There is an interesting phenomena that I have observed over the years. It is the inability of mothers (mainly) to accept that their offspring have grown up. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man, whatever his age, is still aged about eleven in the eyes of his mother. If he has married, this can ameliorate matters. If the mother approves of the wife and regards her as a sensible young woman, she will happily relinquish her charge to this new keeper. She will still treat him as if he is eleven, but less often, for fear of embarrassing the wife.
If on the other hand she does not approve of the wife, matters may indeed get worse, but I shall draw a veil over this. Too many excellent wives are already on the edge without me tossing blasting powder into the crater of a bubbling volcano.
Still, when it doesn’t go too far, it can be almost amusing. Cavalier Qualan is one of our leading condottieri captains. A well regarded soldier who leads from the front, commanding his men from the saddle, sword in hand. In hidden keeps deep in Uttermost Partann, men fall silent when his name is mentioned, and for all I know their wives threaten misbehaving children with his imminent arrival.
Yet his mother repeatedly reminds him about socks and underclothes, even when the Cavalier pointed out he has a batman in the field and a valet when in Port Naain who deal with such matters. Eventually it was the batman who took charge and organised the correspondence, ensuring an adequacy of clean underclothing and socks. To be fair to the lady, she also included enough bandages and clean linen to succour the wounded of both sides in the campaign. As for the, ‘few sugar fancies you so much enjoy,’ the supply of these saved one isolated garrison from starvation during a long siege.
Still, the Cavalier’s mother is a fine woman, men at arms of all companies salute her when they see her in the street, and ordinary food soldiers will bow or tug their caps as she passes. No soldier, fallen on hard times, will go hungry from her door, and the Cavalier, his batman and his valet write to her in the most affectionate of terms.
Other mothers are less worthy of praise. A lady of my acquaintance was told by her new mother-in-law on the wedding day, “He’ll tire of you after a few months.” Forty years later, she, her husband, and their grandchildren will cast a bouquet onto the waters as the tide goes out in memory of the old woman. The bouquet is made up of aconite, butterfly weed, cyclamen and orange lilies. She picks and arranges them herself.
Still, daughters to face trials which I will not seek to downplay. It has to be admitted that when a daughter has produced children, many mothers are happy to accept her as a real adult, and a genuine friendship of equals can blossom. Other ladies lack this maturity and the children’s upbringing is merely a whole new field of conflict.
Other ladies have other issues. May I introduce Madam Eva Sandor. She is a ‘lady novelist.’ Now that is a term I am wary of, as in all candour she’s a novelist and a damned good one. The arrival of her next book at the barge I share with my lady wife is an unalloyed joy and I will disappear into a world of her creation, returning refreshed as from a holiday. (A holiday that wasn’t provoked by the need to evade creditors, blighted by penury, and cursed by the need to keep moving to outrun pursuit.)
Madam Sandor’s work I can wholeheartedly recommend to all those wise enough to enjoy my poor scribblings.
But I wander from the point. Like every lady, Eva rather hoped for her mother’s approval of her work. After all, she wasn’t the teller of sordid tales. Not for her what young Lawston described as “bold tales of freely-punctuated forbidden vampire love.” The lady can write. This is not just a casual assertion on my part, her following within the city is growing.
As a dutiful daughter she would proudly present each new volume to her mother. Her mother would accept it with obvious pleasure and promise to read it. But somehow, just never got round to it.
Eva is nothing if not resourceful. She tried inviting her mother to stay a few days for peace and quiet, but there was always something else to do. People would drop in, letters would arrive that needed answering, life itself seemed to conspire to keep Eva’s mother from reading.
Now the lady in question, with another daughter, live deep in Partann. Not an entirely uncivilised part, but still, one which lacks some amenities. Thus as the equinox arrived, it brought with it storms. Gales and rain, the like of which that part of Partann had rarely seen lashed the house where Eva’s mother lives. The waters rose, the roads were blocked. Even if it were possible to travel, the constant driving rain meant it wasn’t fit to turn a usurer out into the street. For three weeks, nobody called at the house. Nobody arrived, nobody left, nothing happened, save occasionally a tree drifted through the lower parts of the garden.
Finally Eva got a letter from her mother, apologising or being out of touch, describing the weather, and finishing with the immortal words, ‘Eva I finished your book.’
As Eva was to comment later, she was so overwhelmed by the achievement she forgot to ask if her mother had in point of fact enjoyed it.
Should you wish to explore the work of Eva Sandor, you could always peruse her website
Her work is also available from Amazon