Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 145

basket clinking with pots of preserved fruit, poor payment for the healer, but the best she could manage in the famine season. She wondered how she would get Rosleen to the safety of her own cottage without the rest of the village seeing, for she had no pony or cart. Perhaps Mistress Elvienne would be able to tell her. The old woman waited for her on the front step, her hands overflowing fresh herbs. She was short and pink-cheeked, with deep lines at the corners of her eyes and mouth. If not for her eyes, she would have looked like a sweet and gentle grandmother. Only her eyes, cold and hard as two slivers of jade, revealed her hidden anger. “Come with me, Onelle,” she said, by way of greeting. “See what marriage has done to your daughter.” Rosleen was sitting up in bed, and she smiled and reached out as Onelle ducked under the lintel. She hastened across the room and gathered her daughter in her arms, stroking her long hair. The girl’s hands tightened on her cloak. “You won’t make me go back to him, will you? Mother?” The hammering against the wood grew more strident, and the latch rattled. Rosleen clamped her hands over her mouth, as if forcing a scream back down her throat. Onelle tightened her embrace. Hawn would have to rip her away from her daughter before he could touch her. “Open this door, witch, or we’ll torch the house, and you with it!” “I’d like to see you try it,” Elvienne muttered, glancing at Onelle. “You want me to turn him into a frog?” “Can you actually do that? Turn people into frogs?” Elvienne shrugged. “I don’t think so. I’ve never tried it though…” “Rosleen?” She pushed herself away from Onelle, until there was space between them, and cold air. “Let him in,” she said. Onelle let go, looking at the floor. She would not meet Rosleen’s eye. “Are you sure?” Onelle cradled her cheek. “You don’t have to – ” “Mother?” “Hawn would burn the house for fun if he felt like it. I won’t let that happen to you, Mistress Elvienne.” Her cheeks flushed, Onelle felt the heat of unexpected courage. Hawn had not yet completely doused her daughter’s fire. “You know the law, Rosleen. You know what they would do-” “I don’t.” Elvienne had been standing quietly in the doorway, witness to the reunion. “What do they do to a woman who leaves the husband who beats her?” Onelle closed her eyes, a shadow flickering acro 72