You can find the big long winded explanation for this story at the beginning of Part 1. :)
Remember, comments are important on this one.
It's About Family.... pt 3
an Hourglass story
Dusk began to settle over the encampment. Wood had been gathered and piled in the center area. As the hunters began to congregate in the central space, the barrels of drink were made available along with several haunches of meat. One of the men brought a lute and began to play, encouraging the gathered men to sing some fairly bawdy drinking songs. They were all slightly tipsy but hadn't gotten too far into the merriment when a loud squeal pierced the growing darkness.
Kris had been sitting on the small stoop of their assigned cabin checking over her bow for any signs of malfunction. She had been enjoying the rowdy songs when she heard the shrill squeal. “Oh crap.” She knew immediately what it was. She picked up a handful of the arrows beside her, gripped the bow tightly in one hand and ran toward the sound. She got within twenty feet before she saw Adi wrestling Morgan's hands away from a tiny boar piglet's back leg. Damn! “Adi... move!” Quickly dropping the excess arrows, Kris loaded her weapon and drew the arrow back. As Adi carried Morgan away from the frightened squealing animal, a louder grunting could be heard from the underbrush. Kris held her bow at the ready and waited, speaking quietly to Emma, who was right behind her, “I may need another arrow, pretty quick, Em.”
“You got it, Doc.” Emma scooped up the discarded arrows, holding one in her right hand and the rest in her left, ready to feed them to Kris as fast as she needed them.
The archer heard the revelers stop what they were doing and realized that all eyes were on her. She scoffed sarcastically to herself, That's right boys, stand there and watch, don't go get your bows or anything.... There was no more time to think about it as a huge boar sow burst out of the brush. The animal took one look at the threatening looking person with the bow and raising her head, charged.
Kris took aim and waited for a moment before letting the arrow fly, directly into the animal's eye, straight through to its brain. The boar dropped and slid to a stop at Kris' feet. She turned to her friend, “Sorry, Em.”
“I know.” Emma looked at the large dead animal, “but.... she had babies...” She looked for the one who had caused all the ruckus only to find him gone.
“They'll be fine.” Kris reassured Emma as she hugged the woman, sorry that she was the cause of such sadness. “Boars live in groups, there are probably two or three other sows out there, all with babies of their own. The ones that were here will be well taken care of. I promise.”
“Okay.” Emma saw the others moving closer now, each with a large knife in their hand. The butchering was about to begin. “I need to go.”
Kris nodded, “Yes, go. I'll be back to the cabin as soon as I can.” She watched as Emma practically ran back to their cabin. She bent down and pulled the arrow out of the animal's skull. She blinked as the first hunter got close enough to get a good look at the sow.
“Great mother of mercy... look'it the size of 'er.”
Another man arrived and whistled, “She'll be ten stone for sure.”
Someone yelled for 'the girl' to bring the wagon, and very soon Kris heard the distinctive clopping hooves and creaking of a wagon being pulled. It took five of them to load the boar into the wagon then they wheeled it over near the river. This was the place they obviously butchered all the kills. An A-frame structure had been erected near the water's edge to hang the carcass. They strung the sow up by the back feet and cut its head off to bleed it out, before the real butchering began.
Kris stood off to the side of the activity with her arms crossed across her chest. The process was well rehearsed and she didn't want to get in the way. Pressing her lips together she watched her kill being broken down and smirked as Jonathan moved up on her left side.
“It was a lucky shot.” His nostrils flared at the stench of the skinned animal. He watched as the men piled the meat on the scales and began to add the measuring stones to balance it.
“If you say so.” Kris grinned, interested in the butchering. She didn't often see large animals put through the process.
She ignored Jonathan, her vivid blue eyes remained focused on the operation, even when Andrew arrived to stand at her right side, “So you found a way to contribute after all.” He bumped her shoulder with his. “But how will you claim your reward if it turns out to be more than seven stone?”
Kris' mouth went dry, “What?” Does he really know about Rebecca's status as 'prize' for the most productive hunter? She had hoped that Andrew didn't condone the practice. His next statement released some of her tension but she felt Jonathan bristling next to her.
“The hunter who makes the biggest kill is the leader of the next hunt. You get private quarters and your choice of the meat when we get home. Jonathan is leader on this trip. On the last outing he took down a large deer.” Andrew smiled at the brunette, “Adi has informed me that you and Emma are travelers. To claim your right as hunt leader, you would have to stay for a while.”
