She looked down on Lady Eadgith.

Lady Judith nursed her babies for no more than six months, and if she was visiting now, it meant baby Robert had not even had the privilege for that long. Judith claimed it was the Flemish fashion, as she liked to say about everything she did differently, and she looked down on Lady Eadgith for nursing her babies for one year just as much as she did the vulgar peasant women who nursed them for two years or more to save food.

Eadgith was not cowed by Judith and her Flemish fashions. Judith was the great-​​granddaughter of a count, nothing more, and Eadgith could say the same about her own children, since Leofric himself was the same count’s grandson. But Eadgith and Leofric both were the great-​​grandchildren of a King of Danes, not to mention the parents of a Queen, and this was clearly a far finer thing.

This was clearly a far finer thing.

However, Judith did not seem to realize it, and this was what drove Eadgith wild – this, and the fact that she found fault with everything Eadgith did. Eadgith did not train her servants properly, she did not run her household properly, she did not raise her children properly, and she did not treat her husband properly. A visit from Lady Judith involved the dragging-​​out of all of Lady Eadgith’s little insecurities, and the milling-​​over thereof.

Little Leia came tearing into the hall with her pigtails flying.

Thus it was that when little Leia came tearing into the hall with her pigtails flying, Lady Eadgith almost groaned aloud. Leia was one of the most perplexing problems of her existence, and Judith knew it. Her parentage was already grist enough for Judith’s braying tongue, but her ill behavior provided something for which Eadgith could be reproached personally.

“Leia!” Eadgith barked. “Ladies don’t run!”

“Yes, they do-​​o-​​o-​​oh!”

'Ladies don't run!'

Distracted by her defiance, Leia could not prevent her legs from becoming tangled in her skirts, and she flopped belly-​​first onto the floor and slid halfway to the wall.

Eadgith caught her own skirt in her hand to prepare for rising from her chair. She only wanted to see whether the girl had hurt herself, but she was paralyzed with horror at what happened next.

Leia pounded her fists on the floor and shrieked, “God damn it!”

Just at that moment, Judith’s own girls were walking in – in a very ladylike, very Flemish fashion – and Judith’s horror was the sort worth crying aloud.

'Oh, my stars!'

“Oh, my stars! What has she been teaching my babies!”

“Leia!” Eadgith gasped. “Ladies do not take the name of the Lord in vain!”

Leia clambered to her feet, flounced the tangles out of her skirt, and stalked up to her stepmother.

Leia clambered to her feet, flounced the tangles out of her skirt, and stalked up to her stepmother.

I am not a lady! I am a little girl!”

“Little girls do not take the name of the Lord in vain, either!”

I do! I do what I like! My Papa lets me!”

'My Papa lets me!'

“And I do not let you, Leia. What you just did was a sin.”

I am not a little girl! I am a sinner! Just like my Papa!”

Judith snorted and tried to hide a laugh behind her hand.

Lady Eadgith choked. “Leia!”

Lady Eadgith choked.

Leofric had a habit of referring to himself as an “old sinner”, but Eadgith had not realized that little Leia had paid attention or understood.

“My Papa likes it when I swear and curse!” Leia crowed. “He laughs!”

Overwhelmed, Eadgith could only whimper, “Oh, dear!”

“Son of a serpent!” Leia snarled and stomped her feet. “God damn! Bless my balls!”

'Bless my balls!'

Judith shrieked and fell back against the cushions as if she were about to faint. Immediately afterwards she bolted up and began herding her daughters to the stairs. “Allez, mes anges! Vite! Vite! Allons là-​​haut dans votre chambre!

Lady Eadgith recovered her own presence of mind in her anger and her humiliation. “That’s enough of that, young lady! You go up to your room, and I shall just go have a talk with your Papa! And we shall see who’s laughing then!”

'And we shall see who's laughing then!'