Chapter 12: Desperation

One afternoon, Priscilla’s brother, Gregory, sent for her in order to discuss an urgent matter. “I am afraid there has been rather unsavory talk about you,” said her brother.

Priscilla laughed. “Who would possibly say anything negative about me?”

Priscilla and Flora (16)

Gregory gave her a hard look. “Do not presume that you hold such importance as your husband, dear sister.  The Robles are a very important family. There has been talk that, if you fail to produce an heir for the baron, then he may put you aside.”

The blood drained from Priscilla’s face. It was true that she had still not conceived an heir after seven years of marriage.  But Arlwyn would not dare to put her aside. Would he?

Gregory continued, “I have heard tales of a woman who lives at the farthest edge of Cantory Wood. She is young, but well-known for her healing herbs and remedies.”

Priscilla knew of the young woman. The townspeople often sought her out when their families were ill or their wives were preparing to give birth. “I will go at once to see her,” she said.

Priscilla

Priscilla overhears the midwife Flora telling a boy that his mother had just given birth.

Priscilla and Flora (14)

The townspeople often sought out Flora for midwifery and healing herbs

Flora Goode lived a very quiet life of solitude, hidden far from the town, and far from the life of her beloved Arlwyn. Each day, she threw herself into her work, as it was the only way to distract her mind from thinking of him.

Priscilla and Flora (2) Priscilla and Flora (1)

Seek him out, said her heart. Tell him that you still love him. But she pushed aside these thoughts. Surely their season of love was no more to him now than a distant memory. Surely he was happy now, living contentedly with his wife. She had no right to disturb his happiness. Priscilla and Flora (4)Priscilla and Flora (3)

So convinced was she of these things, that the unexpected arrival of Arlwyn’s wife was as shocking as a sudden icy downpour. “What are you doing here?” Flora blurted out without thinking.

Priscilla and Flora (8)

Priscilla’s eyes flashed. “Mind your tongue, girl.  Have you any idea who I am?”

Priscilla and Flora

Flora dropped her eyes and curtsied low. “Beg your pardon, miss. What can I do for you?” She listened, eyes growing wide as Priscilla explained her predicament. “You – are you asking me to help you to conceive a child? B-but – that’s witchcraft!” Flora whispered this last word. “I cannot help you—”

Priscilla and Flora (9)

Priscilla stepped closer until she was almost nose-to-nose with Flora. “You can, and you will. Or I will personally see to it that you are burned at the stake. For I know what you are, and that you are the reason why our family is cursed.”

“That’s not true!” Flora cried, vehemently shaking her head. “I did not curse anyone, I swear it!”

Priscilla’s voice was cold. “Help me to conceive an heir, and I will remain silent.”

Flora clasped her hands together. “Please, Lady Priscilla, I beg of you. Do not do this. There will be consequences beyond my control.”

Priscilla and Flora (10)

But her pleas fell upon deaf ears. Priscilla would not leave until Flora had placed in her hands a small flask containing a potion which would help her to conceive a child. Triumphant, Priscilla rode home and poured the potion into a drinking glass. It was thick, white, and foul-smelling. But she had no other options. She had to produce a Roble heir. And so, she tilted back her head and drained the glass.

Priscilla and Flora (11)

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