Here, too, babies trump spies.
Ysellei Moyri astin Rhydin, Valdis, Festival of Anshen, Midsummer, the year 347
To her Father and Mother
Dearest Father and Mother.
It’s time to send me your congratulations! The day before yesterday, two days before Midsummer I gave birth to the twins Lydan and Bandeh. They are beautiful! A lovely boy, not as big as Bahar when he was born, but big for one of a set of twins, and the prettiest little girl you’ve ever seen. We are naming her Bandeh, after Uznur’s mother: she was born first. Her brother, our youngest child, we will name Lydan, after Grandfather. Please find enclosed some sketches done by Shab Hafte, the Painter to the Court. He has spent some days around me with his paper and chalks, sneakily sleeping on the couch in the drawing room instead of going home.
Bahar and Serla are besotted with their little sister and brother and cannot keep away from the bed — I am still bedridden. The last month was very difficult for me and I have not left my bed for weeks, except for the actual birthgiving. Uznur, that dear, held me on his knees, which is something that Iss-Peranian men will never become really accustomed to.
I had Roushan and Imri at my side, as well as Raisse who happened to be visiting me when Bandeh announced her intention to see more of the world.
Raisse had come to me because she was worried because Lyan, her Law man, had told her about his new Iss-Peranian neighbours in the School Quarter. (Where house prices have increased unbelievably. There must be some Hayans and ex-Eradays very, very grateful to Mizran now.) Lyan feels that his new neighbours looked down upon him, and indeed, upon every Valdyan they met (although they do not seem to meet all that many). It’s a sentiment I have heard often before, and have told you about before, too. Sometimes I feel that there are people at the Court and among the Duyin who avoid me because I am married to a foreigner, an Iss-Peranian. Although that might also be because the gossips aren’t comfortable around the closest friend to the Queen.
Dear Mother, could you please make sure that Dimani is well and that she does visit doctor Leva when she arrives in Turenay? Valdis is, I am afraid, not safe for her, so I will have to send her to Turenay, which should be as safe as anything.
We have by now caught two of the rings of agents Koll Konandé has sent to the capital — but who knows how many more there are? The simple fact that we were allowed to know about Koll Abatté shows, to my devious mind, that there must also be agents we know nothing about, and I am afraid that we’ll be in for a nasty surprise one of these days.
Uznur still has a strong position in the Iss-Peranian community, but there are also people on the fringes of the community who refuse to have anything to do with him.
But enough of these worries! I have had a lovely time ever since giving birth, and the actual giving birth wasn’t too hard. As I said, I had Roushan and Imri at my side and my heart didn’t skip a single beat. And I could hold my children immediately afterwards and give both of them milk at the same time. My milk is coming on very well now and I won’t need to engage a wetnurse.
I had given Bahar the manly task of taking Dorugh and Javan to the garden to bury the afterbirth and plant two trees — Uznur had selected saplings already, two weeks ago. A cherry tree for Bandeh, to ensure fruitfulness, and a beech for Lydan, to ensure reaching a high position. That’s what being married to an Iss-Peranian does to Valdyan customs! They change, but not out of recognition!
And then there were some days of visits: Valdyan nobles, mostly Brun, not so much family, neighbours, Iss-Peranian nobles, people from the Guild. We have more silver toys than four children can lose in ten years, so we’ll be giving away some to less wealthy friends of ours with young children, maybe through the Guild.
Love and kisses, also from two of your grandchildren, and milk bubbles from the other two,
Ps. Oh! And I nearly forgot. Raisse had asked prince Aidan’s wife (I guess they will be already married by the time you get this letter, Raisse tells me she and Athal have allowed them to get married at Midsummer) whether she could find the time time to make me some cloth. I’m not sure how she managed — her being a doctor’s apprentice and to be married and all that — but she sent me twenty ells of the finest cloth I have ever seen. Enough for a dress in the Iss-Peranian style for me and for my girls!
I was so astonished I didn’t know what to do. I still don’t. What with her being a princess, she won’t want money, I can see that. But it must have taken her weeks of work! I have already sent a present to Leva’s hospital, that should be acceptable, shouldn’t it? But could you be a dear and try to discreetly find out whether she is in need of something? They cannot be rich, and setting up home on a Velain allowance (or even two Velain allowances) must be hard. Maybe she’d like some fine jewelry? This cloth is so, so very lovely! It’s almost a pity she’s becoming a doctor, because she’s a true artist. On the other hand, if Roushan had become, say, a cook, I would have been dead. So I cannot blame her.