Con Verse Lea; Chapter 45, Beam 139

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Stories from the Verse
Con Verse Lea
Chapter 45:  Beam 139
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Hastings 244

The white-haired man was uncertain just how far they should travel, or in which direction.  They started across wooded country, which was difficult for the carts and, he realized, left a fairly obvious track.  He thought about following a streambed, but that would be worse for the carts, so instead when he came to a road he took it for a few miles and then continued across more open country.  He chose to go higher into the mountains, where villages were sparser and smaller, and goat herding replaced rice paddies as the primary use of land.

He wanted to put as much distance as he reasonably could between them and that villa, but he also recognized the need to camp early enough to be able to use the daylight.  He doubted whether Bron or Ashleigh had ever used a tent, and his own experience was limited enough that he was going to need a bit of time to work out how these tents were pitched.

It occurred to him that his foresight failed him.  Two tents were fine, for the moment, but when Sophia rejoined them, well, the girls were each going to need their own tent, and while he could perhaps sleep in either of them, he couldn’t make Bron sleep outside.  Well, hopefully it wouldn’t matter.  At least, it didn’t matter now, and he would have to deal with that when the time came.

The sun was westering when he decided they were in a good enough spot.  Setting Dawn and Bob on guard, he sent Bron to gather some firewood and got Ashleigh to help him with the tents.  They were more complicated than he had anticipated, with multi-part wooden staves, chains for ridge support, and heavy guy lines.  Even in this world, he thought, this could have been made simpler, with aluminum staves and silk cords.  But, he realized, this tent was designed for comfort for someone who didn’t have to carry it on his own back, and he could appreciate comfort in the field from all those times in his life when he lacked it.

He and Ashleigh had erected one of the tents by the time Bron got back with the firewood.  “Throw it there,” he said to Bron, then to Ashleigh, “Show Bron how to pitch the other tent while I start a fire and cook some food.”  Both nodded agreement, so he turned his attention to clearing a space to work.

He began with the most perishable of their food supplies; they would not have fresh meat more than two days, so it had to be finished first.  He also bypassed the root vegetables for their long shelf life and instead went with shorter-lived greens.  He had the new cooking gear from the villa, and was experimenting with what was best for cooking what, but it was fairly straightforward.  The tent was ready before the dinner, but that was encouraging, because it meant that they had managed the tent without him, and that Ashleigh was smart about more than just killing people.  She could be taught.  That would matter.

After dinner, in the light of the fire, he lit a cigarette.  Ashleigh had been cuddled beside him, but she now moved to the other side of the fire.

“Did I say something wrong?” he asked, knowing that he had said nothing at all, but with wives that could be wrong.

“Oh,” she said, “no.  It’s that smoke.”

“The smoke bothers you?”

“No, it smells nice enough.  It’s just that I can’t allow myself to smell like that.  The enemy can smell you coming, and you lose the advantage of surprise.”

He hadn’t thought of that, and he should have.  After all, back home some non-smoking friends would complain that he smelled like smoke, like when he hopped into their car, and they would ask him not to smoke in the car, or in their apartment or house, or sometimes around them at all.  It was annoying, but it did confirm her suggestion:  people who smoke smell of smoke, and people who don’t smoke can smell it.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

She just nodded.

He flicked the cigarette into the fire.  One less pleasure in life.  Well, there was still one pleasure in which he could indulge without the objection of his--of one of his wives, at least for the present.

“Let’s go to bed,” he said.

Next chapter:  Chapter 46:  Takano 71
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #465:  Characters Wander.  Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.  It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.

As to the old stories that have long been here:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

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M. J. Young Net

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