Historical setting: 589 C.E. Poitiers
Ana is telling me that she and Colleen turned the previous midwife’s journal over to Lady Elise’s mother.
“It affirmed the family’s worst fears. These childbirth deaths may not have been the natural consequences of difficult births, but something more sinister. The earl is one who seems the needy child, given to little fits of rage and grand displays in tears of sorrow. Of course that would be expected with his three wives passing. So he finds a new wife — one marriage happens after another always finding a young woman’s pity for him where marital love would be the better bond.”
I asked Ana, with my thoughts absent of wealth and status, “What motive would a man have were this some nefarious pattern? It seems like he must be hateful of women.”
Ana explains a whole insidious plot.
“Caring or not caring has little to do with it Laz. Lady Elise’s mother quickly identified a familiar motive. She thought the earl was collecting this nursery in order to take over the inheritances of these children’s deceased, but noble-born mothers. So the wealth of several important families from whom this fellow reaps his wives will all end up at his estate. And ‘wealth is power,’ this very powerful elder woman told us. Colleen was surprised by her cold calculations. Here we are, completely focused on the well-being of a young woman, and her own mother is seeing her child in terms of family fortune. Maybe it’s just the strange calculating nature of the aristocracy.
“Then there was something more we hadn’t thought of. What happens after the mother is dead and the baby is safe? Apparently the midwife is sent away so abruptly as to leave behind her personal things. And where does the midwife go? The wife’s body is taken away for burial in the midst of all the coming and going. Lady Elise’s mother was very concerned about the earl’s guards and servants. And who were these coroners? Who cared for the bodies?
“So first thing tomorrow Lady Elise’s parents will be sending their own guards to bring their daughter home to this estate for the birthing.”
To me this seems like a good idea under the circumstances, but Ana and the midwife Colleen don’t know where that will leave them to stay.
Our parting as usual is a warm embrace and words of encouragement and love.