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The Korbat Who Couldn't Hang: Part Five

by janejinn


"Mineral salts added to the mixture will make the glass different colours," Master Malor was explaining. "This is gold … can you guess which colour will come out if I put this in?"

"Golden yellow?" Isabel hazarded a guess, watching the measure of gold dust fall from the master's hand into the tank that they'd previously filled with sand, soda, lime, and salt.

"Red," he replied.


"Indeed, a brilliant cranberry red."

"Who ever would have thought of using gold in glass?" Isabel asked.

"Nobody knows. One of the legends among glassblowers says that a gold dubloon fell in by accident once, and the rest is history. I personally think that the first stained glass came about because of traces of iron in the sand. Instead of clear glass, they suddenly had green."

"I'll bet they were mad, if they'd wanted clear glass."

"Yes, probably." Master Malor looked thoughtfully down at the mixture, then pushed it into the furnace with a long rod and shut the door. "And I'm sure they threw the imperfect glass on the scrap pile, until somebody decided that it wasn't worthless at all, just different. Then later, they tried adding all kinds of things in glass to see what would happen, and learned, for instance, that copper makes light blue, whereas cobalt makes dark blue, and manganese makes purple. Far from being imperfect and worthless, the stained glass could be used to fashion beautiful things."

There was the sound of footsteps at the door, and then a familiar voice called out, "Isabel?"

Isabel glanced up, her annoyance at being interrupted turning swiftly into delight. "Mom! Dad!"

She flew over and hugged them both. "I'm so glad to see you again! I missed you."

"What a coincidence!" Isabel's mother all but shrieked. "So did we! In fact, we were absolutely sick with worry, thinking that you might have been stolen away from under our ears! It was only when we checked the family trunk and saw that the Neopoints were missing that we realized you must have run away!"

Isabel frowned and looked away, realizing for the first time that she could have left a note.

"We've been looking for you ever since," her father began, but her mother took over again almost instantly. "We didn't know which direction you'd gone! We've been sick with worry, thinking about all the things that could have happened to you."

Isabel let her ears droop. "I am sorry. I didn't want to make you worry. I just couldn't take any more from Ricky Longear or anybody else."

"I didn't realize it was so bad for you!" her mother sighed unhappily. "I've been kicking myself ever since, wishing we'd done something sooner. And I was so scared during that thunderstorm last night! I was terrified that my little daughter might be hit by lightning and burned black and brittle!"

"I was here and I was safe," Isabel murmured, then asked, "How did you find me?"

"We wasted a lot of time looking and asking around," her father said. "We finally picked up your trail close to Meridell. It seems everybody knows about the glazier's new assistant."

"Ah, the speed of rumours," Master Malor said, joining the conversation for the first time.

"This is Master Malor, by the way," Isabel said belatedly. "I've been working for him ever since I got here."

"D'you know, I'm that pleased to meet the parents of such a talented artist." Master Malor came forward, one hand extended for a shake. "You must be very proud of her."

Mr. Broadtail took the older Korbat's hand in both of his. "There, now, Isabel. Didn't I tell you one day that you'd meet somebody who was so blinded by your artistic ability that he would never notice … anything else?"

Isabel cringed. "Dad, you said one day I'd meet a nice, young man … no offense, Master Malor. And it's okay. Master Malor knows all about my foot."

Master Malor laughed. "Indeed, no offense taken."

Mr. Broadtail let go of Master Malor's hand, and the older blue Korbat turned to Mrs. Broadtail. But instead of shaking hands, she threw her wings around him. "I just have to hug you for saving my daughter's life!"

"That's a bit of an exaggeration," Master Malor laughed.

"I can't thank you enough."

Slightly embarrassed by this exuberant show of feelings, Isabel glanced away. Her eyes caught a flash of motion outside the open door of the workshop, but when she looked, there was no one there. It had probably just been somebody passing by, she thought, and forgot the incident as soon as she realized that her mother had detached herself from Master Malor. The older blue Korbat was now ushering her parents towards the door that led to the kitchen.

"Isabel, I know your parents have only just arrived, but can I ask you to run out and buy something for us to offer them?" Master Malor said, handing her some Neopoints. "Maybe you'll come upon some graspberry pie on the way -- it's about that time. And then we can sit and talk and eat."

Grinning at the thought, Isabel took the money and went out, racing around the village to snap up some of her favourite treats. On the way back, she really did come upon some graspberry pie, but not in the way she had expected. It was lying on the ground in a heap; the dish had shattered upon a rock and the pie was splattered all over the side of the road.

Oh, dear, Isabel thought to herself, then had to jump hastily out of the way as a carriage came rolling up. It was all that she could do to keep hold of her own packages and not let them fall in the mud as well. Regaining her balance as the carriage rolled to a stop, Isabel came around in front of it to reach the door of the workshop, and was surprised to see a large family of Korbats getting out.

