Excerpt of Foundling by D M. Cornish
(Page 3 of 4)
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Verline fussed over him. Youll need a dose of birchet to set you to
mending. I will fetch some from Master Craumpalin right away! You lie still,
now. Ill return as soon as I can. With that, she swished away.
Master Craumpalin was the foundlingerys dispensurist. This meant that he
made most of the medicine and potives the marine society needed. From what
Rossamünd could gather, Master Craumpalin had once served in the navy, just as
Master Fransitart had done, though not always on the same vessels or for the
same states. The old dispensurist had seen half the known world, and cured the rashes and fevers of a great
many vinegaroonsas sailors were calledbut that was all anyone seemed to know
of him. He talked even less of his past than Master Fransitart did.
Nevertheless, he let Rossamünd sit with him for hours at a time while he dabbled
and brewed. Most of the time Craumpalin worked in silence and the boy would just
learn what he could by watching. Occasionally, however, the dispensurist became
talkative and would instruct him on the uses of potives, showing him how to pour
and blend and stir and store. One of the greatest thrills for Rossamünd was to
watch the wonderful and often violent reactions between ingredients as
Craumpalin mixed and matched them.
Red goes with green and makes purple, blue powdered in yellow makes
off-white with olive spots, black boiled in white makes vermilion with orange
vaporshow wonderful! These moments were so exciting, Rossamünd would hop
about and usually get under the dispensurists feet. At this Craumpalin would
yell, Pullets and cockrels, boy! Get out of me way before I spill this on ye
and melt ye to a puddle!
Rossamünd smiled woozily at the thought. Now he wanted to sleep but his
aching face would not let him. He stared dumbly at the ceiling, obscure with
shadows that seemed to creep and lurch. It had been a long time since he had
been in the dormitory on his ownhe had forgotten just how weirdly unnerving it
could be in here, alone.
Such glimpses of the oppressive dark naturally led his thinking to
GoslingGosling Corvinius Arbour of the Corvinius Arboursa powerful
family with ties to some of the most ancient bloodlines of Boschenberg and
Brandenbrass, far away to the south. He was notorious at Madam Operas for many
reasons, but the chief of these was the vigor with which he strove to make
everyones life a misery. He would cut the hair of sleeping girls, glue shut the
eyes of sleeping boys, put earwigs and dead things in unguarded shoes or
untenanted beds, blab any secret he might discover. Punishment, no matter how
severe, proved useless, for Gosling just did not care. He had been abandoned at
Madam Operas foundlingery by his family. It was said that his parents had given
him up so that they might afford to keep a pair of racehorses. Such a pathetic
tale of rejection had not stopped Gosling from declaring to everyone just how
important he really was, that he was not some ordinary fellow with only one
name, but that he had three: a first name, a forename and a family name!
This grim line of thinking led Rossamünd to brood over his own, single and
unfortunate name. He had spent his entire life beneath the high, peeling
ceilings of Madam Operas Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls.
He had arrived when he was little more than a wailing pink prune, left on the
doorstep with an old piece of hatbox lining pinned to his swaddling. Upon this
bit of card had been written one word, scratched awkwardly in charcoal:
With that word he was named. The fact was officially sealed with its entry
into the grand ledger that all foundlingeries possessed, and which gave all
foundlings the family name of Bookchild.
Excerpted from Monster Blood Tattoo. Copyright 2006 D.M. Cornish. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, Penguin Group. All rights reserved.