One Enchanted Evening

One Enchanted Evening by Lynn Kurland Read Free Book Online

Book: One Enchanted Evening by Lynn Kurland Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lynn Kurland
the keep were poorly maintained and, from what he could tell, poorly manned. It looked as if someone had once considered putting a moat about the entire place but had hoped just digging it under the drawbridge would be enough to deter those with mischief on their minds.
    The saints preserve him, ’twas a disaster.
    “Uncle Montgomery?”
    Montgomery looked to his left where his eldest nephew stood. Phillip was a sober lad and rarely spoke without having given his words great consideration.
    “Aye, lad?” Montgomery asked, elbowing Robin on his other side as he did so.
    “I fear there is much work lying before us.”
    Montgomery didn’t want to agree, but he had to. He was no simpering gel, to be sure, but there was a part of him that couldn’t help but admit that the sight before him was almost enough to make him want to sit down and rest. He suppressed the urge to shake his head in disbelief and instead turned to look at his nephew.
    “Fortunately, Phillip, you are just the lad to help me take on this worthy task—”
    “Are you daft?” Robin interrupted incredulously. “Do you actually think I’ll leave my son to squire with you now that I’ve seen this rat-infested hole you intend to call home? Never. Come along, Phillip. We’ll leave Montgomery to his, er . . .” He looked at Nicholas. “What shall we call it?”
    Nicholas shrugged. “Words fail me.”
    Jake elbowed both of them out of the way. “He’ll call it home soon enough. Besides, Robin, you don’t know if it’s rat infested.”
    “I have a sense about these things.” Robin rubbed his hands together briskly. “Well, lads, we’ve delivered the boy to his roost. Let’s make for Segrave. I’m sure Grandmère has something tasty on the fire.”
    “Father, Uncle Montgomery isn’t a boy,” Phillip said solemnly.
    Montgomery looked at his eldest brother coolly but said nothing. Robin’s favorite pastime, when not doting on his wife and children and decimating whatever garrison knights he could find to face him in the lists, was tormenting his younger brothers. Montgomery supposed he could be loitering on the far side of three score and Robin would still treat him as if he were a green lad of ten-and-two.
    “Oh, I don’t know about that,” Robin said, stroking his chin thoughtfully, as if he actually gave serious thought to the matter. “He looks like a boy to me.”
    “He’s taller than you are, Rob,” Nicholas said, apparently struggling not to laugh. “I’d tread carefully.”
    “But he’s weak in his limbs,” Robin said, reaching for his sword belt and unbuckling it. He poked Montgomery in the arm with his sheathed sword, hard enough that Montgomery would have flinched if he’d been made of less stern stuff. “That comes, I understand, from too much time spent at court, delighting the ladies with his rapier wit and lovely eyes. It certainly doesn’t do anything for the strength of arm or skill with a blade.”
    Nicholas laughed and walked away. Jake only lifted a shoulder in a half shrug and turned to follow him. Kendrick accepted his father’s sword with wide eyes and a slackened jaw.
    “I’ll take your sword, Uncle,” Phillip said, with only the slightest quaver in his voice. “You won’t need it. Will you?”
    “I wouldn’t want to do any more damage to your sire than my fists will accomplish,” Montgomery said, handing his sword to his would-be squire. He managed it in the heartbeat before that squire’s father launched himself forward to prove his doubters wrong.
    It had been, he decided as he landed flat on his back and lost his wind, too long since he had engaged his brother in a friendly contest of strength. Robin might have been rumored to have gone to fat, but he had certainly not gone to seed, and he was nothing if not wily. And strong. And full of insults that would have earned him a brisk slap to the back of his head had their grandmother been anywhere within earshot.
    “Don’t wear yourself out,

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