A Pig of Cold Poison

A Pig of Cold Poison by Pat McIntosh

Book: A Pig of Cold Poison by Pat McIntosh Read Free Book Online
Authors: Pat McIntosh
I’d to try twice to get the right one, but she’d ha need of it. That bonnie blue gown she’d on wouldny keep the wind off her.’
    ‘But she never came back by the hall door,’ Gil prompted.
    ‘No, I’d say she didny. You could ask Andy,’ the man suggested. ‘Maybe he let her in after I’d gone from the door. Which I did once all the guests was arrived.’
    A little searching located Andy, assisting his master in the counting-house in sorting through the bills for the coming quarter-day. Both men listened to his question, but shook their heads.
    ‘I mind seeing the lass as she returned,’ admitted Augie, ‘but I only caught sight of her in the midst of the hall, with the cushion in her arms. Kate did offer Mistress Mathieson her own herb cushion, but it seems she wanted this one.’
    ‘I never noticed,’ said Andy. ‘Here’s that docket from the Sankt Nikolaas , maister, wi the clarry wine on it. If Jamesie didny let her in, Maister Gil, she never came in by the hall door, for I’d have heard her rattling at the pin. You could ask if Ursel noticed her in the kitchen, or one of the lassies. They were quite taken wi all the fine clothes,’ he added, inspired, ‘maybe they’d ha taken note if she cam in that way.’
    ‘A good thought,’ Gil said. He returned to report this to Kate, and found Ysonde hanging over the cradle, cooing to its sleeping occupant. As he sat down she said in honeyed tones:
    ‘Wee Baby Floris, all s’eepy. You’re no to wake him,’ she added to Gil, and whisked off to the other window and the game with her sister.
    Gil raised his eyebrows at Kate, who said solemnly, face straight, eyes dancing, ‘That’s what Ysonde calls him, because she and Wynliane are in a book, but Edward isn’t.’
    ‘Oh, aye, and Augie said he’d read Floris and Blanchflour to him,’ Gil recalled. ‘I hope his life has less adventure in it than Floris’s.’
    ‘So do I, indeed. Did Jamesie have anything useful to say?’
    Gil recounted his information and Andy’s suggestion, at which she made a note in her tablets to speak to the two maidservants.
    ‘Is it a matter of the time she returned?’ she asked.
    ‘Something like that.’
    ‘I wish we’d never thought of entertaining,’ she said, sighing. ‘Bad enough Meg going off into labour that way, but this other – ah, well. What’s done’s done.’
    ‘When did Augie ask the mummers in?’
    ‘Two days afore. Tuesday, I suppose,’ she said in some surprise, ‘it’s still only Friday today. He told me about it on Wednesday, there was no time to do anything, other than warn Meg –’
    ‘So the household knew?’
    ‘The women did,’ Kate said. ‘I don’t think they told our neighbour himself. They may not have wanted to. He’s a hard man to cross, in chamber, hall and counting-house, it seems, and considering how he looked when I did tell him, I’d have kept quiet if I was in Meg’s shoes too.’
    Gil thought about the events here in the hall. ‘Kate, when it happened – did you get a sight of any of the other faces? Did any of them seem …’ He paused, groping for words.
    ‘Was anyone affected out of the ordinary?’ she supplied. He nodded. Of his four surviving sisters Kate was his favourite, and the closest to him in temperament and thought. Of course she knew what he meant. ‘I never noticed,’ she went on. ‘I wasny well placed to see the faces. Maybe Babb or Andy would be more help.’ She paused, needle in the air. ‘I’d think one or other of the women, Nancy or Barbara or Agnes Hamilton, might call by this afternoon before they go in to wait on Meg. I’ll ask them and all – circumspectly.’
    ‘I too have little to report,’ said Maistre Pierre, spreading potted herring liberally on his wedge of bread. Further down the long board young John McIan, perched on his nurse’s knee, shouted something unintelligible and waved a crust. Nancy hushed him, but the mason grinned at his foster-son, waved back,

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