Snordwich Chronciles, XX: The Brewer Twins

Richard and Ralf hurry home after their afternoon at the river with Aelfgiva.

They find their mother in the currently unoccupied guest room, teaching their little brother Mark to walk. He is a quick learner, but often too shy to show off his abilities in the main hall of the tavern.

Richard excitedly tells her about the race to the bridge and the feast of strawberries.

Ralf is still a little sad about his beetle, but Francis reassures him it will be happy by the river with its friends.

For supper she has made Ralf’s favourite salad, with the usual final adjustments by her fastidious husband.

They eat it with bread fresh from the baker’s oven, and cups of Green Dragon for the grown ups.

Triston is a young man now, with a full beard on his chin. Eventually he will have to find other work, but the brewer will keep him on until the boys are big enough to operate all the equipment.

Since there are no guests in the downstairs room, the twins sleep there with Triston.

The workload is not heavy in the brewery during the summer months. At this time of year, the other villagers mix together small batches of light berry nectar, but Henry’s fields are taken up entirely by the grapes, apples, limes and plums that go into the richer autumn blends. Still, there are some jobs to do make sure the plants stay healthy until harvest time. Every morning, Richard and Ralf help their father weed and water his crops.

Ralf loves tending to the plants, and always has lots of questions for his father.

The boys’ afternoons are usually free from toil. More often than not, Richard insists on a trip to the river. On Monday—the second of summer—the boys swim all the way out to the waterfall.

Their father likes them back by supper time, when the village men sometimes stop by for a drink after a day in the fields or on the river.

On Tuesday afternoon, the twins come across the village girls picking flowers by the roadside.

Tephna tells them that the flowers are chamomile, which blossoms from midsummer until early autumn. At the end of the week, they will sell what they have gathered up at Plumbob Hall, where it will be used to make medicine and fragrance.

Ralf stays to help the girls, while his brother continues on alone to the river.

He is enchanted by the dainty white petals and sweet, woody scent.

He asks the girls if he may keep one of the flowers, and to his delight they say yes.

Back at home, Ralf asks his father whether they could plant the seeds from his flower in the garden. The brewer explains that chamomile is a weed that would eventually strangle all their other plants, but that Ralf will always be allowed to pick it when he sees it growing wild.

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