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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: June 3, 2016      Views: 92
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Catherin Elizabet Belle, also a pseudonym. She is retired. She enjoys living in Florida where there is plenty of sea, sun and sand.

Ms Belle enjoys her research and creating poetry, novels, and short stories.

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Chapter 2 of the book The Search
The Lady is lost.
"Cool Water" by Catherin Elizabet Belle
Lady Lenore wanders the forest in the dark of the night to find comfort.

The sleeping lady tired from her trek from the cabin and struggling to return hears not the clop of the horse's hoofs as a rider approaches through a hidden passage. His attire is that of a nobleman as he sits atop his steed, proud and regal, dressed in the finest velvets
He dismounts, and he ties his horse to the rail. He approaches the door, pushing it ajar as he peers into the interior. As his eyes adjust to the darkness, he spots a lad lying by the hearth. He notices the rough quality of dress of the intruder. What is he doing here in the forest and in my cabin?

As he enters the cabin, the stomp of his boots alarms the sleeping body of what he perceived to be a lad. As she scrambles to her feet, turning, fear written over her face as she holds the cloak tight around her, "Who are you?" with the authority of the Lady of the Manor.

With a slight grimace removing his gauntlets, he responds, "Tis I should do the asking." He moves his hat and continues, "You are in my cabin and uninvited; the question is why?"

As she straightens to her full height of five feet four inches, she demands, "Who are you?"

"I am Jonathan, The Earl of Fantasia, at your service." With that declaration, he moves to the fireplace and soon has a fire blazing on the hearth. "Now, who are you? What are you doing here? I will stand for no more delay, answer me."

Edging closer, I sit on the corner of the hearth and with a sigh, "I am Lady Lenore of Black Shadow Castle."

He gasps with this news, "Woman, do you know they are scouring the entire realm for you? How did you get here?"

I jump from the hearth ready to bolt, but where do I go? "Sire, I snuck out of the castle for a few hours of solitude and wandered further than usual till I became lost and stumbled upon this cabin. I tried to find my way back to the castle and found myself lost again. I drank from the pond and waited until dark. There, in exhaustion, I spent the night by a tree. More lost than ever, I pushed on til I found this cabin." With no more to say, she lowers her head, sitting back on the edge of the hearth as she waits for him to speak.

With a deep sigh he says, "Lady Lenore, I must return you to Black Shadow at once. Though I am not welcome at Black Shadow, I will return with you. Your Lord is frantic for your return."

"NO! NO! You must not, it means the dungeon." Falling to my knees on the rustic floor of the cabin, "I implore of you, Sire, just go away, say nothing of finding me."

He moves toward me and grabs my arms causing me to rise, "My Lady, what dost thou mean?"

With my hands over my face, a tear slides to my cheek. The knight places his arms on mine sitting in the chair by the hearth he kneels before me, "My lady, you must be in err, Lord Darwin searches as we speak."

Looking into his eyes, I haughtily toss my head before replying, "I'm sure that is what he tells his army; but my Lord of Fantasia, I assure you it's the dungeon or the convent, for he keeps me as a prisoner."

"Calm yourself, Lady Lenore, when was the last time you ate?" She says not a word, but only stares at the floor as tears run down her cheeks. He stands and walks to the door, "I have food on my horse, I will fetch it. We shall sup, then you will tell why you believe this to be your fate."

While Sir Jonathan is outdoors, I wipe my eyes and straighten my attire; parts are in shreds from crawling through the undergrowth in the forest; tattered breeches and leggings, hair shagging, and dirt smeared face, I am a sight.

With his knapsack in hand, he lays bread and cheese on the table and pours a tankard of mead, bows gallant and says, "Please, My Lady."

When I stay seated, he places cheese and bread on a cloth holding it for me to take. I nibble the cheese and bread. With a sip the mead warmth spreads through my body, riding the inner chill that haunts me since I became lost.

He takes a sip a sip of mead, "My Lady, please tell me why you do not wish to return to the Castle of your Lord."

As her shoulders droop, she begins, "The marriage was not of my choosing. But fostered on me by the Earl of Black Shadow who desires an heir and promised my guardian a tidy sum of gold and land for my hand in marriage."

"Why do you believe the dungeon, or the convent is your fate?"

With a blush of embarrassment, she replies, "I refuse his advances. I am guarded day and night."

He stands and walks to the window staring outward then turning he says, "My Lady, I will be blunt! Are you saying the marriage there was no marriage bed?"

With my head lowered, I whisper, "Yes."

He walks to the hearth laying a log on the embers, turns saying, "Yes, I can see the dilemma. He will not rest until he finds you."

I pace back and forth across the room, "Oh, yes, my Lord! That is why I must get away. I only walk after everyone has retired and my lady-in-waiting always helps me and watches for me. This time, I wandered further than usual and found myself here."

The lady is distraught, and I must help her. There are few who have knowledge of my private retreat. "My Lady, for now you can stay here, few know the location."

"NO! NO! I found it others will." With her head bowed, she says, "Your kind, Lord Jonathan. I have nothing, no clothes, no food; only the pond for water."

A shadow crosses his countenance as he asks, "Is there one whom you trust?" Waiting for her to answer, he moves to the door.

"Yes, Sire, one! My lady-in-waiting, Lara. She has been with me since I was a babe. But, my Lord, how will you get to her?"

For a time, Jonathan sits before the hearth then says, "Lady Lenore, I will go to Black Shadow Castle and offer my services in the search." He rises, "Come with me, My Lady, I have a secret place where you can hide until the search ends."

Hesitant, I allowed him to take my hand as he led me toward the waterfall.
As we approach a pile of rocks against the falls he stops, "Follow close behind me with your back against the rock wall."

He moves to slide under the waterfalls, I stop. He takes my hand to lead me behind the cascading water. I am a foot from the entrance when my foot slips. Quick of wit he catches me, before I fall in the pond drowning.

As he holds me in his arms a fiery sensation spreads throughout my body, I'm sure my face blushes a deep ruby.

As he stands there with this maid in his arms, he finds an unwillingness to release her. Her face radiant and rosy, he ponders dare I kiss this charming and beautiful lady belonging to Lord Darwin. Aware of the temper of the man, he removes my arms from around her and steps further into the cave where he lights a candle and motions for her to follow.

As we move further into the darkness, illuminated by the dim glow of a candle that Lord Jonathan carries, we enter a cavern. When he ignites two or three scones on the stone wall, I am shocked by the things I see. Bear skins on the floor, table, bed, fire pit and a large chest. "Sire, what is this? Whom does it belong?"

With a frown Lord Jonathan replies, "Tis mine, My Lady."

When he says no more, I am curious what he does not tell me. Yet, if I asked, I doubt I'd receive an answer. I still my curiosity. "Will I be safe here, my Lord?"

Shivering from the wetness of my clothes and the chill in the cave, I wrap my arms around myself. Lord Jonathan moves to a dark corner of the cave, returning with wood to start a fire. Soon the cave is warm, and my chill disappears.

"Lady Lenore, before I join the search, I will bring sustenance for you. Fear not, I shall return in two days." He lays his knapsack on the table saying, "Until then this will have to suffice." He doffs his hat, continues, "Until I return, my lady, stay inside the cave. Do not venture even to the falls."

I gaze at him for a moment then reply, "Yes my Lord, it shall be as you say."

The book continues with Aiding In the Search. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Edited 9.26.2020
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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