It's practically an invasion, Isabel thought to herself, but then she looked closer. Surely that wasn't -

"Olga, look! Isn't that your little friend Isabel?" asked the mother.

It was indeed the Yellowfoot family, and Isabel and Olga looked at each other with loathing. Isabel braced herself for an insult, and was surprised to hear Mrs. Yellowfoot say, "Oh, Isabel, your parents have been searching for you for weeks!"

"I know," she replied. "They've just found me - they're in there."

"Really?" Mrs. Yellowfoot glanced in, then looked back at Isabel. "Where?"

"In the kitchen with Master Malor. Would you like to come in and say hello?" Isabel asked.

"Well, it's not like I don't believe you," Mrs. Yellowtail said dubiously, "but yes, I think that would be best."

She glanced around, then put her hand into her bag and pulled something out, which she handed discreetly to Olga. "Olga, love, take the younger children and buy them something to eat."

"Oh, mom, do I have to?"

"Yes, you do. Your father and I will be talking business with Master Malor soon anyway, and you'll all be horribly bored."

Olga frowned and turned away, rounding up her brothers and sisters by loudly promising them a trip to the nearest bakery. Giving her parents a glare of defiance, she herded them away.

"Well, come in then, but be careful." Isabel led the way through the workshop.

Hearing their voices, Master Malor came into the workshop from the kitchen. Isabel was about to introduce the family, but Master Malor spoke before she could.

"Indeed, it's Mr. Yellowfoot! Have you come to see about the window, or were you looking for Isabel, too?"

Mr. Yellowfoot glanced briefly at Isabel and smiled a tight little smile. "Actually, we've come to see about the window. Meeting Isabel here was … unexpected."

Mr. and Mrs. Broadtail appeared in the doorway at that moment, and Mrs. Yellowfoot said, "I'm so glad to see that you've found your daughter at last."

"Thank you, so are we," Isabel's mother replied.

"I was quite prepared to pack Isabel up and bring her home with us, if you hadn't been here. As it is, I think we can squeeze all three of you into the carriage with us …" Mrs. Yellowfoot's voice trailed off and she looked as though she were calculating something. "Olga and Tatiana can ride on the box with the driver if it gets too full."

"That's very kind of you," Isabel's father put in. "But we've just heard the good news that Isabel's been taken on as an apprentice glazier in this very shop. She'll be staying."

Isabel had been wondering how she was going to break the news to her parents, and was relieved to hear that Master Malor had already done so.

"Apprenticed - to Master Malor?" Mr. Yellowfoot asked. "Well. Congratulations, Isabel."

He didn't look pleased at all, but Isabel said "Thank you," anyway. After all, it didn't matter what the Yellowfoots thought. Isabel had already heard the pride in her father's voice, and that was enough for her.

"Isabel has great potential," Master Malor put in smoothly. "She drew something that inspired me in designing your window, Mr. Yellowfoot. Would you like to see the finished product?"

Mr. Yellowfoot gave the Broadtail family a slightly embarrassed look. "I'm … ah … I've commissioned a window to donate to the village hall and … ah … I was hoping to keep it a surprise until it was installed and could be properly unveiled."

"We'll go back into the kitchen," said Isabel's mother at the same time that her father announced, "We'll pretend we don't know a thing."

Mrs. Yellowfoot frowned. "We aren't even letting the children see it."

"I think," Mrs. Broadfoot announced, giving her husband a hard stare, "that we are so hungry that we are going to be very bad guests and help ourselves to Master Malor's snacks without waiting for him."

Isabel's father hesitated for a moment until his wife poked him in the wing, then nodded vigorously. "Yes, we're absolutely starving. Let's see if I can make it back to the kitchen before I collapse."

He made a show of dragging himself back the way he'd come, and Isabel followed in time to hear her mother hiss, "You don't have to overdo it!"

Isabel set out the things she'd bought, and was just pouring some juice for her parents when she heard Master Malor call out, "Isabel, where's your sketch book?"

"Sorry, dad," Isabel said. "Duty calls."

"According to your mother, this duty is calling me," he said, holding a chocolate biscuit to his ear and pretending to listen. After a moment, he nodded to the biscuit and popped it in his mouth.

Grinning, Isabel went out, but left the door open. She found her sketchbook under a small pile of scrapglass on one of the workbenches, then brought it over to where Master Malor was showing the Yellowfoots the scene on the stained glass window that he'd just finished earlier that day. After Master Malor flipped through the pages and found the sketch she'd done that first day, he began to expound on the idea that had inspired him. Mr. Yellowfoot nodded politely, and Mrs. Yellowfoot looked thoughtfully from the sketch book to Isabel and back.

