“As feelings rose and trolls became entrenched in their views, one against the other, there came a spirit of arrogance in the way the trolls spoke to one another. Harsh words were used; hard, sarcastic comments made: the kindred became defensive, and no longer saw the need to be kind.

“Then some of the eldresses and others of the mothers and young Sisters came together, grieving for what the community was becoming, and seeking a true Quiet way, according to the original spirit of the Kindred.

“In their seeking, they were led to the testimony of the holy Apostle Peter, about how a wife will win over her husband by her gentleness and modesty. What we call the valley spirit, in the Quiet Way (from the Tao, Eb: the sea is the king of a hundred streams because it is content to lie below them). The way of humility will always win. It is the meek who will inherit the earth – Jesus said this, so how could it not be true?”

Florence glanced at Eb, who was listening intently. He had no idea what the Tao might be, but he was no stranger to the problems of community dissension. Flo continued:

“So these eldresses and other troll Sisters, having searched the scripture of the holy Word and prayed, said ‘What we will do, is undertake to lead the way - not as a man leads a woman, but as a valley leads the rain. We will take a special vow of lowliness and humble heart, a vow of gentle, courteous speech, of patience and understanding. We will refrain from bitter arguments and angry words. ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath’. We will become soft, and be the first to make peace.

“Then, as they gathered round and planned, they decided that though this was a good idea, the problem would not be the idea but having the forbearance and a spacious enough spirit to last the course and really behave in such a way. After all, it was no more than was enjoined upon all Believers, only they had forgotten it under the cloke of fair seeming – words like ‘honesty’, ‘plain speaking’ and ‘speaking the truth in love’. Ha!

“So these trolls thought they would need a sign, some kind of daily reminder that they had made this vow. They wanted to encourage others to see they had promised and remind them of it, not just make a secret sign for themselves. They thought of going barefoot, but most of them did anyway, so that wouldn’t mean much. Someone suggested wearing a badge, another thought maybe a coloured ribbon, but these and many other ideas found objections and didn’t seem to be quite what they were looking for.

“And then one of the younger trolls began to speak about the early days of the faith, and the Old Order way of wearing a head-covering as the sign of submission. The covering was not only about authority in a community or a family, but connected with the quietness and modesty the holy Apostle Peter had said would overcome; like the low-lying sea that receives the streams not because they are forced, but because they come of themselves, following what is natural.