Thursday, March 30, 2006

TMT Excerpt

From THE MURDERESS'S TALE, Copyright Susan Adrian, 2007

[name replaced with "X" and a couple lines changed to prevent spoilers {g}]

I did not wake until sometime in the late evening. A fine wax candle burned beside my pallet, the flame straight and true, casting its own shadow on the wall. I turned my head towards the door, where Papa sat on a stool, with Emma cuddled in his lap. He was singing softly to her, his voice hushed.

My love is far in londe—
Alas, why is she so?
And I am so sore bound
I may not come her to.
She hath mine heart in hold
Wherever she ride or go—
With true love a thousand fold.

My eyes burned. He had sung that, oft, when I was small. I had not listened to the words then, nor thought that with the song he might have been mourning my mother, lost to him forever. Now it was Eva who was far away, where he could not go.

I sniffed, and he turned to me, smiling.

"How is my Katy-girl?"

I sat up and rubbed at my face. "Well, Papa. How fares X?"

He smiled wide, his eyes crinkling at the corners. "Near-well himself, it seems. He woke, and asked after you."

I grinned like a fool. "Did he?"

I tugged the thread from the end of my plait and ran my fingers through, combing out the tangles. For a moment I wished I had a gossamer veil—but that just reminded me of Thomas and Godwina. I pushed the thought away. I had managed at least to sew the worst of the tears in my dress, and wore a piece of white cloth pinned to my hair when I went out of the gatehouse.

"Nay, you cannot go to him now," said Papa. Emma cried out, and he scooped her up and held her over his shoulder, patting her back. His hand looked huge against her little body. "Clear orders from Brother Wilhelm. Not until the morn."

"Oh." I sighed, then started to plait my hair again. "Still, he is better. Can you believe it, Papa? He will be well!"

Emma burped, and he smiled, and kissed her ear. "I can. Do you love him then, Katy?"

My hands stopped midair, three strands of hair entwined in my fingers. I caught his steady gaze, and swallowed. "I do, Papa."

He nodded, once. "Well enough. He is a good man. You could not do better were you to marry a—" He bit at his beard, and the blood rushed into his face to match mine.

"A Duke?" I continued plaiting, looking over his head to the wall. "Nay, I could not."

"I was going to say 'king'," he answered, low and fierce. "Whoresons, the lot of them."

"Aye. The lot of them, save you and X."

His eyebrows rose. "Nobility, I meant."

"I know." I tied off the plait. "And I meant men."

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Renée said...

Wow, Susan! You write so well. And you've sure piqued my curiosity! I'd love to read more. :o)

Susan Adrian said...

Thanks, Renee! I've always loved this bit. :) I plan to change the excerpt somewhat regularly now, but I'll mark it when I do.