By Barbara Weitbrecht
The man who opened the cottage door looked surly and suspicious. He held a stout cudgel in his free hand. In the room behind, two women watched warily.
Rory bowed gracefully. "Greetings and good even, kind sir. My companion and I be two friars mendicant, in sore need of a night's shelter. Gladly would we offer a few coppers for a bed on your hearth, and mayhap a bit of bread for our supper."
At the mention of "coppers", the man's grip on the cudgel relaxed, and the door swung wider. "Aye, we can take ye in," he stated. "I am Rolf, a poor woodcutter. This lady be my good wife Fricka, and the other her widowed sister Aeltha. We be not so poor that we cannot spare a foot of floor or a bowl of soup to God's own wandering servants."
The two women nodded shyly, and Aeltha returned to the hearth to stir the soup, which was bubbling in a hanging cauldron.
"I am Brother Richard," Rory explained. "My companion is Brother Olaf. I fear he doth not speak overmuch. But he is a gentle soul regardless of his defect." He tapped the side of his head significantly.
Bo beamed a gentle, idiotic smile at Rolf and the ladies. Not speaking overmuch should keep him safe from anachronistic verbal missteps. And many people will speak freely before an imbecile, a small child or an animal. Bo wasn't up to impersonating a toddler or a donkey, but he could manage "Lennie". Pity I don't have a dead mouse in my pocket, he mused.
Two extra stools were pulled up to the tiny table. Aeltha ladled thin soup into wooden bowls. Fricka sliced thick chunks of rough black bread. Bo examined his horn spoon with touching curiousity. "I don't suppose you folks get many travelers out this way," Rory remarked, his mouth half full of broth and cabbage.
The three peasants exchanged glances. Rory concentrated on his soup while Bo observed their hosts. Rolf and Fricka were stolid and coarse- featured, and definitely nervous. Aeltha was a more delicate creature, fine-featured, with firm high breasts and long light-red hair bound in a single braid down her back. Bo forced his attention away from her breasts to her face, where he found a contemplative expression. The lady was thinking something that pleased her, something that made her feel superior to her sister and brother-in- law.
"Fairy queen!" said Bo suddenly. "Pretty lady, fairy queen. Cometh here mayhap?"
Rory patted his big hand as if to calm him. "Sorry," he told their hosts. "We were staying at the monastery near Lawrencium a few weeks ago. Brother Olaf and I were clearing winter weeds from the fields as evening descended. A party rode by, a high-born lady with two servants. Olaf was quite taken with her. He truly thought she rode from Faery."
Fricka looked sympathetic, Rolf impenetrable. Aeltha looked... interested. "Nobody like that passes here," said Rolf abruptly. Everyone returned to their supper.
* * *
Faint stars shone above the forest. Bo was cutting wood behind the cottage. It was one of the few things a traveler could do to pay for his keep, and their hosts had happily accepted the offer of a full woodbasket. Rory was inside, telling tales and repairing a broken stool. Bo swung the primitive axe hard, and regarded the shattered log with satisfaction. Not bad, for a city boy.
There was a step on the dry leaves behind him. Bo turned to find Aeltha, bearing a crude bucket. "Just fetching water," she said, brushing a wisp of hair from her face. "Then I have to give the cow and the ass some hay. Wilt thou help me pitch it down?"
Bo left the axe stuck in the chopping block and followed Aeltha to the tiny animal-shed. The place smelled of dry grass and warm beast- breath, with an undertone of dung. Not a bad smell, really. 'A different kind of fresh air,' Bo thought. He reached up to the hay- loft and pulled down an armload of sweet-smelling fodder.
There were hands on his back. Bo froze, feeling them stroke and travel down to his buttocks. He was acutely aware of his lack of undergarments.
"Thou knowest about women, I see," said Aeltha, very softly. "Art thou so big all over? Wilt thou show me?"
Bo let her guide him to a pile of straw, and push him down so he was sitting with his back against the shed's rough wall. Aeltha knelt before him, and slowly lifted the edge of his robe. The night air chilled his legs and privates as they were exposed.
"So big...." Aeltha reached out and touched him. Her small-boned hand was surprisingly soft and gentle.
"Pretty lady," Bo murmured inanely.
"Yes, yes thy 'pretty lady' came by here. But thou will not taste of such as she. Methinks she was the Queen herself, traveling north in secret. But let her go. Tonight thou has thy Aeltha. Hush now..."
Bo's body was responding powerfully now, both to the touch and to the danger. He moaned softly as Aeltha spread her skirt and lowered herself onto him. Good lord, don't let her find the shoulder holster, he thought. Although what she would make of it he couldn't even guess....
Seconds later, all rational thought was gone. Bo grasped Aeltha's hips, and held her as he thrust deep. Her eyes were closed, in pain or ecstasy, and a tiny thread of saliva dripped from her open mouth. It was over in less than a minute. To Bo's astonishment, the lady seemed to have reached a climax as well, a bit before his own.
"Oof," Bo murmured, falling back against the shed wall. He held the warm, willing body in his arms, stroking her loosening hair. "Pretty lady. Thank you."
"Thank thee thyself, big man," she said sleepily. The cow crunched noisily on its fodder. Outside the shed the voices of night continued undisturbed.
Next: I can't remember
Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com