Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Afton of Margate Castle

Because I think of of absolutely nothing interesting to say, I thought I'd post a few scenes from Afton of Margate Castle, now available as a Kindle title. Enjoy!



1119 A.D.

Wido grunted with satisfaction as he settled into his bed next to his wife, Corba. It had been a full day, but a good one filled with hard work in his own furrows. He laced his fingers together across his broad chest and breathed deeply. Across the room, he could hear the regular breathing of his six children, five strong boys and Afton, the girl. Next to him Corba’s pregnant body was enticing in its warmth and fullness, but he decided to let her sleep. It felt good to lie alone in the dark and think.

Not that Wido never had time alone. As a plowman he was often alone in his narrow field or solitary in the fields of Lord Perceval, but his thoughts behind the plow were centered on the incessant cycle of plowing, sowing, and harvest. Which fields should be planted with drink grains, which with bread grains, and which should lie fallow? Of course, in Lord Perceval’s fields he did as he was told, but in his own meager strip he was careful not to offend the laws of God and nature. One miscalculation, one failed crop, and his family or his livestock might not make it through the winter.

Today his mind had been of the upcoming festival of Hocktide, when he and Corba would have to present a full basket of eggs to Lord Perceval’s steward. Sixteen eggs they would have to bring, two for each person who lived in their small hut. Sixteen eggs! Wido crossed himself and hoped that Corba had said the proper incantations and prayers to keep the hens laying. If they were even one egg short, Wido would have to load timber for the castle or spend an extra day in Lord Perceval’s fields while his own chores waited.

As if she knew his thoughts, one of Wido’s hens stuck her head out from under his bed and squawked. “Yes, little friend, you have work to do,” Wido whispered, his gruff voice breaking the stillness of the night. “We cannot be an egg short.”

Corba stirred, the hay in their mattress creaking softly. “Is all well?” she whispered, raising her head from her pillow. Her beautiful wide-set eyes were drowsy. “Are the children all right?”

“All is well,” Wido assured her, turning on his side to look at his bride. Dim moonlight streamed through the open window, and Wido was struck again by his wife’s beauty. He loved her, and was frankly amazed that he loved her more now that he had on the day they were wed in front of the church. “I was reminding the hen of our need for sixteen eggs.”

“Ah,” Corba nodded, and her head dropped back on the rough wool of her pillow. “Lord Perceval must be satisfied. What do you think his steward will do if we only bring fifteen?”

“Old Hector will want to extract an arm or a leg,” Wido answered, his voice light. He nuzzled his wife’s shoulder. “Or perhaps Lady Endeline will covet instead your golden hair. But I will not let you pay the price. My life would be forfeit instead.”

“You talk like a fool,” Corba answered, smiling drowsily.

"You would not have married a fool,” Wido answered, caressing her pregnant belly with his rough hand. The child within her womb was awake, too, and Wido felt a decisive kick against his palm. “Did you feel that? Our child agrees that his father is a wise man.”

“A wise plowman,” Corba answered, her blue eyes closing. “What is the use of such a man? Does the ground care who plows it? Does the ox know who drives it? Does the seed notice who throws it?”

“No,” Wido agreed. “But the wife knows what her husband is, and the children follow in the footsteps of their father. Wisdom has its place even among unfree ploughmen.”

“Does it?” Corba asked softly. She turned toward her husband and gently kissed the tip of his nose. “Will wisdom make your eggs sweeter than those of your friend Bodo?”

Wido held her hand and squeezed it. “No. But I have wisely chosen a wife even more beautiful than Lord Perceval’s.”

Corba smiled and a dimple appeared in her cheek. “Alas, Wido, I was wrong. You are wise beyond measure.”



Georgi said...

I love these books...I might have to start re-reading them:)

Colleen said...

I love this book! I have an autographed copy by you. Can't get that on a Kindle.;)Why has this never been made into a movie? It really moved me to tears when I read it and it reminded me to be grateful that I live in present times. I have read all three books in the Theyn Cronicles. It was this historical fiction series that made me a great fan of your writing! Check out my e-mail address. I have used that name for amny years. Blessing on your day Angela!

Angela said...

I'm so happy to read your comments. I'm always a little hesitant to talk about the older books--in fact, this was the first adult novel I ever wrote--because I write so much differently now. (I didn't even know there were writing rules back then! LOL!)

But I do love the stories and the characters, and so for their sakes, I bring them out every once in a while.

And no, I don't know how you'd get an autograph on a Kindle! :-)

Mocha with Linda said...

Such great books!

I have wondered what would happen to author appearances and autographs when Kindles and other e-readers really take off!

Doni Brinkman said...

You know I love this series! Thinking you might write more historical fiction in the future? You do such a great job with that!

Anonymous said...

I'm adding my voice to Doni's. I love your books and how they have developed in style and content from these early ones. But, you do such a great job in making the reader feel like he or she is right there and living in the time with the characters, your historical novels are fabulous, too! I will not dare to advise you, and will continue as a loyal reader, no matter what! Clyde