She glared back at him. ‘No.’ She folded her arms.
‘It is illegal, for one.’
Trench shrugged. ‘Many things have been illegal at one time or another.’ He tugged at the hem of his sleeve; some of it came off in his hand.
‘Many things have always been illegal.’ She took a step back towards the window. She did not turn to look out of it, but continued to glare at the old man.
‘We need the money.’ He almost tugged on his sleeve again, but remembered about the delicate worn hem. ‘We need the money. Look at this robe. How can anyone take me seriously as a wizard with a robe like this?’
‘They don’t need the robe to think that.’ Shella turned to the window this time.
Trech felt dismissed. He didn’t leave. Wizards, on the whole, tended not to have children and those that did tend to have wives to do the looking after them and that sort of thing while the wizards themselves hid… did important research in their rooms.
Sometimes, Trech thought it was Shella who kept him in poverty, in robes that were falling apart. Without her, he could have been… he looked at her back, knowing she was angry. Her mother had been like that, the ability to look angry even from the back. But he’d loved Linz, and now he loved her daughter. He sighed.
‘Look,’ he said to the angry back. ‘We need the money. You need to… have a life beyond this.’
‘You could get a job?’
‘A job… but I’m a wizard.’
She turned. ‘Really?’
He thought about pointing out the robe, the beard, the pointy hat. Once, when she’d been young with a head full of old wives stories, the robes and the pointy hat had been enough for her. Now she knew too much. His wife, Linz, had that look of world-weary wisdom in her eyes too. Sometimes, Trech thought his daughter was probably far clever than him, far clever than he would ever be.
‘You could, if we had the money, go to university.’
‘That place?’ She pointed out of the window towards the university. As usual, one of the towers was on fire. ‘I’d rather keep pigs.’
‘No, not that one. You know they don’t accept women there.’ Trech gulped. ‘One of the universities in the Far Lands.’
‘Are you trying to get rid of me?’
Trech shook his head. ‘No, I want to come with you.’ He looked down at his pointy shoes… well, one pointy shoe, the other’s point had fallen off days ago. ‘After all, there is nothing here for me, not without you.’
‘Oh, dad,’ she said stumbling across the dusty floor and taking him in her arms. ‘I wouldn’t want to go without you, anyway.’