The servant girl kept her head hidden within the alcove as the master of
the house rushed past her and continued up the stairs. She hadn't seen
the duke run like that for quite some time. She heard the forced breaths,
smelled his scent (a mixture of Man's sweat and upper class cologne), she
felt the stones of the castle quake under his mighty steps. When he was
gone she too rushed, towards an upper room.
The manservant peered through the slightly open door. He first heard the steps, then he saw the form of the duke running towards the daughter's quarters. The sound of the door closing did nothing to allay his anxiety – there had been rumors all day and all night. Some of the attendants had said that the Lady Rowena had brought back a strange lover; others had said that the duke's son had come back from the dead; a few even whispered that what attended the Lady was a thing of red death. The look that the manservant had spied upon the duke's face told him nothing of the truth.
Only when the three servants were huddled within the sewing room, across from the Lady's sleeping chamber, did they begin to speak. "It's trouble I tell ye," said Chloe. "Our Lady has done it this time, why I believe she's brought back a demon!"
"Claptrap!" said Edgar a bit too loudly. "I've worked under the Mistress Rowena too many seasons to believe that. No, but she might be under some sort of spell or other."
"Nothing of the sort," said the third member of this gossip's circle. Enrico raised his hand to calm his friends. "I was privy to the Great Hall. I brought in the ale for the Duke and the others. I heard the whispers, I saw the looks. It's a spy."
Chloe and Edgar gasped at the thought of it. "That's...that's impossible!" "Our Mistress would'na do such a thing!" "Not of her own will, that's true." "Oh, woe is this world, a spy in the fortress, a spider in the crib!" "They'll surely kill him." "After they take the truth from out of him." "Can the truth be plied from the mouth of a liar?" "The Whitecloaks will do it." "White cloaks and white fingers, nothing but black magic I say!" "Shhhh! They'll hear you!" "Bugger off, I say! The world will be a brighter place the minute the magicians are done with." "Shhh! I don't want to wake up some day as a roach...or worse!" And so it went on for quite some time. The tongue is a most tireless organ, and word of mouth seems always to spread like wildfire.
Meanwhile, within the chamberroom of the Lady Rowena D'Honaire, a father had words to speak to his anxious daughter and to his wife whose face was marred by tired and tear-drenched eyes. "It is Fred...he's ALIVE!!!"
3/16/2001 6:45:59 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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