Chapter 3 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One
"There you are, Jenks!" exclaimed Temmin. "I've been calling and calling!"
"I'm very sorry, sir," said Jenks, walking through the study to the bedchamber. "I was unavoidably detained. I'll draw your bath, shall I?"
"I woke up and you weren't there," said Temmin, following him. "I hate that! I've been up for a couple of hours, had to call a footman for some sort of breakfast!"
"I'm glad you got something to eat, then, sir," said Jenks, turning on the taps.
Temmin sat on the closed commode and winced at the sound of the falling water. "Pagg damn, my head! You can't have been a very good orderly for Uncle Pat if you were in the habit of just--disappearing whenever you felt like it!"
"My service with Lord Patrin is not yours to criticize nor speculate upon, Your Highness." The big man stalked from the room, and Temmin followed, the belt of his robe trailing behind him.
"It's not my fault you never made officer! I'm sorry, Jenks, but my head is pounding--oh, is this the same stuff as last time? Thank the gods!" Temmin drank off the contents of an offered glass in one gulp. "Merciful Amma, that Fennows is a pain!"
"You thought Lord Fennows interesting enough to get drunk as Farr with him last night," said Jenks as he took the empty glass.
"What else was I supposed to do with him! He wouldn't leave me alone, and kept prattling on about Ellika--I think he wants to marry her, Jenks."
"So I've heard from a number of sources, sir."
"Can't let that happen," said Temmin. "I'll go straight to Harla's Hill before I'll have that man as my brother-in-law." Jenks said nothing; he put Temmin's picked-at breakfast outside the door to be taken to the kitchens, and returned to the bathroom. "Oh, don't be like this! I'm sorry, Jenks! I feel horrid, and I'm acting horrid, and I can't help it!"
"Yes, sir, you can," said Jenks. "More will be expected of you now you're an adult. Adults do not take out their petty illnesses and complaints on others, no matter how poorly they're feeling."
"Yes, they do," said Temmin. "They do it all the time!"
"Well, they shouldn't."
Temmin slipped out of his nightclothes and into the tub. "Thank you, Jenks, this feels good. You aren't going to stay mad all day, are you?" he called, but Jenks was gone. Temmin sighed; he wobbled his head, and discovered both his spirits and his headache had lifted, if only a little. Potent stuff in that glass, whatever it was. As the throbbing in his temples receded, the night before came flooding back. Not the drunken episode with that detestable spotted lordling, but dancing with Allis Obby. The beautiful Obbys, both of them, dancing round and round and somehow always gazing into his eyes as if the three of them were the only ones in the room. He shivered, and slid his head under the water.
"Gods, I hope he gets his drinking phase out of the way soon," groaned Jenks at tea. "I swear, Annie, I'll thrash him otherwise."
"I seem to recall another young man whose 'drinking phase' lasted well into his twenties," said Ansella.
"That's different. I was an officer--"
"--And you had to keep up with my brother. I know." Ansella considered her reflection in the silver tea service. "How did it go, Standfast? How did you manage to explain things to her?"
"I didn't," said Jenks. "I talked to Tellis, instead--her name is Dunley now. I gave her a thousand gold, with a guarantee of two thousand more as Mattie's portion, told her to bring her daughter home and why, thanked her for her discretion and left it to her to explain the money away, though I made some suggestions--including a very strong one about leaving Whithorse and moving where no one knew them."
"What did her husband say?"
Ansella sighed. "She was a nice girl, Mattie. So was her mother. Tellis was very, very pretty. She left service rather abruptly, and I remember wondering why."
"She seemed to expect me--extremely nervous. I think she thought I was there to kill them."
"It wouldn't be the first time someone killed an inconvenient lover, though I don't think Harsin's ever done it," she said. "What did Teacher do?"
"Ferried me back and forth. Stood behind me looking disturbing--it's no wonder poor Tellis thought we were there to murder her. It was overkill, you know, Annie, Winmer could have handled this easily."
"I know. I know. I just didn't want Temmin calling her up to the City, and I didn't want to tell him why he can't. I don't want this place to change him, Standfast. He is the sweetest boy imaginable, and I want him to stay that way!"
"He won't stay a child forever. This whole incident is proof of that."
A discreet knuckle rapped on the door; it opened a crack. Ansella's chief maid and dresser pushed her grizzled head through it. "Begging pardon, Your Majesty, but Sister Ibbit is here."
Ansella brightened. "Send her right in, please, Hanston!"
Jenks sighed and rose from the table. "Then I'd better absent myself, even though I had more to discuss with you. I know the Sisters of Venna generally don't care for men, but Ibbit--" He shook his head. "Don't worry, Annie, my dear," he added. "I'm always watching over him, body and soul."
"As his mother's religious advisor, his soul has always been my province, Mr Jenks, not yours," came Sister Ibbit's frosty voice.
Jenks bestowed a sour look on her. He turned back to Ansella, raised her hand to his lips, and kissed the air above it. "Good day, ma'am," he said. As he passed Ibbit, he gave her one last disdainful glance, which she ignored.
"Do sit down, Sister," said Ansella, rising herself. Once the door closed behind Hanston, she took Ibbit's hands and kissed them. "Oh, Ibbit," she said, holding them against her cheek. She burst into tears. "Such a day I've had! Such a terrible day!"
"I shouldn't wonder, if you've been taking tea with him," Ibbit said. She stroked Ansella's flushed face. "But it's all right, I'm here now." Ibbit kissed Ansella's tear-stained lips, and Ansella clung to her solid form like a tender vine. "I'm here now, sweetheart."
End of Chapter Three