“Captain, sorry to wake you. The Countess d’Argenton wishes a word.”
Captain Oliver Dundee raised his head from the crude table and blinked. He had been
sleeping; a precious luxury after Henry’s victory over the French earlier in the
day, a victory tempered with the news that Isabel, the woman waiting for him in Caen,
had succumbed to the plague. He rubbed two scarred knuckles against his red-rimmed
eyes and fixed the speaker with a weary look. “Very well Langton, send her in.”
The tall, lanky knight nodded and stepped aside, holding the heavy tent flap wide.
A woman stepped through, pausing just inside the entrance, her eyes searching the
dim, Spartan interior. They settled on the captain.
She is beautiful, Dundee thought. Thin, straight backed, face passive with reserved
dignity, long brown hair contained by a simple ribbon tumbling gracefully over one
shoulder. Oval face, strong chin, narrow nose, small mouth. Only her deep brown eyes,
moist with recent tears, betrayed any unease.
Dundee pointed to a chair opposite his and motioned her forward.
She hesitated briefly before accepting the offered seat. Tentatively she rested her
hands on the table, the fingers working nervously.
“You speak English?” he asked.
The fingers knotted together.
“Would you rather I parlez français?
She jerked her head no, removed her hands from the table and rubbed the palms against
her embroidered dress.
Dundee sighed. She was scared, and no doubt unsure of her fate. He reached across
the table for a jug of wine and two cups. The splash of the liquid was the only sound
to break the silence. He pushed one before her. “Drink. It will settle you.” He sat
back as she stared at the cup. He took a drink from his and set it down. He leaned
forward. “You have nothing to fear, Madame. You are under the protection of Sir Langton,
and Sir Langton answers to me.”
The countess nodded haltingly before taking the cup in both hands. She drank deep
and then nervously smiled her thanks. “I am told you are an honorable man. More honorable
than most of your kind, that is.” Her English was lightly accented. Dundee found
it pleasing to his ear.