The Mothers were nothing if not efficient. Twenna found herself packed and ready to go in two days, her gray uniform returned to the laundry and her fine clothes from her former life sold in exchange for four plain dresses, two of cotton and two of wool, and a warm wool cloak; she kept her beautiful underthings, stowed these last spokes in a paper box under her bed. The Captain paid for her to keep her sturdy gray shawl, her Mother's House underthings, her boots, Rikki's clothes, his sling and a supply of diapers. "I will buy you more when we are in Hawksfield, my dear, but this will do for now."
Nerrik pulled off the nipple with a gasping sigh of sleepy delight and Twenna chuckled in spite of herself. "Nerrik. I call him Rikki."
"Oh, a Neya's Day babe?"
"He--he has to be," said Twenna, her own sleepy relaxation retreating. "I was at the Spectacle last year. I don't remember what happened--as far as I know I was never with anyone other than Harsin, I swear it."
"It's all right, you're not on trial here. If you told me who it was I'd never tell anyway. I didn't have to tell my husband, he was there when it happened in a way."
"I beg your pardon?"
Meggan fixed her with a hard, questioning eye. "Are you easily shocked? No? ...My husband doesn't like women."
"What's so shocking about that? I don't think my father likes--liked--women all that much. He never remarried after my mama died, and I'm their only child."
"It's not that bad," said a voice at the door. Twenna looked up. It was a woman about her own age, her chestnut hair twisted into a low, simple bun. Her snub nose sat in a face neither pretty nor plain. She wore a lay Mother's uniform, the same as the one in Twenna's bundle: ugly loose gray high-necked dress collared in white; a voluminous unbleached muslin apron tying it closer to the body; and a plain wool shawl still the color of the sheep, its ends crossed over her breast and pinned behind her. In a canvas sling before her slept a baby not much older than Rikki, or so Twenna guessed; all she could see was white-blond fuzz and an obstinate little nose exactly like its mother's.