I turn to de Tosny. He is nuzzling my fingers, almost nibbling them off in a show of ill-concealed joy. I wrinkle my nose and withdraw my hand.
“No!” I say.
He looks at me, his pupils dilating.
“But you’ve refused all suitors, my lady,” says my steward.
I purse my lips, and gesture. “They do not please me.”
“You must marry.”
“Must I?” I beckon and my groom brings me my horse. “I think not.” I dig my heels into her flanks, turn, and trot away.
The wind carries their reaction to me. “Perhaps if we were to write verses to her beauty,” says one, “then she could choose the fellow she liked the best.”
“How would that help?” says another with a deep voice.
“The husband would go with the verse.”
“Best not to mention that part,” says de Tosny the wind carrying his irritating reedy voice, “lest that lass turn tail, and make for the hills.” [To be continued.]