Sisters of String and Glass, Part 16

Chapter Six – continued

Tentatively, she placed one hand on his arm and allowed him to guide her into the markets.

“So. Andalissa.” He chuckled a little. “She’s my younger sister. Very much not a lady’s daughter no matter how much my mother tries. She somehow managed to wheedle sword fighting lessons from one of our knights, but Mother caught on and had one of the ladies-in-waiting take her under her wing to learn things like fashion and beauty.” He waved his free hand dismissively. “She seemed to take to it, probably just needed some direction and a little nudge from Mother. Instead of grass stained skirts, she started wearing silk and lace.”

Abigail nodded absently as they stared at a rack of deceased ducks. She disliked purchasing meat, but truly detested picking out live animals for the slaughter. Unfortunately, Muriel was quite a lover of fowl.

“I’m fairly certain Andalissa managed to talk one of her guardian knights into teaching her how to use a sword. See, when I was learning, I remember being soundly defeated many times, often coming away from the practice arenas with bruises and cuts. I caught Andalissa with a few bandages.” He laughed as she perused a stack of honey jars carefully labeled with what kind of flowers the bees visited. “Of course, she nearly bit my head off about it and forced me to drop the topic. But that must have been some time ago because now you won’t find her in anything but the most current fashions and cosmetics caked on her face.”

This man really doesn’t know his sister well, Abigail couldn’t help thinking as she handed over a slender piece of paper currency for the honey. Silks and swords. But nothing else.

“Why not a specially crafted sword or dagger?” Abigail asked as they edged their way towards a stall with lotions and salves for Camille.

Adrian laughed, drawing attention from passing shoppers, but he only readjusted his hood and kept on chuckling. “Because Mother would probably kill her. Or me. Maybe the both of us. Father always tried to encourage Mother to give us a looser rein, but Mother is more princess than my father prince.” He shrugged. “I suppose I could get her a new dress.”

“Do you know her measurements?”

“Her, ah, what?”

Abigail wanted so desperately to pinch the bridge of her nose. Madeline would have her work cut out for her.

“If the dress is to fit her properly, you need to know things like how tall she is, the measurement of her waist, the length of her arms. Otherwise it won’t fit well at all and a Duchess being groomed to be so ladylike will look anything but a lady.”

“Oh. I suppose Mother wouldn’t like that at all.”

“What about books or needlepoint? Some ladies have small window gardens these days. It’s quite popular in the warmer months. Or perhaps a new winter cloak.”

Adrian reached over to squeeze the hand gently resting on his other arm and bent over to peer at her with a wide smile on his face. “You may not know my sister, but I’m certainly glad I asked for your help. Those are wonderful ideas!”

She scowled at him, but he had already straightened. “If you wish to remain incognito, you might want to lower your voice.”

“Right, of course,” he said, but she could still hear the smile in his voice.

Why worry about Andalissa eating up Madeline when Adrian could just knock her over within a few minutes? Actually, she’d have to check with her stepsister about whether or not she prefered gregarious men.

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