eat at six."
He looked down at his dusty clothes regretfully. "This is all I have to wear, I'm afraid."
Emily touched the material of his shirt. It was woven of a fabric finer than she had ever seen before, and the craftsmanship of all the garments was superior to even the needlework of the best seamstresses in the village. "This is fine," she said simply. "I'll show you my house on the way past."
Gwydion was rummaging around in his pockets. He pulled out his pouch, and looked inside it. There was nothing that would make a suitable gift, and he doubted there would be any merchant in the village from which to purchase one. He took out the five gold coins he had brought with him on his way to the market, and put them in her hand.
'This is all I have; it's not much of a gift, but I want you to have something from me tonight." Tomorrow he would search the pasturelands for the most beautiful flowers he could find.
Emily's eyes widened in amazement, and a look of horror came over her face.
'I can't take this, Sam—this is as much as half my dowry." She turned one of the coins over and stared at it. The face minted on it was that of the prince of Roland, a land that would not exist for another seven centuries. She took his hand and opened the palm, returning the coins. "Besides, if I come home with that, my parents will think I've been doing something terribly wrong."
His face flared crimson in understanding. Then a different thought occurred to him.
He rummaged in the pouch again, and pulled out another coin, copper this time. It was small and oddly shaped, with thirteen sides, and he opened her hand and put it in.
Then he pulled out another just like it.
'As far as I know, there are only two of these in all the world. They have no real value other than that, but they're very special to me. I can't think of anyone better to give one to."
She examined the coin for a moment; then she smiled and drew him close. "Thank you, Sam; I'll treasure it. Now, we better get going."
He helped her stand and brushed the loose grass off the back of her velvet dress. "I wish I had a better gift for you." They began to walk down the hill leading to the village and the meeting hall.
'You couldn't give me a better gift than what you've given me tonight. You came here from far away in answer to my wish. Who could ask for more than that?"
He put his arm around her. "But it's your birthday."
'Do you really want to give me something special?"
'More than anything."
She smiled, and slid out from under his arm, taking his hand instead. "Tell me about the places you've been, the wonderful things that you've seen," she said, her eyes gleaming in excitement. "Talk to me about where we will go, what we will see someday."
'Well, since you've never seen the ocean, we could begin with the tall ships that will carry us across the wide Central Sea."
He told her of the masts and the riggings and the woven net beds called hammocks that the sailors slept in, of the great port of Kesel Tai, where ships from around the world sought the trade and wisdom of the Sea Mages. He told her of Port Fallon on the shores of his own lands, where a great lighthouse stood a hundred feet tall, il uminating the way for lost mariners. And lastly he told her of the Lirin port of Tallono, whose exposed bay had been turned from an open mooring to a sheltering harbor with the aid of a woman who held the wisdom and power of dragons.
Emily listened in rapt excitement, drinking in his words. She broke loose from her reverie long enough to show him her family's farm. It was the large one he had seen from the summit of the first hill. Warm carriage lights burned out in front of the pasture gate in welcome.
There was so much Gwydion would have told her—of the river so cold and wide in some places that its opposite bank could barely be seen through the heavy morning mist, the river that led up to the Lands of the Gorllewinolo Lirin, where she could meet many of her mother's