Asyat played with the fringes on the edge of her dress as she sat, slumped, in the hard chair.  They really didn’t look right, the fringes, on that particular garment.  She would have to see about getting them taken off.  Larina.  Larina could do it.  Larina loved sewing and designing, it was one of the few joys Larina allowed herself.  Asyat sighed and fidgeted, continuing to pluck at the greenish fringe.  How much longer did she have to sit here?  That incompetent fool of a Harper should be done lecturing by now.
  As if on cue, the Harper’s monotone voice stopped speaking, and Asyat looked up at him.  He was eyeing her warily, obviously trying to decide if she’d listened to anything he’d said.  Unfortunately for him, Asyat hadn’t heard one word of the Harper’s newest speech on appropriate ‘lady-like’ behaviour.  Nothing that old man said could penetrate Asyat’s consciousness.  Especially when he disapproved of whichever one of Asyat’s actions that had caused him to talk to her in the first place.    Today, his nearly one hour long disapproval had been of Asyat’s new fascination with gambling.  He didn’t feel “ladies” had any right to be anywhere near runner tracks, much less involved in the “rough and stressing” betting that took on there.  Asyat could have laughed out loud, or left as soon as he started speaking.  But Asyat had promised her father she would try to be more respectful of the Hold’s old Harper.  Although as it was turning out, Asyat felt she’d have to start being more
disrespectful to get the old singer to leave her alone. 
  “Do you understand me Lady?”  The Harper stressed her title, and stood up from behind his desk.  As the only Harper in this tiny, out of reach, Hold, Harper Holmeran was allowed certain luxuries that normally Harpers wouldn’t be entitled too.  His own study room, work room, and sleeping rooms, was part of that. 
  “Understand?”  Asyat said innocently, hoping that he’d just leave her alone.  He should know by now nothing he said to her would make a difference in how she behaved.  Her father didn’t mind her betting, and surely none of the other betters did, so why should the Harper interfere? 
  Holmeran sighed and closed his eyes briefly.
  “Lady Asyat, I know we’ve been over this before, and undoubtedly we’ll go over it again, but if you expect to find yourself a decent husband, you must start behaving properly.  I assure you, no Holder, Lord or otherwise, will desire an uneducated, backcountry wife when he could have a beautiful Lady at his side.”  Holmeran stared at Asyat evenly, almost sneering at her.  Asyat rolled her eyes and propped herself up in the chair where she was sitting.
  “Really?  Oh my,” Asyat began, sounding very worried.  “I had no idea.  I suppose I shall just have to change my personality to suit a man’s.  Because you know as well as I, life isn’t worth living if I can’t have a perfect man who wants me to do everything for him, and be his own personal drudge.”  Asyat sighed dramatically, and stood up.  “Now I must go, and reform myself completely.  Your words have had such an impact on my view of life.  Excuse me Harper, while I go ask a man what he thinks of my gown, so I can know whether or not to change it.  Now if you’ll excuse my freakish presence, I have important things to attend to.” 
  “Now Asyat, I didn’t mean….” 
  “Didn’t mean what?”  Asyat said, whirling around to face the Harper.  The man seemed to shrink back from her, but the sneer remained on his face.  Asyat stopped suddenly, and relaxed her body.  The man was harmless, not worth working herself up for.  He didn’t know any other way, he was so old, and there was nothing Asyat could say to convince him she didn’t need his help to run her life “properly”.  Sighing, Asyat shook her head and turned to walk out the door.
  “You’ll never find a good husband for your personality either, if you give in so easily to everything man says.”  The Harper called after her, obviously mocking her.  Asyat didn’t care.  She had other things to do. 
  It was when she was halfway down the stairs that something struck her as odd.  Had Holmeran ever raised his voice to her before?  Had he ever made fun of her, or been rude to her?  No, Asyat thought, he hasn’t.  He’s done never done anything but bore us to pieces.  Have I pushed him over the edge?  Oh wonderful, now father’ll have my hide for ruining the only Harper we could get way out here.  Asyat could have kicked herself, but then she would have fallen down the stairs. 
  It was when she reached the bottom, and headed in the direction of the kitchens, that she decided she’d have to make it up to the Harper somehow.  No one could afford to lose the old man, tiring as he may be to deal with, and no one would forgive her if it was Asyat who pushed him over the edge.