Another story I started a long time ago. Hope you enjoy it, as this will be a long one.
Sian was cold. Colder than she ever remembered. Her cloak was soaked, and with the rain coming down there was no hope of drying off.
“What was I thinking?” she said to herself. She scrunched down farther trying to use the bare branches of the trees as shelter. Pulling the sodden edge of the cloak over her face, she fell into a fitful slumber.
Stray thoughts of the day played over and through her dreams. It had started out pleasantly enough. Cadell had come to the Hall with a gift. A horse. Sian should have realized then that it wasn’t just a ride in the forest that he wanted. Cadell went to talk to her father first. They went off to the back of the Hall while she had been packing up a picnic. It was to be a day out as far as she knew.
Cadell had come out of the Hall in an aggravated manner. She didn’t think much of it as he had always been rather aggressive. They had mounted the horses and started off down the road towards the forest when her father came to the door of the Hall shouting. Cadell leaned over, grabbed the reins of her horse and kicked his into a fast trot. The horses bolted down the track, and Cadell’s men followed as fast as they could.
Sian held fast to the horse as to not be unseated. She was confused as to what was going on and didn’t want to think that she was being abducted. They rode for an hour. The horses were beginning to falter, so Cadell called a halt. Sian was exhausted and slid to the ground.
“What on earth are you doing Cadell? Why was father so angry at you? You’ve got to take me back!”
Cadell looked at her with frustration. “Don’t you realize that I…” he stopped and then started again. “I asked for your hand in marriage, and your father laughed at me. Said I wasn’t worthy of you. We said things we probably shouldn’t have and I rode off with you.”
Sian was aghast. She couldn’t believe that Cadell had been so foolish. She liked him and felt that he was a good friend, but to marry… “No Cadell. We can’t do this. I don’t love you.”
Cadell wasn’t expecting her words which were harsh with panic and his arm swept up and his hand slapped her face before she had time to realize it was coming.
Sian cried out, clutched her face and fell against her horse. She couldn’t believe that he had hurt her. “Cadell, please take me home.”
He turned his back on her, nursing his own hurt and trying to contain the anger welling up in his breast. He’d risked everything today. He had thought Sian wanted him. The way she danced with him or flirted with him at feast days. The smiles and polite conversation had made him think that she desired him. Now, with her father first denying him and then her, he felt that his world was crumbling under his feet. He would be a laughing stock, rejected by Sian, scorned by her father, he would have to leave the valley. There was no going back to his mother’s farm. He’d taken all she had to buy the horse and to put money aside so that he’d be able to find a house for him and Sian. The marks were a heavy weight in his pouch. Cupping the pouch in his hand, he made a decision. If she didn’t want him, he’d leave her here in the forest. Let the animals or the brigands of the area have her. He was so angry that he signaled his men to follow him.
Sian watched them mount the horses and called to Cadell. “Are we going home?”
“No, I’m leaving. You obviously thought that teasing me and leading me on was fine in the Hall, but away from it I see you for the sniveling brat of a girl child that you are,” he said with scorn in his voice.
“Cadell! What are you saying? I never told you that I wanted you as a husband. Dances on feast days aren’t a courtship. Please, this is all a misunderstanding. Take me home.” Sian didn’t understanding the depth of his hurt or her own predicament.
Cadell turned his horse towards her, scowling. “You are worthless. How could I have ever thought to like you, let alone think that you loved me.” His contempt was palpable. He swung his riding crop at her. As it slapped across her shoulders, she fell. Cadell urged his horse into a trot leaving her on the ground in the dust of the departing horses.
Sian had lain there, trying to comprehend what had happened. She got to her feet and started walking towards the horse that Cadell had brought her. She almost had the reins in her hand when Cadell came galloping back. Without speaking a word, he grabbed the reins of the horse from her grasp, turned and rode away with the horse trailing behind him.
Sian could scarcely believe what had just happened. In the space of half a day she’d been abducted and abandoned. She sat in the dirt, head in hands and cried.
Slowly, her tears stopped and she wiped her face on a corner of her cloak. Sian stood and dusted herself off. On the ground was a pouch. It was the lunch she had packed. It must have come off the horse when she had dismounted. She picked it up and tied it to her belt. At least she had a bit of food.
Looking around, she realized that the road was totally unfamiliar. Cadell had taken some up valley path that she didn’t recognize. Sian stared down the path the way that they had come. She hoped that it wouldn’t take her too long to get home. She’d never been this far without family or at least a stable lad. The trees seemed to press in and the fears of being lost made Sian miserable. She didn’t deserve this. Yes, she’d flirted, but what young woman didn’t flirt. You had to attract the attention of the young men somehow. Sian thought of all that had gone on with Cadell over the last few months as she walked. None of this made sense. She had never lead him on, nor treated him any different than Cian, Tomos or the other young men that frequented the Hall. The only thing she was certain of was the fury of her father when she got home. He’d never believe that she hadn’t encouraged Cadell’s behavior.
It started to rain. Sian pulled the hood of her cloak up and kept walking. She came to a fork in the road, but the rain had muddled the tracks and she couldn’t remember which way that they had come from. She went left, as it was downhill. Much to her dismay, after a short while, she came to another fork. Sian began to get worried as this looked less and less like the way home. The rain was falling harder and she was wearing out. She was lost and knew it. She was tired, so she left the road and climbed the bank to a beech tree. There she tried to find a dry spot. Under the cover of her cloak, she ate a bit of the bread and fruit from her pouch. She was hungry, but decided to save a bit. It was still raining and she was cold. She wrapped up in her cloak and drifted off to sleep.