The issue of character motivation weaves deeply through chapter 3 of Floodtide. Why did Dominique reach out to Jeanne to help Roz? Why did Jeanne agree to see what she could do? (These were covered in last week's teaser blog.) Why did Jeanne approach Margerit? (“Who did she know who kept a large enough staff that there would always be a place for one more? And who could not possibly object to the reason for the girl’s fall? The answer was obvious.” Mother of Souls ch. 12) Why did Margerit agree to give her a try? (In truth, Jeanne guilted her into it.) These are all questions that fall outside the reader's knowledge in Floodtide.
Rozild doesn't know that Maisetra Sovitre had to be guilted into offering her a position. But her initial reaction considers an entirely different motivation:
* * *
The lady’s voice was soft and kind but my mind started running over all the things a thaumaturgist might need a girl like me for. They did real magic with the mystery guilds, not just charms like the old women in the market did, or like Celeste had used to fix my leg. Mostly thaumaturgists were men. Men didn’t do charm-work, at least, you didn’t want to go to the ones that did. I’d never met a thaumaturgist before. But you knew about them from stories—the sort you told at mid-winter.
I must have looked afraid because when I managed to say, “Yes, Maisetra,” she laughed a little. A pleasant laugh that made me feel a little easier.
* * *
And Maisetra Sovitre can turn on the charm when she's not distracted.
* * *
She had a nice smile—the sort that made you think she didn’t know there were bad people in the world. Certainly that she didn’t think you could be one of them.
* * *
But in every good cop/bad cop scenario, there needs to be a bad cop. What does Margerit Sovitre's housekeeper, Charsintek, think of the new prospect?
* * *
She looked stern and sour like housekeepers always did. I wondered if the work did that to them or if you had to be that way to get hired for the position.
“So. What can you do, girl?” she asked. No questions about why I was looking. That would come later, I thought.
“I was a laundry maid,” I recited. “And helped out downstairs. I can do mending and fancy sewing. I’d like to learn dressmaking,” I added. “That’s why I came to Mefro Dominique.”
She harumphed and began quizzing me on the work, asking me how I’d deal with this stain or that kind of tear in a dress. I showed her the place on the sleeve of my chemise where I’d mended it so tiny you couldn’t even see it had been torn, except that the thread was a little darker.
I kept waiting for her to ask, Why were you let go? What did you do? Let me see your references. She never did, so I knew Mefro Dominique must have told them about all that. But then why would they consider me at all? A woman who dressed like Maisetra Sovitre could have her pick of maids. The housekeeper gave another harumph and left me standing there while she went out into the front of the shop.
* * *
For that matter, what does Charintek think of her employer's personal life in general? Charsintek was part of the Old Baron's staff. She watched Barbara grow up. Once things had sorted themselves out in Daughter of Mystery I suspect she was happy to integrate the almost motherly affection she'd always felt for Barbara with the respect she owed her new employer. As for their personal lives...
* * *
“I want you to be certain of one thing Rozild Pairmen,” she said softly, but I could tell from the way she used my whole name that there was nothing soft about what she was about to tell me. “Maisetra Sovitre has a kind heart. Nobody’s going to bother you about why you left your last place.”
I knew she didn’t mean at Mefro Dominique’s. I’d expected this warning since we first set out.
“But don’t you do anything, I mean anything to dirty the maisetra’s good name. If I hear you’ve been causing trouble in the household, you’re gone. Like that.” And she snapped her fingers in my face.
* * *
The essence of Charsintek's attitude is loyalty and protectiveness. Does she approve of same-sex relationships in general? No--or rather, the question is irrelevant. Margerit and Barbara's relationship isn't her business to approve or disapprove; but Roz's past is a potential source of discord and scandal. The two aren't the same at all. Charsintek is loyal to the family of Tiporsel House and that's what's important.
Roz isn't in that same place of loyalty yet--she doesn't know if she'll ever get there, but her brain has already recalibrated to her sudden good fortune...
* * *
The maisetra left in her little town-carriage—I’d already started thinking of Maisetra Sovitre as “the maisetra” —and Mefro Charsintek set a good pace from the shop up along the river [toward Tiporsel House].