'Ana!  Come with me!'

“Ana! Come with me!” Affrais gasped and clutched her sister’s arm.

“What? Oh! Where are we going?”

“Shhh! Simply come,” Affrais whispered and began dragging her around the side of a market stall.

Ana reached out helplessly towards Lady Eada as she was led away. Eada stood with her back to the girls, chatting away with Brinstan, and did not see them go.

Eada stood with her back to the girls, chatting away with Brinstan, and did not see them go.

“But what about Eada?” Ana whined.

“Shhh!” Affrais hushed and shook Ana’s arm.

“Owww! What a bother you are today! Oww!”

Affrais had been behaving strangely all day. Indeed, she had scarcely slept last night, and she had wandered morosely all over the castle and the courts that morning until it was time to dress to go down to the fair.

And then, when she dressed—! She had thrown such a fit over the self-​evident unsuitability of all of her fine gowns. Finally, out of pique it seemed, she had put on her most ordinary riding gown. She had even worn her old brown boots instead of her pretty new ones—the pride of her heart only a few weeks before! Angharat was almost ashamed to be seen with her. And anyway, she wasn’t much fun today.

'I think it's Sir Baldwin!'

“Oh! Freya!” Angharat whispered excitedly, for she had seen a familiar green tunic go by at some distance. “I think it’s Sir Baldwin!”


“But it is! Look!”

Sir Baldwin had moved on without seeming to notice them.

“I wonder whether he will be jousting today?” Ana whispered to her sister. “Oh! I hope he does! I thought he would be at Raegiming fair today. I can’t wait to see what Ethelmer does to him. Your sweetheart against mine, eh?” she giggled.

Affrais dragged her behind the stall.

Affrais dragged her behind the stall and then through a narrow opening in a hedge of scraggly bushes.

“Owww! My curls!” Ana whined.

“Shut up!” Affrais hushed. “I need your help.”

“But what are we doing here?”

'But what are we doing here?'

Behind the bushes there were only the donkey carts, the empty wagons, the dogs tied to short ropes, the horses tied to long ropes, and all the other movable assets that were assembled whenever people from all over the countryside came together.

At this point in the fair, it was too late for any late arrivals and too early for any early departures, and so the field was nearly empty but for the animals. However, Affrais appeared to be heading for the woods beyond.

“Where are we going?” Ana demanded, growing angry now. She did not want to miss all the fun of the fair.

“Be quiet! and I shall tell you in a moment. I shall tell you everything. Oh, Ana!” she cried as if suddenly overwhelmed with emotion.

'I shall tell you everything.  Oh, Ana!'

“Oh, what?”


They did not speak again until they had entered the woods. Certainly Affrais’s old brown boots were better suited for tramping through the brush than were Ana’s fine shoes. Ana was beginning to understand.

“Freya… you don’t mean to meet Sir Baldwin today, do you?”

'Freya... you don't mean to meet Sir Baldwin today, do you?'

“Shhh! Now let’s sit here and be quiet, and I shall tell you. Quietly!”

“All right,” Ana grumbled and sat delicately on the edge of a stump. For this too was her sister’s plain dress more suited.

“Ana,” Affrais announced softly, glowing pink with excitement, “I am going away to be married today!”

'I am going away to be married today!'

Ana gaped at her.

“Oh, Ana!” her sister gushed and hugged her. “I can’t believe it!”

“Neither can I!” Ana murmured.

“Baldwin is coming, but I need your help! I need you to hide here until we are gone, so that everyone will think I am with you. No one will ask ‘Where’s Freya?’ unless they see you.”

“But where are you going?”

'But where are you going?'

“I mustn’t say, dear, so that no one can force you to tell. But we’re going to a friend of Baldwin’s, and we shall be married!”

“But then what will you do?” Ana asked. The questions came easily, considering that she could not yet realize what her sister was telling her.

“I don’t know… Sigefrith will be sympathetic, because he carried Maud away, too. But if not, Baldwin has many friends. But I’m certain we shall see one another again very soon! And I shall be a bride! And you may call me Lady!”

'And I shall be a bride!  And you may call me Lady!'

“But, Freya…”

“You’ll help me, won’t you, Ana?”

“But—No!” She stood. “I can’t! What will Uncle do to me when he finds out?”

'What will Uncle do to me when he finds out?'

“Don’t tell him you helped, then! Tell him I ran away from you. I don’t care. But you must help me, Ana! You must!”

