September 22, 2010

A beginning

The forest was quickly coming to life as the sun broke over the tree tops. Ahead of it, an early morning breeze gently nudged aside the wisps of mist to make room for its warming light. The colors were coming alive after spending the night in shades of moonlit gray and white. Small animals scurried about their business and birds filled the air with their early morning song.  Gweneth walked along a well known path looking for blackberries.  She'd traveled this trail many times but today she was careful to watch for the mother bear and cubs that had left their sign in the clearing near the cottage.  While she'd always had a special relationship with the animals in the forest, she didn't think the bruin would be willing to share a patch of blackberries with her.

A sharp snap in the bushes and a rustling nearby made her jump.  As she turned to see what had caused the noise, she noticed a fawn peeking timidly out of the thicket ahead.  She sensed before she heard someone approaching.  The fawn tensed as if to spring.  Just then a large horse rode into sight, breaking the stillness and sending the frightened deer crashing away in the opposite direction.  The horse stopped abruptly and a young man leaned over it's neck to peer at her curiously. He had a friendly face and kind eyes.

"Well, who are you?", he asked, surprised to find a lady alone in the forest.

She could only stare.  The young man looked to be a little older than herself and was dressed in the clothes of a peasant.  But the charger he was riding looked more like a knight's horse than a farmer's.  There was something in his expression that caught her quite off guard.  Blushing timidly, she dropped a quick curtsy and stepped out of his way.  After a bit of an uncomfortable pause in which she found she couldn't look away from his face, she turned and bolted away from the path into the surrounding trees.

"Blast!", she heard him mutter behind her.  And then louder, "Wait!  I won't hurt you, I only want to ask you a few questions.  Please, come back!" And then more softly, “Blast!”

Gweneth wasn't interested in answering any questions and quickened her gait. She ran a little further and dodged behind a tree.  She could hear him trying to guide his horse through the thick brush in her direction.  Slowly, without making a sound, she dropped to the ground and crawled under some bushes.  She could see him now, drawing closer but moving slowly, searching the forest for her.  Holding her breath, she waited until he'd passed by.  Then she let out a slow, quiet sigh. He stopped.  He couldn't have heard that...could he?  His horse began to back up a step at a time, pausing in between to listen.

"Hmmm....I'd bet my breakfast I heard someone sigh, just now, Dynny."  The horse tossed it's head and snorted abruptly.

"Ah, you think you heard it, too?  Well, lets just take a little rest and make our camp right here.  We've nowhere to rush off to and the hunting should be just as good here as further down the trail."  The young man dismounted and began to unpack his horse without so much as a pause.

What was she to do now?  Trapped under the bush by the man in front and the briers all around, there was no way to escape.   Trying to get comfortable without making any noise was a tricky task on the bed of crackling leaves in her hiding place.  She planned to wait quietly until the man stepped away or fell asleep and then make a run for it.  Ironically, she found herself in a thick patch of blackberry brambles hanging heavy with ripened fruit. Every once in a while the horse would stop grazing on the few clumps of grass in the small clearing and cast a suspicious look in her direction.  The young man set about making camp as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening.  He gathered a little wood for a fire and once it was burning nicely, he stood up and looked thoughtfully around the clearing carefully avoiding Gweneth's thicket.

After a long while, she grew weary of trying to keep an eye on him as he moved around the camp, seemingly doing nothing but pacing and stopping to think; trying to appear busy, waiting for her to make a move. There was something in his face that tugged at her mind.  Some memory too long buried, what was it?  Her thoughts made her stop and ponder, drawing her immediate attention away.  She fell asleep in the shadow of the bush trying to remember and slowly lost her grip on the berry basket.  It rolled out from her hiding place into the man's camp where the horse quickly picked it up and whinnied at it's master.

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