I have amazing news for you! Not only has the whale kept his promise but he did it so well that even the empress is deceived! Now she's in a foul mood although I gather that some of her dark humor is because her favorite mime is missing. Bertrada (my nursemaid, you'll recall) says the mime did something really terrible but wouldn't say what and when I get near to people they stop talking so I don't know what she means, but I shall find out and tell you when I do.
Anyhow, to get back to what I was saying, the banquet was very noisy and I kept waking up. Bertrada came in and went out again and then came back crying and told me Gadaric has gone away. If only she knew! You see, Porphyrio promised us we'd be taken to a safe place and when I asked him how he could do that so we wouldn't be missed, he said he knew how but that it was a secret and we would see in time. So when they took me to see Gadaric to say good-bye I knew it wasn't him, for that clever Porphyrio really has smuggled him away and left behind a figure like the ones Hero builds all the time. It's so clever it's fooled everyone, even the empress! Godomar was shocked because I laughed when I saw it but I couldn't say why because I'd promised not to tell. But I know you will keep this secret, dear aunt.
I am sitting by the window as I write and I can see the Lord Chamberlain and another man, I think he is the palace physician, talking in the garden. I wish I could hear what they are saying.
THE WIDOW'S TALE
A Sister Frevisse Medieval Mystery
THE TEMPLAR'S PENANCE
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Domingo had not taken the money. He couldn't have. All Simon's experience rejected the notion. Domingo was not the sort of thief to hide his good fortune under a bushel. If he had won a small fortune from the Doña, he would have spent it, especially on his men. But the men whom Baldwin and Munio had captured proclaimed their poverty, and there was nothing on Domingo or in his pockets. Ramón might have it, but Simon doubted it. If the man was honourable and intended joining another religious Order, he could hardly do so with money acquired by stealing from a Prioress and murdering a maid. No, that made no sense. It was possible that Baldwin's other target, the Portuguese, could have taken it. In fact that made more sense than any other possibility.
Then his mind began to work with a sudden clarity. The assumption so far had been that this was an accidental murder, that the crime intended was blackmail, and that the killing of the maid was merely incidental to that; the maid's attractiveness was simply the spur to the rape and murder, neither of which had been planned. But perhaps the murder of Joanna was no accident after all. She was there because Doña Stefanía's horse had been hidden by Domingo, her cousin. What if her death had been planned?
That gave Simon much to consider for the rest of the night, but it was not until the eastern sky was lightening that his face cleared suddenly and his mouth dropped open as the other possibility occurred to him.
'Talk about what, Laurence?' Edward asked in a level voice.
'You. What's going to happen. Your daughters.'
Cristiana tensed at mention of Mary and Jane. Come to stand beside her, Gerveys laid a hand lightly on her shoulder in unspoken reassurance while Edward said evenly, 'I don't see any need to talk about anything between us.'
'Oh, come, Ned. You're not a well man. Everyone can see it. It's time to talk about what happens if you die.'
Except he meant "when", not "if", and Cristiana wanted him dead instead - there and then, for preference. But Edward only said, still evenly, 'What happens when I die doesn't concern you, Laurence. My will is made. Everything and everyone is seen to. Let you content yourself with your own business.'
'What happens to our family's lands is my business.'
'Your lands are your business. My lands are not.'
'They are. It's bad enough the Helyngton lands were divided once, between your father and mine. Dividing them again between your two girls will only diminish them the more. We - '