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He woke up terrified. And pleased. Nothing — Nothing! — Father ever told him mentioned anything like this.
Addie, his nurse since suckling babe, came in at his first stirrings. “Young Master?”
He wanted her to take him to her breast as she had for every fall, every come-uppance, every insult since first he walked.
Instead he pulled his bedsheets tighter around him, feeling naked for the first time before the woman who had washed him since birth.
His young sister Sharon called him from the hall. “It is morning, Seth. Come out and play.”
“Close the door.”
Addie stared at him. “Master Reginald?”
“Close the door , ” he shrieked.
She closed the door behind her and approached his bed.
Her dark, Welsh-coal hands fell against her white apron and black skirts. “Master Reginald, it is Addie here. ” She raised her arms to embrace him and started towards him again.
“No. ” He struck his foot to the frame beneath the covers of the bed.
She turned and opened the door. “I will get your father. He will see to this. ” She stared at him from the doorway, “full-rigged ” as Father said when talking with his chums.
Seth did not answer. She closed the door and left.
He pulled the scattered bedclothes around him, feeling himself and something else, something new and different recently come from him.
One of his mother’s nurses knocked on his door. “Are you well, Reginald?”
“Yes. quite well.”
The lie sickened him. Something was different today. The childish-fat still clinging to his chest and stomach and arms and face, something Addie rubbed to a fine glow yesterday to make him laugh, not to be touched today.
Not to be touched by Addie.
Father’s heavy steps came down the hall. The door opened and Father stood there, short and solid, balding without his wig but with his mustache perfumed and stiffened until it curled like some vizer’s sword upon his face.
“Get out, ” Seth shrieked.
Father lifted a rod he’d hidden behind him. “That so? Get out yourself, then. Get out of that bed I’ve given you and then get out of this house.”
Mother rushed up behind him and pulled the rod from his hand. “No, James. Please. You know the boy. It’s his fits. It’s not him at all.”
Father bloodied her nose and took the rod from her. “A fit, is it? We’ll see to that. Get out of bed, Reginald. Do you hear me? ” He lifted the rod over his head again. “Get out of that bed.”
Addie came back and stood behind Father. She rested a dark hand on Father’s arm and, upon seeing her, he put the rod down and stared at his wife.
“A fit is it he’s had? See to him, then.”
Addie curtsied to Mother and Father alike. “Yes, Master James. ” She closed the door behind her as they left. “You are well, Master Reginald?”
Seth tensed, hoping to stifle the quivering of his chin, to squeeze shut the watering of his eyes. He promised himself not one summer ago to no longer suffer Father’s rages.
It was no use. His own rage grew at each failed attempt.
Father was correct. He, Reginald Seth Van Gelder, was less than a worthless churl, some high-toby gloak, not fit to be seen by Father’s eyes.
His rage turned inward once again. What had he done? What warranted such rage between Father and son?
Is this the proper fit in every London house?
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