“We haven’t heard anything from him this morning, but your father plans to stop at his office on the way in to town.”

Before Mance, Varamyr Sixskins had been a lord of sorts. He lived alone in a hall of moss and mud and hewn logs that had once been Haggon’s, attended by his beasts. A dozen villages did

him homage in bread and salt and cider, offering him fruit from their orchards and vegetables from their gardens. His meat he got himself. Whenever he desired a woman he sent his

shadowcat to stalk her, and whatever girl he’d cast his eye upon would follow meekly to his bed. Some came weeping, aye, but still they came. Varamyr gave them his seed, took a hank of

their hair to remember them by, and sent them back. From time to time, some village hero would come with spear in hand to slay the beastling and save a sister or a lover or a daughter.

Those he killed, but he never harmed the women. Some he even blessed with children. Runts. Small, puny things, like Lump, and not one with the gift.

While Roberta was eating her belated breakfast any number of neighbors came in to congratulate the family because its property was safe, and, those who did not know the facts,

to get details of the attempted theft. Once the conversation was interrupted by the sudden and sharp clanging of a bell which made them all jump. But Mrs. Langwell glanced out of the

window and saw the electrician waving his hand so she knew he was merely testing the alarm, and reassured the callers.

Before Mance, Varamyr Sixskins had been a lord of sorts. He lived alone in a hall of moss and mud and hewn logs that had once been Haggon’s, attended by his beasts. A dozen villages did

him homage in bread and salt and cider, offering him fruit from their orchards and vegetables from their gardens. His meat he got himself. Whenever he desired a woman he sent his

shadowcat to stalk her, and whatever girl he’d cast his eye upon would follow meekly to his bed. Some came weeping, aye, but still they came. Varamyr gave them his seed, took a hank of

their hair to remember them by, and sent them back. From time to time, some village hero would come with spear in hand to slay the beastling and save a sister or a lover or a daughter.

 

Those he killed, but he never harmed the women. Some he even blessed with children. Runts. Small,

 

puny things,

like Lump,

and not one

with the gift.

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