Lady In Waiting Rewritten: Chapter 2

Jules Hopkins, Features Co-Editor

The carriage was silent. The man sitting across from her had captivated Anne. The few words he spoke had placed him squarely in the ‘dangerously exciting’ category of men. His clever wit and silver tongue had Anne focused on his every word. It also didn’t hurt that, for all that he was dirty and rough, Henry was quite lovely to look at.

All of this was not ideal considering the fact that he and the men, who she could only assume were a part of his gang, had taken them hostage.

Anne had never been good at being silent and seeing as how no one was interested in asking questions, she supposed that she would have to do it for them. Clearing her throat and adjusting her dress, she asked, “What did the king do to you?”

This must not have been appropriate because the princess whipped her head at Anne with wide eyes and flared nostrils.

Henry just laughed. “That’s quite brave for a hostage to ask, isn’t it. Not interested in being silent like your friends, are you?”

Annes mouth was dry and a smarter lady would have shut up but still she continued. “It’s a good question, is it not? You and your gang of ruffians have taken his precious daughter and a handful of her helpers captive. That’s a lot of trouble for high taxes, so clearly something he did upset you greatly. What was it?”

Henry had stopped laughing. The princess and other lady-in-waiting stared in horror. For a split second, Anne wondered if maybe she should have stayed quiet.

Fortunately, she didn’t have to worry about it for very long. The carriage came to a sudden halt, sending the ladies flying forwards. Anne had been forced to plant her feet, as her face grew dangerously close to Henrys.

The men outside began to unload their horses. Henry became distracted and Anne thanked the Lord above that he was no longer focused on her. Interesting as he might have been, she had forgotten that he still had a knife and had kidnapped them with little to no effort.

A tall man with blond hair opened the door again. He was dressed nicer than the rest, clothes clean, besides the boots, although they too looked as though they were well cared for. Gently, he helped everyone out of the carriage. Jane, who fell in the carriage, nearly fell again but he caught her. His hands were large enough to encircle her waist, thought to be fair Jane who fell in the carriage was terribly small and younger then the other ladies to begin with.

Several other men surrounded them, linking rusted iron chains around the captives’ wrists. A slight push and they began the walk towards a large tent setup. How they could afford any of this was beyond Annes understanding, although she supposed that stealing it wasn’t out of the question. After all, a kidnapping was just stealing people instead of objects.

Annes focus lay on the Tall Man. He was thicker, built tough and muscular, but his feet seemed to glide across the dirt floor. Tall Man was interesting and a welcome distraction from the current predicament. He turned, sensing her eyes, and Anne quickly ducked her head. Just like Henry, Tall Man was still the enemy and she pinched herself to remind herself of it.

As they approached the tents, she could make out the smell of burnt meat. This didn’t appear to alarm the thieves, but she scanned the area anyway. Ruffians probably weren’t very good cooks. Tall Man also seemed to be bothered by the smell, so it was nice to know at least one of the gang would be sure not to kill all the ladies with poorly cooked food. Before she could locate the source though, the princess began to wail.

The men rolled their eyes but ignored her otherwise. Anne herself knew the feeling well. Tall Man began to walk forward but another man with muted green eyes held him back, speaking in a language Anne didn’t recognize.

The wails increased, and Anne remembered that she was somewhat obligated to help the poor woman. She sat beside her, cooing soft reassurances and pretending that the princess was a child not a full grown woman. Her voice mixed with the others and she hoped they hadn’t noticed her hesitation.

“Oh, Kate, don’t cry. Everything will be alright,” another girl named Jane said. Jane, who clearly has no manners, is not the sharpest knife in the kitchen, but she was nice enough. Her insistence on calling the princess by her given name was frowned upon by the other girls, but no one dared say anything since the princess didn’t seem to mind all that much.

To be clear, Jane who fell in the carriage is different from Jane who had no manners. In total, the ladies numbered to 7. Of those 7, there are three Janes, two Annes and two Catherines. Catherine who likes to bake is far nicer than Anne who has six brothers but not as kind as Jane whose father is a farmer. They all had last names but Anne (the common folk, not the six brothers) could never seem to remember them. Last names weren’t exactly common back home and the first time someone had said her last name, she had been highly confused.

Anne disliked using the princesses’ given name at all. It felt informal and left a bad taste in her mouth. As far as Anne was concerned, royalty were to be treated with the utmost respect lest you find yourself on the wrong side of a knight’s blade. Jane, who has no manners, always got away with it though, so Anne just pursed her lips and tried to ignore it.

The princesses’ cries brought her back to the present. “My poor baby boy! I didn’t get to say goodbye!” The princess’ words were slurred and hard to understand, but Anne managed to make out the important parts.

Henry scoffed. He had switched his bloody pants for a cleaner set at some point and it made him all the nicer to see. The knife holstered on his hip kept Anne from staring too long. It was a welcome reminder to keep her distance, never mind how curious he was.

The men had given up on pretending to not hear the ladies and had started to openly glare at them as they moved heavy satchels off of the horses and into semi-organized piles of junk.

It was as she watched them that Anne had begun to realize the truly precarious situation she and the other girls were in. Besides the obvious danger of being kidnapped, their captors had no need for the ladies, only the princess. The Ladies-in-waiting were only kept alive by some miracle and perhaps bad planning on behalf of the gang. Their lives depended on their usefulness and subservience, one of which was not a trait Anne was known for.

A loud crash rang out from the back of the general area, distracting the men from the princesses wails. Catherine, who is built like a war horse, had tackled Mr. Green Eyes. He had clearly put up a fight judging by the bruises around her face and wrists but to no avail. She had always been terribly strong but this was a new high for her. Before anyone else could react enough to stop her, Catherine broke into a sprint and bolted for the woods. Several of the thieves attempted to climb their horses to go after her but Henry raised his hand and they froze.

“No need,” he said. “The sun is nearly down and the wolves will take care of her quickly if the hunger doesn’t first. We leave tomorrow morning, with or without her.”

With a dramatic turn, Henry glided into the biggest tent. The other men stood for a while, clearly doubting his judgment, before eventually making their way into their individual, much smaller, tents.

The ladies were speechless. Catherine (war horse, not the baker) had always seemed rather docile, even compared to some of the other girls. Eventually, one of the thieves noticed them sprawled on the ground and began to collect their chains. The girls were led into a small tent and left to sleep.

The ladies slowly lowered themselves onto the ground. The Janes took off their outer layers to give the princess somewhat of a bed to lay on.

As Anne began to fall asleep, a wolf howled, drowning out the sounds of sniffling and light sobs.

‘I hope Catherine is okay,’ she thought, before drifting off.