Chapter 8 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
Twenna began to feel rather green a week after Neya's Day, and now, halfway through Spring's Ending, she felt worse than ever. Certain scents became unbearable. She passed an overly fragrant person on the street as she made her way to Mistress Naister's for a fitting and almost fainted. Cooking smells, particularly fish, took her appetite completely; she progressed to nausea and outright vomiting in the mornings and sometimes during the day. She even begged off meeting Harsin, which finally made her father call for a Sister.
The droopy-eyed healer hovered over Twenna as she lay on her bedchamber retiring couch. She took Twenna's pulses and questioned her closely: Sensitivity to smells? Oh, horrid. Nausea? Very much so. Exhaustion? Quite fatigued. Tender bosom? Why yes, how had the Sister known?
"You've missed your moon, if I may venture a guess."
Twenna tapped her chin, thinking. "I may have miscounted."
"No, miss," said Wendia, her ladies maid. "You were due two weeks ago. Our moons come at the same time, Sister," she added, "and mine has come and gone."
The Sister stood. "Hmm. If you miss your next one, petition the Healer's House and we'll assign you a midwife for the duration." She dug in her capacious satchel and pulled out a flat-sided amber glass bottle. "Take this in water. Eat some dry toast immediately upon awakening, and the tincture throughout the day as needed. If you run out, send someone to the nearest Sister's Dispensary for more. Ask for a bottle of Early Mother's tincture. Keep something on her stomach at all times, however small," she added to the maid. "Mint and ginger tisane, dry toast, biscuits, that sort of thing. No coffee or cocoa. Keep out of overheated rooms. You need fresh air, at least in your first two spokes. It should pass by then."
"Oh, Merciful Amma," said Wendia.
"Why, but what is it, Sister?" cried Twenna. "Am I in any danger?"
"Danger? Just of stretch marks, and your midwife will give you a cream for your belly for those. You're young and healthy. You should pull through a birth with no troubles at all." The Sister turned to leave.
"Birth?" blinked Twenna. "But I have...the Traveler Queen..."
"The Traveler Queen gave you a mark, did she? She'll take your money, but whether you get your money's worth in return is up for debate. The Blessed Maeve's marks seem to work if she likes you. You must not've made much of an impression. That reminds me." The Sister cleared her throat and studied the satchel in her hands. "Do, ah, do you need to arrange for the child to go to a Mother's House? You may wish to speak to the Mothers sooner than later. Oh--but then, the King will arrange for anything like that, I'm sure. Good day, now."
"Am I that infamous?" Twenna complained to the empty doorway.
Poor Twenna's interview that night with her father was far from a happy one. "Pagg damn you, girl! What have you done?"
"It isn't as if I did this on purpose, Papa!" she wailed. "I'm quite--quite disambiguated myself! You said the old woman made it so this wouldn't happen!"
"So she promised," fumed her father. "By gods, if this spoils our chances I'll track down the old bitch and beat her to death with my cane!"
As it happened, the old bitch's particular band of Travelers camped in the King's Woods at present, and so Elbig Shelstone walked to Marketgate the next day to search among the cabbages and lengths of cloth for a sign of them. He found them busking where the whiff of the nearby river mingled with the fragrances of eel pies and sizzling sausages wafting from the food carts. Elbig stood on the edges of the crowd until the Traveler musicians ended their reel and the barefoot, buxom dancing girls finished catching tossed coins in their cupped skirts.
He beckoned to the guitarist, a small, dark, fox-faced man. The man approached, his sharp blue eyes smiling and his hand outstretched for a coin. Instead, Elbig took a fistful of the startled Traveler's shirt and hissed, "You tell that swindling Queen of yours I will get my money back for the fake charm she gave my daughter or I'll see her hung at the crossroads for a fraud!"
A hand seized the back of his collar and shook him until he released the guitarist. "You will do nothing of the kind," said a hard, amused voice. The hand released him. Elbig fumbled at the waistcoat that had hitched itself over his belly and stumbled round to face the voice, which belonged to a tall, powerfully built, rusty-haired young man with the same sharp blue eyes as the musician. "You are no threat to my mother, but I will not have you soiling Jesper's shirtfront, little tailor man. You will leave off my people, turn around, and go home."
Which the frightened little tailor man did.