Authors: Carol Colbert
Tags: #romance 1600s, #ghost adventure, #cozy mystery humor, #romance 2016
All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be transmitted or reproduced in any form without written permission
from the author, except for brief quoted passages for review
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination,
or collective memories of people she has known in general, put
together to form various single characters, and thus, resemblance
to actual persons, living or dead, unless explicitly noted, are
This book is dedicated to all of the sisters
out there. Mine, yours and theirs.
“William! I told you to take the horses
around to the stables! Julia is looking for you inside. Why are you
wasting time with these two wenches? Wir haben viel zu erledigen,
bevor ich gehe, siehe, die Sie tun, was Ihnen gesagt werden! "
Ophelia could feel the heat from the anger
rising in her sister and the last thing any of them needed was
another scene like the one they had in the marketplace. The sisters
had been in a neighboring village to barter for food when Gertie
had become angry and produced the heavy blue mist that if noticed,
would label them as one of the hunted. Only this time if that would
occur, none of them would survive. Ophelia took her sister’s hand
and squeezed, hoping to convey the urgency of the moment.
“Excuse me, Milord, we were merely inquiring
if there were any positions that William here could help us obtain.
I was wondering if he could use his influence with his cousin, the
King, and be of help to us.” Gertie said and then she curtsied.
The man laughed out loud.
“William is but a servant himself, he has come to the Palace with
my wife and I. My wife, Julia, is the King’s cousin.” The man then
studied Gertrude a bit too long.
is a real beauty, what a shame that I am
. He then shook his head and
“My goodwife is with child and perhaps she
should have help. Come along now inside, Julia can make that
decision.” Ophelia and Gertrude started to following the man
through the Palace gates. “Not you.” He pointed to Ophelia. Then he
motioned for Gertrude to follow him. The sisters looked at each
other, fear on their faces. Ophelia nodded to Gertrude, signaling
to her to follow the man.
“So, you are not the King’s cousin.” Ophelia
said to William once the man and her sister had passed through the
“No, but then I never said that I was. I met
Gertrude one day when I had ventured out too far and had to inquire
about the way back to the Palace.”
“But you were not sorry that she was left
with that impression, aye?”
William smiled. “That man is Mathew and he
can be a bothersome fool. His wife, Julia, is a very nice person
and like he said, she is with child.”
“Is it not dangerous to travel when you are
with child? Do you know when the child will be birthed?” Ophelia
“The carriage is grand and
more comfortable than most. But aye, I would not wish my child to
be bounced around in the mother that way.’ William said, blushing
at his words. “We have come a long way from
Catholic, Lutheran and Reformist faiths are in conflict. And here
we are at the request of your King to do his bidding with his own.”
William said, sounding angry.
William noticed the look of concern on
Ophelia’s pretty face and added “Gertrude will be alright in there,
would you like to walk to the stables with me? I don’t want Milord
to have any reason to be displeased with me again.”
“Might as well walk with you. Why would
Mathew and his wife travel so far under these circumstances?”
“A great deal of money has exchanged hands.
We have traveled far and long. Indeed it has been hard on Julia,
not that her beast of a husband notices.” William told her.
Ophelia studied William’s face and decided
that she liked this young man. He seemed honest and trustworthy.
The fact that he was tall, had black hair that shinned under the
sun light, and big brown eyes was a plus. “Tis nice a ‘meeting you,
William.” Ophelia said, her face registering a bit of heat.
Ophelia walked with William over to the
stables. There were many rumors that there would be a purification
process where people would be watched and which pitted neighbor
against neighbor in an attempt to weed out what was not understood.
They in the forest had also heard that the King’s cousin was to
arrive at the Palace soon.
Gertie, with her flame red long hair and
beautiful face not only had assumed that William was the
aforementioned cousin when she met him by chance, but that she
could maneuver herself into a position within the Palace via
William. She could then be privy to whatever conversations might
take place that she could then warn her family about. Gertie had
her mind set on winning the heart of William and thus presented to
the monarchy as his girlfriend.
Ophelia had to smile when the man who had
come to the front gates informed them that it was his wife who was
second cousin to the King and that William was only a servant
traveling with them to help with the horses and other chores. She
had to admit that Gertie’s face kept well the surprise that Ophelia
knew that she must have felt.
The sisters were extremely lucky that the
actual cousin to the King was with child and that Gertie might be
able to stay to help her. Ophelia also felt lucky that she had
traveled to the Palace today with her sister. If she hadn’t, she
would not be standing next to this very nice looking young man
right now. Ophelia had been deep in her head with these thoughts
and almost missed what William was now telling her.
“We shall be here for quite some time. I have
known Julia since I was a small boy and fell on hard times. It was
Julia who let me help out with the chores and horses at her home. I
was all alone in the world and Julia saw me one day at a market
place. She took pity of my poor appearance and asked me if I would
be willing to help her carry her purchases. I was happy to do so
and since that day, Julia and I have been close.” William paused
for a moment as if going over every detail of that day in his mind
before he continued.
“When they decided to make this trip, Julia
asked me if I could accompany them. I believe it helps her to have
a friendly face around her while she is with child.” William
“Other than her husband’s friendly face?”
