"Why not?" asked Feldspar. "We have always worked together; I'm sure your daughters have as well. When we are married there is no reason our two families will not be more like a single family."
"That sounds excellent!" Topaz responded. "It would be much easier on our husbands if they hunted in a pair, and easier on Beryl and I if we attended to the house duties together."
"In fact," Beryl added, growing enthusiastic with the new idea, "We could even build a single house for both families, with enough room for children from both."
"Ridiculous!" shouted Pyrope and Calcite together. "That has never been done! That is a violation of tradition!"
"Then perhaps it is time the traditions were violated!" snarled Beryl. "Just because it has not been done doesn't mean it shouldn't be if a better arrangement presents itself!"
This surprised the brothers. They had intended to be difficult about not working together only as a negotiating tool. They had planned on surrendering that option in exchange for the city's men giving up something the brothers did not like.
They had no real objection to going solo to accomplish their tasks. They had expected it. But this sudden support of their proposal—as bogus as it was at first meant—pleased the young men. That the sisters would leap so quickly to their aid and defense made them even more desirable. On top of that, this idea of a single dwelling to accommodate both families was, though radical, appealing to the pragmatic senses of the two.
Feldspar, being the pessimistic one of the two, could see unwelcome complications in such an arrangement.
However, now was not the time to worry about such things. The primary goal of this meeting was to define the trials he and Gypsum would be required to face. But, since the ladies had so quickly and enthusiastically come to their aid, it made their negotiating point even more powerful. They would give up the idea of working together...but only for considerations in their favor regarding the tests themselves.
Gypsum's thoughts were much like his brother's. But he, being more optimistic by nature, devoted a few seconds to considering the radical proposal he and Feldspar had never heard of. It did make a lot of sense.
Then he too put it out of his mind and concentrated on the give-and-take of determining the tasks he and his brother would be required to complete.
That resolve was supported by the next words of Calcite, delivered with loud and hostile volume.
"It does not matter now! What matters now is that these trials will be faced individually and that is not negotiable!"
"Very well," replied Feldspar, "So that will be. But the where and the how and the what should, in return, be something subject to compromise."
"Yes!" growled Topaz, and "Absolutely!" snarled Beryl.
The imperative tones of the two young women served notice to their male elders that they would not tolerate the brothers being assigned tasks that had better chances of failure than of success.
The brothers were careful to hide the pleasure they felt at the continued support of their potential mates. With any luck at all, their trials would be taxing, but not ridiculously so.