“I see.” Kris tracked the girl as Rebecca bustled by carrying a bucket of the sharp bloodied knives to be washed, “I had heard there were other 'rewards' for bringing in the most meat.”
Andrews face darkened, “My father had allowed for another type of 'prize', but when he passed away I put a stop to that practice.” His eyes too tracked the young girl that had been brought along for the scut work. “She would be too young for that anyway.”
Kris sighed, “The practice has not been stopped, Andrew.” She hated to be the informant of this particular piece of information. “Rebecca herself told me earlier that she was to be the prize for the man who had contributed the most.... Jonathan's prize.”
Whirling to face the man, who had been standing quietly on the other side of Kris, Andrew spoke with low intensity, “How dare you...” His thoughts turned to his sister and how hurt she would be if she found out about Jonathan's activities but also to the youth of the girl in question. He ground his teeth together, “How long has this been going on?”
Jonathan admitted, “It never stopped.” He almost stomped his foot and accused the man berating him, “We've all done it, even you!”
“In my youth! When father was still alive and I was foolish enough to think I had the right...” Running his fingers through his hair, Andrew shook his head, and the women were never that young... “It stops here! Now!”
“No!” Jonathan countered, “You can stop it as of the next hunt, but this time you have to allow it. If there is no warning, nothing to let the men know that the rules have changed, you will have a lot of hard feelings on your hands. Issue a proclamation when you get back to the manor, but you have to let the tradition stand for now.”
Kris interrupted, “The...” she chewed out the distasteful word, “...tradition, is that the hunter who is most productive, gets the girl for the night... correct?” Kris watched as another stone was added to the scale.
“That's right.” Jonathan smirked and leered at Rebecca as she walked past them, going back toward the butchering activity.
“Then I agree,” Kris reached out grabbed Rebecca by the elbow and pulled the servant to her side. Wrapping her arm around the girl, Kris tilted her head to rest it on top of Rebecca's head, “Looks like you're mine tonight, Sweetheart.”
“What!” Jonathan turned quickly to see the men adding another stone to the counterweight. The pile configuration caused him to gasp, “Nine stones?”
Kris grinned, “That's right, Buddy. I beat you.” Her eyes twinkled, “Turns out, mine is bigger than yours.” A thought occurred to her and she turned to the girl next to her, “Where do you sleep?”
“I....” Rebecca gazed into the woman's kind blue eyes and felt her heartbeat increase, “I sleep in the kitchen wagon.”
“Mmm.. that won't do.” Kris glanced at the two men with her, the evil look in Jonathan's eyes and the confused, slightly amused, expression on Andrew's face. “My cabin only has one room, and I have a room-mate.”
Jonathan cut in. “Lord Bingham is the only one with a cabin that has more than one room.” He crossed his arms over his chest, waiting to see how this arrogant woman was going to keep the girl from him. Once Kris was asleep, he could have Rebecca all he wanted.
Andrew chuckled despite the severity of the situation, “Two bedrooms and a living area, for all the good it does us. Adi wants Morgan close, which means in the same room.”
“Perfect,” Kris grinned. “Rebecca is mine tonight to do with as I please, yes?”
“That is the tradition...” Andrew grimaced. “But I really don't see...”
“Then I give her to you, Andrew.”
“WHAT?!” Andrew lowered his voice, but the damage was done, all eyes were watching them now. “What do you mean 'give her to me'?”
Jonathan mumbled, “Stupid woman.” Even he knew that so long as the witch shared his bed Andrew wouldn't take another, even one as young and nubile as Rebecca.
“I mean,” Kris tightened her arm around Rebecca's shoulders, reassuringly, “I believe Rebecca here would be of great value to you, and Adi. If she were to sleep in the other room of your cabin, with Morgan....” Blue eyes twinkled as Andrew caught on.
“Nursemaid...” Lord Bingham beamed at the girl, “You can be a caretaker for my son....”
Rebecca's eyes widened, “I can't be...” She unconsciously raised her hands crossing her arms to cover her breasts...”
Andrew chuckled and waved off that concern, “Adi can take care of that aspect... but for all the others, you would help tremendously.” He chuckled and sighed in relief as the problem of the 'tradition' had been taken care of quite nicely.
Kris could tell that some of the men weren't really happy about it though, ones that had most likely 'won' in the past, and neither was Jonathan but Rebecca was safe, for tonight. While they had been talking, they had the rapt attention of most of the men, but some of them had been diligently cleaning up the area and taking the boar meat to the ice storage building.
Some of the hunters had already resumed the onerous task of emptying the barrels, one mug at a time while the lute player resumed the music.
“I suppose if we are done for the evening I can try to get some sleep.” She pushed Rebecca toward Andrew and nodded. “Good luck.”
His eyes twinkled, “You too.”
Emma took a deep breath and shifted slightly as she tried to pull herself out of her unusually deep sleep. The familiar form she was laying on shifted as well.
“Mmmm...” Emma kept her eyes closed. She knew that it wasn't exactly 'morning' yet. “Do we have to get up?”
“No, but I thought you might want to go get washed up in the river before the rest of the camp wakes up.” Kris wrapped her arms around the woman on top of her, reveling in the feel of skin against skin, and sighed, “But if you don't want to, that's fine with me.”
“You know I hate it when you do that.” Emma was perfectly content to stay right where she was. “You make a perfectly logical argument and then I'm the bad guy for wanting to do it.” The blonde sighed, she knew they needed to go bathe, and they needed to do it before most of the men woke up. She also wanted to stay right where she was.
“I would like to make sure everything went well with Rebecca last night too.” Kris braced herself for the onslaught and grunted as Emma slapped her side lightly.
“I still can't believe you didn't tell me what was going on.”
“I did tell you!” Kris protested, “I just didn't tell you until after it was over.” She grimaced at the memory of Emma's reaction to the 'tradition' and smiled at the memory of calming her down. “Will you braid my hair back again today?”
“Of course,” Emma sighed knowing it was time to be getting up, but first... “You know what the best part of having your hair in a braid during the day is?” She played with a bit of the silky dark hair under her.
“What's that?” Kris grinned up at her partner.
Emma found the brunette's ear and whispered, “Taking it down at night.”
Kris chuckled, “A definite plus.” Gliding her hands down Emma's thin form, Kris smacked her gently on the behind. “C'mon now... let's go get wet.”
Smirking at that, Emma shifted, but didn't let Kris up, “I thought that's what we were doing?”
Rolling her eyes at that, Kris gently pushed Emma off of her, “C'mon...”
Emma laughed and dressed quickly for their trip to the river, Kris grabbed her bow and arrows as well, just to be on the safe side. If they'd been alone, they wouldn't have bothered dressing because they were just going to take them off and wash them anyway. As it turned out they were glad they did. Walking through the camp, even though it was pre-dawn, they realized there were a lot of people up; bleary-eyed, and hung-over, but awake. With so much to do before the group started the journey home, there was a lot of activity going on in camp. They weren't surprised to find Adi, Rebecca and Morgan already in the river, it was the best place to stay out of the way.
“And a good morning to you.” Adi smiled as her friends washed out their clothing and joined them in the water.
Kris dunked her head under and quickly scrubbed her hair before she looked at Rebecca. The girl's head just visible above the water's surface as Morgan grabbed at her nose and ears, “And how was your night, fair Rebecca?”
Blushing a little at the chivalrous phrasing, the girl giggled, leaning her forehead into the baby's temple, “I spent it with a man I truly adore.”
Kris' eyes widened then she tipped her head back and laughed, “Of course you did,” She turned to attention to the baby. Emma had also finished washing and was now appropriating Morgan from Rebecca's arms, “and how is Morgan this morning, ready to make more trouble?”
Adi rolled her eyes, “Of course.” She sighed, “The things this boy gets into, really...” Deep brown eyes met Kris' blue gaze, “Thank you, for being there last night, ready to defend him.”
“I do what I can.” Kris met Emma's eyes, “I am sorry I had to kill the sow, but I'm glad things worked out... for everyone.”
Emma nodded and grinned at the Rebecca, “Kris told me about winning you last night.”
“She just got lucky!” Jonathan scoffed as he walked near the water's edge, “Maybe she used witchcraft.” He picked up the bow from the rocks near their clothes. “Maybe this odd looking bow is the key to her archery prowess...” He drew an arrow from the quiver at his back and loaded the weapon.
Kris' eyes widened, “No!... don't shoot!”
The man sneered, “I'm not going to shoot you.” He pointed to the target the men had set up for practice. It was a large cube of material stuffed with hay and grass,with concentric circles of alternating colors radiating from the center. “The boar's eye isn't much smaller than the center.”
“No!” Kris tried to stop him, “I'm telling you, do not shoot that arrow from my bow. You will get hurt.”
“You are scared I know your secret, an enchanted weapon...or is that supposed to be a curse?” Jonathan began to pull the string back.
“Jonathan, stop.” Kris sighed. Walking toward the man, she kept her eyes on him as she rose up out of the river, water sluicing down off her body unheeded. She walked over to him and pulled the bow out of his slack hands. “If you insist on shooting this bow, you have to use my arrows.” She discarded the arrow with the wooden shaft and reached into the quiver she always carried for a much sturdier arrow. She even went so far as to nock it for him before handing it back, “But you will retrieve my arrow when you miss.”
He let out one of his patented scoffing grunts and tried to draw the bow. It was hard and he turned red as he forced himself to pull harder. Aiming at the target, his arms trembled with the effort to hold the arrow at the ready then let the projectile fly; missing the target completely. He started to throw the weapon down on the rocks in frustration, but Kris stopped him.
“Uh uh... I don't think so.” She took the weapon from him, examining it. Emma moved up beside her, handing her still-damp clothes over.
“Is it okay, Doc?”
Kris nodded, taking the clothes and quickly dressing. She gave the weapon a quick check, “Yeah, it's fine.”
He remembered the shot she made last night, how she held the arrow at the ready for a long time before the boar had appeared. “No woman could use that weapon without witchcraft... it's too hard to draw.”
Shaking her head, Kris retrieved another arrow from her quiver and, with a smirk, easily pulled the string back to its full potential. “This bow is custom made for my measurements. You are shorter than I am, your arm span isn't long enough to fully draw....” She didn't explain to him how if he had been able to pull the arrow all the way back, the pulleys at the top and bottom of the curve would have taken ninety-nine percent of the tension off the string, allowing him to hold it for as long as necessary. She aimed at the target, the black dot at the center, and let the arrow fly. It buried itself three quarters of the way into the target, dead center.
“The enchanted arrows then...” Jonathan wouldn't give up his witch theory.
“They aren't enchanted,” Kris ran her fingers through her hair, frustrated at his insistence on calling them witches. She also debated with herself as to how much to tell him regarding the arrows, “They are however specially made, the shafts are metal... if you had fired the wooden arrow, it would have shattered and you would have some painful injuries in your arm right now. This bow is too powerful for wooden arrows.”
“What is going on here?” Andrew walked toward the little group with some speed.
“I was just gathering proof that this coven is using witchcraft to worm their way into our lives.” Jonathan glared at the women, then at Kris, “Her weapon is enchanted, she couldn't have made the kill on the boar if it hadn't been.”
Andrew's forehead wrinkled, “Jonathan, she's a brilliant archer. Why do you have a problem with that?” He tilted his head, unable to resist teasing the man, “Because she's a woman?” He put his hand on Jonathan's shoulder and shook it gently, “Come, let's leave the women to do...whatever it is women do... we have things of our own to accomplish.”
With one more quick glare at the women and a lingering gaze on Rebecca, Jonathan complied, following Andrew back to the camp.
Emma watched the men walking away. She waited until they were out of earshot before she asked. “What is that guy's problem?” She didn't really expect a reply.
“He misses his old life.” Rebecca's eyes widened as they all turned to look at her, “Um... His family was nearly as powerful as Lord Bingham's, until his father began acting very strangely and was deemed, insane.” Rebecca's voice dropped to a whisper. “They say he was cursed...”
“So because they thought his father went crazy they lost everything?” Adi shook her head, thinking how strange people were. Blaming a son for his father's actions was the insanity as far as Adi was concerned but the idea of it was quite disturbing.
“They lost all their status and money.” Rebecca's voice turned dreamy, “But Lord Bingham married the former Lady Jane anyway....” the girl gasped as she realized who she was talking to, turning to Adi with wide eyes, “I'm sorry... it's just...”
The Amazon smiled softly, reassuring the girl. “I know Andrew loved his first wife very much. We have discussed it at length.” She admitted, “I didn't know about her family's loss of status though.”
Kris put together a few pieces of information and realized there was a puzzle to be solved. “It does explain a few things...” and raise a few more questions.... She shook her head to derail that train of thought. “Are we ready to go?”
Emma grinned, “Always ready, Doc.”
Rolling her eyes at that Kris walked over and retrieved the arrow she had buried in the target. She also jogged a farther down to reclaim the one Jonathan had shot so poorly.
