Chapter Twenty-seven

" Uckl! thought you were kidding about the frog poop. That stuff smells horrible. What the heck is in it?" CC asked, backing away from Isabel who was holding a jar that she had just uncovered. CC could almost see the waves of stench emanating from its open mouth.

"Ground mustard, garlic, lard and sheep urine," Isabel said, smiling evilly. "It is an ancient remedy for a wet cough."

"I don't have a wet cough," CC said, being sure to keep her bed between the two of them.

"The knight needs to believe you do."

"Can't we just smear it around the door? I'm sure he'll be able to smell it even through six inches of wood."

Isabel laughed. "I suppose we could dab it on some rags and waft them about. That should keep the knight away."

"It'll keep Andras, his friends, the Brothers and every creature known to man away," CC said, glancing nervously at the jar even after Isabel placed it on the dresser. "And do you think you could wait to start the wafting until after I've eaten my dinner?"

"You are very demanding for a woman who is supposed to be so ill," Isabel teased.

"Well, I am a princess."


They grinned at each other, and CC nodded a grateful thank-you to Isabel, then began eating the thick stew with gusto.

"Funny that this illness hasn't affected my appetite," CC said through bites of fresh bread.

"I already considered that." Isabel pointed to the heavily laden tray she had carried into the chamber.

"Seems like a lot of jars of poultice. I don't think anyone can be that sick." CC scowled. "Not and still live."

"Yes, it would seem like I am rather overdoing it with the poultice, but it is understandable. I have never before treated a sick princess."

She lifted the cloth covering from one of the jars, and CC flinched, but instead of the rank odor of sheep urine, all she could smell was more of the wonderful stew.

Isabel grinned conspiratorially. "This, I believe, is more than even you can eat. I will refill your bowl, and it will appear that your appetite is suffering."

"You are a genius, Isabel."

"Just a wise woman, Princess," Isabel said smugly.

CC reached for her goblet of wine and hesitated. "Is there anything awful in the wine?"

"Just some mild herbs. Nothing that will do anything more than cause you to relax."

CC sniffed at the wine. "It doesn't smell bad."

Isabel took her own goblet and drank deeply.

CC smiled in relief and took a healthy drink. "It's good!"

"Do not be so surprised," Isabel grumped. "I made it."

"You made the poultice, too," CC pointed out.

"No, Bronwyn and Gwenyth made the poultice," Isabel said smugly. "They are renowned for their healing poultices. They send with it their love."

"Well, it's only their love and my loathing for Sarpedon that could get me to let that stuff anywhere near my body," CC said, giving the jar a squeamish glance.

Isabel cackled. "They are all too aware of that. You should have heard them preparing it. Add a little more urine, shall we? The princess should only have the best."

Isabel mimicked the two ladies voices so accurately that CC laughed so hard she almost spilled her wine.

"While I'm sequestered do you think there's any chance that the other women could visit?" CC asked. "It may be the last time…"

"They will come," Isabel said brusquely, pouring both of them more wine. "And that is quite enough of talk like that. We will see you again."

CC nodded firmly. "You're right, of course. It's not like I'm going back to my own time, I'm just going—well—some place wetter."

They smiled at each other and sipped their wine.

"Undine, would you tell me of your time?"

CC shrugged. "Sure." Then she realized she didn't have any idea how to start explaining the twenty-first century to a medieval woman who had never been more than a day's walk away from her home. "Is there something in particular you'd like to know?" CC asked, hoping for some direction.

"I would like to know how food is prepared in your time," Isabel said without hesitation.

CC grinned. "You'll love this. Wait till you hear about supermarkets and microwaves."

CC had just finished explaining to an open-mouthed Isabel about fast food restaurants, when two quick knocks sounded on the door.

CC barked several loud coughs before calling in a raspy voice, "Who is it?"


CC sneezed. "Just a moment."

Isabel was already unveiling the foul-smelling pot. "Time for wafting." She whispered and ladled a generous amount of the yellowish goop onto a linen rag, which she began waving around the room. CC added to the effect by coughing loudly.

Turning her head upside-down CC vigorously snarled her hair into a twisted mess and rubbed at her already much-abused nose. Then she wrapped the blanket from the bed around her shoulders and shuffled to the door.

"Wait!" Isabel whispered urgently. Before she could protest Isabel took the poultice-encrusted rag and hung it around her neck. CC gagged and didn't have to pretend the sneeze that rocked her body.

When CC cracked the door her nose was running. She smelled like a vat of old urine and she looked disheveled and pale. In the hall Andras and Abbot William had their heads bent together speaking in low voices. At the sound of the door opening they broke off their discussion and turned their attention to her. CC was pleased to see the shocked expression on Andras's face and the look of disgust on the abbot's. Emboldened, CC took a half step out into the hall. Both men moved quickly back.

"Andras! Abbot William!" CC said in a thick, nasally voice. "It's so nice to see both of you. Would you like to come in?"

"No!" the knight said hastily. "We would not think of tiring you."

"It would be most improper for Sir Andras to enter your bedchamber, even chaperoned by me," the priest said, fluttering his fingers effeminately in front of him, as if he was trying to ward off her contagion.

"Oh," CC said sadly. The poultice was causing her nose to run and she paused to wipe it on the back of her hand. "Are you sure? After all, Andras and I are betrothed."

"Not officially until your father arrives and blesses the union," Abbot William said. "That is what Andras and I have been discussing."

"I'm sure my father will—ahh… ahh… a… chew!—approve," CC said, pleased beyond words that her latest sneeze had caused the two men to retreat another step from her.

"I, too, am certain of his approval," Andras spoke rapidly. "Now you must rest and regain your strength."

"Yes," Abbot William said, his nose curled in distaste as he caught another whiff of the foul poultice. "Have the servant Isabel bring you anything you wish." The two men were already moving away from her door. "We bid you good night and a hasty recovery."

"Pray for me," CC called after them. She could barely make out their mumbled replies.

As soon as the door was closed she took the stinking rag from around her neck. Laughing, she handed it back to Isabel.

"They didn't want to come in for a visit. Imagine that."

"It certainly does not seem very caring of them," Isabel said, and her cackles joined CC's melodic laughter.

"They did say you could bring me anything I wish." CC picked up her empty goblet and said dramatically. "I wish for more of this excellent wine. It's medicinal. And company. Do you think the other women would be willing to brave possible contagion to visit me?"

"Certainly. It is only right for a princess to have several nurses." Isabel performed a graceful curtsey that made CC laugh. "And I shall leap to obey you, my lady." Grabbing the empty pitcher, Isabel hurried to the door with the energy of a girl one-third her age.

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