Chapter 2: Important Matters

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"What on earth are you two doing?" Hildegund's father's voice boomed, loud and reverberating like a hunter's horn.

"We were just playing, Papa." Hildy stood, brushing the dirt from her skirt. She lifted her eyebrows and pouted her lower lip to assume the most innocent and ladylike expression she could muster.

"Yes, Uncle Richart, we were just playing," Adso stuttered, still sitting on the ground and keeping his eyes on his dirty bare feet.

"Hm," the large man stared intently at both of them, his eyes hard as stone under his thick dark eyebrows. Adso scrambled to his feet and wiped the dirt from his trousers, which thankfully, had stayed belted on his waist. "You both are getting to the age where work should come before play," he paused. Hildegund could tell he wanted to say more. Whenever she was caught playing rough with Adso, he always gave her a lecture, and often a punishment too. Instead, he surprised her, "But never mind that. I need you back at the shop Hil, we have important matters to discuss."

"Yes, Papa," she nodded solemnly, her shoulders relaxing.

Her father turned and walked away. Before Hildegund followed, she stuck her tongue out at Adso and whispered, "I was about to beat you, you know."

"Na-ah! I let you push me over because I saw Uncle Richart coming and didn't want to get in trouble for hitting a girl," he whispered back, but he was smiling his silly uneven grin that let Hildegund know that she was right.

"Hurry up, Hil," her father called over his shoulder without stopping to wait for her.

"Coming, Papa," she replied. Then, glancing at the sword laying in the dirt, she lowered her voice and said, "You can hold on to it for now, but I'm going to want it back."

He grinned broadly as he nodded, his long bangs falling over his dirt-smudged forehead and into his eyes.

Hildegund turned to follow her father. She dragged her feet down the narrow, crowded street that she had been racing through just moments before. Farmers led mules pulling empty carts away from the market, peddlers pushed wagons still brimming with household wares, and a few shopkeepers chatted with each other in the streets. Even with all the activity, she spotted her father's tall and wide frame heading down the road.

She watched as he strode back towards his shop with his shoulders squared and his head held high. Her father was the master weaver of Loconge. He owned his own shop, had several apprentices and journeymen working under him, and held important sway with the local guild. But he seemed to be walking with more confidence and purpose than usual.

Hildegund wondered what matters they had to discuss. If he was simply annoyed that she had been running around with Adso rather than finishing her chores, then he just would have yelled at her right there in the square. As usual.

Hildegund lived in a small apartment with her father above his shop. It was just the two of them now. She spent most days doing her father's bidding, running errands, and helping with the books. So, unlike other girls, she knew a bit about letters and numbers. And her father relied on her to make good choices. Playing with Adso was not something that he considered a "good" choice.

The sword! The thought came suddenly and caused a twist of pain in her stomach. Maybe he found out how she had bartered for the sword. Had she lost money with the trade? Or was he irritated that she had wanted something that was made for a boy?

But as soon as the thought entered her mind, Hildegund realized that this assumption made little sense. If her father had found out about the sword, then why hadn't he said anything about it in front of Adso? And wouldn't he have been looking for it? It wouldn't have been hard to find. It was laying just feet from where she and Adso had been wrestling. The only thing he had been searching for was her.

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