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Pearson Mary E, “The kiss of deception”, public translation into English from English More about this translation.

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I was wrong.

At least no one mocked me when my slick white onion was catapulted across the kitchen and into Berdi’s backside. She matter-of-factly picked it up from the floor, swished it in a tub of water to wash off the dirt, and threw it back to me. I was able to catch and hold the slimy bugger in one hand, eliciting a subtle nod from Berdi, which brought me more satisfaction than I let anyone know.

The inn wasn’t overflowing with frills to be tended to, but from chopping vegetables, we graduated to tending the guest rooms. There were only six rooms at the inn, not counting our leaky cottage and the guest bathhouse.

In the mornings, Pauline and I swept the vacated rooms clean, turned the thin mattresses, left new folded sheets on the bedside tables, and finally placed fresh sprigs of tansy on the windowsills and mattresses to deter the vermin that might want to stay at the inn too—especially the freeloaders who came with travelers. The rooms were simple but cheerful, and the scent of the tansy welcoming, but since only a few rooms were vacated each day, our work there took only minutes. One day Pauline marveled at how zealously I attacked my chores. “They should have put you to work at the citadelle. There were a lot of floors to sweep.”

How I wished I had been given that choice. I had longed for them to believe I had some other worth than sitting through endless lessons they supposed suitable to a royal daughter. My required attempts at lace making had always resulted in haphazard knots not fit for a fishing net, and my aunt Cloris accused me of deliberately not paying attention. It exasperated her even more that I didn’t deny it. In truth, it was an art I might have appreciated except for the way it was forced upon me. It was as if no one noticed my strengths or interests. I was a piece of cheese being shoved into a mold.

A fleeting compromise needled me. I remembered that my mother had taken note of my aptitude for language and let me tutor my brothers and some of the younger cadets on the Morrighan dialects, some of them so obscure that they were almost different tongues from that spoken at Civica. But even that small concession was put to an end by the Royal Scholar after I corrected him one day on tense in the Sienese dialect of the high country. He informed my mother that he and his assistants were better qualified to assign such duties. Perhaps here at the inn, Berdi would appreciate my abilities with her far-flung travelers who spoke different languages.

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