She had no idea what time of the day it was when she finally awoke the next day. She was still on the floor in front of the fireplace and the fire was gently and steadily burning. Roban was not lying next to her. Mairyn stretched and curled back under the fur. This was like heaven not having to jump up before the sun rose and get to work. No one was yelling for her to fetch something or clean something. After only a few minutes of lying there, she began to feel itchy and restless. She decided to get up and see if there was any news about last night’s intruder. She took the sheep fur and put in on the bed. She put the fur rug back to where it was last night before she had moved it. She looked for her dress on the top of the trunk but it wasn’t there and it wasn’t hanging on one of the pegs on the back of the door. Roban’s sleeping dress was hanging on one of the pegs. Mairyn wondered where Roban was and she also wondered what she would wear. Was she to stay in the room all day long? She certainly couldn’t walk around the hall in her night dress. She thought about it and figured it would be ok to look in the trunk. If this was going to be her room the trunk and what might be in it must be hers too. She walked over to the chest next to the table and lifted the lid. Inside she found light wool under dress and a dress made from a fabric dyed a dusty red color. She had never had dyed fabric. She took the clothes and laid them out on the top of the bed. The material of the dresses was so soft and light, she just spent some time touching the material. Roban came in while she was stroking the dresses. Roban smiled at her pleasure. She took Mairyn’s hand and led her to one of the stools and had her sit down. She picked up the fine bone comb that lay on the table, walked behind Mairyn and began combing out her hair. Roban was very gentle with the many tangles in Mairyn’s hair. Mairyn never had a chance to comb her hair out completely. Roban spent considerable time combing Mairyn’s hair but when she was done there wasn’t one tangle left and Mairyn’s hair was smooth. Roban then braided Mairyn’s blonde tresses into one long plait down her back, tying the end with the red ribbon that Petre had given Mairyn. Roban pointed Mairyn to the wash basin and a cloth lying next to it. She helped Mairyn off with her night dress. Roban saw the welts and bruises on Mairyn’s body and shook her head in sadness. As Mairyn started washing, Roban left with her nightdress. In a few minutes she was back with a bowl of some steaming liquid. She placed the bowl on the table and took the wash cloth from Mairyn. Mairyn could smell the aroma of lavender, rosemary and mint wafting from the bowl of warm water. Roban dipped the wash cloth in the fragrant water and began whipping Mairyn’s wounds. The scented water made her sores feel better and some of the open welt tingled a little as the dried blood was whipped away. When Roban had treated all of Mairyn’s wounds she took the bowl of water away. Mairyn slipped into the under dress while Roban was gone. When Roban came back she carried a platter with thick slices of bread slathered with butter and honey. Mairyn’s mouth began to water and her stomach grumbled. She went to eat some of the bread but Roban pulled her away and helped her into the over dress. Roban took a pair of soft slippers from the chest and handed them to Mairyn. She put the shoes on and Roban took her from the room and showed her where the private room was located. It wasn’t until that moment that Mairyn realized how badly she had needed to evacuate her bowels. She was relieved she knew where they were located now and that she had gone before she had eaten. Now she could enjoy her food more comfortably. Mairyn decided now was the best time to try to start communicating. When she came out of the private room, she took Roban’s hands to get her attention. Mairyn said “Thank you.” Then kissed Roban on the cheek and then she smiled. Roban smiled back and nodded her head. Roban pointed Mairyn back to the room and Roban went off to the kitchens. Mairyn moved the stools over near the fire. She put the table, now empty of the wash bowl that someone must have come to clean, between the stools with the bread platter on it. She added a few logs to the fire and sat down and waited for Roban. Roban arrived shortly with a pitcher of warm milk and two cups. The girls sat in front of the fire and enjoyed their breakfast. Now Mairyn was ready for the day.
She went out into the hall as Roban cleared away the dishes. Roban would not let Mairyn help. Mairyn looked around the hall to see who was around. The hall was fairly empty. She saw Maison talking to a girl who was sweeping herbs around the floor. He spoke quietly so she did not here what was being said. Another girl was removing dishes and cups from the tables while a third was wiping the tables with a cloth. Otherwise, the hall was empty.
Mairyn began walking around the room looking at the tapestries hanging on the walls. They were woven of thick wool in various shades of brown and rusty reds. Any other colors that might have been on them had after many years faded. One tapestry was in geometric swirls, while another looked like ropes knotted around in its design. A third seemed to have birds flying over the lake where fish jump out of the water and another showed a large bear. One of the tapestries was so old that parts of it were bare with holes. It showed a man and a woman wearing torques around their necks. The woman had a long chain around her neck with a large stone hanging from it. Mairyn stood a long while looking at this couple. They seemed alive to her in their shabby portrait.
There other bedroom doors were closed as Mairyn passed them. She walked over to the hall door and went outside. The sun shone bright, not quite at its peak in the sky. There were a couple of men in the courtyard sweeping up rushes. They smiled at Mairyn as she looked around. She walked around the yard looking for someone she might know, especially Petre. She walked around the hall to the back where the horses were kept. This was where all of today’s activity seemed to be. Several horses were being walked while others were being brushes down with boar bristle whisk brooms. Petre was in the corral with Wulfgard’s large black stallion. He seemed to have personal charge of the beast. It snorted and tossed its head. Petre looked up and saw Mairyn. He waved her over. She went and stood by the fence. Petre walked over leading the horse.
“This is Midnight,” said Petre while stroking the animal’s mane.
“He’s very big.” Mairyn stated the obvious. Then asked what was upper most in her mind. “Did you hear about someone coming in my room last night?”
