He came to the edge of the wagon and watched me finish gathering my little parcels. He looked shocked and disapproving. Yet he nodded to Perseverance in a way that promised he would not forget his service, and the stable boy ducked his head. When I had all my things, I stood slowly and hobbled stiffly to the tail of the wagon. “The big packages belong to Lady Shun and Scribe FitzVigilant,” I told him as he raised his brows at the remaining baskets and sacks.
“I see,” he replied gravely. “Boy, I’ll send someone out to fetch those things. Then you may take the team and wagon to the stable.”
“Sir,” Perseverance replied. Then, to my utter astonishment, Revel picked up my market bag and then lifted me from the tail of the wagon and carried me to the house. He was a tall man, taller than my father, and he made nothing of carrying me and my packages. I was tired and it was hard to sit straight in his arms. My brow brushed his cheek and to my astonishment, it was as smooth as my own. And he smelled wonderful, like roses but with spice added. I spoke without thinking. “You smell so wonderful!”
A smile replaced the concern on his angular face. “Such a kind thing to say, Lady Bee. I mix my fragrance oils myself. Perhaps one day you would like to help me do that?”
“I would!” I declared with heartfelt enthusiasm.
“Then you shall. Your mother taught me much of these scents when I first arrived here. It is only fitting that I pass on what she taught me to you.”
I was perched on one of his arms, shaking with cold. He opened the door with his free hand and without a pause carried me through the entrance hallway and down the corridor, directly to my room. Careful had just finished building the fire, and he set me down in front of it.
“She is covered in snow! Lady Bee! Weren’t you under the wraps in the wagon?”
I was too tired to explain it. Revel spoke as Careful began to divest me of my wet clothing. “She’s chilled through. I’ll have Cook Nutmeg send up a tray of hot food and tea. Can you see to her other needs?”
She looked up at him with anxious eyes. “Lady Shun asked me to fetch in her purchases immediately. She wants my help in—”
“I will find someone else to help her,” Revel announced firmly. He strode back to the door, paused and then said, “Lady Bee, we have not been informed as to what befell your father and Riddle, and I feel much concern that they have not returned with you.”
He knew it was not his place to ask for information, but I knew now he was my ally and I shared freely the little I knew. “There was a beggar in the marketplace who spoke to me. When he hugged me, my father feared for me and attacked him, hurting him badly. Then he realized the beggar was actually an old friend of his. So he and Riddle used the Skill-magic to take the beggar through the standing stone on Gallows Hill back to Buckkeep Castle, where perhaps he can be saved.”
The two servants exchanged a look over my head, and I realized that my factual account probably sounded completely mad to them. “Fancy that!” Careful said quietly.
“Well. I’m sure your father knows what he is doing, and Riddle as well. A very practical man, that Riddle.” The tone suggested that my father was not always practical. It would have been stupid to disagree with that. He whisked out the door.
By the time Careful had helped me into my nightrobe I was shaking all over. It was my red nightrobe, the one my mother had made. Someone had laundered it and brought it to my room. She took a coverlet from the bed, warmed it before the fire, and then wrapped me in it. I didn’t protest but sat in the chair she pulled up to the hearth. There was a knock at the door, and a kitchen boy came in with a tray of steaming food. She thanked him and sent him on his way. As she set it out on a low table for me, I told her, “I didn’t forget you. I brought you presents from town.”
Her eyes lit with interest, but she said, “Tomorrow is soon enough for that, my lady. Tonight let’s get hot food into you and then get you into a warm bed. Your face is all red and white with cold still.” She lifted my gray-and-red shawl, hefted the heavy wool approvingly, and then put it to dry. As she put away my other things from my basket, she found the packages and the trinkets I had bought for her and immediately possessed them, thanking me over again for thinking of her. I thought of the kerchiefs I had bought for Revel. Would he truly like them? I thought of how he had smelled when he lifted me. I knew he would enjoy one of my mother’s candles. My heart hurt at the thought of parting with even one, but I knew I would do it. He deserved it. Careful helped me into my bed and then moved quietly around the room, setting it to rights, humming as she did so.