These are short stories put up each Friday that you can read for free. By the next Friday the post will be taken down and a new one will go up.
They walked down the road as it followed the river, Norwich Castle far behind them and now out of sight. Elm trees crowded the road and birds chirped as the odd pair made their way, the sun fast setting behind them.
Peter would rather have started out first thing in the morning, but things had gone quickly back at the army camps, and he supposed setting out right away was the only thing to do. Still, that’d cost them an extra day, and as it was they’d have to find a spot to bed down pretty soon.
Beside him Agnes cleared her throat loudly, pulling Peter from his thoughts.
“So you know North Elmham is twenty miles from here,” she said more than asked.
“And you know it’ll take us more than a day to get there, right?”
Peter shifted uneasily on his feet and adjusted his hood.
“And that means you know we’ll need to–”
“Righteous Hell, woman!” Peter shouted – he’d refused to call her by name so far, and was proud of his discipline in the matter – “can you not talk for just one minute, even half of one minute!”
“Ha!” she laughed. “Of course.”
Peter shook his head and looked out on the rolling fields around them. The road stretched northwesterly for miles, first crossing the River Wensum before following it to the Bylaugh Wood and then into North Elmham. There wasn’t much along the way, but there were a few small villages here and there that Peter hoped to stop into and see about ale.
While it’d be better to just march north first without stopping, the ale shortage the siege camps had been experiencing for the past few months was enough to make him wonder, and curious enough to stop along the way. He hadn’t been in this direction in some time, but if his memory served, the first village coming up should be Taverham, and still six miles away.
“I mean, you could–”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Peter shouted. “You call that half a minute!”
“I counted to thirty!” Agnes cried out.
They stared at one another in frustration, anger, and resentment for a few moments before Peter turned away with another deep sigh and moved on.
“You could at least untie my hands,” she said, looking down at the two double-knots of thick rope holding her hands together at her waist.
“Ha!” Peter laughed, so you can–”
“Run?” Agnes shouted, then took off at a fast clip across the field.
“Oh, blasphemy!” Peter shouted, then took off after her.
She was quite a ways ahead of him, probably a good fifty yards, and she wasn’t burdened by a heavy piece of plate mail under her tunic either.
“Stop!” he shouted, but she only increased her speed.
Peter frowned and thought of just letting her go right then and there. But then he thought of William and his sudden absence, and Sir Hayden and his shifty eyes in the king’s tent. Then there was Hark, and his plea for him to help the burgeoning English kingdom. If escorting this, this…woman…to the garrison was one small piece of that, then so be it, Sir Peter Godfried would do so!
Up ahead of him Agnes abruptly stopped and spun around to face him. She’d reached the banks of the river and could go no further without splashing across. Considering how she smelled, Peter figured it was her fear of water more than anything that had given her pause.
“Stop, yeah, I know,” she said, huffing and puffing for air.
Peter got up to her and violently grabbed hold of the rope holding her hands in place.
“Don’t you ever try that again, you hear me!”
“Then untie my hands!”
“So I can scratch my nose!”
Peter narrowed his eyes at her.
“Scratch your nose?”
“As well as other areas,” she said with a faint blush.
Peter scoffed and shook his head, but then pulled the dagger from its spot on his thin rope belt. With one deft swipe the bonds holding Agnes’ hands fell down to the weeds at her feet.
“There, happy now?” he asked.
“Very,” she said with a slight smile – no teeth this time – as she rubbed at her wrists.
“If you try that again it won’t be ropes I’m cutting, got that?” Peter said with a stern look.
“Good, now let’s get back to the road.”
“And maybe now I could–”
Peter had been waiting until they were on the higher bank, and then shoved Agnes hard toward the river. She fell right over with a surprised look on her face, and dropped the few feet into the water with a loud splash.
“You…” she spluttered as her head came up.
“…needed a bath, and bad,” Peter said.
“I can’t swim!” she shouted as she splashed and kicked about.
Peter shook his head and chuckled. “Put your feet down, woman.”
She splashed about for a few more moments, then put her feet down. She was soon standing up to her waist, the river rushing by her.
“That’s not funny.”
“Oh, I thought it was,” Peter chuckled as he headed back toward the road.