Story for the Day: Soledhan's Birthday
Today was Soledhan's birthday. He was given sensible gifts, but Kai Linaa's will to make every party a special one overpowers any desire for simplicity. Here is a small excerpt from one of the later books.
The parcel was opened, and the family were assembled in time to see Soledhan take a small wooden crocodile from within. It was painted and smiling and ready to be played with, and before the first question of “Whatcha got there, small one?” from Calleen could be answered, Soledhan was off with his gift in his hand, showing it to his cousins and entreating them to play with it. The value of a gift at his age could only be apprehended in how many of Soledhan’s friends should with to share it, and as all the children of the party were delighted with the smiling crocodile, Soledhan declared himself rather fortunate indeed.
There were other items within the small wooden box, but these were principally to be shared by the adults of the party: a card from Kai Linaa, which was to be read aloud, granting Soledhan all the blessings of life and sending all her best love; drawings that Kai Linaa and Khantara had done of all their connections going about their daily regimens, and flattened party hats to be constructed and tied with string supplied from Kai Linaa’s cache.
The commander knew that Kai Linaa should never allow it to happen: there could be no celebration in Frewyn without her distinctive touch. Everyone must have a hat, all the hats must be themed according to the wearer, and Kai Linaa must have an account of how everyone admired their festive millinery. She laughed as she took the flattened hats from the box and began shaping them one by one. There were two the same for the twins, ones of smaller size for the children, one of less finery and trimming for the adults excepting Alasdair’s, a rather ostentatious one for the Den Asaan, as no one could relish pageanting a party hat more than he could, and one rather tall hat with a black string tied in a familiar multi-knotted bow. The commander could be under no mistake as to whose hat this was, and the moment she fastened it together, she brought it to Hathanta and placed it on the front of his head with immense indulgence.
“She must have exerted herself beyond her limits to make that bow as intricately wound as your hair.”
“It is excellently made,” Hathanta remarked, and turning to his student added, “You must give thanks to Kai Linaa and acknowledge her hard work.”
Soledhan, who was at that moment leaping about with his crocodile in his hand, stopped and sang, “Thank you, Linaa,” and then continued chasing after his cousins, claiming that the khaama was going to eat their toes if they did not swim fast enough away.
The commander shook her head and touched her ringing ears. “I think that his next lesson should be how to write and send a thank you note.”
Hathanta laughed and made an assenting smile.
“If you could contrive to have him shout his appreciation from the end of Diras Bay and have it reach Sanhedhran, I should be excessively impressed. Until then, however,” she said, raising her voice and spying her son, “a certain child who has inherited the strident tones of his father should not try to profess his thanks by shouting.”
This was hardly attended, for just then Little Jaicobh had tripped on the hangaara pelt beneath him, and though his landing had been thoroughly softened by the furs, his legs had been caught by Soledhan’s crocodile and was now being eaten. A fit of giggles was not the reaction Soledhan had expected from one whose toes were being nibbled by a painted and toothy smile, but the accompanying cry of “No!” amidst the tinkling laughter was enough for Soledhan to feel that he had won their game. It was time for Dorrin to take up the crocodile and chase them about with it, and the moment it was placed in the prince’s hands, Soledhan took Little Jaicobh by the hand, proclaimed “The khaama will eat you!”, and proceeded to drag his cousin along the ground as if to save his life by doing so.