Yesterday, I went with Raisse to Imri, Raisse's midwife. Not knowing the full properties of the tea that makes my body think it is pregnant, I want to ask her when I could expect to become pregnant after ceasing to drink the tea, which I did yesterday morning. Her answer was disappointing, since it will be at least two weeks from the first time I bring the offer to the Mother! By which time Aidan will have left for Essle!
However, she taught me how to expedite the offer with my spirit and advised me to travel with Aidan to Lenay. If we reach Lenay in three weeks, it should still be possible to become pregnant. It is a strange idea, to travel with Aidan and the army for this purpose.
Imri also told me --what I did not dare to ask her-- that there are Iss-Peranian women that can force one's body to become pregnant, but also that those pregnancies more often end in a miscarriage. And when we visited Khastane yesterday afternoon, I saw that she was in no state to undertake any kind of work, anyway. So I will go with Aidan to Lenay and see the Valdyan army march. I am determined not to be alone when I return to Turenay (apart from Arvi and Hediyeh, who is fast becoming a dear friend of mine.)
Yesterday was also the festival for the Most Holy God of Money. In the morning there was a service in the Temple for which the King and Queen were --of course!-- invited. Aidan and I went with Athal and Raisse, both because we were invited and because we wanted to pay davat to the Deity. I even got Raisse to wear some jewelry, she is starting to like it, even, and I had a wonderful old --at least five centuries if I am any judge-- golden torque to wear, as well as rings, earrings and a golden circlet in my hair. We also took the little princes, and Vurian was very proud of his brocade costume.
It was very crowded in the Temple's forecourt, but everyone made way for the royal company, and after making obedience to the deity we were seated on the right-hand side of the statue, facing towards it. There was a beautiful ceremony where richly adorned priests prayed and elevated their novices and acolytes to a higher rank and dignity. The High Priest (whom I am not too fond of -- he reeks of the Deceiver, though not being gifted himself) made two very long speeches that were quite hard to understand. But afterwards, when there was occasion to speak to each other, I did remember to sincerely compliment him on his performance, which pleased him and his look of relief made him almost seem friendly towards me.
Prince Attima (of whom more in my case notes) was present, too, and he came to me and Aidan to give us his wedding present: this was the title deed to a ship called the White Whale, with its cargo! I was very confused by this princely liberality and could not quite find the words to properly show our gratitude, but the confusion was pleasing enough to the prince. I will discuss with Halla what to do: we cannot handle the management of a ship ourselves, so we will have to find responsible and trustworthy agents in Essle. The Velain family, or the court, I am not sure, already owns several vessels and they have agents.
The davat was very impressive altogether: the tradespeople, craftspeople and farmers of Valdis and surroundings had sent representatives to the Temple to bring their offering to the deity. There was a little white billy-goat that Vurian was looking at with wide eyes -- and I was wondering whether it should be offered there and then, but no priest was carrying a knife. Later, when we left the temple, I saw a young priest taking the billy-goat away, and I went to him to ask what they were going to do with it, and he answered me, eat it. But it was a very cute little thing, and it let me stroke it between where it would have received its horns had it had a chance to grow large enough. Vurian also came up to us and the priest put him, damask hose and all, on the goat. Vurian enjoyed that, but the smell was quite strong and spoiled his hose.
Yesterday was quite busy: not only did we go to the davat, we also visited the bath house with our servant girls and Raisse's children. I had promised Arvi a chance to learn from the accomplished bath attendants in Valdis, so we went to the very famous baths of Kamari (who, it seems, is married to the Faran who is a partner in the elephant business, I should propose to him to acquire a young bull elephant in Iss-Peran, for the happiness of his cow elephants and the continued prosperity of his business). Not that I think Sinaya and her mother not good enough, but there is a difference. Indeed, Sinaya probably should go to Valdis for an apprenticeship in a year or so.
Hediyeh was, of course, quite used to going to a bath house of the highest rank in Essle, but since she chooses to impersonate a maid (and I think she still enjoys being a maid, and she and Arvi are very good friends, we will both miss Hediyeh in the capacity of maid when we return to Turenay, though she will remain our friend, of course), I told her to tend to the Queen, being instructed by one of Kamari's maids, while Arvi tended me, instructed by another of Kamari's maids. The girls both learned quite a lot, I think, and I felt deliciously clean and civilized, with not a single hair remaining on my body except for my eyebrows, lashes and braids. We were even perfumed with scent made by Lady Ysella!
It was after going to the baths that I went to the midwife, was described above, but that was not the full measure of the day: we also went to see Lady Khastane.
The reason we went to the baths was that Hediyeh and I had taught Raisse and Arvi the first rudiments of dancing. Hediyeh is not as accomplished as I am, but she has learned a style of dancing with covered hips that is much more proper than Dimani's style. Of course, the completely naked style of dancing is the most proper, which is why queens and princesses are taught that style.
Raisse is very interested in the background of and the reason for everything, and she wondered what made the various styles more or less proper. I could not really explain in words, but a little demonstration did convince her: she had to blush deeply when I danced as Dimani does. She also wondered why undressing while dancing is considered even more indecent, but I did not dare demonstrate that. As for her question about dressing while dancing: that is manifestly impractical, and bad for your clothes anyway. Which man would be able to control himself and not tear off your clothes if you had danced well?
In any case, we taught her the eight positions, the eight derived positions and the transitions, mostly using semsin. I think Raisse did enjoy herself, and she did make good progress. I will have her dance for Athal before they part. (And dancing properly did give are a new appreciation of her body, which seems to me just a bit out of condition. At least, she was sweating and tired after just half an hour. That's why we went to the baths. If she won't be awfully stiff tomorrow it will be thanks to Hediyeh and Kamari's bath attendant!
Oh! And when we came home from visiting Khastane and the Academy (where Raisse wanted to ask Dushtan whether she thought that Khastane would ever be safe from being a dandar), Aidan, the dear (I had seen him when I left Imri's practice -- she asks two riders for attending to a pregnant woman from beginning to giving birth) had had the same idea I had: he went to Shab Hafte who had made a small portrait drawing of him and had it set in silver for me!
That evening Shab Hafte had time for me. He is very, very busy, everyone wants to be drawn by him. But he took time for me, and he never even once looked at me in an improper way, even though I wanted him to draw my face and my breasts as well. He also tried to draw my spirit, I think, and he wants me to come back for another sitting.
I told him about Master Jilan in Turenay, and he does want to learn painting, I am sure that they can learn a lot from each other.
And now I am going to the Academy to listen to Doctor Dushtan and to talk about Rusla's liver -- and maybe also about visiting the schools. Tonight Aidan will make love to me and then I will make myself offer to the Mother, following Imri's instructions. Tomorrow Aidan will have to stay with me instead of go to the army camp, and be very nice for me.