“That’s all, children! Go home, now; it’s bedtime.” Ghaldak levered himself to his feet, as if to emphasise that he would tell no more tales. In spite of their disappointment, most of the youngsters did as they were told, moving apart as they left the circle they had formed close to the fire. Mothers scooped up the toddlers, and the older ones who lived in the favoured houses around the village green made their own way home, often holding a younger sibling or two by the hand.
As if this movement had been a signal, men started to appear on the green, and to make their way towards the fire. Tandis, the only child who had not so far moved, got to his feet; he sensed that he would lose his moment unless he spoke now.
But Ghaldak was looking out towards the men, and did not notice the youngster approach. Greatly daring, Tandis reached up and tugged on his sleeve. “Excuse me,” he said tentatively. When there was no response, he pulled harder, and spoke a little louder. “Excuse me. Sorry: I didn’t understand. How did you know?” Read more