Guinevere

Guinevere by Sharan Newman Read Free Book Online

Book: Guinevere by Sharan Newman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sharan Newman
Tags: Historical Romance
winter chill. Even the mighty forest crackled as wanderers passed through. Guinevere longed to go there again but was not allowed. Something seemed to be pulling her back to the place where she had first seen the silver light, but Leodegrance and Guenlian had been frightened enough by her adventure and were firm in their refusal. So she roamed on the edge, sometimes with Geraldus, sometimes with the maids, but never alone. She saw nothing, but once she thought she heard a call, far away, from someone who wanted her desperately. She went running madly into the woods but was pulled back by her attendants.
    “I must go!” she screamed.
    They carried her home and put her to bed with mint tea and a guard at her door. Her mother rocked her like a baby. Her father told her stories of the saints. Flora recited arcane charms in old Brytannic. Nothing would calm her. Finally, they left her alone in her room. The moon shone whitely through the window, and a shadow, too swift to shape, ran past. Guinevere cried out and reached toward it. Then she slept. The next day she remembered nothing.
    To Guenlian, all these days were nothing but a blurry chaos of work and planning. Guinevere would be all right. These spells were only the result of her being too much alone or with Flora. Geraldus was good for her. Saint or not, he was always calm and sensible.
    “I haven’t time to worry,” Guenlian reminded herself. “The child is almost thirteen. Lord knows the odd things we imagine then. Leodegrance will see to her. Flora is getting old though, and I don’t like the way she’s been looking at Guinevere lately. She mustn’t carry these pagan notions of hers too far. The girl is mine, not hers! Well, Merlin will be here soon, Dear friend! He can explain it all. But I mustn’t act as if I think he’s truly a seer. He must have some place he can go and not be greeted at arm’s length. He’s still my cousin. What a time of year for guests! I hope they’ll be content with mutton. We’ll tell them it’s very late spring lamb.”
    She bustled about, determined to keep her mind from the things she feared and longed for most.
    It was late in July. Guinevere and Geraldus were bathing their feet in the creek. Only the woman with the black hair was along and, for a change, no one was singing. Guinevere lay on the bank, her toes dangling happily in the muddy water, her cheek pressed against the earth.
    “Do you hear something?” she asked Geraldus lazily.
    Geraldus began to laugh uncontrollably. “Do you know?” he gasped. “That is the first time in years someone has asked me that and meant anything but those damned voices!”
    Someone pinched him and he batted the air to stop it.
    “No, really!” Guinevere insisted. “I hear horses coming. Galloping! Hurry! They are very near! Look!”
    She screamed hysterically in his ear as the horses came around the bend and raced toward her, right through the stream. In a moment, Guinevere was lifted, jerked up into the arms of her brother Mark. They were home! So that’s who Merlin’s guests were! Home again! She clung to Mark, weeping for joy. Through her tears, she saw Geraldus’ beaming face.
    “He knew all along!” she thought. “Someone should have told Mother.”
     
     

 
     
    Chapter Three
     
    Guinevere’s shriek echoed all the way up the hill and into the compound, where Guenlian was checking to see that the linen was being properly aired. Her sigh was half fear and half annoyance. Now what had the child done? Then the cheering began from the guards at the gate and she heard the clatter of horses in the courtyard. She dropped the towels and ran to the front court. Sunlight bouncing off the polished armor nearly blinded her. They were home! Her beautiful sons, all of them together. All safe. She stretched out her arms to them joyfully.
    She found herself checking them over, much as she had at their birth: hands, feet, arms and legs all accounted for. Her last worry

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