pulling out the peanuts and placing them in her basket. It was half full, but she knew it should be at least a quarter more full for how long they’d been working. The heat was getting to her too much today.
Her mother waved her hands up and down at Sylva and said, “Up, girl, up! It’s the master. I can see the crest.” The frantic motion startled Sylva but she obeyed, dusting her sweaty hands off on her apron as best as possible. She kept her eyes down, but her curiosity was strong. She’d only seen the master a handful of times and been ignored at each encounter.
“Good day, Mistress Flint.”
“It can’t be!”
Sylva couldn’t resist. Her mother never spoke to anyone other than her and her siblings in that tone. She had to see. Who was this master that her mother was so familiar with?
She looked up in time to see a young man, about her own age, jump down from his horse and take four large steps over to her mother. Sylva’s shock was only compounded when her mother took his smooth cheeks in her hands and squeezed before pulling him close and planting kisses on both.
“Mistress Flint, it is good to see you.” His laugh was pleased and surprised.
“My dear boy! You’ve grown into such a handsome young man! But, Master Merin, where is your father?”
Sylva was dumbstruck. Merin was home. It was Merin. Her heart stopped then beat a frantic drumming against her chest. He’d grown up, no longer the tall, awkward twelve-year-old she remembered. Now he was the tall, handsome stranger her mother kissed like a long-lost son.
She pulled her wits about her in time to hear him say, “Father is ill, and he sent for me from school to take over.”
“What of your elder brother? Is he still refusing to run things?”
Sylva stood there staring at him. What could she do? Her ten-year-old self had been in love with that strange boy, and she’d not known her heart could still feel something for him eight years later.
“Yes, I’m afraid so. Aarn has always loved the land, but he is passionate about learning. He refused, knowing I’d . . . .” Merin’s focus wandered over to where Sylva stood. He spoke as though speaking to her alone, or at least that’s what she imagined. “He knew I’d want to be here.”
“In a field of legumes?” Oh, Sylva, what on earth are you saying? Her cheeks burned.
Merin’s hearty laugh brought a brightness to his eyes. “Yes, I suppose so. But I must admit, this field of legumes offers so much beauty, how could I resist?”
“Master Merin, if you are back for good, you must come to our home and sup with us tomorrow night. We would celebrate your return,” Sylva’s mother interjected.
Merin’s marked gaze lingered on Sylva for a few brief moments before he turned his smiling face back to her mother. “It would be my great honor to dine with you on the morrow, good Mistress Flint.”
Sylva’s head swam, she was light-headed. The world blinked around her as blackness crowded into her vision and her knees gave out. Her last thought was that the ground would not be kind when she hit it. But her vision cleared and Merin’s face was inches from her own, his arms cradling her limp body.
“Teran, bring water. Are you well?” he asked as he sat her back on her feet.
“Yes.” That’s it? That’s all you can say?
The other man was quick to return with a ladle of water from a bucket not far off. He handed it to Merin, who held it aloft for Sylva to drink from. She placed her hands on the bottom and her fingers grazed the edge of his sending her pulse racing at the risk of passing out again.
“Thank you.” Her words were just above a whisper.
“No thanks necessary. Sylva.”
“You remember me.”
“I could never forget you.”