[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.”“You may have more than one wife here.My father had three,” said Lailie, her attempts at seduction gone.“That is not the issue.” He lowered his voice.“Your father has used you ill, leaving you as he has, with no adequate provision for your maintenance.”“He had to do it,” said Lailie urgently.“He did not mean to put us in danger.You are not to speak against him.”Germanno raised his hands in a sign of truce.“You misunderstand me; I do not question his decision; I know very little about the circumstances that led him to leave Sevallis,” he said, choosing his words carefully so that Lailie would not feel compelled to defend Rachmal ben Abbas.“I only say that because of what he had to do, you and his wives have borne the brunt of his necessity.”“He wanted to handle our situation better, but he could not.He was not allowed to.Everything happened so quickly.The tribunal told our teachers that action had to be taken.There were questions being asked, and insinuations made.” She averted her eyes as if her next admission were too shameful to voice while looking at the Comide.“He had to depart sooner than he planned, without time to do all that he wanted to for us.” She caught her lower lip between her teeth, then said, “Sometimes I think he could have waited a day or two longer, just to put our situation right.”Knowing that agreeing would be precarious, Germanno ventured, “Perhaps he was afraid that if he lingered, you might be at a greater disadvantage than if he left.” He doubted this was the case, but he could not deprive Lailie of the consolation of that possibility.“Perhaps,” she said, a forlorn note entering her voice.She hit her thigh with her fist.“This is nothing like I had planned.”“As is often the case in life,” said Germanno quietly.She rounded on him.“You have been reasonable, and courteous,” she accused him.“You should be a barbarian, without conduct or compassion and you are not! You are not!”In spite of himself, he laughed.“I must apologize for disappointing you, Lailie,” he said.“You have much to endure from me.”“Well, I have,” she said, pouting and trying not to share in his amusement.“I am not disagreeing,” he pointed out.“If you would, I could remain angry,” she said, and managed a single chuckle.“Oh.I didn’t want to do that.”“Of course not,” he said.“You need not cease being angry on my account.”“That makes it worse; if you do not mind my anger, what is the point of having it?” she complained without heat.For a long moment she said nothing, then she glanced at him.“You’ll still teach me Latin?”“I will,” he promised.“Beginning the day after tomorrow.”“And you will take me to Toledom if you cannot find me a husband here?” She sounded a bit less confident now.“Yes; I have said so,” he told her.“Well.Since you are reasonable and unseduceable, I will wish you a pleasant night and return to the women’s quarters.” She walked away from him, her pale garments wraith-like in the night.When he was sure she was gone, Germanno turned to the back of the garden and called softly, “You can come out now.”The plants rustled, and then a thin man of middle height and middle-age stepped out of the cover of plants.“You knew I was there?”“I knew someone was there.I did not know it was you, Antoninus,” said Germanno at his most affable.The Greek merchant stared at him in amazement.“How did you guess—?”“Your clothing is Byzantine and you are armed only with a dagger, a dagger with a Greek crucifix on the hilt.Whom else would you be?” He approached Antoninus, sizing up the Greek and mistrusting what he saw.“I have been expecting you.”“Have you?” Antoninus said, raising his eyebrows to show his disbelief.Germanno was not tempted to play at whatever Antoninus seemed to want to do.“Idelfonzuz said you would contact me.Why have you waited so long, and what possessed you to choose such a manner to make yourself known?”“I was afraid we would be watched, and I knew if I approached you directly it might alert those whose business it is to know what foreigners like you and me do.This is the third night I have waited in your garden.” He pursed his lips in disapproval.“I did this for your benefit, you know.”“Do you think so.” Germanno shook his head once, and indicated the sprawl of the great house at the other end of the garden.“In which case, we would do well to stay away from there.Slaves watch everyone.”“They say you have sent away most of the slaves in the house and hired servants of your own,” said Antoninus, probing awkwardly.“I do not like having slaves.I prefer to employ servants,” said Germanno.“Part of my foreign ways.”“Um.Yes.” Antoninus coughed experimentally.“That is the sort of thing that sets tongues wagging, not having slaves.”“So be it,” said Germanno.“Did you come to tell me gossip?”“No, I did not.I came to tell you that word has come from Karmona that more soldiers are needed to defend the eastern front.This is urgent, not like the other summonses of the past.The fighting is getting worse there, and the Caliph’s forces have taken heavy losses.The soldiers of Castile and León drive from the west and the soldiers of Aragon drive from the north-east and the Moors are caught in the wedge.There will be a summoning of men to fight, and everyone in the city will be given an extra tax to pay for the soldiers [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]