Lady Elinor - Chapter 2
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Lady Elinor


Chapter 2




  Jehana summoned Elinor to join her again the next morning after Mass. Once again, Elinor sat on a stool at the Queen's feet, working on her embroidery. Elinor was silent while she worked on Kelson's tunic, secretly hoping he'd find out she did the embroidery. She was startled when Jehana asked her a question.

"I beg your pardon, Majesty, I didn't hear you."

"I asked your age, Elinor." The Queen smiled.

"I am 9, your Majesty. I shall be 10 in October." The Queen's smile faded slightly.

"What day?" she asked sharply.

"The last day, your Majesty. October 31." Elinor could barely hear the queen's murmured "Rosane." "I'm sorry your Majesty, I didn't hear you again."

The Queen smiled, and took Elinor's hand. "That's all right, child, it's not important. Now, are you almost finished with the tunic? Yes, I can see you are finished. You are very good, a neat embroiderer. Can you read, child?" Elinor nodded. "Then you could read to me from the Bible. Your favorite verses, perhaps?"

Elinor didn't really have any favorite verses in the Bible, but didn't think it wise to say so to the Queen. She quickly turned to the Book of Ruth and began to read. She was just finishing when Kelson came into the garden. All the ladies rose to curtsey. Kelson bowed before his mother.

"His Majesty has asked if you would join us for lunch, Mother." Jehana rose, and took Kelson's proffered arm. She turned to Elinor. "Elinor, please attend me." Kelson glared at Elinor, but said nothing. Elinor followed the Queen dutifully. The King was waiting for them in the castle courtyard, talking with a few men-at-arms. Grooms held the reins of several horses. Brion was surprised to see Elinor, but greeted her politely. "Jehana, I thought we would enjoy a picnic on such a beautiful day." Brion helped Jehana on her mare, then mounted his own stallion. "Lady Elinor, you may ride with Prince Kelson."

"Lucky me" muttered Kelson. Unfortunately he was loud enough that his mother heard him. "Sire" she said loudly, so that all could hear. "I believe your son needs to learn better manners." Kelson turned beet red, then paled as his father turned to look at him. Kelson mounted his own horse and a man-at-arms lifted Elinor behind him. Kelson edged his horse away from his parents. "Stop squeezing me. And stop getting me in trouble!" he hissed.

"Getting you in trouble? I didn't do anything." Elinor whispered back.

"Well, what are you doing here, anyway? This was supposed to be just my parents and me."

"You heard your mother. I can't very well disobey the Queen of Gwynedd, can I? Maybe if you were nicer to me, you wouldn't get in trouble so much."

Kelson grunted, then reined his horse into line behind his parents, the men-at-arms falling into line behind him. It was a beautiful day, and the two children couldn't stay mad at each other for long. Soon Kelson was telling Elinor a funny story about Conall falling off his horse, and she was telling Kelson some gossip she had heard while embroidering with the ladies. Once they left the walls of Rhemueth behind, Kelson spurred his horse to a gallop, a man-at-arms riding right behind them. Elinor, shrieking with laughter, held tight to Kelson's waist as he raced past his parents.

After a while King Brion reined in his horse. "Today we shall picnic here at Candor Rhea." He dismounted, then helped Jehana from her horse, kissing her lightly as he placed her gently on the ground. Kelson swung his leg over the front of his saddle, then held his hand up to help Elinor. "Don't think I'm going to kiss you!" he said. She stuck out her tongue.

It was a perfect day for a picnic. Kelson and Brion set out a blanket, and the men at arms unloaded the baskets of food, which Elinor and Jehana laid out. After the meal, Brion and Jehana wandered off, leaving Kelson and Elinor to clean up. The men-at-arms rested a short distance away.

"Kelson? Who was Rosane?" asked Elinor.

Kelson looked at her, puzzled. "She was my younger sister, she died right after she was born, in October or November, I think. Why?" But before Elinor could answer, Brion and Jehana returned from their walk. Elinor finished packing the baskets, Kelson loaded them onto the horses and everyone mounted to ride back to the castle.

The next two months passed quickly. Elinor enjoyed her time in Jehana's company, but she didn't see much of Kelson and Dhugal. Araxie and her family had returned to Tralia, to her uncle's court. One morning, Elinor sat once again with Queen Jehana in the gardens. Elinor was reading a book of poetry to the ladies when she was interrupted by the arrival of a bishop that she didn't know. All the ladies curtsied, and Jehana kissed the bishop's ring.

"Archbishop Loris, it is so good to see you. How are you doing?" Jehana said.

"Thank you, your Majesty. I am well, and glad to see you in good health and spirits." said Loris, bowing slightly. Elinor's eyes widened as she realized who the bishop was, and she tried to hide behind her stool. "And who is this young lady?"

"Your Grace, may I present Lady Elinor. She is the daughter of Lord Cameron McPharlane. Elinor, this is Archbishop Loris."

Elinor curtsied, but kept her eyes downcast as she rose. "I am honored, your Grace." Elinor answered nervously.

"McPharlane?" asked Loris, as if trying to place the name. "Any relation to Ian McPharlane?"

"He is my grandfather, your Grace" answered Elinor, wishing she were not the center of attention.

"Hmmm." Loris turned his attention away from Elinor, and sat on a chair beside Jehana. Elinor sank into her stool, trying to look very small. "Your Majesty will be glad to hear that our efforts at rooting out Deryni continue to be a success. Just last week..."

Elinor willed herself to not listen to Loris. She was afraid that she might give herself away in front of the most notorious Deryni hater in Gwynedd. She tried to think pleasant thoughts of home, and of her grandmother. Anything to keep from hearing what Loris did when he rooted out Deryni. Suddenly she blinked. The Queen was talking to her.

"I'm sorry, your Majesty, I'm afraid I didn't hear you."

"I said I won't be needing you anymore today. I will see you at Mass tomorrow morning. Archbishop Loris will be saying Mass, you won't want to miss that!"

"No, your Majesty. Thank you." Elinor curtsied to the Queen and to the Archbishop. It was hard to resist the urge to run from the room. Elinor had never been more frightened in her life.

Elinor's father found her in their rooms a little later. She was still shaking, and she was on the verge of tears. "Elinor, what's wrong?"

"Archbishop Loris came to see the Queen while I was there. He was telling her all about a family of Deryni he found, and what he did to them."

"I had heard Loris was back. I'm sorry you had to hear that, but now I think you understand why we can't let anyone know why we are Deryni." Elinor nodded. "I've already spoken to the king about leaving. I told him that my father has requested our return, which he has. I don't want to spend any more time around Loris than I have to. He doesn't like me much because I am too friendly with the Duke of Corwyn. We're leaving tomorrow. I was just coming to tell you to pack your things."

A weight lifted off Elinor's shoulders. She realized she missed her home terribly, that she wanted to see her grandmother. Finally she would get to continue her lessons in Deryni lore. She kissed her father, and began to pack.



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