The Blue Star
Chapter 4: Daylight; Refuge

Public Domain

Lalette sat up sleepily and sipped a little wine; there was nothing to eat but the end of a loaf, most of which Rodvard devoured, surprised to find that he was hungry, (and a tingle running down his veins as he thought of the evening under the cedars). Remigorius did not even wait for the end of the meager breakfast before breaking out with; “Hark, the provosts are already forth. This must be hurried, and you two must leave. I have arranged matters to the least peril. There’s an inn on King Crotinianus’ Square, at the north end, called the Sign of the Limping Cat, where the north-going coaches halt to pick up travellers from that side of the city. Go there; you can wait on the bench outside and had better, to avoid talking with someone who might be a spy. I trust you, demoiselle, to keep your face as much covered as possible; Rodvard, you shall use that devil-stone to know the purpose of any who approach.

“There will be a blue-painted coach which goes to Bregatz by way of Trandit and Liazabon. The driver’s name is Morsens; inquire. Before Trandit you should make an argument for the benefit of others in the coach, you being a young couple just wed, so joyous in the bridal that the new dame’s trunk has been forgot. At Trandit, then, Ser Rodvard will descend to return for it, while Demoiselle Asterhax rides on to Bregatz in the care of Morsens the coachman and reaches those of the Center there. Are you players enough to play these parts? ... It will thus not be strange when Morsens protects her, which he will gladly do. But you must give him a gold scuderius, for he is not one of ours, and his danger is very great.”

Lalette, who had begun to take down her hair with fingers swift and sure in order to do it up into the bridal braids, stopped with pursed mouth. “But I do not have a scuderius,” she said. “I have hardly any money at all.”

An expression of furious indignation held the doctor’s face as it turned toward Rodvard. “You?” But the young man, flushing, reached in his jacket-pocket for a handful of coppers and one single silver spada. “Perhaps we can make it up together,” he said. “They are so deep in arrears of pay at the office where I’m employed ... or if we can find a Zigraner with his shop open early, I might pledge my wage...”

“Or if we find a kind-hearted provost with scudi instead of bilboes for those he pursues!” cried Remigorius. “Madam, you will need all the witchcraft you can muster, for you are surely the most improvident fool that ever tried an evasion with what did not belong to her. I’ve no money, either.” He tugged at his beard, looking at her from anger-filled eyes, but before Lalette could more than begin the sound of a hot retort, changed expression, shrugged, and spread his hands:

“There’s a night’s work gone glimmering, then. But I’ll not send you back to Cleudi and the Deacons’ Court, even though you were other than friend Rodvard’s mistress.” He mused (and Rodvard, catching his eye as the head turned, saw in it a flash of deadly acquisitiveness for the Blue Star, no real interest in Lalette’s fate whatever). The young man started as from a blow; Remigorius spoke again:

“You must hide in the city, then, till somehow transport’s found. Would be welcome to this abode, but too many come here for physic; the matter would be bruited about. Nor your place, neither, Rodvard. The Queen’s provosts will not be long in finding your connection with this demoiselle, no. Your mother know of it?”

Said Lalette; “If you mean of Rodvard, I—I do not think so. We met always while she was at the Service. He never came to the house and there was only my gossip, Avilda Brekoff, who was ever with us.”

“Then we may have a few days before they come on the scent. Were you seen coming here last night?”

“Only by a watch of two from a distance, and by the doorman where I live,” said Rodvard, but Lalette; “I had to give the man a silver spada to call Rodvard and there was some slight bargle over whether I might enter. I fear I was not only seen, but noted. I regret.”

“You may well. Here’s the few days lost again. If the matter’s pressed, they will surely question the doorman of every pensionnario in the city.” Remigorius swung knit brows to Rodvard; “You had best go to your working place today, for the absence might be noted. But I will let you return to your pensionnario for only the once, and then to bring away nothing but your most intimate needs. Stop for no meal, where there’s talk—at least, till we can be sure of this doorman. What’s his name?”

“Krept or something like it, I do not know for sure. We call him Udo the crab. I have one or two books I would not willingly lose.”

“Would you rather lose your life?” The doctor scrabbled for a piece of paper and began to write. “This is more dreadful than you know of. Demoiselle, you can be secure for a little time with a friend of ours, a certain Mme. Kaja, who used to be a singer in the opera. She lives on the top floor of an old goat’s nest in the Street Cossao and has young girls visiting her all the time for instruction in music, so there’ll be no comment at your appearance.” His pen scratched, he stood up, threw sand on the paper and let it slide to the floor. “This be your passport. Your lover—” (the word was accompanied by a lip-turn that made Lalette shiver) “—can join you there this twilight. But wait—you may be known in the street.”

He bustled into the shop-room and returned with a pair of quills. “Up your nose, one on either side. So. I’d like it better if there were another cloak for you, but leave the hood of this one down; with your hair changed, and your face...”


It would be the morning after his wedding breakfast on new wine and old bread with fear for a sauce, that she should come to the Office of Pedigree again—with her bands of light hair, fine chin line and cheekbones, and the pointed coronet badge in her hat that showed her a baron’s daughter. All morning Rodvard had been dozing and drowsing; she greeted him gaily; “Have you found more of this matter with which the stem of Stojenrosek is to confound Count Cleudi, or has the weather been too fine for work indoors?”

“No, demoiselle.” (There was a twist in his chest, he could barely get the words out.) He passed the chair where she showed a turn of ankle, to one of the tall dark wall-files, and took out a parchment. “One of the recorders lighted on this—see, it is from the reign of King Crotinianus the Second, the great king, and bears his seal of the boar’s head, with that of his Chancellor. It is a series of decisions on inheritance and guardianship for the province of Zenss. At the eleventh year of the reign there is one here—” he handled the pages over carefully “—giving the son of Stojenrosek leave to wed with one Luedecia and pass the inheritance to their daughters, though she’s but a bowman’s daughter herself, there being no heiresses female to take the estate, which would thus have fallen to the crown.”

She had stood up to look at the old crabbed chancery hand of the document where he spread it on the table and her shoulder brushed his. Said she; “Did they wed, then?”

“Alas, demoiselle, I cannot tell you.” (Shoulder did not withdraw.) “So many of the records of that time were destroyed in the great fire at Zenss a quadrial of years ago. But I will search.”

“Do so ... I cannot read it,” she said. “What does this say?” Her fingers touched his in a small shock, where they were outspread to hold the parchment, and the contact rested as she bent to look, in the spring light filtering through the dusty panes. The inner door to the cabinet adjoining was closed; down the corridor outside, someone was whistling as he walked, she turned her head to face him slowly, he felt the witch-stone cold as ice over his heart, and to shut out what he feared was coming, Rodvard croaked chokingly;

“What is your name?”

“My name is Maritzl.” (No use; it came over sharply—if he kiss me, I will not stay him, I will marry him, I will take him into my father’s house, I will even be his mistress if he demands it ... this disappearing in the lightning-flash of Lalette saying, “If you are ever unfaithful—” and flash on flash what would happen if he lost the Blue Star for which he had sacrificed so much. Sold, sold.)

She caught her breath a little. He disengaged the parchment from her hand. “I will have it copied for you in a modern hand,” he said.


Under Remigorius’ order, Rodvard did not go home to the pensionnario at sun-turning as usual, but took his repast for a pair of coppers on small beer and cheese at a tavern near his labor. He had been there not often, but it seemed to him that the place bubbled with talk beyond custom, and he wondered if the cause were some tale of Count Cleudi’s witching and Lalette’s escape, a speculation dispelled on his return, for there came to him young Asper Poltén from the next cabinet with:

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