Learning lots of things
I’d never thought I’d get apprenticed to a painter! I knew I’d get apprenticed, of course, maid-of-all-work in a brothel isn’t an apprenticeship, it’s just work. I was getting up courage to ask Mistress Varyn’s cook if he’d start teaching me the ropes so he could recommend me for apprentice cook in a big house, and then I’d be able to climb up by myself. But then the painters came! Master Jeran is one of those rare men who can sit in a house full of whores and look at them because that’s what a painter does, and not get tempted at all! And it’s not that he likes men and not women, he’s just not interested. And his journeywoman Rhinla is my best friend now, almost a sister.
Rhinla and I are about the same age, thirteen or so, we’re neither of us sure. She’s a foundling and doesn’t know even one of her parents, only the woman who found and raised her like a mother but she was more like a grown-up sister. At least I had Mum for six years! I must have had a dad too, after all babies don’t grow in the garden, but Mum never talked about him.
I showed my drawings to Rhinla when she’d been drawing at the house a couple of evenings and she thought I was good enough to be a painter’s apprentice! I’ve always thought it’s just something I do, cats and birds and mice and things, like looking with my fingers, I’ve never wanted to draw people because it would be like touching them and I’m SO not going to be apprenticed as a whore. But Rhinla says I have to learn to draw everything, people too, and I can start with her because she doesn’t mind me feeling like I’m touching her.
But now I’m doing all the apprentice work Rhinla has been doing, she said that she can’t be a proper journeyman when they don’t have a proper apprentice (and they took me to the Temple of Mizran and had real apprentice papers made, so it’s proper) so I’m learning to grind the colours and prepare the wood panels and everything. It’s all new! I might get tired of it but I never got tired of scrubbing and washing when I was still a maid, I think I’m just not the kind of person that gets bored, there’s so much I can think about when my hands are working! And I could help Rhinla with the big Mizran window for the temple, they’re going to make it from real glass so I hope I’ll come back to Tylenay when it’s all done to see it.
Rhinla and Master Jeran and Varyn between them got me a whole chest of clothes! Warm clothes for winter too, because we’ll probably be in Rizenay when it’s winter (that’s not hard because it’s winter in Rizenay more than half the year) and I didn’t have anything except one knitted jacket and a pair of knitted hose that don’t fit me any more, so I gave them back to the orphanage for the next girl to wear. I have real fur-lined boots! Everything is a bit too big but I’m still growing anyway. I have my own blank paper books to draw in too, and I can use charcoal and fish glue and styluses and paper and wood panels from the common stock that’s in the wagon.
We went off to the north, staying in people’s barns and paying by making drawings of them! And the people want my drawings too! In one village I drew someone’s very old donkey and he gave me a shilling for it, because he said he likes the donkey a lot and whe it dies of old age he’ll have something to remember it by.
Now we’re in Stonybridge to celebrate Midsummer. We have a market stall! Rhinla and I are making drawings of people and they pay us shillings (though I made a little one of two six-year-old boys for threepence, they were so eager to have a picture of themselves as best friends but that was all they could scrape together). And Master Jeran is painting so his work takes more time but it’s also more expensive. Then the market-master came and wanted his shilling-in-the-rider, so we had to calculate all the money we earned with the drawings and paintings, and what all the stuff costs that we used to make them, and put it on a list. Master Jeran even put the piece of paper we used to make the list on the list, for a penny!
I’m most proud of the drawing I made of the priestess of Naigha and her cute baby. Or perhaps the one of the two small boys. And there’s fourteen shillings and threepence from me in the common kitty, and I have fourteen more shillings in my purse as my share.
We went to the fire of Anshen, on one side of the village, and the family we’d last been staying with went to the other fire, they’re very nice people but they’re of the Nameless. Rhinla lit the fire with her mind! The old lady who is the head of the Guild of Anshen asked her to do it because she thought that she could. (The old lady thought that Rhinla could, I mean. Well, she was right about that!) And we spent the night talking and eating and drinking and singing and dancing. Rhinla wrapped me in streamers made of light, and it was a while until I realised that I’d never seen that before and that it meant that I must be gifted too! Even more things I can learn! Rhinla can teach me, and Master Jeran too, I think, but at the moment I’m still getting used to it.