Llys was working in the herb garden when her mother came out of the kitchen and sat herself on a stone bench in the spring sunshine.
“We have a problem, dear heart” she said without preamble.
“Yes. She now says she will not marry Llyd while thou art still living in this house.”
“And shall I stay here forever, then?”
“There is naught that would please me more. But. She has thy brother and thy father pixie-led.”
“I know it. So I am to go.” Llys dusted off her hands and came to sit beside her mother, who looked into her only daughter’s calm features and sighed.
“Why does she hate thee so?”
“Because Owen Smith wanted her not.”
Lyonette regarded her daughter in a puzzled manner.
“Why would he want her when he had thee?”
“All men must want her. Thou knowest that, Mother mine.”
“Aye. I do know. And should one not, it seems her spite follows him even unto death.”
“Him and his widow.”
Lyonette patted the hand that lay on Llys’ lap.
“Sadly. And now I must press thee. Thy father asks what thou wouldst do.”
“I know not, Mother. Do I have choices?”
“Thou dost. There have been two offers for thy hand in marriage. There is one offer of a place as a housekeeper. Or thou mayst have a cottage of thine own in the village.”
“But I must, indeed, leave my childhood home at the behest of a spiteful woman.”
“Then tell me of these offers.”
“The priest requires a housekeeper. The fat innkeeper offers for thy hand in matrimony, as does Aled Sheepherder.”
“I would not live alone for the rest of my days, so I must choose one of the other offers.”
“I’ll not warm the lustful priest’s bed.”
“Quiet child. He is a celibate” Lyonette spoke sharply, then looked into her daughter’s intelligent eyes and lifted a work-worn hand to her cheek. “Or perchance not…”
“Not,” Llys was scornful. “Remember, I lived beside his house while Owen and I were man and wife. So.” She wrinkled her smooth forehead. “I’ll not take the fat innkeeper neither. He has already worked three wives into their graves. But I like Aled Sheepherder, he was a friend of Owen and he is a kind, good man. Will thou tell my father I will take his offer gladly.”
“Aye. I will do it with a glad heart and grudge my husband naught. You might also tell Father that I neither cried nor bemoaned my lot. He could have spoken with me himself.”
Lyonette smiled sadly.
“Not so dear heart. The hurt in thy eyes would have made him uncomfortable.” Then she heaved herself onto her feet and made her way back into the house.
Llys returned to her weeding.