In The King's Service by Margaret Moore

In The King's Service by Margaret Moore

Author:Margaret Moore
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: 0
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

Chapter Ten

From the top of the rise, Aderyn Du restlessly shifted. Blaidd tried to steady his mount as he watched Becca gallop across the meadow by the river. She was easily the finest horsewoman Blaidd had ever seen; it was as if she and her horse were one creature.

His competitive spirit and Aderyn Du's evident yearning to gallop prompted him to kick his heels against his horse's sides. Down the hill the gelding charged, and soon they were racing across the meadow and drawing close to Becca and her mare.

Becca looked back over her shoulder and spotted them. He thought she might slow, but wasn't really surprised when she instead let out a whoop of glee and bent over her horse's neck, urging her on.

With an answering shout, Blaidd dug his heels into Aderyn Du, spurring him forward. His gelding didn't let him down. The wind whistled past Blaidd's ears as they flew, and his hair streamed out behind him like a banner in the breeze.

Blaidd laughed as they gained on their quarry. This was just what he'd hoped for.

That morning after breaking the fast, Becca had mentioned going for a ride through the river meadow and the wood upon leaving the high table, and he'd thought he'd finally found an opportunity to be alone with her.

After he'd spent some time boring Laelia with tales of training, he mentioned—with every appearance of remorse—that his gelding needed exercise, preferably a good gallop. As he expected, Laelia was only too happy to stay in the castle. He'd strolled to the stable, saddled his own horse and ridden out as casually as you please. It had taken him some time to find the river meadow, since he hadn't wanted to ask directions or look as if he had a particular route in mind.

As he'd passed through the village, he'd thought of Hester and what she'd hinted at. Could she really know something important? Perhaps one of Lord Throckton's men had thought to gain respect and importance by telling her something he'd learned—or only made up.

Becca and her horse suddenly made a hard left turn into the wood, a forest of oak and chestnut and hazel. Blaidd pulled hard on his reins, and Aderyn Du nearly sat back on his haunches before making the turn. In the next moment, they had plunged into the dimmer light filtered through the branches and leaves, moving along a path barely wide enough for horse and rider.

He saw the rump of Becca's horse disappear down another path and followed—and then couldn't see them, or any sign they'd even gone that way. He pulled Aderyn Du to a halt and listened.

He could hear only the birds in the trees and the rustling of branches as a squirrel dashed overhead.

She couldn't have simply disappeared. Rising in his stirrups, he slowly surveyed the bushes lining the path. He saw a gap in one, with the ends of some branches recently broken. She'd either left the path voluntarily there, or been forced that way.


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