She had all she could take of being bed-ridden and cooped up in that bedroom. She had been “allowed” to sit in the kitchen in front of the hearth for an hour the last two days, but that had only made her more anxious to be up and about. Her coughing had subsided. It was not altogether gone, but her chest was no longer tight. She slid from under the covers that had been so welcome a short time ago and searched the room for her tunic and trews. She could not find them, anywhere. She stood in one of Torn’s threadbare, but clean, nightshirts non-plussed and beginning to fume.
She heard the thump of his boots in the kitchen after a few minutes. The door opened. He stood there with his shopkeeper’s apron tied around his waist and two boxes under one arm. “What? What is it? Are you all right? I was busy with a customer.” His broad brow crunched into an annoyed frown. A honey-brown curl of hair drooped on his forehead.
“What have you done with my clothes?” Her arms crossed her chest and a bare foot tapped the floor impatiently.
“Your clothes?” By the Mother….I thought you’d fallen or fainted or…. Lir. I’m busy with a customer. I’ll bring your clothes when I’m done with him.” He slammed the door behind him as he left.
“You’ll bring them now!” she called through the door. “Or I’m coming out as I am! See what your customer thinks of that!” She opened the door and stomped through the kitchen to the doorway of the shop.
When she saw who was the customer, she quickly darted back into the kitchen. “Damn.” She whispered. It was Zumcar’s twitchy orderly. She closed her eyes and sent a quick prayer to the Mother that he hadn’t seen her.
He didn’t see you.
She opened her eyes to see Simon sitting on the back rung of one of the kitchen chairs. He was tottering a bit as the bird was a bit more weight than the chair could balance, so he hopped onto the table.
You won’t tell Caddy I stood on the table, will you? She does like to harp at me for that. Seems I bring disease and destruction and she doesn’t want me poisoning your food. Huh!
Lir could swear the Rakthat actually rolled his eyes. She grinned. “Sounds like Caddy.”
So, why are you being so hard on Torn? He does have a business to run. And why are you afraid of that simpering fool of a customer?
Lir pulled out a chair and sat. She put her head in her hands. “I don’t know. I’m just fed up with being sick, I suppose. I know he has a business to run.” She looked up at the bird. He toddled over to her, bent his sleek head and began grooming her blonde curls with his dangerously fierce beak. “But he took my clothes!!” she groaned.
He did. He took them and threw them into the fire.
“He what?” Lir stood so quickly that her chair fell backwards. “Ouch!” She looked down at Simon on the table. He held a generous strand of white-blonde curly hair in his beak. She rubbed at the sore spot on her head.
He dropped the strand and eyed her with a sharp, beady one-eyed glare. Well! That’s your own fault you know.
She righted the chair and sat back down. “Yes. But what am I supposed to wear now? I can’t be a Runner in this.” She pinched the front of the nightshirt and drew it from her even thinner body.
Caddy actually told Torn to burn the clothing. Then she sent him out to purchase new things for you.
“Oh, frag. I do hope he hasn’t brought back a dress. He’s always going on about how he’d like to see me in a dress. He didn’t get a dress, did he?
No, he didn’t. He and Caddy already had that argument and she won the day when she managed to convince him you couldn’t be a Runner in a dress.
She grinned. “I wish I had heard that argument.”
Oh, it was a grand one! Simon bobbed his head several times and did a little dance on the table. Now, about that customer….
“That customer was Zumcar’s orderly. I met him when I went to the Castle for Zumcar’s message. Weasely kind of fellow. He made me quite uneasy. If he had seen me in this nightshirt here I can’t imagine what stories he would have taken back with him. And he might have guessed that I was not what I pretended to be. I can’t afford that.”
No. No you can’t.
So, Lir and the story are moving on, albeit a lot more slowly than I'd like. Thanksgiving is next week and I've a house to clean. But I will keep on....