Chapter 5 Part 8 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One
The Sign of the Owl was one of Reggiston's best inns, and certainly its best post house. For the quality, the Owl kept a neat set of rooms, and a neater set of post-horses and chaises for hire. The one leaving this morning for the northwest was hired by a young woman and her mother, a woman who seemed to be in a tearing hurry.
"I don't understand, Mama," said the daughter. "I don't want to leave! Why are we moving so far away, so suddenly--to Corland of all places? How can we afford to go post instead of on the mail, or even the stage--new clothes--where did all this money come from?"
"Don't ask questions, Mattie, just get in," said Tellis, shooing Mattie into the carriage. Tellis looked over her shoulder, let the ostler hand her in, and sighed as the door closed behind her.
Tellis Dunley was not given to nerves, and her only child settled into the unfamiliar plush seats, disturbed. "Something must be wrong, Mama. Are you ill? Is there some sort of healer in Arren? I can't believe we're moving to Arren, it's right on the border. We'll freeze! And the Corrish sound so funny!"
"They think we sound funny, and you'll be used to it soon enough. And I'm not ill, I'm fine--for the time being. Now be quiet! We can talk once we're under way!"
The horses took off from the Owl's courtyard at a smart trot. Mattie stared mournfully out the window as the streets of home slipped away, and they turned onto the main road north to Corland. "Now, Mama," she said, "now we can talk. Please tell me true: it's because of me, isn't it. It's because of me and His Highness. I'm sorry, Mama, I didn't want his attention, but I didn't try to stop him, either! That groom Nollson promised me I wouldn't get sacked, but..."
Tellis pursed her lips until they paled; she turned her wedding ring round on her finger. "You didn't get sacked. Mr Crokker never said a word to me. I know I lied to you when I fetched you from Meadow House, but it's nothing to do with any of that. We came into a small inheritance. A stroke of luck. No one's to know for fear they'd try to take advantage. We can't stay in Reggiston if we're going to get on in life. A fresh start is what we need, dearest, a fresh start among people who don't know us. Mattie," she said, leaning forward and emphasizing every word, "a fresh start is what we need. And so we are changing our name."
"We are to take my maiden name, Ambler--no, Ambleson. Ambleson, that's better. No argument, missy. We must not be known in Arren, or anywhere, as Dunleys from Reggiston. No one must know we're from Reggiston, nor that we're anything other than genteel. We must put goose grease on our hands at night with gloves over all until they soften--no going anywhere or doing anything without gloves until then, but we must keep to ourselves in any event. And remember your school lessons--no cant language--the King's Tremontine at all times, even between ourselves. Thank Blessed Eddin for Lady Ansella's school," she muttered to herself.
"Well, then, where are we from?" said the astounded Mattie.
"I don't know yet," fretted Tellis. "I'll know where we're from when we get where we're going."