Laynie In Waiting Rewritten: Chapter 4

Jules Hopkins, Features Co-Editor

Stonecastle had neither a castle nor any building made of stone. It was several shacks made of wood, grass, and hay huddled into a large looping circle. The streets were empty. Henry and his gang walked the women past house after house, each lady carefully avoiding horse droppings and trying their best not to drag the others down onto the beaten dirt road. Anne with six brothers was the only casualty; she went down about 5 minutes into the walk and now smelled perpetually of horse poop.

Towards the center of the huts was a larger building. It was also made of wood and grass, but the roof was rounded rather than flat or pointed and the tall walls had been scrubbed free of mold and moss. It stood in contrast to the huts that surrounded it; bright and new among a sea of dull and decrepit.

The door opened to reveal a room filled with mismatched furniture, silver candlesticks and gold coins sprawled across the shelves, stolen wealth.

Anne didn’t understand. She always stored her money safely for a bad harvest year, not spending it on fancy dresses and shiny jewelry. The others had done their best to explain it, but it had never clicked in her head.

The girls laid themselves on the various chairs and couches. Catherine who liked to bake was leaning heavily on the edge of her chair so as to try to provide more slack on the short chain between her and Anne with six brothers.

As if looking at them for the first time, Anne realized that each girl was silently crying. Resting a hand on her dry cheek, her mind wandered..

The idea of being scared hadn’t really occurred to Anne. She was wary and curious and careful – but not afraid. Henry and his men hadn’t hurt them, not physically. The ladies were an unnecessary weight and yet they were unharmed and well taken care of. It was strange.

The heavy oak door opened again, its weak rusty hinges groaning under the strain. Henry walked in. His hair had been tied back with a piece of ribbon and he had changed into a beige tunic with careful stitching along the edges. The attire was rather feminine and that piqued Annes interest even more.

“How are my favorite ladies doing?” He asked.

The ladies backed away from him, tears streaming down their cheeks. .

“Wonderful furniture here. Very soft.” Anne was a lady in title after all.

“I would hope so,” Henry said pleasantly. “It probably belonged to one of you.”

The ladies gasped. Anne held a laugh in.

“Onto business then!” He clapped his hands together. “Your father has forgotten his purpose as king. If you do everything I say, everyone will walk away with their heads attached.”

The princess shook in her seat, unable to speak.

Fortunately, Anne had no such constraints.

“The king is a very busy man. You’ll need to be more specific if you want our help.”

Henry laughed, “I don’t need your help! You have no value here.”

The ladies gave Anne wide eyed stares, heads shaking side to side.

“Then why keep us?”

“Anne, be silent!” The princess begged.

“Shut up,” Henry said.

He seemed to genuinely ponder the question, giving her a curious look. Several times he parted his lips but no words came out. With a fleeting glare at the princess, Henry stood and pointed at Anne.

“Don’t move.”

He slammed the door behind him. Several moments passed before the princess, in all her beauty, noble nature and god fearing honor, yanked at the chains until she was in front of Anne and slapped her across the cheek.

“What in God’s name was that?!?”

The ladies were in awkward positions, some having fallen on the ground in her pursuit. They all gaped at the princess.

None were more shocked than Anne herself.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You heard me,” the princess shrilled. “What made you think you could speak that way to our captors or ignore my orders?!? Do you wish to meet your maker so soon? How dare you endanger us so!”

The girls watched speechless. Anne, who had six brothers, stood abruptly. The first born daughter of a lord in the eastern lands and betrothed to a high profile knight, she had the highest social status among them and was the princesses second in command.

“I believe it is time for us to retire to our chambers. Your highness, if you would walk with me please.”

Anne with six brothers called to the men outside the door and requested they be sent to their quarters. Confused, the men hesitantly agreed and guided them to a small cabin. The two girls were not close to each other on the chains, but they made it work. No one wanted to argue with the princess or either of the Annes.

Anne of the common folk walked with a straight back and pretended she couldn’t hear the sounds of whispered gossip behind her.