Arthur was always surprised by how mature some lings acted while others acted like the children they seemed to be. The inn staff worked to prepare the inn for a night’s business amid the rumbles and crashes of lightning.

For Columbine, the sounds were a background noise; meant to be ignored, just as they were for Alair and Baxter. However both Mirabelle and Ally seemed terrified of the flashing lightning and rolling thunder. A thought occurred to him and he knelt between the two girls, able to meet their eyes for once.

“You can hear how far away the lighting is, you know,” he said.

“You can hear it?” Baxter said, looking up from the bar. “How’s that.”

Arthur paused, remembering something his mother had taught him many years ago. “When you see a flash of lightning, start counting blue monkeys. Every five blue monkeys is a whole mile.”

“There’s no such thing as blue monkeys,” Mirabelle said, chuckling softly.

“Counting such silly things is part of the fun,” Arthur said, with a shrug. He noticed Columbine grinning and smiled back. He knew that his mother had told him to count second by using the phrase “blue monkey” because thinking of something so silly would keep his mind off being scared. Counting how far away the lightning actually was also helped. It didn’t seem so terrible once it was given some distance.

In moments both girls were back at work and seemed les frightened of the storm outside. They even began something of a contest, competing with each other to see who could count more lightning strikes. Arthur shrugged and returned to work, not really remembering how the girls had learned the trick but glad that it was reassuring them.

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