Chapter 6

Jasper kept a low profile for a while and stayed in his rooms with his college books. Everyone needed to cool off a bit, Jasper included and Taybor most definitely. Jasper trusted his mother and Lady Maya to handle any unsavoury gossip and the best way he could help in that was to simply keep out of the way. One morning found him scowling in frustration at a letter he's received from the university. It was from his Demihold colleague and try as he may, he simply could not translate the wretched thing fully. It was part of his studies so an accurate translation was important. He left his rooms and headed for the Ladies' floor of the house and got the attention of a maid outside the chambers. He requested that the maid went to ask either Lady Gidra or Lady Maya for Mayte to be excused from her duties for half an hour. He was rather surprised when both his mother and Lady Maya came into the ante-room with Mayte and another girl who Jasper didn't recognise.

"Oh. Good thinking, Ladies. I'm sure this young lady won't mind sitting with us. I won't keep them long." Jasper nodded. Lady Gidra nodded and Lady Maya positively seethed. Obviously this confused Jasper and he asked the two serving girls to wait for him in the hallway. "Lady Maya? Is this because I didn't ask for Drea? I do still need her to help me, I just thought the mood needed to simmer down a bit." Lady Maya looked at Lady Gidra. "What? Surely you aren't waiting for permission to speak! It's me, Jasper!"

"She's gone." Lady Gidra said. Jasper just stared at his mother while his stomach hit the floor. "Both myself and Lady Maya tried, Jasper. We were powerless. Your father and Taybor reached a compromise because your father argued against Taybor's assertions of a scandal. Drea's gone with her dignity and honour intact, Jasper."

"She's ... she's been sent away?" Jasper sat down heavily on a chair. "Sent away? Sent where?"

"She'll be fine, Jasper. She'll be looked after ... "

"Sent where?" Jasper shouted at his mother for the first time in his life.


"Wh .. what?" Jasper half sobbed.

"A customer of your father's who owns one of the very few vintners agreed to ... to ... have her." Gidra moved closer to Maya.

"Have her how?" Jasper closed his eyes and tried to breath. The fact that there was no answer gave him his answer. "Where's father?"

"Jasper it's done. Drea's been gone for three days. Let it go, Jasper." Gidra said desperately.

"He's in his study." Maya said angrily. She was clearly furious at this so called compromise. Jasper ran from the ante-room.

Jasper crashed into his father's office like a whirlwind.

"Jasper. I expected you sooner." Lord Cassidy said.

"Couldn't you at least have consulted me? Informed me? Included me somehow? I had to find out when I asked for my language lessons!"

"Sit down and lower your voice." Lord Cassidy looked at his younger son. Jasper sat down and tried to calm down too. "Murdoch Call. He's a good customer of ours and has a very respectable trade in Crull's State Three. He has the financial means to support her, Jasper. She has her freedom, son. Are you going be begrudge the fact that she's no longer a servant?"

"No." Jasper hung his head in utter dejection and Cassidy felt a wave of pity for him.

"There's no reason why she shouldn't be happy, son. Murdoch Call is fifty-eight ... "

"How old?!" Jasper's head snapped up.

"Fifty-eight and therefore quite well established in society and more than capable of supporting a household." Cassidy explained.

"Fifty-eight? Father, what number wife is she?" Jasper was almost afraid to ask.

"Four." Cassidy said quietly. He's been dreading this meeting with his son. Cassidy saw a great deal of himself in Jasper, including a compassion and freedom that their traditions had suppressed in himself. "Murdoch has three sons, two are married and so are in line to succeed the business. The girl won't have that pressure at least. He also has daughters."

"So he really had no need to take another wife." Jasper tried to swallow the lump in his throat. "He did it as a favour to you. Right?" Cassidy nodded and felt very, very, drained. "All because Taybor made an issue where there wasn't one, then roared and bellowed in his usual style to get his own way. An adult man throwing a tantrum. That tantrum has forced an innocent young woman into yet another situation that doesn't want her. Her parents didn't want her, the orphanage didn't want her, that bastard in our kitchens didn't want her. Even her job here above stairs was just that, a job. Now she's been ordered into a marriage where her established husband and his established family won't want her either. I hope you're both proud of yourselves."

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