Roland paid the gypsy woman before Margueritte could speak, but the woman’s practiced eye caught her reluctance.
“Little unbeliever?” The woman spoke better Frankish than Breton. “Do not be afraid. Though the world is far greater than you could ever imagine, full of sprites and demons of all shapes and sizes, you need not fear them. They will not touch you here.” The suggestive speech had been designed to stir up anticipation and a little fright, even as the woman said, do not be afraid. Margueritte did not get taken. Besides, she had friends in all shapes and sizes, so she heard nothing new in what the woman said.
“Lord.” She took Roland’s hand and he looked to Margueritte with a most silly look. “You have a strong hand. I see you have already known battle, but many more will follow after the first. You will be well renowned and well respected and win great honor and praise for your deeds. Great courage I see, and even kings will seek your counsel. Such is a future to be desired.”
Margueritte took a breath. The woman told him what she undoubtedly thought he wanted to hear. Perhaps she was safe. Perhaps the woman was merely a fake. Good grief, Margueritte thought. The woman could have said that much just by looking at his clothes.
“Five children. No. Only four will live, but they will follow you in honor, especially your two sons. Great are the days ahead for you, and this, then is your young Lady?”
And why should a fortune teller have to ask such a thing? Margueritte wondered. The woman reached for her hand, but Marguerite still felt reluctant. “Go ahead,” Roland said, quietly, so as not to break the spell.
At last Margueritte put her hand out. The woman looked and turned the hand over and back again. She reached for Margueritte’s other hand and stood, knocked over the stool she sat on, her eyes wide and her look far away. “It is the one,” she said. “It is,” and she spoke for a minute in a language neither Roland, Margueritte, nor Thomas had ever heard, and then she leaned in close and breathed garlic and onions in Margueritte’s face. “The curse,” she said in her breath. “The curse!” She screamed and hurried out the back of the tent.
Margueritte felt in shock and near tears, not knowing why. Roland picked her up by the arm and with Thomas they left that area.
“What could have come over that woman?” Roland wondered out loud.
“I can’t imagine. I’ve never seen the like,” Thomas said.
“And she was doing such a marvelous job of telling us just what we wanted to hear.” Roland said. Margueritte looked up and felt glad he had not been taken in.
“Just what I was thinking,” she sniffed, and took out her handkerchief to wipe her nose and dab her eyes.
“Strange, that,” Thomas said. “But I would not worry about what a gypsy says. They are a strange breed altogether.”
“Breedies.” Margueritte remembered what Goldenrod had called them, and they went back to the inn where Thomas left them to attend to the king’s table.
Margueritte did not sleep well that night. She never did just before that time of the month. She felt glad that the morning would be filled with races, and the afternoon filled with games. Likely, she would see little of Roland until that evening. She felt excited about that, because for the first time she would be attending the king’s feast instead of waiting in the cold and dark inn for the fire to return. With that thought she slept a little. She still got up in the morning before most.
Lord Bartholomew won the race that year, and handily. Margueritte did her best to congratulate her father, but he said it was a hollow victory since there was no Gray Ghost to beat. In the afternoon there were indeed games, and she was thrilled to see Roland do so well at so many things. Normally, she would have been at the fair with Elsbeth and Maven, but this year she decided it would be best if she simple sat quietly. She would have done so, cheering on her quarterback, as she thought of him, and lamenting the fact that she was not more the beautiful cheerleader type, except for two interruptions.
The first came in the form of fat Brian, the village chief who sat beside her on the bench and looked over the field where they were pitching stones and trees. She just started wondering if Roland might think the Breton went in for some strange sports when the chief spoke.
“Have you seen Curdwallah?” he asked. It seemed a very strange question.
“No,” Margueritte said.
“Neither have I,” Brian responded. “But you can be sure she is around.” He got silent for a moment, watched the games and pretended that he was not talking to anyone at all. Margueritte’s curiosity finally got the better of her.
“Why do you ask?”
“Why do you say they are under her power like that?” Margueritte asked.
“Because they do not seem themselves. Because they are mouthing words I have heard her speak. Because that woman is a witch in the worst possible terms,” he said. Another moment came of watching before Margueritte spoke again.
“So why are you telling me this?”
Brian looked at her for the first time, but only briefly. He looked away again before he spoke. “Because I know you have some connection with the powers in this world, yourself.” He put his hand up quickly to stop her mouth and then pretended to wipe his chin. “I have my sources. I know there are spirits hanging around your home and I know they answer to you. I have seen things through the touch of your own hand, in case you have forgotten.”
Margueritte looked down at her lap and worried her hands.
Margueritte gets Backed into a Corner. Don’t Miss It. Until then, Happy Reading.