A week later, two of the women who were assisting at the birth of the new prince were talking with one of their fellow servants.
"It's not natural, that's what," Hilde announced with a furtive glance over her shoulder. "I knew there would be something odd from the moment he was taken away from his first baptism. No royal baby has ever missed his first baptism."
"I hear some of the village folk don't wash their babies at birth. They believe as strongly against it as we do for it," offered a compassionate woman named Mauna.
"That's just it," Hilde affirmed, jumping on Mauna's words as though they held the secrets of the kingdom. "Where does the daughter of a lord pick up such outlandish behavior? It ain't fitting for a prince, that's what."
"You might very well ask that question, Hilde," interjected the third woman with a knowing look. She lowered her voice to the tone of a conspirator. "Do we truly know where our young queen comes from?"
"She is the daughter of one of the northern lords," Mauna informed them, incredulous that her two companions should seem ignorant of the story of the queen's arrival.
The third woman, whose name was Reita, raised her eyebrows and nodded wisely. "But do we know that for certain," she queried. "A daughter that no one had ever heard of before?"
"But she had only just come of age," Mauna said, defending her queen. "Is it any surprise that we had not heard of her? And her father was from one of the distant northern districts. It is possible, isn't it?"
Reita smirked. "Perhaps," she said.