Chapter 30

Dayroom

Tamerad saw Haajiyo standing in the birthing room’s doorway, as if she were a fine lady in that fancy dress of hers. Where did she get such a dress? The rest of the maids didn’t dress like that. Why did she? Did she have some special relationship with the king? Yes, that was it. She was his chambermaid and his lover. Well good. When I sit at his side, he can sleep in her bed and leave me alone.

How long had Haajiyo been standing there with her face crunched up? She held her skirts up as if entering would soil her crisp blue dress. Tamerad used her shirt to wipe her bloody hands clean. How long had she been watching as if she were a royal spy?

Ah, but the girl was too slow for such deviousness. No use being angry. She was too dull witted to understand her offence.

“What do you want?” Tamerad asked wearily. So much magic at one time was tiring. She could do with a long relaxing nap to replenish her strength.

“An old woman asks for you,” Haajiyo said. “She says you should come at once.”

“Who is she that she speaks as if I am hers to summon?” Tamerad did not wish to see anyone just now. This kind of magic was extremely precise and needed high concentration. She needed rest to replenish.

“She did not give a name. Only that I was to fetch you. Karth brought her.” Haajiyo spoke the name as if he was important.

“Who is Karth? Your lover?” Tamerad asked, in disgust. How many lovers does this one have? It was bad enough she slept with the king, but to bed every man who smiled at her? Revolting. Men were good for one thing only, breeding.

“No. He is a thief.” Haajiyo blushed as she spoke. There was something about him that impressed the girl.

“Do not lie to me, and do not lie with him, or you will end up like her with a child and no husband,” Tamerad said, indicating the sleeping mother.

Haajiyo stepped farther into the room to see who slept in the bed. “She has a husband. His name is Drurie. He is the captain of the King’s Men.”

“And where is he? Why is he not here with her and his newborn son?” Tamerad demanded.

“You sent him to the mountains in search of King Samard.”

“Call him back. He should be here not riding in the mountains.”

“Yes, right away,” Haajiyo turned to leave.

“Where is the old woman?” Tamerad asked.

“She is downstairs in the east dayroom.”

“Dayroom?” Tamerad looked around the birthing room. There were many windows in the dayroom and two doors, one leading into the castle, the other to the gardens.

“Yes, the old woman adamantly requested privacy and no one uses that room any more,” Haajiyo continued. “So I thought to put her there. Is there a problem?”

She dropped her head in fear of Tamerad’s reproach, but Tamerad didn’t have the energy.

“I want everything in this room, that is not of value, burned,” Tamerad commanded.

The midwife let out a despairing squeal.

“Move everything that is of value to the dayroom. Then have this room whitewashed. Put two – no, four beds – in the dayroom. Have two guards gently carry this mother on a stretcher to the room and place her on one of the beds.” Tamerad turned to the midwife and said, “You are to live in the east dayroom from now on. There is a small chamber room to the side. It will be for your private use.”

“My lady.” The midwife stared in grateful disbelief.

Tamerad almost smiled. “What is your name, midwife?”

“Lalerine.”

“Lalerine, I will not have women giving birth treated like this. From now on, they will be treated with respect.” Then to Haajiyo she said, “But first send word to Cook Biddle. Have something sent up for the midwife to eat, some broth for the mother, and a pitcher of water and two mugs.”

Haajiyo stared at her as if she didn’t believe what she’d heard.

What does she think? That I have no compassion or pity? Tamerad ignored both women as she angrily pushed past Haajiyo. “I will clean up. Then I shall see what this old woman wants.”

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Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 12:19 am  Leave a Comment  

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