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| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| June 7, 2016 Views: 95|
Chapter 4 of the book The Search
Lady Lara is sent home
"Return to Devonshire Castle"
by Catherin Elizabet Belle
As I sit in the chamber gazing into the roaring fire in the hearth, I wonder how Lord William feels about his daughter's absence. His eyes flashed with fire, but no other change of expression, with the bit of information known about her disappearance.
The sound of Lara's return breaks my revere as she says, "Lord Jonathan, tell me how you came to have my Lady's ring."
Leaning toward her I begin, "Lara, she said she wandered too far and fell asleep. When she awoke, she could not make it back before daybreak; and explored further into the forest. The deeper she traveled the denser the undergrowth became. She fought her way crawling along the ground at last pushing through to a small clearing with a rustic cabin where she took refuge. At dusk she made her way back through the tunnel of brush where she had entered the clearing, but soon became even more lost. Turning around, she retraced her journey to the cabin. That's where I found her." Pausing when Lara gasps in shock at her lady's trial touching her hand in comfort I continue, "She refused to return to the Castle Black Shadow."
Fear in her face she asks, "Oh, Lord Jonathan, Will they find her there?"
The smile crossing my face distresses Lara. As my smile changes to a smirk I reply, "They might if she were there but since she is not, no danger of her discovery exists."
An audible sigh escapes the lady as Lord Darwin enters the great room demanding, "Where is Lord William?"
Lara answers, "Sire, He wished to retire, I showed him to the guest room at the end of the hall across from your chamber."
In a gruff voice he says, "You may retire, I have no need of your presence."
Bowing her way out she turns without a word ascends the staircase.
Standing in front of the huge fireplace warming his hand he says under his breath, "Where could she have disappeared?"
Knowing what he said but unwilling to admit I heard I ask, "You said something, Sire?"
Turning from the hearth he replies, "No, no, Jonathan. Will you be ready to ride at dawn?"
Rising from the chair I reply, "If that is your wish, Sire." As I prepare to go to the chambers assigned he continues.
"Jonathan I shall ask the Lady Lara to accompany Sir William to Devon Shire Castle on the morrow. Would you do me the honor of escorting them?"
Perfect! I make a show of giving it consideration then reply, "If the Lady wishes to return to Devon Shire, it would be my pleasure to escort the Lady. Will not Lord William join the search?"
Irritated he responds, "Yes! Yes, that is true." Hesitating but a second, "Tis still my wish that the Lady Lara return to Devon Shire. Plan to leave after my army has departed."
"Your wish is my command. With your permission I will retire." He nods and I take my leave.
The ebony night turns to gray as the sun rises in the eastern sky. Standing at the window I watch as Gordon brings the Lord's stallion to the keep. My possibles are packed, strapping on my sword I descend the stairs.
As I enter the great room Lord Darwin steps through the door. "Jonathan, we'll be leaving soon, Gordon is bringing the carriage. Rake will drive the rig."
"When the Lady Lara is ready, we'll ride." He seems eager for us to be off and I wonder why. "Sire, when the Lady is safe at Devon Shire I'll check the border between our lands. I doubt she wandered so far. The undergrowth is thick and difficult to traverse."
He responds, "So be it." Turns and leaves. It is then when I hear the army ride out swords clanking and horse hoofs clopping on the cobblestone.
Lara appears on the landing above me as Jake comes in the door. She calls down, "Ted, please take my trunks to the carriage."
Ted is a small lad struggling to carry the heavy trunks. As I move to take the load from his shoulders, I hear a wee sigh of relief. "Come lad, don't lag." When Lara's things are all on the carriage, she saunters from the kitchen with a knapsack of food for the journey.
Rake appears from the stable taking the provisions from her stowing then he assists her into the carriage. "Lord Jonathan, will you ride in side?"
Mounting my steed I reply, "Nay, I will ride behind the carriage." Nodding to Rake he slaps leather and the horses leap in readiness. Whipping out the gate and across the moat he lays whip to their backs making haste. At the edge of the forest road he levels them out and sets a steady pace allowing us to arrive at Broadhurst mid-afternoon where stop to rest the horses.
"Lady Lara, would you care to refresh yourself, perhaps a cup of warm mead." Taking her hand I aid her from the carriage.
"Aye, Lord Jonathan that would be nice." She takes my proffered arm. "Rake, see to the team, then you and Ted join us."
Entering the Inn, "Innkeeper, warm mead for the Lady, perhaps cheese and bread; Ale for myself."
"Aye, My Lord." Helping the lad down from the top, "Come, lad." Entering the stable he calls, "Stable boy, feed and water for the horses."
Seating ourselves at a table near the fire I ask, "Lara, do you ride?" Her answer may decide what happens when we arrive at Broadhurst.
"Her eyes show concern yet she smiles before she says, "Aye, Jonathan, I ride"
As the innkeeper's wench approaches with the small repast, I wait until she moves away then ask, "Do you wish to see Lady Lenore?"
A small gasp escapes as she claps her hands with joy replies, "Aye, I do. Is it possible?"
Keeping my voice low I reply, "If you're up to a bit of secrecy and deceit, it might be." As we're alone I continue, "First is there a back way out of the castle where you could leave unseen?"
"Yes, my lord."
"When we arrive at Blackhurst, you will retire to your chambers distraught over the disappearance of your ward with instructions not to be disturbed. I will leave with in an hour after our arrival to continue the search from this direction. Just before dawn you will leave with no one seeing you, a horse waiting at an appointed place. At the edge of the forest I will wait for you, we will journey to the Lady."