“Yes,” said Petre, “They got me and Gideon out of bed and rousing Uncle Wulfgard. We could not find anyone out of place or anyone with a fresh scratch on their face. Do you have any idea who the person could have been?”
“No, I wasn’t even sure someone was there until Roban hit the person with her pillow. I thought I was dreaming. I think the intruder was a man because I got a sense of stubble and bulk, but I’m not positive.”
“We will keep our eyes open but from now on Briin will guard your door each night.”
She had to be satisfied with that for now but she would keep her eyes open too. She had no idea why someone would want to sneak into her room at night but she would not let them do it again without catching the person.
“I need something to occupy my time,” said Mairyn. “I can not watch everyone else work.”
Petre laughed. “Uncle Wulfgard is planning to talk to you after the mid-day meal. You can bring up any and all of your concerns with him then.”
“I need something useful to do. Perhaps I can help in the kitchen. I excellent at cleaning pots.”
“Uncle Wulfgard may take you up on your offer.”
Mairyn frowned at the possibility.
“In the meantime, why don’t you take this time to just look around? Go for a quiet walk and see what there is to see without having to rush back to do some work. I have to finish working and grooming Midnight. When I’m done, I’ll come find you and we’ll go to dinner together.”
“I think I’ll go sit by the lake and watch the fishing boats. That’s where you’ll find me.”
Mairyn walked down to the lake. The town was quiet at this time of day and this time of year. Most people were at their chores, which didn’t involve being out on the town and this was not a market town so merchants were not hawking the wares. She saw a few children playing with some sticks tossing them back and forth on themselves.
She got to the lake and sat on the bench that was placed there. The sunshine down brightly, causing lights to dance on the ripples washing on the lake. The fishing boats were out in the distance each holding two men using nets to catch the fish. They looked like dancers performing just for her. Birds swooped over the water flying low and skimming the surface then shooting back up into he air. Mairyn closed her eyes and listened to their calls as they flew over the water. A shadow passed over her. She opened her eyes to see that Gideon had joined her and sat beside her on the right. She could see he had a fresh scratch mark on the left side of his neck.
Gideon had a scratch right where the intruder would have a scratch. Mairyn stared out at the water wondering what she should do. She couldn’t imagine why Gideon would be in her room at night. But she was not getting a good feeling from him. First, there was the leer he gave her yesterday, then he was in her room last night and he didn’t tell anyone it was him. As a matter of fact he had done a good job of hiding it and pretending it was someone else. Now, here he was again sitting next to her when she was trying to have some quiet time. She stole a quick look out of the corner of her eye and found him staring at her openly. She shivered, despite the sun shining on her. Gideon placed his left hand on her thigh. Mairyn stiffened at his touch. He squeezed her thigh, grinning at her. She tried to remove his hand but he held on to her leg and actually laughed out loud.
“Your father will be unhappy when I tell him what you are doing.”
“My father would never believe you. I would just deny everything. Why would I be after you, when I am so in love with Lauryn?”
“I ask myself the same question. All I have to do to get your father to believe me is point out the scratch on the side of your neck. He will want to know what you were doing in my room last night and why you pretended it was some mysterious intruder.”
“This is just one of many scratches I received while clearing the cats from the barn. I get them all of the time.”
“Your father is not stupid. He won’t believe such a silly story.”
“But I am his son and you are just some no body orphan girl he’s taken in just to spite Madame Gertrude and get some extra dowry money out of her. As your guardian, your possessions are his possessions. And now you will have as much as Lauryn. He’s getting two cash cows for the price of one. And so am I. Twin sisters will be a special treat and you and I will get warmed up and close before your sister arrives.”
“We will not be doing anything together. Your father put a guard on my door at night so you won’t be getting in there any more.”
“There are other places besides your room for us to play.” Gideon stroked and squeezed Mairyn leg.
Mairyn grabbed his wrist and wrenched his hand from her leg. She was surprisingly strong. He rubbed his wrist to get rid of the sting. Mairyn jumped up from the bench and backed away from him.
“You stay away from me,” she said. “If you don’t leave me alone, I’ll tell Petre.”
“Ha. He’s in no better position than you. He’s worse off actually as he has no possessions at all.”
“Your father loves him.”
“I am his son.” Gideon stood up and began to follow Mairyn. She kept backing away from him.
“You won’t be able to keep away from me for long, you’ll see. And I’ll have some fun with the chase. But I won’t be denied forever. I’ll have you before your sister becomes my wife.”
“You will never touch me again.” Mairyn yelled in her desperation. She turned to run up the street and saw they had an audience. Lauryn was walking towards them. Petre was coming down the street to fetch her for the midday meal. She saw a couple of other people but it didn’t really register with her who they were. Lauryn looked at her with complete hatred and she looked at Gideon in puzzlement. Lauryn was so sure she had Gideon enthralled and here she was finding him with Mairyn, obviously in some heated emotional encounter. Petre looked at Mairyn with concern and he too looked at Gideon wondering what was going on. Petre could tell that Mairyn was very upset and he was trying to figure out why. Mairyn stood still looking from Petre to Lauryn. She felt like an animal caught in a trap. Gideon walked passed her and stroked her arm as he went to meet Lauryn. He took Lauryn’s hand and kissed it, playing the dutiful and love sick groom. She tried to pull away from him but he held her hand tight. She spoke to him urgently. A few angry words reached Mairyn’s ears, mostly her won name. Gideon smiled at Lauryn and spoke back to her in low tones and a soothing sing song sort of voice. He put his arm around her waist and turned her back to the Lindwurm, gently guiding her away from the lake and Mairyn and Petre.