The Snarling Black Wolf… (Emma)… Story continued from the last Episode 5
When Jennifer entered the tent, she saw the Duke sitting at his dining table with platers of food before him. A young boy of about fifteen, obviously a squire was attending to him, pouring our wine into a silver goblet on the table before the Duke.
The Duke was dressed in black boots, breeches and a leather tonic this time with his black hair combed neatly back from his face handsome.
Watching him as she came forward to stand in the middle of the large lavishly furnished tent, Jennifer found it confusing yet again that the Duke looked nothing like the evil Devil her father and the rest of Scotland said he was. And he certainly didn’t eat human babies for breakfast, she thought as her eyes went to the high pile of scrambled eggs in the plate before him. Her stomach growled with hunger to remind her that she hadn’t eaten since her own breakfast at the convent yesterday. Her eyes then went to the canvas walls of the tent where the Duke’s standard was, the drawing of the black head of a snarling wolf and a shiver of fear ran through her body.
“Are you cold, Lady Jennifer,” came the Duke’s deep voice, filling the tent just like his overwhelming presence.
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Jennifer’s eyes flew back to him and she struggled to pull herself together quickly. She had to behave correctly like a high-born scots woman. She couldn’t allow her fear to show.
“No, your grace, I’m t cold,” she replied quickly and wrapped her arms around herself involuntarily as she saw the way he was watching her.
“Perhaps you are hungry,” said the Duke with a wave at the empty chair across the table from him.
“I’m fine, your grace,” replied Jennifer.
“You are fine or you just won’t dine with the enemy?” asked the Duke with a crooked smile.
“Both,” replied Jennifer firmly.
“What if I insisted.” Asked the Duke with a lift of his eyebrows.
“You can’t make me do whatever I don’t want to do,” replied Jennifer at once and immediately regretted it.
The Duke lifted both eyebrows at her. “Actually, I can, and very easily too. Both you and your sister are my prisoners and your welfare depend on my goodwill.”
Jennifer lowered her eyes to the floor and said nothing.
“I sent for you to make your situation very clear.” The Duke sat back in his chair. “You and your sister are now my prisoners until my King and yours are able to reach some kind of agreement for your release, which could take months. While in my care, you and your sister will be guarded closely for your protection and always treated fairly as the high-born ladies you both are. You might lack a few things now but my army will be retreating to one of my Castles in two days and once we get there everything you need will be provided. I want your word on the good behavior of the both of you.”
“And if I don’t give it?” asked Jennifer testingly. It was getting harder to reconcile this man with the devil her father swore he was.
The Duke’s expression didn’t change. “Then you both will be treated more like prisoners than guests. You will have very little freedom, a situation I don’t think you would like.”
Jennifer was thinking fast but didn’t show it. She nodded.
“You have my word,” said Jennifer finally.
The Duke nodded. “If there is anything you wish to ask of me at any point in time, any problem, just tell your guards to bring you to me.”
“We will like to work to earn our keep,” said Jennifer at once.
“Work?” the Duke asked with an incredulous shake of his head.
“My sister and I are still your prisoners, and enemies too, with a lot of free time now on our hands. T’would be best for we do something to earn our keep and the general goodwill of your men, stupid as that may sound to you.”
The Duke shook his head again. “Both of you are high born ladies. What work could you possibly do in a camp full of soldiers?”
“My sister and I are very good seamstresses and all your men seem to have torn clothes and Uniforms,” said Jenifer.
The Duke stared at her for a moment then nodded, a look of new respect creeping into his manner. “I have quite a few of them as well. We could certainly use some good seamstresses. All you need will be provided for you and one will border you.” The Duke waved a hand. “Your guard is waiting to escort you back to your tent, I will give the necessary orders.”
As she was led back to her tent by her guard, she was careful to look around the camp, memorizing the positions of everything. She took note of the position of the tents in the large clearing, saw the positions of the gold cloaked knights guarding them and saw where their horses were kept. It was all separate from the encampment of the rest of the vast English army spread out all around. Jennifer took careful note of the road that led through the camp off into the woods far beyond. She mastered the position of everything without her guard knowing it.
Back in her tent prison, Jennifer found Emma hungrily eating away at a large plate of beef on a tray on the floor by her side.
“Emma!” exclaimed Jennifer in horror. “What are you doing?”
Emma stopped and looked at her sister. “I’m eating. I was so hungry.”
“Don’t you know that food could be poisoned? These people are our enemies!”
Emma glanced down at the food, her hand went to her belly as she looked back at Jennifer. “I don’t…I don’t think so. They wouldn’t want to kill us, would they?”
Jennifer sighed. “Never mind,”
She went over to sit next to Emma on the floor of the tent and picked a piece of meat from the second plate on the tray. She began to eat hungrily.
Emma stared at her. “You don’t really think the food is poisoned, do you.”
Jennifer shook her head. “After my talk with the Duke, I don’t.”
Emma looked worried. “Did he hurt you?”
“No, we just talked,” replied Jennifer.
“What about?” asked Emma, the worry showing on her lovely face.
“Our situation. We are his prisoners and he’s taking us with him back to England in two days.”
“Oh no, what are going to do?”,” cried Emma in despair.
“Shush, shush,” said Jennifer quickly in a lowered voice with a quick glance at the entrance of the tent. She should see the booted foot of the two guards standing outside form under the flaps. She pulled Emma closer and stuck her mouth close to her ear. “Listen, I have a plan. We are not going to leave Scotland. We are going to escape!”
To Be Continued….. (Three Times Each week, Only King Eze’s Blog)
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