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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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She sized up the customers quickly, as soon as they walked through the door. It was a diversion for her, and she happily drew us into her game. “That one,” she would whisper as a squat man walked through the door. “A butcher if I’ve ever seen one. They all have mustaches, you know? And ample guts from eating well. But the hands always tell it all. Butchers’ hands are like hamhocks but meticulously groomed, neat squared nails.” And then, more wistfully, “Lonely types, but generous.” She grunted, like she was satisfied that she had summed him up in seconds. “Probably on his way to buy a pig. He’ll order a lager, nothing more.”

When he did indeed order a lone lager, Pauline and I burst into giggles. I knew there was much we could learn from Gwyneth. I studied her movements, her chatter with the customers, and her smile carefully. And of course, I studied the way she flirted.

The old men shall dream dreams,

The young maids will see visions,

The beast of the forest will turn away,

They will see the child of misery coming,

And make clear the path.

—Song of Venda



I wasn’t sure whether to admire her or plan a slower more painful death for the royal renegade. Strangling her with my bare hands might be best. Or maybe it would serve justice even better to toy with her and make her squirm first. I had little patience for the self-absorbed leeches who supposed their blue blood entitled them to special favor—and she had zero favor with me now.

Because of her, I had eaten more road dust and backtracked more miles than I’d ever admit to my comrades. I should have been gone already, on my way with the deed done, but that was ultimately my own shortcoming. I had underestimated her.

In her escape, she proved to be more calculating than panicked, leading witnesses to believe she was headed north instead of south, and then she continued to leave deceptive leads. But farmers who imbibe tend to have loose lips and a penchant for bragging on good trades. Now I was following my last lead, a sighting of two people passing down the main street of Terravin with three donkeys, though the riders’ genders were unknown and they were described as filthy beggars. For her own sake, I hoped our clever princess hadn’t done more trading.

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