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The Last Yule in Halabor
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Day 03 - The Glovemaker

For disclaimer and further details see Part 1.
Rating: General, for this part.

Author’s note: If you want an impression about Halabor in winter, go to the Yvoire website and take a look at the galleries called “Yvoire under snow” and “Yvoire under ice”. Those galleries inspired this series.


Day Three – The Glovemaker

Unlike most people in Halabor, Mistress Tegen liked the winter season. She liked when the tree-benches were loaded with snow, as rarely as it happened, and she liked the icicles hanging from the roof and the ice blossoms ranking on the window planes. They helped her think of new patterns for the stitching and embroidery on her gloves. For Mistress Tegen was the glovemaker of Halabor – the only one of her trade in town.

She had learned this fine craft from her grandfather, old Master Germoe, who still helped her with the simpler tasks, even though his eyes were not good enough for the finer stitching anymore. But while Master Germoe had been forced to spend each winter curing the skins from the small herd of cattle and goats kept on the farmstead of his wife’s parents in his youth, Mistress Tegen had no such worries. She got the finely prepared skins from her father’s tannery, so that she could dedicate all her skills to the crafting of her gloves.

On this fine winter morning, she was sitting in the workroom of her shop (which she shared with Mistress Crewyn, the pursemaker), working on a new pair of gloves and only occasionally glancing out onto the Street of the Gardens, where her house stood. Aye, the house belonged to her, which was unusual for such a young woman. It used to be Master Germoe’s, who had willed it to her, as it had been her home since the age of eight.

She was the youngest child of Germoc, the tanner, and the only daughter. She had watched her father, uncles and brothers scrape away hair from the upper side of skins and flesh adhering to the underside of them, rubbing the hides with cold pigeon dung or warm dog dung to soften them, soaking them in fermenting bran to watch off the traces left by the dung all her childhood. She had decided early on that this was not the life she wanted.

Thus she had turned to her grandfather and asked to be taught the craft of glove-making. Master Germoe had happily agreed to take her as an apprentice, and she had moved into her grandparents’ house at once. It had been her home for twenty years by now.

She smiled and glanced through the shop window again. The two horizontal shutters were open, upward and downward, top and bottom. The upper shutter was supported by two posts that converted into an awning; the lower shutter dropped to rest on two short legs, and served as a display counter. Not at this weather, though. ‘Twas too cold; the shop window was closed.

Glass was a luxury few craftspeople could afford. In most houses, the windows were covered with oiled parchment. But one needs good light for doing embroidery… Master Germoe’s eyes were the proof for this necessity. So Mistresses Tegen and Crewyn had saved their coin for years to have this large glass window made. The glass panes, each about the size of a man’s palm, were fastened in a wooden grid, leaving the sunlight into the workroom, and every time she glanced out, Mistress Tegen was thankful for her craft that brought in enough money for such a splendid achievement. She loved sunlight and was happy that she could enjoy it during her work, even in winter.

Her name meant “pretty”, and Mistress Tegen was a lovely sight indeed. Slender and brown-haired and brown-eyed like most women of the Old Folk, she was wearing a simple, earth-brown gown, with a lighter brown surcoat above it, and a shoulder-length white veil in Rohirric fashion, fastened with a sprang ribbon. For other married women, such a headdress would be unusual, but as she was married to Erney, the scabbard-maker, the son of a Rohirric expatriate, she had taken over a few Rohirric customs from her husband’s family.

Particularly from one member of said family: from the golden-haired, blue-eyed beauty sitting opposite her. Mistress Crewyn, the pursemaker, grew up in more freedom than any daughter of the Old Folk could dream of. Even Tegen, whom her grandparents had given more leeway than usual. The Rohirrim treated their daughters as they treated their sons, in most things, and Tegen found living in such a family a true delight.

‘Twas Crewyn who had introduced Tegen to Erney. Unlike his older brother, who chased after every skirt in sight, Erney was a grave, hard-working young man, and – though he shared the general good looks of his family – surprisingly shy with women. It took Crewyn much persuasion to get him to approach Tegen, who had been mildly shocked at first, as she was the older of them by three years and had not truly hoped to find a husband any time, soon. Not before some old widower would be available. However, the Rohirrim generally considered it a good thing for a young lad to marry a somewhat more mature woman, and Folcwalda, the saddler, had welcomed Tegen in his family with open arms.

“Why are you smiling?” asked Crewyn, glancing up from her work. She was stitching a purse for Delbaeth, the weaponsmith’s wife. The smith had ordered it as a Yule gift, and Crewyn wanted to finish it within the week.

Tegen laughed. “I was thinking of the day when Erney came to our house to ask my grandparent’s permission to court me.”

At that, Crewyn laughed, too. “Oh, I do remember. Feoca,” that was their oldest brother, “had to push him through the doorway, or else he would not even have dared to knock.”

“I thought Feoca was against our marriage,” said Tegen in surprise.

“He is against marriage itself, no matter who is doing it,” Crewyn grinned. “But one day he will find someone who can handle him. And then he, too, will bend his stiff neck under the yoke willingly.”

They both laughed, and then Crewyn turned their conversation back to her other brother.

“Father was so glad when Erney took a liking to you,” she said. “With Feoca’s ceaseless skirt-chasing and Erney’s shyness, he feared I would be the only one to give him any grandchildren.”

“Well, neither of us has done so yet,” pointed out Tegen.

Crewyn grinned. “True. But Erchin and I are trying very hard.”

They laughed again, though Tegen a little wistfully. Truth was, she would have loved to give her father-in-law those grandchildren, but heir efforts had not born fruit so far. Crewyn had only been married for half a year, so there was every hope yet. But Erney and herself had been husband and wife for almost four years with no results yet.

Mayhap a visit to old Mistress Crodergh would help, she thought. No-one knows their herbs like she does. And mayhap it was time for her to remember her roots and turn to Nurria, the lady of the pastures, for help. A small ritual, performed in the very night of Yule… the goodwives of the town promised wonders from it, and Mistress Crodergh was said to know how to perform it properly.

Tegen smiled, stitching away leisurely on the pair of gloves, made of soft, bleached coat hide – gloves that had been ordered by Chief Warden Henderch for Mistress Dorlas – and tried to guess what kind of Yule gift Erney would give her. She had made her gifts for the entire kinfolk long ago. Yule would be a joyous event this year, despite the growing shadows in the outside world. And mayhap the new year would bring new life into the family.

~The End – for now~

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Note: Not a single member of the extended family of leather-workers survived the destruction of Halabor.


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