On the Lord’s Day, Eb rolled out of bed in the day still dark and cold, thrust some slender, dry splitting of timber on top of last night’s embers in the woodstove’s firebox, set a kettle of water on the top, and scrambled into his clothes to help Silas with the milking. He saw no point in washing beforehand. Their small herd of thirty cows provided as much milk as the community needed and some to sell; but for a small herd, Eb thought the amount of dung they could produce was equally as impressive, if not more so.
Only half awake, he and Silas worked together in silence. On the Sabbath, day of rest, everything had to be done earlier and quicker to be through in time for the Circle Gathering, a lengthy affair that gave adequate time for the preaching of the Word to go forth with power on the full strength of the praises of the people.
All done methodically, the milk strained into churns, the cows turned loose and the milking shed swilled down to Eb’s level of satisfaction – which was not to meet anybody’s expectations of him but having in mind the quiet gaze of the Lord who always sees – the two of them nodded a farewell and parted to make themselves ready for the Gathering. Silas loaded the milk and took it to the dairy for the Sisters to work with, because his house was nearer the community buildings than Eb’s. He didn’t mind this. He thought it balanced fairly with the corresponding reality that because Eb’s cottage sat right on the verge of the woodland, absolutely everyone presumed on his good nature in gathering fir-cones and kindling sticks.
Back in his cottage, the fire had rekindled; Eb touched the kettle – it was hot enough for a wash.
He stripped off his clothes, fetched a bowl, towel and soap; and scrubbed himself thoroughly, beside the stove. He combed his hair (for a troll, this takes a while), dressed in his Lord’s Day clothes, tidied his bed and the things he had used, grabbed an apple to eat on the way, and set off to the barn the Kindred had upgraded into a Gathering Place.