The Princess and the Huntsman

The Princess and the Huntsman by Patricia Green Read Free Book Online

Book: The Princess and the Huntsman by Patricia Green Read Free Book Online
Authors: Patricia Green
well… dirty. Would you do me the favor—no, the honor—of wearing one of my shirts as you sleep? I would not like to have my bed sullied if it could be avoided.”
    Although it rankled, Brandywyn could not help but agree about her sorry state. “Where may I wash?”
    “At the stream outside. You will be safe there.” He put the pheasants on the table and went to a peg near the bed, drawing a patched but clean shirt down. “Here. You are most welcome to change into it. I am afraid I have no proper garments for a princess to wear.”
    Of course he would not. “Aye.” She reached out and took the soft garment from him, enjoying his answering smile. “Gramercy.” A long moment passed as their fingers touched around the neck of the shirt. Curiously, Brandywyn trembled. It was a natural reaction, she told herself, to the danger she had so recently escaped and the relief she felt at being in a safer place where she was being treated appropriately. Her eyes met Tom’s very blue gaze, and once again he smiled. Brandywyn nearly gasped. He was so handsome, so virile, so kind. She drew her hand away and took a hesitant step back, shaking her head to clear it. ‘Twould not do to fall into his gaze. She was still alone in the world and had to focus on getting back home.
    Hurrying away from him, she headed out to the stream where she removed the rags and washed herself as best she could. Her bottom still hurt, but ‘twas getting better. And without the twigs and dirt, her hair was clean enough to finger-comb and plait. As she washed her face, the scratches there smarted a bit, but they were not so bad as to leave any lasting marks. All in all, she was lucky. Now, if she could get Tom Huntsman to show her the way, she would be back home in no time.
    Brandywyn took a few moments to try to wash the rags she had been wearing. It was hopeless to try to remove the food stains, but much of the dirt came away. She laid the sorry garments out on a rock to dry and donned Tom’s shirt. It was much too big for her, the sleeves falling far over her hands and the hem swinging at her calves, but ‘twas clean and fresh-smelling and so much more gentle on her skin than what the kidnappers had forced her to wear. She rolled up the sleeves and made her way back into the cottage.
    Appetizing aromas wafted from the hearth as the pheasants cooked in a clay pot with something that smelled like onions. Brandywyn felt a bit faint and leaned on the table weakly. Tom moved quickly away from the hearth, catching her before she fell.
    “There now, Princess. Do we take you to the bed where you might rest awhile. Your supper will be done in a short time. Pray nap while you wait.”
    Leaning heavily on Tom, Brandywyn nodded her head and allowed herself to be tucked into the rough bed and covered with blankets. The straw-filled mattress could not have felt better if it was a featherbed. Brandywyn drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
    “Princess… Princess…”
    “Not now, Tarntra,” Brandywyn muttered, still trying to sleep. “Wake me again in an hour.”
    There was a merry laugh, and it didn’t belong to Tarntra. Brandywyn awoke fully, finding Tom standing nearby, a smile on his face. “Ah, the beauty awakens.” He gestured toward the table. “Your supper awaits.”
    “Oh!” She sat up, her nose twitching at the delicious smell of the hearty food. She felt much refreshed, but famished.
    Tom offered his arm and led her to the table. When he sat down across from her, she frowned. One did not sit at table with a princess unless one was of high station. “Have you no manners?”
    “I cry your pardon?” he asked, that smile lingering.
    “I am a princess,” she reminded him. “‘Tis not appropriate for a commoner to sup with me.”
    “Oh!” He stood. “Of course.” He picked up his bowl, but paused. “I do not suppose you might make an exception this one time. I have had a vigorous day and would eat at my own table.”
    Brandywyn considered

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