The door opens admitting Rake and the lad, "Here have cheese and bread; Innkeeper, a tankard of mead for my groomsman and milk for the lad."
Tarrying for two hours to give the horses a rest I glance at Lara who nods in answer to my unasked question. I say "Rake, Lady Lara is eager to reach Devon Shire, we shall travel through the night."
"Aye my lord."
Leaving payment for the repast we leave the inn with Rake whipping the horses to a steady gallop. Riding beside the coach we should reach Waverly Tavern by dawn. We meet few Travelers. The sun is just breaking the horizon as we near the Tavern. Slowing the carriage Rake approaches with caution.... Waverly Tavern's reputation is seedy known to be a hideout for rogues and scalawags. I hear Rake calling to the horses, "Whoa! Whoa there."
Stepping from the saddle, I open the door saying, "Lady Lara, Tis not a fit place for a lady. Please remain in the carriage while I purchase a change of horses to continue our journey. Banging on the tavern's door I rouse the keeper who opening the door screams at me, "Who goes there?"
"Lord Jonathan of Castle Fantasia, I have need of a fresh team of horses, now, man! Hurry to it!"
Opening the door full, he steps out in his night shirt brushing his hair from his face he says, "Yonder in the barn there's a fresh team in the back four stalls. Sire, will you require anything else this night"?
"Nay, David." Nodding to Rake, "Change out the team, we'll leave when you are ready."
Turning I say, "Good night, tavern keeper, nothing else will be required." I wait until he closes and secures the door, then go to the carriage and in a low voice, "My Lady we'll be leaving in a few moments. How are you fairing?"
She touches my hand as it rests on the window saying, "I'm fine Jonathan. I can endure most anything to see my Lady." Rake climbs up on the box with Ted beside him and calls down, "Lord Jonathan." Catching his eye, I nod and he lays whip to the team. By dusk we should arrive at Devon Shire Castle. As the sun climbs higher in the sky more travelers are on the road. The crest of Black Shadow Castle on the coach attracts attention with several inquiring about the Lady Lenore. The sun is overhead when I call to Rake to pull up in the stand of trees ahead to the left of the road. Pulling the team into the shade with grass for the horses to graze, he steps down taking the water container watering the team.
Opening the door of the carriage I ask, "Lady Lara would you like to stretch a bit. We need to rest the team."
"Aye, Jonathan that would be nice." Picking up her knapsack she says, "Let's have a repast of bread and cheese. There's mead for you and Rake, Sire." We join her in the shade enjoying the feast she prepares tarrying for two hours giving the horses a much-needed rest.
Looking to the sky I see clouds building to the east, "Rake, we'd best be going." Standing I offer Lady Lara my hand, "My Lady."
We have not traveled far when raindrops pelt the land settling the dust from the wheels of the carriage. We are still a few hours from Devon Shire. Lightning bolts shatter the peaceful sky as thunder roars across the heavens. Rake lays whip and the team bolts forward at a full gallop; soon he slows the team to a trot and continues to Devon Shire.
As we approach the castle, the guard on the parapet recognizes the crest on the carriage and orders the drawbridge lowered. Rake doesn't slow as he enters the castle walls until he pulls up in front of the main building. William's groomsman steps to aid Lady Lara in leaving the carriage. As her feet touch the ground she gives instructions, "Unload my luggage take them to my chambers."
Entering the building she is bombarded with questions, "Is Lady Lenore truly missing? What has happened to her?"
Holding up her hand she silences the ladies and the servants alike. Placing her hand over her heart she swoons before saying, "Yes, she is missing. No, we have had no word."
As I enter she continues, "Lord Jonathan of Castle Fantasia was my escort home; and will continue the search for my lady when he leaves here."
Calling to Anna she says, "Prepare a repast with warm mead for the Lord; and a knapsack of the best we can offer at once." Taking hold of the newel post she starts up the stairs her feet heavy with grief. At the landing she turns, "Connie I am not feeling well, this has all been too much; please see I am not disturbed."
"Yes me lady."
Anna moves toward the kitchen, "me Lord if ye'll be seated in the grand hall I'll bring your repast."
"Nay, Anna, I will join you in the kitchen." She nods her head and moves down a long hall filled with warm and aromatic odors associated with a kitchen.
Entering the door she says, "Laurie, the mistress has retired to her room. This is Lord Jonathan he will have cheese and bread; and a tankard of warm mead."
Smiling I say, "Laurie, I do not wish to be any trouble but I could use a bite then I shall continue the search for Lady Lenore."
"If ye be looking for the wee lass, you be no trouble. We do miss the lassie."
Seated at the kitchen table Anna and Laurie pile cheeses and breads for my repast; the warm mead taste good after being out in the rain.
Anna disappears in the recesses of the kitchen. When she returns, she has two knapsacks filled to the brim with food and such saying, "Lord Jonathan you will need nourishment if you are to find our Lady."
Rake and the groomsman enter from the outside door, "We have a fresh horse for you, Sire will you need a second mount?"
"Yes. Where's Ted?"
"Sire he is asleep in the hay loft."
"Rake, are you returning to Black Shadow?"
"Nay me Lord, I shall stay here until Lady Lenore is found. Then I am to take the lady Lara to Black Shadow to care for her."
Finishing my tankard of mead I stand, "I am grateful for the fresh horses." Taking the knapsacks of food I take my leave going to the stable where the horses are saddled and ready to ride. As I approach the gate, the guard lowers the drawbridge and saluting I cross the moat to solid ground.
The drawbridge may be a problem for Lady Lara to make her escape. When we made plans, she did not mention it. I will leave the horse at the stable in the small village as we discussed.
|The book continues with A Secret Journey. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.|
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