Well, the sooner she found out what the messenger wanted, the better. One of our children must be ill. Why else would Geremy stoop to send me word? She strode rapidly into the Strangers' Room.
The wiry, leathery-skinned man seated on the straight-backed chair stood up as she entered the room. "Good evening. Dame Renata. I pray the gods all is well with you?"
Up close, she recognized him as one of the chief servants on her former husband's prosperous horse-breeding ranch. "Very well, Davin." She offered him her fingertips. "What trouble brings you here?"
Davin swallowed, shifting his eyes from hers. "My master asks you to ride back with me, and he sends you this." He thrust a message-tube into her hand.
Removing and unrolling the letter, Renata stepped a few paces away to read it. Her husband's rough handwriting said: "Our daughter Lanilla is to bear twins at Midsummer, and she has had a difficult pregnancy. She has come home to rest until the birth. She asks you to visit her. Even after forgetting all your other obligations, surely you will not deny the claims of your youngest child."
With a sigh Renata rolled up the parchment. Her efforts to part from Geremy without bitterness had done no good at the time, and clearly his view had not changed. She anxiously searched Davin's face. "Is Lanilla very sick?"
"Not now. Dame Renata, but the children weigh heavily on her, and the midwife has ordered her to keep to her chamber. She has lost all the others--"
Davin caught himself. "These things are not for me to speak of."