Thomas shook his head.
"How could you not? Lady Juliana has been put in Hugh's empty chambers while her father and his wife have taken my quarters near the stairs. They are near enough to the room you share with our priest. Henry you might not have seen for he and I rest, if such is possible, in the barracks. There is no other accommodation for us over the dining hall."
"At the hours I have walked the halls, the wiser among the living are still in bed and the spirits of the dead have long since returned to Hell. Sister Anne, our prioress, and I have all been with Richard day and night, taking turns with his care until the fever broke. Even our meals were taken in his sick room. Most nights I have watched over the boy to allow the women to sleep."
Robert looked up at the position of the indistinct sun hiding in the graying sky, then motioned toward the great hall. "You will finally meet your fellow guests at today's dinner, for it appears to be within a couple of hours of noon."
Thomas nodded. Then, with a less than monkish grin, he returned to his previous subject: "Is she pleasing to you, your lady?"
Robert shrugged. "She will probably please me as much as I do her. She was an agreeable enough child, as I remember from years ago, but I have seen little of her in recent times." He hesitated. His eyes narrowed. "I know her two brothers better.
I believe she favors her younger brother, in which case we will suit each other well enough. The eldest is a sour, petty-minded man. Henry has done nothing but quarrel with my father over which family shall give what to this happy union."
Thomas blinked at the barely concealed resentment in Robert's voice. Before he could question further, both men heard the clatter of more horses' hooves coming across the wooden bridge and turned toward the dark archway of the entrance gate.
"I do believe that the Lavenham family has just returned from their morning ride," Robert said, raising his hand in greeting to the lead horseman. Then his countenance hardened. "Yet I fear their ride was not a pleasant one." His voice dropped to a harsh whisper as he gestured toward the arriving party. "That horse bears a corpse.
From Tyrant of the Mind by Priscilla Royal. Copyright Priscilla Royal 2004. All rights reserved.
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Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
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