Uncle Lovess had brought two trunks for Kalbae to carry her possessions away from the farm in, and Kalbae didn’t expect to fill even one of them. She didn’t have that many clothes, just the new dress, the old good dress that Uncle Tomkin had found embarrassing at Midsummer, her set of summer work clothes, her two sets of winter work clothes, various underpinnings, a nightdress, a winter night robe that had been made from a blanket left behind when Great-aunt Betra had died and was now a bit too short, and the heavy winter work coat that Aunt Glythera had made her last winter after Kalbae had spent two days and nights helping the reeve find a lost party of clergy. Plus socks, one pair of shoes to go with the dresses, a pair of boots, and a pair of pattens. Given that Kalbae was planning to travel in the better set of winter work clothes, the boots and the winter coat, that left considerable space in the first trunk without even opening the second.
Then Uncle Tomkin started bringing in her tools for her to pack as well. Kalbae hadn’t even thought that she might take them with her because they belonged to the farm, but Uncle Tomkin said seriously, “Well, if you were leaving here to get married then these would be part of our contribution to your new household. If we’re sending you off to another new life, then we should make some contribution.”
“But you looked after me, and these are so expensive,” protested Kalbae, looking at the steel blades. “How will you replace them?”
“We can afford it,” answered Uncle Tomkin with a smile. “Did you think I’d made no thought or provision to you girls’ futures? Besides,” he was serious again, “I understand you’re going off to be some sort of wizard-mage. These tools are who you are, and you might need to keep that in mind.”
Uncle Lovess, who’d been regarding Kalbae’s assembled possessions with something that could have been disapproval turned and said, “Trainees usually spend their first few years finding their centre and working out who they are. From what your Uncle Tomkin has been saying, it seems to me that you’re likely to have done much of that work already, and that is important to deciding what sort of magic you’ll concentrate on. Wizard-mage,” he added apologetically with a glance at Uncle Tomkin, “is only one of the options. We’ll go into the subject more thoroughly when we return to my home. After we’ve been to Northcote.”
Kalbae looked at him and asked, carefully because she didn’t know her father’s brother well yet, “Why are we going to Northcote, sir?
“My supplier of Deadman Redcaps is in Northcote,” replied Uncle Lovess. “It’s time to renew my stocks – it’s a useful component.”
Kalbae asked curiously, “And you use it dried, or pickled, or something?
“Not precisely,” answered Uncle Loveless cautiously. “Why do you ask?”
“If it’s the red and white spotted pink toadstool with orange gills that I’m thinking of,” replied Kalbae practically, “then the person in Northcote won’t have their fresh supply yet this year. They don’t come up until the third day of the winter rains on the place where they grow.” Her uncle just looked at her, dumbfounded, so Kalbae added, “And the rains haven’t started yet this year.”
Uncle Lovess was quiet just long enough for Kalbae to worry that she’d made a mistake, then her uncle laughed. Between chuckles he said, “Oh, my dear, I can see you are going to be a treasure and formidable in your own right someday. Did you know that I’m so used to getting them this week of the year that I’d forgotten that about them? I’m sure that right now the price is five times their weight in gold instead the usual equal weight.” Uncle Tomkin’s eyebrows rose at the casual mention of gold. “Perhaps we should stop in Millward for a few days on the way, and order some of your learning materials? It sounds as if the delay will pay for itself, thanks to what you’ve learned here.” Over her head, Kalbae’s uncles nodded at each other - both pleased that things seemed likely to work out well.