The Hyerne boy asked me, very quietly, eyes down, if I would consider hiring him on permanently to look after the pony and the carriage. “The gentleman who hired me told me to ask the gracious lady.”
“What did he look like?”
“His veil was red, lady, a privacy veil, a fine silk, with copper lace, lady.”
Of course, Minis. He wouldn’t be able to show his face… I should tell Ser Shefenkas that the last notice I had of Minis was in Hyerne. Let him lift every veil in the country…
“My name, lady, is Namidipipi. My father… bless his name… was divorced by the woman who carried me.”
So strange. The men not able to own property, as women in Arko up until the last Imperator…
“The honourable man hired me, to come to Arko, lady because my da and I could own property in Arko. He told me.”
“Of course.” I had to keep my countenance. Minis can you stop saving other people to save yourself? Minis you are NOT evil, do you hear me?
“Lady, the female that carried me, she chose to cast my honourable father off… she married this mis-begotten stud who had three female bastards to his credits. My father threw boys. Beggin’ yer honour’s pardon but that is what my father’s failing was. He was cast off and thrown aside for his inability to engender daughters.”
I had to sit and breathe, just for the idea. A man, divorced because he could only throw boys?
I had to fan myself, just thinking how different that thought is. In Arko a man can set a woman aside for only throwing daughters. In Hyrene a man may be set aside for only throwing boys.
I lay my hand over my mouth, thinking. It is an awful idea. How may I deal with the idea? A man throwing only boys and set aside for it?
“My da,” Namidipipi says, "threw me on the one who carried me, and she grew angry and brought in a young stud with a reputation of throwing girls. When the first daughter was born, I was set aside and my father became the lowest of the low in the household."
"With the second daughter, the woman who bore me, called him to her and formally set him aside. Because he had thrown me, a boy, she divorced him and kept every coin, every chain, of his dowry."
"My papa… he was crushed. We lived with me begging. We were destitute. And then the ser noticed me, holding horse at an inn."
"He… being Arkan… thought I would be better… We… my father gave me more of what food we had in the hope I would catch the eye of some woman."
"He asked me to come to Arko… he paid me, lady. Enough to bring my father to a place where father’s are praised and cherished. Here, he might find a place, a match, to make him a place where he might be wanted."
"My father, is estranged. He tells me we have come to our destruction but women have quietly asked him, under his veil, why he was set aside. He has been entirely honest, but he is quintessentially Hyerne, and so dark. Black skinned, dark eye’d and throwing boys."
"I talk to my da… and it doesn’t matter. He can hold property in Arko. I am amazed. Men may own property. If the lady will hire me…"
He is so… self effacing. It was upsetting. The women being set aside because they could only bear girls and in Hyerne because they could only engender boys… which is correct? Namidipipi is a diligent worker. My stable groom told me he was better than most Arkan boys but in Arko, because of his dark skin, he would be seen as lesser… but… but… boys, and more boys… skin or not…
It was so strange. I started to wonder if the Arkan insistence on pale skin and hair and bright, bright blue eyes is somehow countered by the fact that the dark skinned races have more boys? I was puzzled by that.
“We are allowed to own our own dwelling, in Arko,” Namidipipi told me, grinning white. “If you hire me, Serina, we may have our own place, earned by our own work!” As if it were so strange.
The boy took a deep breath. “My female parent, should I earn enough money… I wish to make her acknowledge me as her daughter! Or first son… at the very least.”
“Do you think that is possible, Namididpipi?”
He cast his eyes down to the marble floor, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that the marble under his feet belonged to my brother, not to me. But my little brother would give me what I wished, if I asked. Not because it was mine by right but because I could ask my family to give it to me.
I raised a thought to the Gods in thanks that my mama and my papa thought I had enough of a mind to twist the law to help me, no matter what my mama said. What she did, to help me, was much more important.
“Of course I will hire you,” I said to Namidipipi. “And you will be able to own your own property and your father… even if…” I nearly choked on the words. “Even if your mother never acknowledges you as a daughter.”
It was so strange. He longed to be acknowledged as a daughter just as any Arkan woman longed to be acknowledged as a son.
“Thank you, Serina.” He actually raise his eyes to me and smiled. “I will be a force in the land.”
Oh, I do not doubt it. Minis, what are you releasing?