When the days turned cold and the winter came on, Margueritte found herself inside by necessity. She took to writing to Roland and told him about her days and the farm, and all the people and activities around the manor. She strictly avoided the love talk she desperately wanted to share. Some days she did not write for fear that she had to be boring him to tears with all her farm talk. Some days she wrote twice, but it hardly mattered. The rider from the capitol only came once a month, so Roland always got a neat packet of letters all bundled together.
In return, Roland wrote one letter every month, and addressed it to the whole family. It sounded very strained and formal, Margueritte thought, and all too full of military progress in Belgium or against the Saxons or Burgundians. Roland’s praise for Charles seemed unending, but that was not what Margueritte wanted to hear. Even the notes by Tomberlain which got scribbled at the bottom failed to cheer her up. Her mother always had an encouraging word. “He is thinking of you. He only writes to us because of you,” she would say, but that was not what Margueritte wanted to hear.
“And Latin every Wednesday.” Margueritte would respond, and then proceed to mope for the next few days. She began to take the dogs and visit with the shepherds, and sometimes she and the dogs would take the sheep, just like old times, and give the shepherds a day off; not that her father did not have plenty of other tasks for them to do. Love was a hard thing, she decided; especially when it did not appear to be reciprocated.
At the end of April, Marta gave birth to a baby boy, and everyone celebrated. Then they discovered that Jennifer was pregnant, and everyone got excited and celebrated again. Margueritte did not feel much like celebrating, though she tried hard not to put a damper on everyone else’s joy.
With the spring, Owien found his work as a squire kept him exceptionally busy. That gave Elsbeth a great deal of free time; but then it seemed that Elsbeth and Goldenrod had become very close in Margueritte’s absence. Margueritte often continued to absent herself from their company, feeling something like a third wheel, and she would go off and talk to the dogs, and sometimes to the sheep, and sometimes she would cry, but just a little.
“And the rider from Paris should be here any day now,” Margueritte told her puppy one day. She patted his head and he looked up at her with big eyes and panting tongue. Actually, the rider from Paris arrived in the triangle at that very moment, and he carried a letter addressed to her. Roland had agonized for months over what he wanted to say to her, struggled to find just the right words; but then, Margueritte did not get to read that letter, because even as she spoke, her puppy got up and began to growl and bark.
Several horsemen rushed out from the woods. Margueritte recognized Rowan and assumed Morgan came with him, and she recognized Canto, the druid of Vergenville, but she was not sure of the rest, and she hardly had time for close inspection.
“Hey! Stay away from the sheep! Watch out! Ow, puppy!” She said “Ow,” and called for her puppy because someone dropped a net on her and it tangled her hair and she almost twisted her ankle. The puppy, however, got tangled in its’ own net.
“What are you doing?” she yelled.
“Get her out of there and tie her up,” Canto ordered.
“My father will hear about this,” Margueritte threatened. “You can’t do this.”
They yanked her arms behind her back and tied her tight. She started to scream for help, but as she did, she found a gag put around her mouth, so it came out, “He-umph!”
“Pick her up, but carefully. We don’t want her damaged,” Canto ordered. Roan and Morgan reached for her, but she managed to kick Roan where he would feel it for days to come. Morgan winced.
“I had an uncle who got kicked like that once,” he said.
Other men stepped up and tied her ankles, and then she got slung over the back of a horse, face down. She felt a sharp slap on her rump and would have felt humiliated by that if she was not so busy being angry. The thought, what did they think they were doing? Was followed swiftly by, how did they imagine they could get away with this? And then, who is behind this? But for the last, she would have to wait and find out.
The ride to Vergen was not pleasant. Bumping up and down like that with the blood rushing to her head made her pass out after a while. That turned out to be just as well, because she started cramping up terribly and hurt in every place they tied her, where the ropes rubbed with each bounce.
Once in town, she was not taken to the magistrate’s hall and to Chief Brian as she had guessed, but instead she got tossed into an empty storage room in a warehouse where they had an old army bedroll on some wilted straw, two rickety chairs and a small table. She got locked in. They untied her feet, but they left her hands tied behind her back and the gag securely across her mouth in case she got any ideas.
Margueritte could not cry; she could not scream, and she could not even look at where they cut her hair to untangle her from the net, so she just sat in the chair and fumed. It felt like they cut it almost up to her shoulder blade in that spot, and apart from that, her only other thought was how the room smelled like musty old rotten apples.
It may have been hours before she heard the latch on the door.
We shall see what the dragon has to say. Until then, Happy Reading