After Ladd left home with the small man, Knowledge went back to her job for the day. She was in the spinning room that day with some of the other women. They were sharing cotton and wool fabric and making clothing for their families. After work, Knowledge couldn’t get her mind off her family, so she took a walk to one of the hills surrounding Farnsworth. She stared in the direction of London, where Ladd would eventually arrive. She wished she could see him from afar.
Her daughter, Mercy, was taking Ladd’s departure particularly hard. She saw the tears in Mercy’s eyes during their goodbyes to Ladd. She would speak with Mercy tonight. What she didn’t know was that Mercy had had a difficult afternoon.
Mercy, Ladd’s 12-year old sister, cried all day the day Ladd left for his apprenticeship in wizardry In London. The two children had been close all of Mercy’s life. Ladd protected her. They shared their food. Ladd even gave her part of his food when times were lean for the family. She felt lost without him and could hardly believe she wouldn’t see him for a year. She had to go back to work, and she walked slowly and tearfully toward the Lord’s gardens.
Mercy heard someone running up behind her and she stopped and turned. It was Smith, who she would soon marry. She collapsed on the ground, sobbing.
“Oh, Smith, Ladd is gone to the city. I’m fearful I will never see him again,” Mercy cried.
Smith grabbed Mercy’s shoulders and held her at arm’s length.
“Your father just told me about Ladd’s apprenticeship. He thought I could, perhaps, comfort you.”
“No one can comfort me, Smith. My brother is gone. For a year.”
“Mercy, your brother is a man now. He has to make his own way,” Smith replied.
Ladd’s family had discussed, before he left, that they would not talk to the other villagers about his actual apprenticeship in wizardry. Mercy didn’t know if Smith knew this since she and Smith had not yet married.
Smith walked with Mercy to the Lord’s gardens, trying to comfort her. Mercy’s tears flowed freely. Smith stopped along the path and gently stopped Mercy.
“Mercy, this is a difficult time for you. Let me make it easier. We are to marry. Let’s go ahead and create our union.”
Mercy said, “You will have to ask my father. He takes care of such things.”
She desperately wanted to say no to Smith, but it was not her place. Smith was not a boy, but an older man. She did not love him. She wanted to love her husband.
“I already have a hut for us. It’s much like your parents’ hut. It has two nice rooms. I will make it as nice for you as I can, and I will treat you as if you were the Queen.”
Smith’s statement made Mercy smile.
“I will miss my parents, Smith,” Mercy said.
“My hut is near Lord Percival’s home. It’s only across the village green. You can see your parents as much as you desire, Mercy.”
“Smith, you are very nice,” said Mercy.
Smith smiled. “I’m going to speak with your father.”
Mercy didn’t comment. She walked on to the gardens and went back to work. Now she was crying both about Ladd and about her soon-to-be marriage.