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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 75)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(75) by Anne Bishop
  • “Birdie was cleaning her room the way I told the girl she could clean—and the way you allowed her to do for you. But that other one didn’t want her things touched, wanted Birdie to be using Craft all the time to lift or move every little thing.”

    “That makes no sense,” Cassidy said.

    “It does if the Lady doesn’t want anyone picking up an object and noticing something unusual about it,” Powell said, looking at Dryden.

    The butler nodded. “Birdie picked up a bottle of scent from the dresser—a bottle that still had the theft disk on it.”

    Frowning, Cassidy looked at Powell for explanation.

    “A spelled disk of paper-thin stone,” Powell explained. “It was a common practice in the shops favored by the Queens and their aristo companions to put such a disk on small, expensive items that had a way of going missing. Since he didn’t want to lose an eye or his tongue, the merchant couldn’t acknowledge the theft, even if he saw the person do it. But a bottle of scent, for example, that left the boundaries of the shop with the disk still on the bottle would be spoiled.”

    “Spoiled?” Cassidy asked.

    “Imagine a dozen rotten eggs breaking on the kitchen floor,” Maydra said. “Of course, the way some of those spells worked, the scent smelled fine until it warmed on the skin for a little while. So the Lady was usually well into her social engagement before she, and everyone else, realized something was wrong.”

    “Oh.” Cassidy clamped a hand over her nose in automatic response. Lowering her hand, she smiled sheepishly. Then she glanced at Birdie and found nothing to smile about. “So Birdie picked up a bottle of stolen scent and Kermilla hit her.”

    “Yes,” Dryden said. “When I reported the abuse to Prince Grayhaven, Kermilla insisted that she caught Birdie trying to steal from her and that was why she struck the girl.”

    “Grayhaven believed that?” Archerr asked.

    Dryden looked sad. “Sometimes a man only sees what he wants to see.”

    “Shit,” Archerr said softly.

    “Birdie was dismissed without references,” Dryden said. “Elle, Maydra, and I talked it over, and handed in our resignations. We have worked for such witches before. We do not want to work for such a one again. As it turned out, four of the stable lads have no ties to the town, no family to hold them there, and they didn’t want to stay either.” He hesitated, then looked Cassidy in the eyes. “We came in the hope that you might have a place for us here.”

    She didn’t know what to say. Powell, however, didn’t have that problem.

    “There are servants’ quarters here, including a separate parlor off the kitchen. Didn’t ask to have those rooms cleaned since we weren’t using them.”

    Maydra frowned. “If you have no servants here, who’s been cooking for you and your court?”

    “Oh, well, I’ve been doing a bit of it, along with some of the women in the village.” Cassidy’s voice trailed away.

    “You’ve been doing your own dusting too?” Birdie piped up, sounding shocked.

    The Grayhaven servants stared at her.

    *I wouldn’t admit to running a dust rag over the furniture,* Powell said, sounding amused. *You’ve shocked them quite enough for one day.*

    *As my father is fond of saying, I was born a daughter on the same day as I was born a Queen, and if I can get dirty weeding a garden, I can get dirty washing a floor.*

    *Your father is a wise man, but I think it is time to relinquish some of your less-than-Queenly duties. Besides, they need the work, and we need the help. With your consent, I’ll discuss duties and compensation with them.*

    *All right.* She smiled at each of the servants and stable lads—and especially at Birdie. “Welcome to Eyota. There is plenty of work here for all of us. Prince Powell will discuss the details with you.”

    She walked out of the room, heading for the back door that would take her to the gardens. Then she changed direction and went up to her room. She wanted solitude. She needed privacy.

    *Cassie?* Vae called softly. *Cassie!*

    *There is no danger,* Cassidy said. *You can let Reyhana come in now.*

    *She wants to talk to you.*

    *No. I need to be alone for a little while.*

    A hesitation. *We will wait for you.*

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire