“Put me down at once! How dare you handle me! Do you know who I am? I am the wife of Lord Jonathon Attwood, whose title comes directly from the King. This is my husband’s land you are trespassing on and I can have you hung…. or worse.”
To my astonishment, he does not put me down.
“Well, my lady, it looks to me you are more snoop and spion then majesty? How do you answer for that?”
“Put me down sir and I will explain.” He persists in holding me above the earth, his echoed laughter filling the wood. I turn in desperation, see a piece of exposed shoulder and sink my teeth into it. He yelps, dropping me abruptly. I claw the ground, attempting to scurry away with no thought to trug or tools. He reaches, yanks my arm and drags me back.
“Not so fast, Miss high and mighty. Lady of the land or not, you have explaining to do.”
He is right. I am momentarily shamed at my voyeurism. “And you do not?”
We sit on the ground. The women stand at a distance, transfixed. The man seems young, perhaps my age, with sable hair in need of combing. His brows are full, his eyes dark and brimming with mystery. A slight mustache sits below a strong nose and perfectly formed lips, the color of peaches. He is silent, waiting for me to justify myself, but social position forbids it. “I am obliged to tell you nothing.”
“And how do I know you are the lady of anything, hiding behind rowan trees like a common spy.”
I am humbled, believing I owe an explanation. But how do I explain a fascination with a life so foreign to my own? I am silenced by bewilderment and the unknown. I sit searching for words as the large woman covers her nakedness with a burgundy cloak, walks towards me and lowers herself to the earth. She strokes my arm the way a sister might, as reactions of trespass and alarm mix with an emotion of comfort. Her foot is encrusted with dirt, traces of mud staining her toes. Everything about her makes me uncomfortable and yet her company compels. She turns my palm face up, running her index finger along each line. She too is silent, studying something beyond my grasp, then begins to speak.
“Ea este nici un pericol pentru noi. Ea nu este spion.”
I look at the man. “What is she saying?”
He leans forward, his breath hot against my neck. “She tells me that you are no danger to us. That you are no spy.”
The woman stops speaking, her eyes fixed on mine, as if understanding a secret. She lingers, then lowers her head, and begins again. This time she recites for a long time as I wait and wonder, growing impatient.
“And now,” I ask? “What is she saying now?”
The man rises, moving down the hill toward an ornate caravan.
“Go home to your husband,” he says over his shoulder. “We will meet again.”