Idris thundered through Clewth Hall. He was still furious that his wife and daughter acted as if they knew nothing of Sian’s disappearance. It had been three months and still no sign of her. The nunnery he’d promised her to was asking for a replacement, even though he’d thrown their money back in their faces. To make matters worse, Cadell, that sniveling arse was back once more. This time he was attempting to court Gwen.
“Idris dear, please settle down,” his wife called after him.
“Tegyd, leave me alone, unless you care to tell me what you did with Sian.”
“I, sir, did nothing. You were the one who beat her like a dog. You were the one who was willing to sell her to the nunnery. And to be honest, I have had enough!” Tegyd turned on her heel and headed upstairs to her chambers.
Idris in a mood fouler than before strode off for the stables. At least that idiot had seen fit to sell him the horse for a decent price. He saddled the animal and rode out of the stable yard.
Gwen watched her father leave and then let Cadi and her mother know that he was gone.
“About time. I’ve had just about enough of him!” Tegyd was fuming.
“Do you think Aunt Nia will take us in?” asked Cadi.
“Of course she will. I won’t live a moment longer under this roof. Have you packed your things? Is Wyn ready?”
Both girls nodded and then headed downstairs. They’d been planning their departure for over a week. Little by little, they’d moved possessions out of their rooms and down to an outbuilding. When Cadell showed back up and started to pay attention to Gwen, Tegyd went to her sister’s to talk and make provisions for the move. Now it was time to leave.
Tegyd made sure the hall was clear. She went into Idris’ study and left her wedding ring, the household keys and a note on his desk. She put his seal on it and then left. She met the others at the back door where Wyn had horses ready. Quietly, they rode off into the woods, heading for Nia’s cottage.
Nia watched as the riders came into the yard of her cottage. Before they could dismount, she headed for Tegyd’s horse. “Sister, I suggest you ride straight home.”
“Back to Clewth Hall? I’d rather be damned.”
“No! Home! Briar Rhos. Idris was here not more than half an hour ago. Thundering in like he owned the place, and demanding I give up Sian.”
“That fool. Alright. We’ll head to Briar Rhos. I’ll give your love to our brother.”
“Aye. And be careful. I’ve had someone skulking around. Stood on my mint of all things. I’ll send on your stuff as best I can.” Nia was still upset, and wondered who it had been.
“Be careful sister. We must be off.” Tegyd turned her horse and the women headed down a little used path into the forest. If Idris had visited Nia, he might have headed to Briar Rhos as well.
“Sire, we have supplicants at the back door begging alms,” said a kitchen servant.
“More beggars? I’ll be there in a moment. Tell them to wait quietly or they’ll get nothing but dried crusts.” Lord Rhys sighed. “Pardon me Idris, but I must see to this.”
“I must be off. I’ve taken up enough of your time. Let me know if you hear of my daughter.” Idris stood, and pulled on his riding gloves. He followed the servant out to the front of the Hall and then rode off. He’d come to Rhys in hopes of gaining his assistance with Tegyd. He knew that his wife had spirited Sian off. He just knew it. He spurred his horse and headed home.
Lord Rhys thundered through the halls and down to the kitchens. Beggars were so bold lately that he had ordered his servants to let him know whenever a new bunch arrived. It cut down on repeat visits and loss of provisions. He rounded the corner to find not beggars, but his sister, nieces and their woman servant in his kitchen.
“Tegyd? What are you doing here? Do you know that your lord and husband just left? Shall I send a servant to catch him?”
Rhys blinked. “What’s going on. What is really going on?”
“Rhys, sit down. I’ll explain, but it isn’t a short tale.” Tegyd spent the next hour explaining all that had happened, including their own departure a few hours ago.
“Damn. He beat Sian?”
“Yes and had sold her to a nunnery of all places!” Tegyd was still livid. “Then he offered to give them Gwen or Cadi and I put my foot down.”
“Well, you are welcome to stay here. Understand though that he may not be so forgiving.”
“I don’t want forgiveness. I never want to see him again. He flayed the skin off the back of his own daughter. He’s beat all of us at one time or another over the last three months. I’ll never forgive him, nor ask to be taken back.”
Rhys nodded. Women in the family were all strongly opinionated. His own three were just like their cousins. He motioned for the servants to bring up the women’s baggage and then lead the ladies up to the Solar where his wife and children were.
“Tegyd? Is that you?” Rhoslyn, Rhys’ wife stood up as people entered the Solar.
“Rhoslyn! It is so good to see you.” Tegyd hugged her sister-in-law.
“What… whatever are you doing here? I didn’t expect you until later in the summer.”
“Tegyd will explain. I have some arrangements to make and must do it now.” Rhys turned and left, letting the women discuss matters. Once downstairs, he ordered a groom to saddle his horse and come with him, leading the women’s mounts minus their saddles. He’d not be beholding to Idris for horseflesh. Plus, he figured that he would check on his sister Nia and see if she was well.
Idris arrived home and strode into the hall to find it dark and quiet. “Tegyd! Where are you woman?” He ran up the stairs to her Solar, and found it empty. He checked their chamber as well as that of his daughters and found them empty as well. He met the cook in the hall.
“Where is your mistress?”
“Gone Sire. Said she left you a letter in your study.”
“Fine. Is there any supper?”
“Aye. It’s in the kitchen. Only stew as Mistress didn’t leave the keys. Plus, most of the servants have run off. Didn’t want to be here when you came home.”
“So, you stayed?”
“Only long enough. My son is coming to get me. Won’t stay here.” She waddled off towards the back of the house as Idris cursed and swore.
Idris entered his study and found his seal out of place and next to the household keys. There was a note under the seal. He picked it up and opened it.
I can no longer live as I have the past few months. Were this my home, I would throw your possessions out the door. Instead, I have left, and taken my daughters with me. I won’t leave them to be sold as you did Sian.
Do not come looking for me. Forget I ever existed. I will not ask for my dowery back, as I know it long spent to keep up Clewth Hall. I return your ring to you. I have taken only what is mine by law. All jewelry that you gave me is upstairs.
Idris roared. First Sian and now his wife. He threw the letter and then stomped upstairs. He tore through Tegyd’s room and found her jewel box. As she said, it was all there. He stomped downstairs to the kitchen. He found stew on the fire and served up a bowl. Before he sat down to the table, he found a flagon of ale and poured himself a tankard. As he sat down to eat, he made plans to find new servants and perhaps a new wife. One that wouldn’t have ideas above her station.
In the forest near Nia’s cottage, Cadell’s servant crouched. He had watched the comings and goings and was shocked to see Lord Rhys ride up. He was more surprised to see the groom load up his horse with parcels and two large bundles. He wondered if the slim farmer he’d seen weeks earlier belonged to Lord Rhys as well. He kept still and watched as he couldn’t get near enough to hear anything. As it was, he’d have plenty to tell Cadell in the morning.