Jenny: Sleeping Arrangements

They made an odd pair, Artos thought wryly as he swung on his one crutch. Though straight of frame - a trait he thought highly of in the young man - Master Lucius was thin and bird-like; he could snap one of the man's wrists with a little twist. Yet the man had a fire in his gut, and that was a thing Artos liked still better.

When at last they arrived at the guests' sleeping-wing, he turned in the doorway of the newly-lit room and said, "These will be your quarters for now until we can fix you up a proper place of your own. If you have need of anything, send the girl to one of us and we will get it for you."

Master Lucius moved to the doorway and put his head in, looking all around. There was a faint sheen of excitement in his unruffled countenance, which reminded him with a little start of Gaius. "Admirable," the other young man murmured. "Admirable... Do you always keep bookshelves in every room?"

His eyes dropped to the volume the man held in his hands. It was worn, tattered at the edges, obviously much read. Within the room, the burly manservant was beginning to unpack countless satchels, many of which produced scrolls and hard-bound manuscripts. He gave a breathy laugh through his nose. "My uncle is fond of reading. If you are needing a quiet place, the solarium overlooks the north garden. It is less sunny this time of year, but that is the fault of whoever built the place. You are free to it." He moved aside to let the man in. "Breakfast is at sunup," he added, "in the atrium."

Mater Lucius turned in the act of taking over from his manservant. "Thank you, sir. Your people have been all I anticipated."

"Artos," the Merlin insisted.

"Artos, then. Good night."

"And to you. And you," he said, turning to the girl when the manservant had shut the door. "We had better find you a place to stay. One of the maids will probably have a room to share."

He moved back down the hallway at the now-familiar swinging gait that he had developed, the girl shuffling on her doe-skin house-slippers in his wake. She was a quiet, subdued soul, very different from the forward nature of her companion the Guttersnipe. He could not imagine the two had got on well together in their travels. Such dispositions as the girl's were more likely to make the Guttersnipe angry. She could not stand passivity. She was always flying here and there, ready for some new thing, ready to do something. As much as she enjoyed her personal studies, she could never sit still long. Contrasted to her was the girl behind him, mousy-quiet, content to follow and look about.

She is new, he thought. Give her a little time and perhaps she will come round.

He lounged into the kitchen doorway and looked about for a familiar face. He was surprised to see Lucretia among the girls cleaning up the supper dishes. "Why, Lucretia," he exclaimed. "Your husband has gone home. It is late. Why are you still here?"

The young woman brushed the tendrils of hair out of her face, looking very warm in the lingering heat of the ovens. "There is such a mess," she said flatly. "And if Vortigern is coming, he won't come to a dirty kitchen."

Artos refrained from explaining to her that Vortigern himself was not coming, that Vortigern himself could not care. He gave a noncommittal grunt to her words and said, "Master Lucius' girl is needing a place to sleep. Is there room at the cloister with you?"

Lucretia brightened considerably. "Why, yes!" She looked directly at the girl in his shadow. "Yes, of course. There is always room at the cloister. I'll just be a minute, dear. I have some things still to clean. I won't be long. Good night, Artos."

"Good night, Lucretia," he murmured, and swung away. "She'll be a little more than a minute," he added in passing to the girl.

No comments:

Post a Comment