Keep in mind, these are snips that have been cut from the final manuscript; some bits and bobs might appear in altered form, but likely not. Frequently they just didn’t work, and frequently it’s because they were taking the story in the wrong direction, or they were the wrong tone, or they were just plain over-written. So. Onwards!
When she was younger, over the strenuous objections of her mother, her father had taught her a tiny bit of the sword. He would tromp out to the meadow with her, the wooden swords over one shoulder, and then show her: “This is how you hold the sword … this is how you stand … this is how you move your arms….” Though she could not have been older than three or four, Aine followed her father’s movements with steady, serious eyes, copying him with her wobbly toddler’s limbs until her motions were as smooth and confident as his.
More often than not, however, the lessons ended with Mama poking her head out the kitchen window and calling, “Garrick, have that child put that thing down before she kills herself. And come wash up. It’s almost time for supper.”
“Yes, Therine,” Papa always replied, as meekly as a man of his height and girth could manage, as though he had never battered a winter-mad wolf from their door, nor yet rescued the King of Dal from a blow that had knocked a huge chunk from the steel of his massive sword. Then he would swoop Aine, laughing, up to his shoulders, and say, “We’ll finish later, all right? Just make sure Mama doesn’t find out.”
“Yes, Papa,” Aine always said, and then they would both laugh, both knowing you could no more hide anything from Mama than you could drink the sea or blow out the sun. And when they reached the house, Mama would kiss them both and say to Aine, “You’re a good girl. Now go wash your hands.”
One night, when supper was finished and the dishes had all been put away, and the family gathered in the sitting room for a bit of talk, Papa had scooped her up into his lap and said, “You’re a fine little sword-lady, my Aine. Someday no doubt you’ll run off to follow the life of the blade.”
Mama, busy with a bit of knitting that would one day be a scarf, had thrown him a sharp look.
Aine was at the hearth, dressing her old doll in a new frock (a gift for her sixth birthday). She saw the look, but she could not have said what it might mean. “I don’t want to be a sword-lady, Papa,” she said, having given her father’s words all due consideration, “I want to be a farmer like you!”
A look of relief swept over Therine’s fine-boned face. “It’s well that you don’t want to be a soldier, Aine,” she said, setting her knitting aside and regarding her daughter out of grave green eyes. “The life of a soldier is grim and dangerous. The tales say it’s all adventure and glamor, but there’s much they leave out. Tale-tellers are lazy people, and can’t be bothered with unpleasant details.”