Ophelia teased, remembering the scowl on the man who had just taken
her sister into the Palace.
“If your sister stays to help Julia, I shall
keep a watchful eye on her. I know that Julia’s husband, Mathew, is
planning to leave soon with the King and his men, but I don’t trust
him around any young maiden. Your sister possesses a beauty that I
have never seen before.” William stated.
Ophelia did not comment and then William
turned to her and said “Of course, all that red hair blinds you in
the daylight. I rather like the shine of your hair much better.
Your sister is not the only one with beauty.” He said, also finding
the dirt of the stable floor very interesting all of a sudden.
“Thank ye, William, but I would be blind not
to see what a special radiance follows my sister. She shines from
the inside out. She likes to have fun and tease, but that one has a
heart of gold to go with all of that red hair on her head. I am
proud to be her sister, and do not feel her great beauty makes me
When Gertie walked out of the Palace gates
she did not see her sister, nor William. She felt a stab of fear
for her sibling, but then she heard laughter.
“There you are.” Ophelia called to her
sister. “You were gone a long time. Did you get to meet the King’s
cousin?” Ophelia said smiling, clearly teasing her sister for
believing that William was not only the King’s cousin, but also her
“I did. Julia offered me the job and she is
heavy with child.”
“And you are to do, what, exactly? I forget
Gertrude, tell me again what is it you are so qualified to do?”
Gertie ignored her sister and instead turned
to William. “William, Julia said to take one of the smaller wagons
and make sure my sister gets home safely. I will be staying
“With no clothes?” Ophelia asked.
“It should be fine, Ophelia. Tell momma I am
sorry I did not get to say goodbye. William, may I have a moment
alone with Ophelia?”
“Aye, I’ll go round up the wagons. Be right
back, Ophelia.” William said, smiling.
When he was out of earshot Gertie told her
sister of her conversation with Julia and how it was Julia’s
husband who was one of the huntsmen, but that a much greater threat
was about to ascend on them. A man known as the Great Evil was
coming to the Palace and it was he who was in charge of the
purification process. He whom was summoned to rid the land of their
“I am worried about you, Gertrude. Please be
careful and no….” She paused to look around again just to make sure
no one was within hearing range. “No blue mist, you must promise me
that or I shall never sleep again so full my head will be with
“It looks like you have made a friend in
William, we could use him. Maybe he can help us by bringing you
here or me back near home when we need to talk. Don’t let him take
you to the house, lead him in a different direction and walk the
rest of the way yourself. They already know our names and that we
live in the forest. Julia seems a bit cold, but it might just be
her condition.” Gertie said.
“My bet would be on that it is because of her
husband. Any guess how long he and the King should be away?”
“Aye, he looks like he could be a beast, that
one. His tongue is sharp and offensive to anyone within its reach.
One bit of good news at least, I heard him tell his wife that he
and the King should be gone for quite a while. Sounded like he is
not returning until after the child is born.”
“I shall leave you now, sister. Godspeed.”
Ophelia said when William came around with a wagon. The sisters
embraced and Gertie watched them ride off down the path for a few
minutes before she then walked back through the Palace gates.
Ophelia was enjoying her ride back to her
home with William. Still, she was afraid to say too much because
she did not want to put Gertrude or anyone else in harm’s way.
“Tell me, William, do you enjoy working for
“Tis hard to say, we have only just arrived.
I can say that I am happy that the huntsmen and the King have
decided that I am to remain in the Palace when they leave.”
“And why is that?”
“I have grown fond of Julia and I worry about
her while she is with child. Her husband, Mathew, is not the sort
of man Julia thought he was when they married.” William said, a
look of disgust on his face.
“Why do you say that, William? How would you
know what Julia is thinking?”
“Julia and I have had many talks.”
“Was this before, or after she married
“Tis was right after. I
never found him to be good enough for her. He has a mean tongue and
an eye that seeks out
I have heard of a Bawdy Basket, is that what
you mean, William?”
“No, not a peddling woman, I mean women of a
“Oh, like a prostitute?” Ophelia said.
“Ophelia, how could you know of such a term?
I am greatly surprised.” William exclaimed, turning his head to
look at the beautiful young lady beside him.
“Does thou think we are so far removed from
the cities that we have never heard such a term here in the forest?
You would be surprised then to realize that we have all kinds of
people here, just like anywhere else.” Ophelia said.
“I am sorry if I offend, Ophelia. I only
meant to convey the nature of Mathew which makes him less than a
good husband for Julia.”
“I understand, William. You can let me off
here, I live just yonder and the walk is a pleasant one.” Ophelia
“I don’t mind taking you all the way home.”
William offered quickly. He too was enjoying their ride and hated
to see it end. If the King is right, these woods are full of
dangers.” William said.
“Such as?” Ophelia challenged him.
“Well, such as witches and sorceries, and
other such evils.” William was quick to supply. “I would be very
troubled if you were to come to harm from one of them on your
travels back to your home.”
“I see.” Ophelia said and then decided to
tease him a bit. “And pray tell, what exactly is sorceries and what
should I be watching for?”