of the Last God
(Book III of the Oerth Cycle)
(C) 2000 BY
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"And you followed all my instructions?" Smith asked, sitting down in his favorite chair. It felt very good to be home again. Smith could smell Bootie's cooking in the kitchen, and was very pleased. Even more pleasing was that Little Tinker was already sleeping in his bed. The excitement of the warm welcome the village had given Smith, Bootie and Little Tinker on their return had been a bit much for him - though, of course, the welcome celebration of the mice was far more subdued than that the musties had shared with each other a few leagues away in Laughing Wood.
"Well... Kind of, daddy," Farrah replied, looking down to her feet.
Smith blinked, then narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean, 'kind of'?"
"Ummm... Well... I didn't make any new rules, just like you said. But, I did kind of make a big decision without asking you."
"And what decision was that, dear?" Bootie asked, stepping in the room with her paws full of bowls and spoons. Bootie began to set the table, glancing to Farrah. "Go on, tell your father."
Farrah's tail drooped to touch the floor, and her eyes never left her furry little toes. "Ummm.... Well... Ummm..."
"Just tell me, Farrah," Smith snapped.
"Ummm... Potter kind of... Ummm... Asked me to... Umm..."
"Asked you what, dear?" Bootie asked, finishing setting the last of the utensils and turning to face Farrah.
"Ummm... Well, Potter kind of asked me to marry him this fall, and I kind of said 'yes'."
"Ah, good!" Smith said, leaning back in his chair. "It's about time that one got off his rump and popped the question to you."
Bootie nodded. "Yes, it is. I was worried that when we changed the law to where marriages were by choice, rather than by plan, that none of the males would have the courage to ask."
Smith nodded. "Well, now that one has asked and been accepted, that will 'break the ice', as it were, for the rest of them," Smith said, then patted his pockets. "Bootie, did we bring my pipe back from the castle?"
"Yes, dear - it's on the mantle, behind you," Bootie replied, turning to go back to the kitchen.
"Ah, thank you," Smith said, rising from his chair to walk over to the shelf by the fire.
Farrah simply stared. "You... You're not mad?!"
Smith sat back in his chair again, dipping his pipe into his pouch of pipe-weed. "No, of course not. You made an important decision, but it was the right one. Potter is a good mouse, and he'll make a fine mate for you. I told you that a year ago - and so did your mother, as I recall."
Bootie came back into the living room from the kitchen, carrying a pot of root-stew. "Yes, I did, dear - and I still think he'll make a fine mate for you, Farrah. Besides, your decision may help the other young males to get the courage to ask the females they've been interested in. It's a part of the New Law, Farrah, and we all have to get used to it," she said, then looked to Smith. "Now, dear - you know the rules. No pipe before dinner."
"But Bootie! I haven't had a good pipe in weeks! The mus hate the smell, and I couldn't light up at all at the castle!"
"Well, dear, they just don't have the same noses we do. To us, it smells delicious, but to them, it's just a burning weed. We all have to make certain sacrifices if we're to learn to adapt to them. Now, come - eat your dinner, first."
"Oh, alright," Smith groused, rising from his chair to set his pipe and pouch back on the mantle.
"Wait!" Farrah yelped. "You mean it's okay for me to marry Potter?!"
Bootie looked to Farrah. "Why, of course it is, dear. Now come - eat your dinner."
"And don't yell so loud, you'll wake your brother. Spirits knows it's hard enough to get him to sleep, sometimes," Smith grumbled, sitting in his chair at the head of the table.
"Yes, Daddy," Farrah replied, nearly bouncing with joy as she walked over to sit at the table.
Bootie smiled at Farrah as she spooned out a serving of soup for Smith. "And yes, you can go tell him your father and I approve - but after supper."
"Yes, momma," Farrah
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