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The Rover Bold by Anna Markland

The Rover Bold by Anna Markland

Author:Anna Markland [Markland, Anna]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 1502728206
Google: Fl27oQEACAAJ
Amazon: B00MYI3E36
Barnesnoble: B00MYI3E36
Goodreads: 23501247
Publisher: Createspace
Published: 2013-12-31T16:00:00+00:00


PART TWO

THE BEGINNING

Cattle die, kinsmen die, all men are mortal.

Words of praise will never perish, nor a noble name.

~The Havamal (Viking Book of Wisdom)

THE VIKING’S CONCUBINE

One month later

The apple tree sapling was dead, its grey leaves twisted grotesquely as if it had died in agony.

Fighting tears, Cathryn sank back on her heels in the brown dirt of the Archbishop’s kitchen garden. Despite her best efforts to follow her husband’s instructions for the care of his plants, it was the third one to shrivel within a sennight. At this rate, they’d all be gone by month’s end. Rootstocks that had survived a perilous journey by sea from Norway to Francia seemed determined not to thrive in the rich soil of the Seine valley.

Witnessing Bryk’s boyish pride in his newly planted apple trees had made her love him even more, if that were possible. Then he’d left with the Viking army a month ago. She dreaded having to tell him on his return that she had killed his dream.

If he ever returned—

With trembling hands, she grasped the twig and eased the root from the brown earth. It had withered like the other two.

“What are you doing?”

She swiveled her head, taken unawares by a familiar voice she hadn’t heard since she’d turned her back on the abbey convent. “Kaia!” she exclaimed, dropping the dead sapling as she struggled to her feet.

The friends fell into each other’s arms. “It’s been too long,” Cathryn said hoarsely. “Let me look at you.” She narrowed her eyes, wiping away a tear when they broke apart. “You’re not wearing your habit.”

Kaia smoothed a hand over the fine wool of her skirts. “Papa decided my education was complete, and Mater Bruna became an even more unbearable tyrant after you left. Who would want to become a nun under such a Superior? Besides I plan to marry Javune.”

Cathryn wondered what Kaia’s wealthy father thought of the notion of his daughter marrying a monk, but she held her tongue. “So you are free of the convent?”

Kaia grinned. “At last. I was hurt you didn’t come to visit me after you left.”

Cathryn frowned. “But I did. I was refused entry.”

Kaia grasped her arm. “What! Why?”

Would her noble friend understand? “I am not welcomed anywhere in Rouen, especially in places of religion.”

Kaia squeezed her hands, her eyes full of sympathy. “Because you married a Viking?”

Cathryn stared at her dirty feet. “Because I am a Viking’s concubine.”

Kaia’s mouth fell open. “Concubine? How can that be? You are living in the Archbishop of Rouen’s residence.”

“His Excellency has no choice. The Viking chieftain commandeered this house and allowed me and Bryk to occupy a small chamber. The Frankish servants shun me, though I am one of their own.”

“But you and Bryk married.”

“Yes, but it was a Norse wedding, without the blessing of the Church. Bryk is not of our faith.”

Kaia narrowed her eyes, anger darkening her fair face. “I hate the Church and its rules. My true love is languishing in the abbey at Jumièges, no doubt pining for me, condemned by his father to a religious life he loathes.



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