Chapter 15 Part 9 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
"Shut those doors!" said Harsin from the hallway outside Twenna's apartments. "I never want to hear her voice again! Hallik! Where is Shelstone?"
"Sir Elbig is on his way, sir," answered the butler.
"I don't know any 'Sir Elbig,'" said the King.
A whiff of Elbig Shelstone's jasmine-tinged cologne hurried into the hall before he did. "Your Majesty! Felicitations on the birth of your new son, my grandson!" he beamed. "Why are you standing in the hallway? Hallik, take him in to see the little thing! He's perfect in every way, sir, resembles his father--"
"Whoever he is," snapped Harsin. "Do you know who Twenna's been dallying with? You must know, you're the one who put her in my way, aren't you? A pimp whoring out his own daughter." Shelstone opened his mouth in shock, but Harsin cut him off. "Was it Twenna's idea to laugh behind her hand at me? No, she's never had a single thought in her head. So whose influence did you believe more important than your King's, Shelstone? Whose favor were you currying?"
"Your Majesty!" sputtered Shelstone. "Sir, you've gone mad! I mean--sir, how can you believe these things? Twenna was a maid when you met her, and has been with no other man, I swear it! That child is yours!"
"The child is not his," said Teacher.
Shelstone made Amma's sign, but said, "I don't know what you'd know about it!"
Harsin turned to the butler. "Hallik, make a carriage ready to take Mr Shelstone and his daughter back to town immediately."
"Your Majesty, the lady is still too weak to travel," protested Mistress Hallik, who'd been hovering behind her husband. "Have pity, sir! In the time we have been here, there has been no man in the house when you yourself have not been, but even if there had been--"
"You lecture us?"
Mistress Hallik left the shelter of her husband's side and stood firm before the King, though her mouth trembled and she clutched her hands before her. "Amma commands me to, sir. I have served you from girlhood, and will serve you to my dying day even if that day is today, but I will not see a woman newly delivered of a child turned out of a house in the middle of winter!" Harsin glared at her, but she refused to drop her gaze.
"She is in the right, Your Majesty," murmured Teacher. "You may give Miss Shelstone some kindness at no cost to your consequence."
Harsin ground his teeth. "As soon as the Sister says Miss Shelstone can travel, she will leave. Send Mr Shelstone away this instant. Hallik, saddle a horse and send a groom along. The groom can take the horse to the Keep's stables once he's delivered Shelstone to his own door." He turned to the former tailor. "Elbig Shelstone, we strip you of your holding and your title. Anything in this house and at Menantola is forfeit. You will take nothing with you but the clothes on your back, and be grateful for them. Be grateful we don't have you flogged round the City! Teacher, take me home." Harsin stalked down the hallway into the rooms he used as his own when in residence.
Shelstone called after him, "You're taking Menantola from me? You can't! Your Majesty, this is a misunderstanding! Sir, you can't!" The hallway emptied as the Halliks left to attend to their tasks, Mistress Hallik wiping her eyes on her handkerchief.
Shelstone collapsed against the wall, rattling the paintings. "What am I to do?" he whimpered. "I am encumbered all around, no one to turn to, not a feather to fly with, and now…I shall go to the block! They'll indenture me! I cannot allow it, I cannot! I cannot stand in the Father's Temple to be auctioned off for debt while the whole City laughs! I cannot! Oh Gods--!" He fled to his rooms.
When Hallik and the groom came for him not half an hour later, they found him hanging from a rail in the wardrobe among his many perfectly tailored suit coats, quite dead.