Chapter Fifteen: Snake and Merrow (6)Mature

The slave that delivered their meal that time—which meal it was Simon did not know or care—was one he had never seen before.  This did not particularly surprise him, as such things changed all the time, but he felt a twinge of sadness all the same.  He worried for their former delivery girl, who couldn’t have been more than twelve years of age and had been bringing them their meals for months.  There were three possibilities as to what had become of her.  Either she had escaped (which was unlikely), she had been sold (which was plausible), or she had died (which was probable).

            He was surprised when the new meal-delivery slave called him by his name.

            “Simon Marandur Edmund,” she whispered, beckoning through the bars.  “Come here.”

            Simon came.

            “Hold out your hand.”

            After a moment's hesitation, he held it out, and the old merrow woman thrust the handle of a sheathed blade into his palm and closed his fingers around it.

            Perplexed, Simon inspected the gift.  “A straight razor?”

            The merrow nodded.  “I will return in a quarter of an hour.  Shave your face.  Cut your hair.  Make yourself presentable.  Remember, fifteen minutes.”

            “Henry sent you, didn’t he?”

            The slave held a finger to her mouth, then left without any other reply.

            Simon sat down on the floor and got to work.  Never before had he shaved this way, without a mirror or soap to aid him.  All he had was a tin mug of water, which had come with the food, and his own saliva to protect his skin from the thin, sharp blade.  It was a difficult task, but he only cut himself once, and it didn’t bleed for long.

            He hadn’t even started upon his tangled, matted hair by the time the fifteen minutes were up and his strange rescuer was back, this time with company.

The End

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