They’re making progress! Arin is still writing about everything that happens: he has no way of knowing what is relevant, so he assumes –sensibly– that anything may be relevant.
Valdis, one day after the previous letter, after the festival of Timoine (but midsummer is still a long way away)
This time we’ve found something real! I will first write everything about that down, and then what happened before so we could find out what we found out, so it is clear that we are not inventing things!
So, tomorrow on the small market, the New Vegetable Market (though there are other things for sale there as well) south-east of the Palace, a quack will be “healing” a certain boy, he is called Merain. Merain lives with Mother Serla in an orphanage, or at least, she takes in orphan boys. People tell us mixed things about it: she sends at least some of the boys to school, and most of them go on to learn a trade. But I’ve also heard other stories, and apparently Mother Serla has rented Merain out to a quack so he can show the people in the market his miracle medicine works.
So, this is the important thing: if the goal is to catch a crook quack red-handed, then there should be some town guards near that marketplace tomorrow, or other people who can arrest him. But please, don’t arrest Merain. He’s not a crook, even though he steals hot cakes from one of the market vendors, well, not even stealing, he had grabbed a burnt cake from a heap the vender wanted to sell as pig feed, and got into trouble. So I spoke to the vendor, who decided to replace Merain’s burnt cake with a good, fresh one.
By the way, since this letter is going to be read by the Queen, I think I ought to send her our thanks for all the meat we (that is me, Jeran and Aldin) got after our two days of work in the Palace were up. We invited our girls, and my sister invited two of her friends, and the girls brought lots of vegetables, the baker provided bread and beer, and we spent an afternoon cooking — there was enough for a wonderful pie, pheasants in salt dough, and some of the sausages Jeran and I had been making. The sausages with ginger, currant and saffron we had made were much admired — I hope the Queen liked them as well, though they tell me she isn’t very interested in food. Maile liked them a lot, and when we went for a walk, taking Serla home, we went hand-in-hand.
Next day we had to work in the Palace again, to cook food and prepare pies. All in all we earned six shillings these three days, which is well paid! After work, we went to seek out Master Hinla, our dean, and that is when we met the boy, Merain, when he was making off with the cake I already wrote about. So a quack will be at the New Vegetable Market — make sure there are some guards to catch him red-handed!
I want to add that Master Hinla might have something for us: there is a butcher near the Iss-Peranian quarter whose shop if filthy and who is himself a filthy-tempered old turd man, and she is going to try to get him kicked out of the guild, and then Jeran, me and Master Hinla’s foreman, Tyan, will have a chance to take over the shop. A lot needs to be done, from putting down a good stone floor to making sure all the people in the neighbourhood learn that we are good butchers, and I’m not sure that one shop can earn enough for three men, even when Tyan’s fiancee has her own trade. (And Maile has her own trade as well, but she isn’t mine, not yet in any case.)
We will be at the market square ourselves tomorrow morning to be around when things start happening.
I am now going to seal this letter so we can go home and share the last bit of pork pie with Halla, and maybe also Aidan but I think the baker’s wife feeds him, he is doing very well now.