Eb’s jaw dropped slightly. “Did you say your mother is an eldress?” All of a sudden, the first glimmerings of what it meant to make his choice outside his own community began to make themselves apparent to him.

Florence nodded. Eb detected something challenging in her gaze. “She is.”

Nodding thoughtfully, willing to be open-minded, Eb volunteered “It’s just we don’t have any eldresses here.”

Florence knew this.”Nor we don’t have many,” she offered understandingly, not wishing to be contentious: “but my mother is a Seer and the Moot would not gainsay it. ‘Tis against the holy Word to quench the Light. Where grace is given, ‘tis discourtesy to God to deny.”

Eb digested this. As far as he knew, they didn’t exactly have Seers in the Old Order Forest Kindred either. He turned it round in his mind, and thought about it. It was true, he supposed, that Harold, and many chosen to be elders – and others for that matter – could See. Maybe it was a matter of words; what each Kindred chose, or chose not, to express. “‘I guess here we reverence tradition,” he said.

“As do we;” rejoindered Florence stoutly, braced against the implications of his silence: “but not above the free Spirit of God.”

In the silence that followed, she stood up. “Shall we walk a bit further, then?”

She smiled at him, and Eb, looking up into her smile thought her mother might be right. He could see her light right enough, and it shone plain and pure, but it had a sort of scintillation to it too. What worried him, if he was honest, was that the sparkle was undeniably the bit he liked best of all. The fancy part.

As they walked on, Flo continued to fret over the pink, and exclaimed suddenly, passionately “My hair! Sometimes I think I should scratch it back tight, braided and coiled, under a cap with a poke and sides, where it can’t be seen, as the Plain women among the humans do! Then no-one could see it and that would be an end to the matter, so there!”

Taken aback, and unsure how to respond, Eb searched for an answer as they went further in silence. More dejectedly, Florence added, “But I asked my mother, and she said not to do that.

‘‘ ‘Twill only draw attention to yourself, Flo,’ she told me. And besides, it would be against the holy Word isn’t it? The part where Apostle Peter says let not your adorning be the plaiting of the hair, or the putting on of gold and apparel and where Apostle Paul says to Brother Timothy that trolls are to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes – although” Florence faltered and Eb sensed her spirit droop a little inside, as she stopped walking, and stood quite still for a moment; “I do like pearls,” she whispered, “even if ‘tis a sin.”