It’s her third child, and her third girl. Since the Duchess has been continuously pregnant since marriage to her uncle (at 13), she must be 16.
pp. 36 – 37:
Now the midwife used her long sharp nail to cut a small membrane that still held the new infant’s tongue, so as to ensure that she wouldn’t stammer when she grew up; then, in accordance with tradition, a finger dripped in honey was thrust into the crying baby’s mouth to comfort her.
The last thing that Marianna saw before sinking into sleep were the calloused hands of the midwife holding the afterbirth towards the window to demonstrate that it was whole and that she had not torn it or left any fragments inside the mother’s belly.The Silent Duchess, by Dacia Maraini, translated from the Italian by Dick Kitto and Elspeth Spottiswood
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