You remember that last week (chapters 17-20) there was a heated disagreement about what guild Janner and Kal would join. Janner felt all the unfairness of not being allowed to do the thing he most wanted to do, of having to put good desires aside to serve his brother, and resented Kal and Nia both for it. This week (chapters 21-25) we read about that first lesson and how it hurt. And how love helps.
As they rode back to Chimney Hill in the wagon, Janner’s insides felt as dark as the bruises already coloring his arms. For a fleeting moment before the class began, he thought Kalmar had chosen the better guild, but now he felt he had been treated unfairly and he wanted his mother, brother, and sister to know it. He chose to sit on the back bench of the carriage, where he slumped in his seat and pouted, hoping they would notice his silence, and all but dared them to speak to him.
Leeli, of course, was the one to do it. She turned around and said, “Is there anything I can do?”
It was the only thing she could have said that he couldn’t answer with anger, which frustrated Janner even more. If she had asked what was wrong, he would have hurled a perfectly sassy reply right back at her. If she had told him to cheer up, he would have grouched something about how cheery he’d be if he had played with puppies all day. If she had tried to be silly to cheer him up, he would have barked that he was sorry he wasn’t in the mood for games.
But “Is there anything I can do?” poured cool water on his fire. It told him that she cared. It told him that she saw he needed something, even if she didn’t know what. It told him that she hurt with him.
He just said, “No. But thanks.”
… Podo cheered when the children entered, raised his mug in a toast, and then returned to his conversation.
“Get cleaned up, then come down for supper,” Nia said. Leeli hopped up the stairs, and Kalmar chased after her, growling like a puppy. Janner turned to follow but Nia pulled him close and squeezed. Somehow, she knew to squeeze just tight enough that Janner felt her love, but not so tight that she hurt him.
“You’re the bravest boy I know,” she whispered.
Discussion: How would you have fared in the Durgan guild?
Have you ever felt the way Janner did? What helped?
What passage jumped out at you this week?