“It’s time, isn’t it?”

Angelina sits next to me, our campfire shooting sparks into the night. “It’s time to find your people. The gorgio painter, Edwin Augusto, knows how to read and move freely among the outsiders. We could send him into the tavern with ten pence for ale to see what can be uncovered, but you must confide in him first. Then there is Matruska, the best reader among us. We pass her caravan in three weeks time. She uses her sight, cards or the lines of your palm. Surely she can find something to light your way. Make a gift for her, an offering and it will go well.

I find myself eager to know and yet, oddly afraid. A question burns in my throat which finally blurt out.

“How is it that Edwin is accepted among you but I am not?”

Angelina becomes serious as she tends my question. First, Edwin has traveled with us before. He is a man with a family and is not missed by his community. And second, you are accepted among us. How could you feel otherwise?”

Angelina dips a rag in warm water, swiping at Avon’s face as he darts by, an invitation to chase in his smile. She shakes her finger and her motherly head, brimming with love for her son, then returns to our conversation.  “Is it Tarnia?”

I will not tell her that Tarnia ‘accidently’ smashed into me on my way from the sea, knocking me face down in the dirt, nor will I repeat her taunting remarks, but I will speak of it.

“If she could stop hating me, I could explain that I am no threat to her, and that Luca is fully hers. Really, how could I start anything without knowing if I am married or not?  I told her I wanted to discuss this, and she seemed willing to listen, offering to have me by for foxglove tea, but I have heard nothing.”

Angelina roars with laughter. “Have you over for tea, is it? Then you can be lucky she has not come by, since foxglove is poison when made into tea.” She falls sideways with amusement, but I do not find it funny.

She counsels me as she steadies herself, gaining composure.  “Try to avoid her. Tarnia has a fierce temper but would not harm you. Come pick lavender with us this week and watch me sell from the wagon. Here is my song:

Will you buy my sweet lavender, sweet blooming lavender? Come buy my pretty lavender, sixteen bunches a penny. 

─̶

I seek out Edwin to confide my story and ask for his help. His children play near the wagon, as his ladies, Athenia and Wren clear away the evening meal. We talk into the night, devising a plan.

I turn to leave, realizing I’ve forgotten something. “Oh, can you teach me to paint something in one month’s time? I need a gift from my own hand to offer a seer.”

 As Maya walks away, Wren whispers in Edwin’s ear.

“You know who she is. All of England is searching for her. Why do you keep it a secret?”

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