Christopher Key, chapter four scene two

Eleven names written in the king’s hand, all belonging to the daughters of knights, all to be rounded up and brought to the palace.
Mere never bothered complaining. Better just to go ahead and do it, whatever it was, than waste your time crying about it. Besides, if you threw yourself into a task, it was usually over before you knew it. Mere’s father had once compared her to water and Alexane to wildfire, and then begged her pardon for it. He’d been shamefaced, as if he’d insulted her. Mere had never understood.
Back home after six months away, and this was their upside-down welcome. For months she’d looked forward to hearing seeing the city again, the wide view from Palace Hill. Visiting old hiding-places. Her cousins, her favorite trees. Resting by the hearth at home in Adwarde House, sitting on her old stool, maybe with a book in hand and a cat curled up on her lap.
That time would come. She promised herself it would. In the meantime she’d do her duty.
First thing, she went straight back to Alexane’s chambers and woke the other three ladies-in-waiting: Dimity, Seventh, and Merriment. That took care of three names right there, and they’d help her gather the rest.
Mere recruited more Royal Halberdiers too, so nobody would be forced to run around alone, knocking on doors, in the cold wet midnight. Palace Hill was large and steep, holding not just the palace but the seven surrounding mansions of the knightly families. She especially disliked the idea of sending Merriment out by herself; nor were Seventh and Dimity much older.
Adwarde House could be skipped, since Mere was the only daughter of that house, and Royal House was the king’s personal property and currently stood empty while the king’s family occupied the state apartments. Alexane would have inherited the use of it when she married, Mere supposed. It was the way things usually went. One of the seven houses wore the crown, and their house stood empty or was occupied by cousins for a generation or two; then another of the seven families succeeded to the throne and their house, in turn, would be closed up. A new court took the place of the old. Any child of the knights knew as much in her bones.
She sent Seventh to her family’s house.
Dimity to hers.
Merriment to Darry House, to fetch her little sister Mirth.
That left Mere with two houses, Nonesuch and Solborough. The other girls went off with skipping steps, halberdiers marching behind them. They’d see their mothers for the first time since last autumn. Mere only wished she could have had as much consolation.
Never complain.

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