Something darkened the doorway for a brief moment, and Isabel turned, but couldn't see anybody. A moment later, something swooped past again, and she saw that it was Olga. Neither Mr. or Mrs. Yellowfoot had noticed, and Isabel went to the door. Olga made an abrupt landing, looking disgruntled, and asked in a low voice, "What are they doing in there?"

"Looking at a window that Master Malor made," Isabel explained, then added, "It's supposed to be a secret."

Olga stood on the tips of her claws in an attempt to see over Isabel's shoulder. As she caught a glimpse of the glass, her expression changed and she sighed almost longingly. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

Mrs. Yellowfoot must have heard her, for she suddenly snapped, "Olga, what are you doing?"

"Nothing, mom," Olga replied, hastily hiding behind Isabel.

"I thought I told you to take care of the younger children."

"Tatiana can do that. I just wanted to -- to ask Isabel how she was doing."

"Well, how about if the two of you go for a little walk, then?"

They both stepped obediently away from the door of the workshop, but Olga stopped as soon as they could no longer be seen from inside.

"Did you make it all the way to the Healing Springs?" she asked, looking down at Isabel's foot.

"No," Isabel admitted. "I stopped here because I ran out of money, but now that I'm apprenticed to Master Malor, I don't even care about going to Faerieland anymore."

"So, No-Hang Hizzie, you're still crippled."

The old jibe didn't hurt as much as it once had, and Isabel was able to shrug with truthful nonchalance. "It doesn't matter what you can't do. It's what you can do that's important."

"And what can you do?"

"I can draw. I'm learning how to work with glass. One day I'll be able to draw a scene and make it into a window, just like Master Malor did for your father."

"I wish -" Olga stopped in mid-sentence, made a face, then strode abruptly away down the street in the direction of the bakery.

Puzzled, Isabel turned to go back inside, but had to make way for Mr. Yellowfoot, who was coming out with Master Malor. They flew up to the top of the carriage and lifted up a large, flat box which had been fastened onto the roof, then carried it into the workshop. Coming in behind them, Isabel saw that it was a carrying case with thick padding on each half, and that the window fit nicely inside.

"There," said Mr. Yellowfoot with obvious satisfaction. "You can come out now, Mr. Broadtail, Mrs. Broadtail!"

"Secret window all packed away?" Mr. Broadtail asked, coming out.

"Indeed it is. Would you like to help us load it up?" Master Malor asked.

Mr. Broadtail took a corner, and the three men carried the case back out to the carriage again. By this time, the rest of the Yellowfoot family had returned, and all of the children were flapping around, trying to get a good look and asking almost in chorus, "What's that, dad?"

"You'll find out later, along with everybody else. Mr. Broadtail, did you and your wife want to accompany us back to the village?"

"We've only just arrived. Naturally, we wanted to spend some time with our daughter before we leave again," Mrs. Broadtail said. "We'd be glad to take you up on that offer if you could wait until tomorrow morning."

Mr. Yellowfoot hesitated. "I was planning on getting back as soon as possible. We could be in Meridell before dark."

"Then we'll make our own way home," Mr. Broadtail said. "We got here under our own power, and we can certainly get back."

"All right, if you're sure." Mr. Yellowfoot actually looked somewhat relieved, which annoyed Isabel. "Come on, kids, everybody get in."

The children got in, complaining that they had only just arrived, and fighting over who got the window seats, and Mr. Yellowfoot turned to Master Malor. "Thank you so much for your expert work. Just looking at it makes me wish I could make something beautiful like that."

Olga had managed to get one of the coveted window seats, and Isabel was close enough to hear her mutter, "Me, too."

"Ah, well, if I can't make it, I can certainly buy it," Mr. Yellowfoot joked, another sentiment that Isabel found annoying. "Thank you again, and we'll be sure to recommend you to the next village."

"Thank you," Master Malor replied, and they all watched Mr. Yellowfoot squeeze into the carriage and give them a wave before setting off.

"Well, my young apprentice," said Master Malor, reaching out and placing his wing over Isabel's shoulders. "If we're going to be recommended, we'll have lots of work ahead of us. We'll need plenty of energy, so let's see about those snacks."

Pleased that Master Malor had included her in the praise, Isabel skipped ahead into the building, then sat down and reached for a pink sprinkle doughnut. She took a bite, then stopped chewing, suddenly seeing the doughnut as part of a window. Would the little bakery in Brightvale ever commission a scene that would include a pink doughnut? And could glass even be stained to that exact shade? Maybe they'd have to settle for a purple doughnut.

Isabel completely forgot about her claws, Olga, and the rest Yellowfoot family. She was too busy contemplating all the many possibilities.

The End

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Other Episodes

» The Korbat Who Couldn't Hang: Part One
» The Korbat Who Coudn't Hang: Part Two
» The Korbat Who Couldn't Hang: Part Three
» The Korbat Who Couldn't Hang: Part Four

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