Emma grinned as she watched her partner walking back toward them, twirling the arrows, muttering something under her breath. The blonde knew Kris was not happy at having to retrieve the arrow when she had specifically told Jonathan to do it.
They were walking back toward the camp when they met Andrew.
“I was just coming to let you know we were ready to leave,” The man wrapped his arm around Adi's shoulder.
“Great.” Kris smiled at the jovial man. “Let's go.”
They came to a rest for the midday meal. It was a small clearing carved out of the wooded area, just off the road, and it had obviously used in this manner before. There was a well established firepit and several log benches scattered around the area. Everyone was ready for a rest; they'd been walking since just after dawn. Kris understood the push to get back to the manor house wasn't just because of Andrew's eagerness for Adi, and Morgan, to see the house. The meat they had hunted needed to be put in storage as soon as possible, especially the fresh boar. The smoked selections weren't as urgent.
Kris settled on a fallen tree as she watched Morgan crawling around in the tall grass. “He's a happy baby.”
Adi and Andrew just nodded and watched their son exploring his new environment.
Emma sat down next to Kris, “You okay, Doc?” She knew her friend wasn't exactly one to wax nostalgic about happy babies.
“Mmmm....” Kris looked around the camp as the men milled around talking amongst themselves. She watched as Jonathan went from group to group and saw the suspicious looks she, and Emma, were getting after the man had walked away. “Trouble's brewing, listen.”
Emma couldn't hear as well as Kris, but she could see. She watched the men, reading some phrases on their lips, the most prevalent was 'witches', 'special weapon', 'unnatural women'. After a while she got to watch Jonathan talking to a small group. She was furious at the man's lies and immediately told Kris what he had been saying.
“He's spreading lies about how you are a witch and have enchanted your 'special metal' arrows.” She ground her teeth together, “He's saying that I'm nothing but a whore you keep around for your own amusement.”
Kris chuckled and turned thoughtful, “Wellll...” She grinned as Emma playfully smacked her on the shoulder. “Easy babe.” Kris chuckled, rubbing her shoulder lightly, “I'd rather have him underestimating you for as long as possible.”
Emma let out an exasperated sigh, “Why does everyone always do that?”
“Because of the way you look, of course.” Kris laughed softly, “Because your arms are thin enough many men can wrap their hand around them until their fingertip nearly touches their thumbs, and your legs at their largest part can be measured by two hands forming a circle. You are slender, almost stick-like in some people's eyes, but what they don't realize is that your muscles are whipcord strong. You aren't quite as tall as I am, but you are so very graceful and beautiful that often that is all people can see.” Kris reached out, unable to help herself only modifying her action at the last minute by brushing some of Emma's long blonde hair away from the woman's shoulder, “It's muscle and power they understand, and don't realize how deadly a graceful creature can be.”
“You know, sometimes you can be so sweet.” Emma grinned as Kris pretended to be insulted by the compliment.
“Well, we can't prove to them how great a fighter you are, but, we can deal with the whole 'enchanted weapon' thing.” Kris moved from their spot to stand in front of Andrew, she spoke loudly enough for everyone to hear her, “Lord Bingham, I regret that I will not be able to remain on your land long enough to accompany you on the next hunt as leader. So I thought perhaps now would be a good time to have a little friendly competition?”
“Hmmm? Competition?” Andrew looked up at the smiling woman. “What do you propose?”
“An archery competition, your hunters compete against me and whoever comes in second gets to be Hunt Leader on your next trip.” Kris grinned at the obvious question.
“Of course,” Looking around at the gathered men, Kris smirked, “I'll win.”
That did it, all the men who had participated in the hunt scrambled to the weapons wagon for their bows. Jonathan however was about to protest when Kris again spoke to Andrew.
“May I borrow a bow?” Kris ran her fingers through her windblown dark hair, “I wouldn't want anyone to think I was cheating by using my own.”
Andrew rolled his eyes. He too had heard the rumors floating around the camp about the 'bewitched' weapon. Chuckling at the request, Lord Bingham strode to the wagon and retrieved his own bow. Handing it over to Kris he asked, “Will this do?”
No way.... Kris took the bow reverently and cast a glance over her shoulder at Emma. The blonde's theory that Kris was related to Adi was based on vague facial features and the coincidence of Morgan's name. This, Kris blinked and looked at the weapon in her hands, this was tangible proof. She had seen this bow before, there had been no string in it, but for as long as she could remember it had held a place of honor on the wall in her father's study; placed there because.. she tried to remember what the General had told her about it. His crisp military tones softening somewhat when he answered. “It has been in your mother's family for generations.”
