Letter 4 to Aidan
The same continuity problems as the rest. I’ll fix them in the rewrite.
From Raissei Cora astin Velain to her beloved lord husband, Alysei Aidan astin Velain.
Dear beloved lord husband, your obedient wife begs you for permission to present you with the expression of her devoted affection and to write you a letter in the informal style.
Your letter and the package you sent me arrived safely last week. The words you sent me in the letter are even more precious to me than the contents of the package, lovely as it all is! The cloth is very beautiful, and I will make Iss-Peranian dresses out of it for me. Beloved lord husband, is it your wish that I dress in the Iss-Peranian manner from now on, or you permit your obedient wife to continue wearing her hospital clothes when working?
Dear love, I am thinking so much of you that I am sometimes embarrassing myself. A few nights ago I had cuddled against Cynla so closely, so firmly, dreaming of you, feeling her hands on my back — which made me dream even more of you, and before I knew I had — but that is too embarrassing to write!
And I had asked Serla to draw me naked, in a pose she assured me is very attractive, so I could send you another sketch. I can allow Serla to do that since she is now a very proper draughtswoman, living with Dimani and besides, she has shared my bed. The sketch is very good, I think, but so very improper, and I simply don’t dare to enclose it! Please think of me, sleeping on our bed, dreaming of you!
But enough of these embarrassments! They are caused by loving you so much — I cannot write “too much”, since how can my love for you ever be excessive when you merit it so much?
I am very sad, though, because Cynla will be leaving us shortly. She met with Torin from the brewery in Gralen some time ago, and will marry him at Midwinter. So soon already! What I will do then, I don’t know. Nightmares are still trying to get hold of me, but when that happens, Cynla grabs me, and I feel safe and sleep well. I will ask Raisse whether anything can be done about it.
Beloved, don’t worry about me working too much. True, during the epidemic, I was very busy in the hospital and with Erne’s practice, but that cannot do harm at this stage of my pregnancy. And it’s also true that Leva has left for Tal-Vauryn now the lung epidemic is over (unless they rope her in in Veray to help with their epidemic!), so I have the practice of the hospital now, together with doctor Torin.
But most of my evenings are spent in idleness. Neither Lyse nor the other midwives have yet called upon me to help with the after-effects of our declaration of love: we have been together for nine months now! Isn’t that a strange thought — those were long, long months in which so much happened, and my memory nearly doesn’t stretch back to the time before I knew you, and at the same time, it feels as if the days have rushed past!
The hospital is fairly quiet, and two of my most worrisome girls have left for Veray, to work in Princess Ayneth’s hospital. They are very sweet and hard-working, but had awful debts with the proprietors of the Brute or the Pussy: I paid those for them. I hope you do not mind, but I am convinced that with a fresh start, away from that dank brus– and piss-smelling warren, they will be able to make something of their lives!
Work on the weavery continues apace. I was shocked, though, when I did my rounds in the poor quarter and arrive at a place where the lady was ill; her husband works for me, or rather, the builders, digging trenches. He earns so little that from his wages they cannot afford to feed themselves and their daughter, so when the woman became ill with a mysterious sickness of the ears, they had to go hungry. They actually sent the daughter to school just for the one square meal she gets there every day! And Vauri, the washerwoman whose steps and inner room I use for my practice in the poor quarter, she told me she gets paid two pence for a whole basket of laundry and mending work!
You tell me we are rich — Aidan, beloved, we are too rich! I do not want to be so rich. I don’t want to be so rich I have to live and behave like a princess. And if we have those riches, it will be beyond all decency not to live like a princess, with the liberality of a princess. We will have sufficient from the weavery, the bath house, the paper-mill, your captaincy (as I am sure you will return from the war a full captain) and my hospital pay. A house large enough for a lot of children and guests, money enough to stock the larder. More I don’t want: if we are too rich, how can I meet my friends from downtown? Handing out riders by the sackful, and they won’t be my friends anymore, keeping all to myself, and they will think me — and rightly so! — a miser. I want to help my friends, of course, but not keep them as dependents!
Of course there are some things I long for — I so much desire a lute so I can learn to play and sing that I will go to Veray to get one once Leva is back, and I would dearly love some proper books, too. But I will ask Raisse for those.
But on the whole I do not want to be rich! But if it is your wish that we be rich like Lord Vurian, I will of course obey my lord husband: he is wise beyond all other men.
Dear love, don’t you think the Queen’s plan to form a teachers’ guild is an admirable one? To send teachers to all the poor of Valdyas and bring them the knowledge they need to rise beyond eternal poverty passed from parent to child. I hope you agree, for I have written Raisse offering to pay for one or two teachers from our riches… If you don’t agree — well, I know you you will! I trust you so much, my dear Aidan, I won’t presume to know for you what you know best for yourself, but I do believe I know your nature well enough to be certain yours is the most generous, most loving, most caring, most gentle of all.
The paper-mill construction works goes well, too, but it is a much bigger job than anyone thought, taking more and more money. We own just a small share in it, most of it belongs to our sister-in-law and her father.
Friends, patients and even the women in the market now do see that I am with child and compliment me upon it: they tell me that it makes me even prettier. I am certainly filling out! This is where the cloth you sent comes in very handy, since Iss-Peranian dress is much looser than Valdyan skirts and shirts, although those are much more practical in the hospital.
What more to tell you except that I love you and miss you? And tell you that over and over again. The epidemic, thought it killed everyone in some families, has not made victims amongst our friends, although some have been very ill indeed. Tylse has agreed to sell us her house, but I will wait for your return to start building, so we can decide together on what we will have built exactly. We can live with a small daughter in our little house for a while, after all, I’ve been living with between two and six friends here since I returned from Valdis!
When you receive this letter you will probably already be in Iss-Peran or even near Solay, but I hope it will reach you before you do battle. I am sure Anshen will be with you, because the cause for this war is just and because your courage will please him. I do pray daily that Anshen will keep you safe.
Do give my regards, my greetings and my best wishes to Dhamir and all your men, and my love to your brother, too. I hope the crossing wasn’t too bad for Athal.
Ps. I think I started this letter with telling you things that I am sure made you blush, while I normally end with those! I cannot help it — thinking of you makes my hand write down that I love you in as much detail as the Valdyan language allows. I so wish I had come with you. Of course we wouldn’t have been able to be together all the time, since I would have been an army doctor, and you a sergeant taking care of your men, but I would have been in the presence of your anie at least.
I also have done something else I didn’t foresee the consequences of: together with Erne and Leva we have decided that all veterans returning to Turenay must first come to the doctors, so we can see whether they have been infected with a very unpleasant Sithi illness — the Sithi call it the whore’s sickness, so you will understand the way people can contract it. It is already around in Essle! And we expect it to be very common in Solay, with the demise of the great temples and houses of the Gods where people could get treatment.
But you see what this means: we cannot make exceptions, so when you return to me, you will first have to go to the doctor! I have to make allowances for this in my dreams about the day when you return… I already have two, very elaborate daydreams, one in which you return in time for the birth of our daughter, one when the war takes too long and our daughter is already born when you return. I simply refuse to consider the possibility that you won’t return!