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Authors: Theresa Tomlinson

Path of the She Wolf

BOOK: Path of the She Wolf
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Contents

Cover

About the Book

Title Page

Prologue

1 Brig’s Night

2 The Bishop of Hereford

3 A Good Place

4 Gerta’s Grandsons

5 Ollerton Crossroads

6 ‘Who is it that you think you’ve caught?’

7 A Fine Little Herbwife

8 Under the Trysting Tree

9 September Brings Chill

10 The Pannage Month

11 Peasant, Fool or Rebel Lord

12 King John’s Revenge

13 Creswell Caves

14 The Gift of Making People Happy

15 The King Rides South

16 The Last Arrow

17 Those Who Light Up the Dark Woods

Epilogue

Author’s Note

About the Author

Also by Theresa Tomlinson

Copyright

About the Book

Suddenly Marian stopped . . . a dark shape emerged from the undergrowth. It was a she-wolf. The creature leaped silently across her path; passing in an instant.

These are dangerous times and a bloody conflict between the outlaws of Barnsdale Woods and King John’s men is about to erupt. Uncertain visions of the future haunt the Forestwife, and Marian, Robert and Magda must be prepared to face the ultimate challenge . . .

Prologue

It was early in December: a bright chill morning. Marian strode through Barnsdale Woods carrying bundles of herbs on her back. She was exhausted and saddened for she’d spent the night nursing a sick man, only to see him die as dawn came. She slowed her steps and looked about her seeking consolation from the woodlands that she loved.

Great swathes of grass were blanched with frost. A few small patches stood out bright green where sun came spiking starlike through the trees. Those glorious patches steamed with mist. Marian’s spirits lifted and she stretched out her fingers to touch the stiff white fur of frost that coated branches and twigs. The brown bones of last summer’s bracken glistened in the sharp sun.

A distant regular thud told her that the coal diggers had started their work, and a tiny weasel shot across her feet into the cover of dried ferns. Suddenly Marian stopped. Instinctively, she stood as still and rooted as the trees that surrounded her while a dark shape emerged
from the undergrowth. It was a she-wolf. The creature leapt silently across her path; passing in an instant.

Marian was not afraid, for the wolf had no interest in a tired, middle-aged wisewoman. But long after it had gone she still stood there, seeing again the sleek brown-grey coat, the floating tail, the ripple of powerful muscles beneath the fur. The she-wolf travelled through the wintry woods at speed, calmly going about her business.

Marian set off again, her step a little lighter, knowing that she too must go her own way, follow her own path.

1
Brig’s Night

It was the first night of February. Magda crept away from the Forestwife’s cottage into the woods, after dusk. She was a strong young woman of twenty years, very tall in stature with a great mane of chestnut coloured hair. Once out of sight of the circling grove of yew trees, she leapt lightly through the familiar, frosty undergrowth, picking her way through the woods to the little woven bower of willow wands that she had made secretly during the day. She took off her woollen girdle and wove it in and out, back and forth, until it became part of the bower, then from inside her kirtle she pulled a tiny straw plaited doll. She pushed it between one of the loops that her twisted girdle formed, so that it was held there firmly and bobbed up and down in the breeze. Then she sat back on her heels and solemnly chanted:

BOOK: Path of the She Wolf
11.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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