In the periphery of her awareness the men were setting up the targets but Kris was too absorbed with the weapon in her hands to register much else.
Emma's hand on her shoulder broke Kris out of her thoughts, “They're ready.” She asked quietly, “Are you?”
Testing the tension on the string, the archer nodded. She only barely managed a whisper, “yes.”
Kris nodded and moved to take her place in the line. There had been twenty men on this trip, but only fifteen of them were actually hunters, the other five were cooks and butchers. Of the fifteen hunters, only eight of them had brought down any game, Andrew was one of them, but he abstained from the competition. He wasn't in the running for Hunt Leader anyway.
So eight targets had been set up near the treeline of the clearing. The archers each chose a target and waited for Andrew to give them the signal to go. After several rounds of arrows flying, as expected the competition came down to Kris and Jonathan. All the other hunters knew that the shot Kris had made was not luck, no matter what Jonathan had said. Her performance in the tournament had confirmed their opinions, she had consistently hit the target, seemingly without a worry.
“Congratulations, Brother.” Andrew smacked Jonathan on the back. “You've regained your title of Hunt Leader for the next trip.”
“The contest is not over yet.” Jonathan picked up another arrow. “I will win.” He gestured for the others to take away one of the targets and move the remaining one back even farther.
“Jonathan... you don't need to prove anything.” Andrew frowned at the determined look on Jonathan's face. “It's over. Why are you drawing this out?”
“It is not over until there is a clear winner!” He glanced around to find his opponent. As always, she was hovering around the blonde whore and the witch that had enchanted Andrew. They were all cooing over the bastard child as he crawled around, making noises like he was the most intelligent child in the world when all he was doing was steadying himself on a fallen log, peeling the bark away... idiots. That was close to where they needed to stand for the next round of shots though, so Jonathan began moving in their direction.
Andrew sighed, “Fine.” He squinted up at the sun, “But don't take too much longer, I want to be back at the manor before nightfall.”
Grunting at that, Jonathan took his place and made his shot, it hit inside the center circle, not quite dead center of the final single target. He looked smugly at his competition. “Your turn.”
Kris smiled and took her place. She drew back the bow, feeling the power of it along her arms. It wasn't the compound weapon she was used to, but it still felt good in her hands. She felt something was wrong though, they shouldn't be here, this was taking too long. So instead of dragging out the competition any longer, Kris looked over at Jonathan and the gathered hunters then deliberately moved the aim of her arrow before she let it loose. It hit well outside the center circle.
“I win!” Jonathan's jubilant announcement caused them all to stare at him incredulously. “What?”
Kris just laughed and shook her head as she handed the precious bow back to Andrew. “He wins.” She grinned and shrugged.
Rolling his eyes at that, Lord Bingham too shook his head the entire time he walked to the wagon to stow his weapon. Once that was done he clapped his hands together, “Now that the excitement is over, let's be on our way.” He watched as his future wife and the women she traveled with prepared to depart. There were quite a few murmurs from the other hunters, many wondering why Kris had intentionally missed; they had seen her deliberately move her aim. Others, with slightly weaker wills, and powers of observation, fell in with Jonathan's theory and assumed that her 'magic' had simply ran out while using the unfamiliar weapon.
After they had been on the road for a few moments, Andrew maneuvered his horse next to the kitchen wagon where Adi, Morgan and Rebecca rode. Jonathan was riding with the forward scouts, in front of the wagons that were hauling the meat. Kris and Emma had fallen in with the group of men at the back of the caravan. He didn't know how, but somehow, Andrew was going to reward the woman for saving his son's life. He also saw the dark looks Jonathan was darting back toward the women. Lord Bingham wondered if it wasn't time for the man to be on his way. Andrew had thought Jonathan was staying because of his feelings for Constance, but now that his infidelity had been discovered, Andrew wasn't sure his sister would continue to associate with their former kin or if he wanted that association to continue. He was certainly glad that his decision to turn down Jonathan's request to marry Constance two weeks ago seemed to be the correct one; at the time Andrew had not been sure. There was no more time to think about it though as shouts of 'Attack! And 'Brigands' from the men and the distinctive clash of metal against metal brought him back to reality.
TBC in Part 4