"My sister would like to hear you speak, dear friend Jon," Jacob Elliot announced in a shrill voice as I entered the kitchen. Katrina was helping her mother make the evening meal, and Jacob was lazily standing against the wall.
I ignored young Jacob. "I would be amiss if I didn't offer to help."
"And, I wouldn't be much of a host if I gave you anything to do," Mrs. Elliot replied. We played this game each time I came to visit, and each time I would help anyway.
There were no plates on the table, so I grabbed a stack of plates from the cupboard. As I walked to the table in the middle of the room, I glanced at Mrs. Elliot who was sneering at me. Of course, she was joking. She was very much use to this game.
Katrina followed me to the table carrying a hand full of various items including silverware and bowls. She placed a bowl on top of a plate that I had just put down. Our eyes met, and she smiled. It was obvious she was infatuated with me. I tried not to let on, but I am sure I turned a darker shade of red. It's easy to do despite my farmer's tan.
"So, young Mr. Hanway," Mrs. Elliot said during dinner, "tell us of your travels and your adventures."
I finished chewing a bite of delicious potatoes. "I am quite sure that the foremost topic on each of your minds is the welfare of your family. Well, let me assure you they are well."
I paused to survey the response of my listeners. There was an audible sigh of relief from the entire room. I continued, "But, that is not the most exciting part of my journey if 'exciting' is a desirable word."
Jacob interrupted breathlessly. "Why wouldn't war be exciting?"
"Oh, it is to some," I replied. "But, we aren't at war yet. We are close, but the day has not arrived."
"What is the latest news?" Katrina asked impatiently.
"I will not make you wait any longer. The war is close. It should begin soon. The armies of our precious Ibera are stationed, ready to fight."
"Where are they stationed?" Jacob asked, leaning into the center of the table.
His mother shoved him back into his chair. "You know very well, young man, he can't tell you that. State secrets and all."
"Oh, I am sure there will be no harm in telling you. Who will you tell?" I look to my left and right as if I was making sure no one was around to hear. "They have already crossed the river and will be in the lands of Handrin within a fortnight."
"What of father and Luke and Ed?" Jacob asked, once again inching toward the center of the table.
"My sources say they crossed the river with the rest of the army, but I don't believe they are on the front lines."
I wanted to make the news as friendly as possible, so I didn't tell them the unpleasant news I had heard. I hoped it wasn't true. If for no other reason than for Katrina's sake.