I show Pratima to her room upstairs. She looks very happy to have a window with a clear view of the valley. I’m glad to have chosen this room for her. Chanda, the cat, rolls on her back in the window. Pratima walks over and strokes her orange fur.
“Chanda has adopted me.” I let Pratima know. I point to my head. “She serves as my ears.”
Pratima continues stroking Chanda, whose fur moves under her touch. She could be purring. I walk over to touch her fur and, yes, feel the kitten’s rumbling. Pratima surveys the grounds out the window. Her eyes focus intently on the trees and grounds. We can see the tops of the houses in town. It’s a great view from here.
With simple signs, I let her know she will see me in the morning and leave Pratima to settle in. I head down to visit the kitchen and gather a basket of snacks for three of the guards practicing in the yard.
Kaliban practices with his sword against two other guards. Menari and Sammy are pretty good, but not as fast and skilled as Kaliban. As they spar, I think about the first time I had to walk to town with Kaliban. Not long after coming to work at the mansion, I was sent to town to pick up a valuable item for the Duke. Kaliban approached me and informed me criminals had been stealing some deliveries to the mansion. He was to accompany me to town with weapons to make sure no one steals from me.
The beginning of that trip gave me a bad impression of Kaliban, as the two of us started out on the path to town. He seemed to ignore me and walked ahead, soon stretching the distance between us to several meters. In a few minutes, we came to where a log had fallen across the path. Kaliban looked back at me and waited until I reached him. His hand was out and helped me step over the log. For the rest of the walk, he stayed close and glanced at me from time to time.
Over the following months, I am eventually able to find the soft side I want to see in Kaliban. Since then we’ve been spending some time together. Nothing serious yet, but we do walk on the grounds sometimes. We always sit together during group meals for the workers in the mansion.
I look up at the sky. With hardly any man-made lights, the stars in the sky are magnificent. I open the basket I’ve brought, spreading food out on a ground sheet. Catching Kaliban’s eye, I wave them over. The three hurry to me, excited about the food. Cook has put a few special things in for the young men. Kaliban waves his hands excitedly, he doesn’t sign, but I understand him.
“Glad you are here,” Kaliban indicates. I nod my head in pleasure. “Duke was right to bring yo
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