Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chapter Sixty-Nine



"Where were you?" April hissed.  "I've been stuck doing my duty to these fowl-brained and foul-mouthed juniors for long enough."

I sighed.  "Fine.  Go.  I'll deal with the chicken yard.  It cannot possibly irritate me more than I am already.  But if you expect me to do it with any grace I suggest you disabuse yourself of the thought."

Her irritation turned to concern.  "Are you alright.  Now that I've taken the time you look disheveled.  And you came from the shrubbery."

"Nothing that I couldn't handle but unless you want to get mixed up in a mess I'd avoid asking me any questions.  I won't lie and you may not like the truth."

"That way is it?  Well ..."

April was interrupted by a young man looking for Nancee and when he found she was on the dance floor he actually seemed relieved.  "Well, then there is no polite excuse for you to turn me down if I ask for a dance is there."

His words caused me to look closer and I saw that the man was not quite so young as he appeared at first glance but was one of those that suffered from a "baby face" that not even facial hair could cure.

April asked, "Do I know you Sir?"

"Of me perhaps though we rarely were in company together.  I'm Lodwick's cousin."

Something strange thing came over April.  "Lodwick?"

"Aye.  Would you dance with me?"

And without a backwards glance April followed the man out into the dancing throng.

"Well, well, well.  Now that's interesting.  I haven't seen April dance in years.  Who is she dancing with?"

Chell Linder Corvot did not look especially sorry that her husband wasn't about but then again I missed the earlier show so perhaps she was simply making the best of it.

I shrugged and told her, "I have no idea.  He is likely a connection to one of the local families.  I don't know everyone you know."

"My, you don't sound like you are having a very good time," she said with a smirk.  "Wish you were dancing too?"

"Saints no," I exclaimed.  "I'd rather be trod on by buffalo.  I simply have a great deal that I could otherwise be doing if not for having to parade myself around.  I should see whether Mrs. Linder needs ..."

"She is out on the floor with Tomas."

"Oh.  Perhaps Mrs. Cummins or the Chancellor's wife ..."

"Sorry.  They don't need you either.  In fact it should be rather obvious by now that no one needs you."

I looked more closely and could see the malice hiding in her eyes.  "Good.  Then that means that my job here is soon to conclude and I can leave."

Surprised she asked, "You plan on leaving?"

"That was always my plan.  Ask the Sheriff.  My duty was to help the household regain its footing after the rough start in the transition and to take some of the work off of Mrs. Linder's shoulders until the birth of the heir or earlier if another could take my place.  Beyond that nothing."

"You think to take money from the estate to fuel a lifestyle of travel and pleasure?"

I snorted.  "What money?  I have a stipend and the use of the Dower House while I am here.  When I leave I only take what I arrived with, nothing more and nothing less.  I certainly do not expect Linderhall to support me for the rest of my life.  Given the years that are likely in front of me that would be foolish in the extreme.  No, I have some connections that will help me find a situation where I can use my training to best use and support myself."

"Of course you do."

"Believe as you wish."

"Are you telling me you did not tell Tomas to settle a sum on you?"

"I most certainly did not.  Are you saying ...?  Botheration.  All three of them are as meddlesome as a bunch of old biddies cackling and gossiping their way through life.  They can take their politicking and stuff it.    The Linder and his ever loving duty.  The Chancellor and his pigheaded belief in making things right.  And the Sheriff for just being a general pain in the backside.  Tell all three I do not appreciate them trying to manipulate me and if they do not stop there will be dire consequences because I am in no mood for it.  Blast it all.  They act like I am an old woman one moment with far too little sense and all of two years old the next with even less.  I am perfectly capable of seeing to my own future thank you very much.  When I see him next he is going to need Dr. Cummins to straighten the bumps I am going to leave on his skull.  I'll ..."

Then Chell did a surprising thing.  She started to laugh.  "Oh my.  Oh ... oh my goodness.  Poor Daren."

"And what is that supposed to mean?" I asked in outrage that only caused her to laugh all the harder.

----------

Supper was as miserable as I expected it to be ... at least for me.  All I wanted was a quiet place and some quiet moments to think.  Instead I was perched upon a dais and on display like some prized pig on parade.  My nerves were stretched and raw and when first the supper was over and then the gala itself, I was never so grateful to escape and run to the Dower House.  But as soon as I shut the door and through the latch I knew I could not stay there.  I had a duty, one I did not want but one I had anyway.

And the Guardian and Chancellor were likely to be less than pleased to be asked to put a hold on their bed.  And for the first time I allowed myself to think the thought I'd been holding at bay all evening.  I wished desperately for the Sheriff to be underfoot ... but me wishing for something had never accomplished anything.  And true it remained as I trudge wearily back to Linderhall.

I was more than half way there when a contingent of Guards found me and said, "Widow, you are ordered to appear before The Linder immediately."

No comments:

Post a Comment