Rose woke and shifted. Throwing aside the blankets, she leaped out of bed and ran into the main room. "Janna!" she cried, "Where's Janna? Is she all right? She was sick! Is she all right? I've got to get help!"

A small woman sat in a chair near the fireplace. She looked up at her, calmly marked her place in her book, set it down, and stood up. "Yer friend is all right," she said, crossing the room to a cabinet in the corner. "She's asleep upstairs." She opened the cabinet, pulled out a folded robe, and handed it to Rose. "Put this on b'fore ya scandalize the house."

"Don't want t' do that." a man murmured from the corner of the room. Rose turned to look at him, she hadn't noticed him until now. He was sitting at a small table near the fire. "Who knows what the othar houses would say about it?" Picking up a pair of pliers, he bent a piece of metal. "Talkin' behind its back. Startin' rumors. Could jus' ruin its reputation."

The woman smiled over her shoulder at him, while Rose put on the robe. It was brown, sleeveless, and smelled like lavender. The hem brushed the back of her bare knees. "How're ya feeling?" the woman asked, facing Rose again. "Any pain? Itchy? Hot? I'm goin' t' examine ya." She took her hand and lead her to the chair where she had been sitting. Almost as soon as Rose sat down the woman put a hand on her forehead and held it there. Then she grasped her chin firmly and turned her head side to side. Picking up a lamp from the table, she held it close to Rose's face and stared into her eyes. Finally, she ran her hands down her arms.

"I'm fine." Rose said, irritated. "Can I see Janna?"

"In a moment," The woman replied, bending down and examining her legs. "Why're ya here? Harlan found ya both on Old Mine Road. Ya gave him a scratch."

Rose vaguely remembered a hand coming too close. "Sorry." she said. Then the woman had come and... "Was that you?" she asked.

"No, I said Harlan. Oh, afterwards? Yes, that was me. I treat almost evr'yone around here. Why'd ya come that way? Why didn't ya use the Imperial Way?" she picked up Rose's feet one by one and examined them in the lamplight.

"A trapper in Sandy Beach told us it was faster and the snow melted quicker."

"Well, that's true." she said, standing up again. "It does get more sun, but it's not well kept." She picked up the lamp and put it back on the table next to her book. "I'd move some rocks on it, but we'll need it if the Old Man blows. What's yer name?"

"Rose. Rose Farmer." She felt a sudden need to be more formal with this tiny, no-nonsense woman.

They shook hands, "Nice t' meet ya Rose. My name's Adelaide. Most people call me Misst' Addy." she looked over at the corner, "That joker over there is my husband, Terrance."

Rose glanced at him. Terrance smiled and went back to his work.

"Where ya from, Rose?"

Rose opened her mouth to answer when something heavy thumped on the ceiling above them. Everyone looked up.

"I think yer friend is up." Adelaide said, smiling.