Half-way between Baltimore and Annapolis was a new housing development aimed specifically at returning GI's. The homes were being mass-produced using surplus steel and cement. The only wood used in construction was on the roof to attach the shingles. With one floor plan to choose from, the only option was to have one built in a mirror image. They came with a wood-burning stove in the utility room next to the kitchen, and an enclosed room in the middle of the house designed as a shelter.
The early years were tough for my family yet I never felt lacking. Dad had to work a lot of overtime to make the house and car payments, but always tried to make time for me. Sometimes that would have to happen after I'd been spanked for a wrong-doing while he was gone. I was a pretty wild kid! LOL Most of my presents in those days were home-made, and I made toys out of scraps in the garage. Luckily for me, my dad was an engineer and could make almost anything. Sometimes I wonder just how many millions of dollars made off of his inventions. Anyway, I'll never forget the rapid fire, rubber-band rifle that held up to ten bands, or the hobby horse he and my mother made. She sewed together a realistic looking horse head with ears, eyes, a mouth and a mane. Dad stuffed it and mounted it to an old broom handle. That horse and my cap-gun saw many adventures over the years.
I could go on forever remembering the wonderful things my family and folks in the neighborhood would do to make the holidays special for all the kids. My presents became progressively more advanced every year. I even remember a chemistry set that contained a vial of real uranium and a roll of film negatives for experiments! It's too bad the world will never experience community spirit and solidarity like that again.
Thanks for reading.
In the morning, the inn was abuzz with activity. Not only were the companions leaving but several villagers decided this would be a good time to bring some of their early produce to market in the capitol. They also felt that the Princess and her friends would be better received if members of the village were there to vouch for them.
The only quiet moment occurred while they were eating breakfast and a group of women approached the table, two of them holding bundles.
“We stayed up all night a’maken this for ye. A mage be needin a mage’s robe and m’lady a nice gown to be meetn’ da King. Tis a gift from the women of this village for what ye done.”
Speechless, Aldan stood with tears in his eyes as the women gathered around and placed a robe on him made of the softest, bleached leather he had ever felt. Even with flowing sleeves, a hood and reaching almost to the floor, it sat lightly on his shoulders. Pockets of various sizes and shapes filled the inside while golden thread accented the seams and displayed whimsical but faint patterns on the outside.
“Our village is well known throughout the Kingdom for the soft leather and the fine linens we produce,” another woman explained. “We save up the material to bring to market once a year but its value is nothing compared to the lives you have spared.”
Odessa held up her new gown and marveled at the quality of the fabric and the expertise with which it was made. It was simple yet elegant and the color complemented her eyes perfectly. Unable to voice her gratitude, she could only smile and hug the women surrounding her.
Arms flung out and a big smile on his face, Aldan spun around a few times to the boisterous cheers of all gathered there. The women were urged forward to receive a hug and kiss from the mage which made the young ones giggle and blush and the older ones tried to stretch out the kisses as long as they could.
Jealous husbands and concerned fathers rushed forward on the pretense that they were saving Aldan from their amorous womenfolk. Odessa settled the issue by wrapping her arms around him and planted a kiss that brought forth a chorus of hoots and whistles. As they returned to the table she shared a sad but knowing look with Jon, the compassion clear in his eyes.