For King and Country – Chapter 17 Excerpt

The Festival of Lanterns in Mallontah celebrated the arrival of Greater Brechalon to the continent eighty-three years earlier.  It was celebrated with a dozen formal parties and hundreds of informal ones, where Long Live the Kingwas sung, usually in slurred drunken voices.  The three-day long festivities were heralded by a parade, in which swinging lanterns held aloft on long poles were a major feature, in between a military marching band, a float made by the Ladies’ Auxiliary, and school children carrying hand-painted Accord Banners.  The Duke and Duchess of Argower rode through the streets in a car with Governor Burnaby and Orr Finby, Mayor of St. Ulixes.

The parade lasted three hours and at the end of that time, Terra begged off the remainder of the day’s appearances, letting Clitus go alone, while she returned to Sovereignty to rest.  When he returned, he found her snoring away in bed.  He roused her for dinner, and she got up and ate, but immediately went back to bed.

“Bob, go find a doctor.  I’m a bit worried.”

“Right away, sir.”

Bob returned an hour later with a smart looking fellow carrying a black doctor’s bag.  He was introduced as Dr. Hambsin, and he examined the Princess, all too briefly to Clitus’s mind.

“She’s dehydrated,” pronounced Hambsin.  “It’s not uncommon in pregnancy.  Her body is producing more blood for the unborn child.  Have her drink more water and she should be fine in a day or two.”

“But she’s been so tired just recently,” said Clitus.

“Many women exhibit signs of fatigue.  It’s all part of the process.  Women are the weaker sex.  This can take quite a toll on them.”

“What a pompous prig,” growled the Prince, once the doctor had left.  “Imagine someone thinking Terra was the weaker anything.  Go out and find me a decent doctor this time.”

“Your Highness,” said Stigby.  “If I might be so bold, you should call for a midwife.  They’re the real experts in this situation.”

“Do it.”

Stigby returned with a middle-aged woman introduced as Mrs. Callen.  Her examination was not much longer than the doctor’s had been, but she insisted that Terra be awakened so that she could speak to both husband and wife.

“The doctor is correct about dehydration and the reason for it.  But you must do more than simply wait for it to pass.  I don’t think the young lady is taking as good a care of herself as she should.”

“I have too many things to see to,” said Terra.

“You must take care of yourself and your baby first,” and when Clitus nodded in agreement, she told him, “and you must see that she does, and force her to when she doesn’t.”

“All right,” agreed the Prince, all the while wondering if he was really capable of forcing Terra to do anything.

“You must exercise, even if you feel tired,” continued Mrs. Callen.  “A brisk walk each day is sufficient.  Get nine hours of sleep each night and take a morning and afternoon nap.”

“That’s too much sleep,” said Terra, with a frown.

“I was about to say that you should keep your naps short.  Only fifteen to twenty minutes.  That way they won’t prevent you from sleeping at night.  Do you drink tea or coffee?”

“Tea.”

“Well, stop.  Water.  Lots of water.  Milk and juices are fine too.  You must eat right too.  You should have extra helpings of eggs.”

“Oh Kafira,” said Terra, turning pale.  “Don’t even say that word.”

“Are any other foods making you sick?”

“No,” Clitus answered, as his wife’s hand was still over her mouth.

“Then lean meat and beans, peas, and nuts can be substituted.  Have plenty of milk and cheese, fish, broccoli and dark leafy greens, berries and whole grains, and dried fruit.  Alligator pears are also recommended.”

“She’s really had a craving for black pudding and bacon.”

“The black pudding is fine.  Have you moved your bowels today?”

Clitus laughed.  His young wife who never seemed embarrassed about anything, suddenly looked mortified.  She shook her head ever so slightly, her large eyes even larger than usual.

“Cut back on the bacon then.  I would recommend some prunes or dried pineapple to get things moving again.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Callen,” said Clitus, walking her to the dock where Stigby waited to take her home.  “I feel much better knowing what to do.”

“She seems in good health overall.  Follow my directions and with Kafira’s help, she’ll have no trouble.”

An hour later, Stigby returned from dropping the midwife home.  He handed the Prince a jar filled with dried pineapple slices.  With a smile, Clitus carried the container to his wife’s room.  He was surprised to find her awake and writing at her desk.

“Here you go,” he said, holding out the pineapple.  “This should get you all sorted.”

She narrowed her eyes but took the jar.

“Tomorrow, the King’s storehouse is open to the trogs.  It’s an annual tradition but Burnaby thinks we should be there—put a face on the monarchy for the locals.”

“No,” said Terra.

“I can certainly understand you not wanting to go.  I think it might be a good idea for you to stay here and recover.”

“Neither of us should attend.”

“Me neither?  Why not?”

“I just don’t want to go, and I don’t want you to go either.”

“All right, I’ll send word to the governor.  Now, let’s get you to bed.  You heard what the midwife said.”

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