Uncle Beneger drove the second wagon with Andrew. Arlie led the other horses to Corels Lofts in Shap and stabled them behind Brackenbyre. There they found a cobbie yard, hay, and water. The barns and sheds opened in the back to a field outside the farmstead walls. A stout gate opened from the street through an arch into the cobbie yard. The gate was barred to secure the things belonging to the guests in the house. It is where Margot’s wagon sat, though she was to sleep in the house.
Instead the Fawsetwood men would sleep in the wagon. Margot and I, the knights, Evan and Alain with their sweethearts would sleep in the house, as would my father the baron. Freya and Glenna planned to stay with their husbands in the yard, but by choice. If they wished to, they could sleep on the public room benches. Of course, Helwaise and Elena lived on the farm. Brackenbyre was their guest house rented out to travelers that added to the income from the croft holding.
At supper, all were present including Robin from Ravensworth and Alain’s mother. It was a merry gathering, with Alain and Evan playing a recorder and strings to tunes the company could sing. Arlie drummed as he had at Fawsetwood, and though there was no room to dance, we tapped our feet and clapped our hands as we sang. Now and again, we stopped to eat fragrant meat pies, mashed turnips, and roast mutton seasoned with leaks and mustard greens supplied by the farm. Evan poured his apricot beer freely for all to sample. He said it was the last half keg, but I knew he’d left half a keg behind at Heppeshaw. He made me laugh, the rogue. As desserts made of sweetened oat cakes dotted with nuts in the honey glaze and an egg and milk pudding with a bit of Margot’s precious nutmeg ground atop made the rounds, my beloved Callum stood to gain everyone’s attention.
He looked like the Sun God himself, blond hair flowing over his shoulders, tall and handsome as I pleased. He made my heart race. Finally, he had to shout over many voices and the clattering of trenchers to make us all settle down and hear what he had to say. Something so important that everyone at once should hear the news. I sniggered secretly, hoping it would please Alain and his parents there in the midst. If not, it would be a shock they would not have an answer for. I caught my father’s eye. He leaned back to watch with that characteristic wry grin we shared. Alain caught us and knew at once we were up to mischief. Callum spoke in Cumbric for the common folk to understand.
“I bring greetin’s from Sir William de Lancaster, me liege lord. He returned ta Tibbay this mornin’, which seems more than a week ago ta me, but before he went he informed me our former squire be now Sir Edmond o’ Wales. He be a good man an’ I wish him well.”
“Hear! Hear!” someone shouted and all raised their cups and drank to the health of Sir Edmond, whoever he was. He was known and recommended of Callum, which was enough for them.
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