Ana thought that her sister was looking a little hysterical. She wondered whether even she realized what she was doing.

“Why can’t you wait a while?” Ana asked. “Surely Uncle will change his mind if you are patient…”

“I don’t think so! I don’t think so! I think he means to refuse me my happiness just to spite Sigefrith! Because Sigefrith doesn’t want him marrying Eada!”

'I think he means to refuse me my happiness just to spite Sigefrith!'

“They’re both being stupid, if you ask me. I think you should marry Baldwin and Uncle marry Eada, and then everyone will be happy. But, Freya, don’t you think they will come around to it if you give them a little time?”

“I can’t risk it, Ana!” Affrais said in a voice that was nearly a growl. “I can’t risk losing him! I love him! And I can’t even see him now! I can’t bear it! Better to be married, and then let Uncle come to terms with Baldwin, than wait and hope that he will do it on his own. No!”

“Oh, Freya, you frighten me,” Ana whined. “What if he doesn’t mean well by you? What if he takes you away and then doesn’t marry you at all?”

“Ana! How dare you? Insult the honor of a knight!”

“It is not very honorable to steal a lady away from her uncle…”

'It is not very honorable to steal a lady away from her uncle...'

“That is different. Listen, Ana… listen! I mean it! I will go away with Baldwin today, and no one shall stop me. I wish you would be happy for me, but I’m warning you—if you tell Uncle and we are caught, then I shall tell him about you!

Ana shivered. “What about me?” she asked quietly.

“I shall tell him what happened on the wall that day!”

“Oh, Freya! You would do that to me?”

“Only if you betray me.”

“But it was an accident!”

'But it was an accident!'

“It was an accident that she fell. It was not an accident that you pushed her. She would not have fallen if you hadn’t.”

“But Freya,” Ana whimpered.

“I shall never tell your secret if you don’t tell mine. Promise me!”

“Freya…” Ana scarcely recognized her sister.

“Swear it!”

“I shan’t tell,” she muttered miserably.

'I shan't tell.'

“Thank you!” Affrais cried and hugged her. As soon as she released her, she waved at someone in the trees.

“I told her,” Affrais said to Sir Baldwin as he arrived.

Baldwin kissed Ana’s hand before he had spoken a word to Affrais. “I shall bring your sister back to you as soon as I may,” he promised her. “And you shall always have a home with us.”

'I shall bring your sister back to you as soon as I may.'

Ana began to cry. It was true. This man was about to take her sister away. Promises aside, who knew whether they would ever meet again?

“Oh, Ana!” Affrais sobbed and hugged her. “I wish I could take you too. But I shall see you soon, I can feel it! And we shall all be so happy!”

“Can you wait here until after the horse races are over?” Baldwin asked Ana gently. “If the fastest horses are tired before anyone learns we are gone, it will be a great help to us.”

“She doesn’t know where we’re going anyway,” Affrais said.

'She doesn't know where we're going anyway.'

“Someone may guess. Can you do that for us, my dear?”

Ana nodded, awed by the presence of the man.

“And when you do go back,” Affrais said, “pretend you don’t know where I am. As if you think I’m with someone else. And be quiet, and don’t tell anyone anything.”

“Oh, don’t go!” Ana sobbed and hugged her sister. “I have such a bad feeling!”

Ana sobbed and hugged her sister.

“There’s no danger, Ana,” Baldwin said calmly, and when Ana looked up at him she saw he rested his hand on the hilt of his sword. “I am going to meet friends, and we shall be married in a few days’ time. She will soon be very safe, and soon afterwards we shall all be together again, and laugh over this day.”

Ana could not believe that, but then she could scarcely believe that any of this was happening at all.

“I love you, Ana,” Freya said and hugged her for a last time. “Wish me happiness!”

Oh, it was true! Her sister was going to be married! And not at all as they had dreamed!

She could only mumble her sister's name miserably as she cried, and then her sister was walking away from her on a man's arm.

Ana could not speak. She could only mumble her sister’s name miserably as she cried, and then her sister was walking away from her on a man’s arm—a man whose very existence she had not suspected only three months before. They knew almost nothing of him at all, except, as her Uncle often muttered, that he was practically a Norman.

Ana was not certain that it would not be worth having her own secret told if it meant saving her sister. But it took her a very long time to decide.

Ana was not certain that it would not be worth having her own secret told if it meant saving her sister.