If you’re interested in reading a short story set in a medieval time that involves two sisters going to a witch’s community for help then read the first chapter down below. It is currently available only on Amazon through KPD Select. From June 6 it will be available on Smashwords.
Turning over in bed, Daphne looked at her younger sister. Edwina looked so peaceful asleep, so unbothered by the world. Her face was so angelic. Daphne scrunched up hers. If the situation were reversed, then there would be no problem. It just wasn’t fair that the world treated them differently.
She listened to the commotion down below. Her father and brother were already up and packing for their trip to the nearest town. She listened as they exited the house. Their voices rose up into their bedroom window.
‘Hopefully, this will take us through the winter,’ her father said to their mother.
‘It always does,’ her voice was quiet and soothing.
‘Hold the fort while I’m away.’
Avoiding the floorboards that squeaked, Daphne stared out the window and down at her family. Eric was already on the cart with their father climbing onto it. Her mother was standing beside it. Then the two of them rode off through the early morning mist. It could be a week before they sold all their pelts.
‘Wake up Ed,’ Daphne said as she shook her sister’s shoulder.
‘What?’ she was annoyed and turned away.
‘I have to tell you and mother something now that Father and Eric are gone.’
‘Wha? Later,’ she pulled the thick wool sheets over her head.
The pair descended the curved wooden steps and as Edwina was about to fall asleep again at the table she heard her sister speak.
‘Mother, I have to tell you something.’ The sound of her distressed voice opened her eyes. ‘I’m with child’.
‘Oh, dear Lord!’ cried their mother after a moment. ‘How? Who? When?’
‘I haven’t received my bleeds in six weeks.’
‘It’s one of those men Eric hangs out with at the Tavern, isn’t it?’
Daphne gulped and before she could say anything her mother continued, ‘Don’t worry the women of Evelyn can get rid of it.’
‘What those damned witches?’
‘How can you even say that? Those women provide a valuable service to the community. And you need it now.’ Daphne began to tear up. ‘You should know better than to believe what comes out of the mouths of those types men.’
Then she turned to Edwina. ‘You’re not in the same boat as your sister, are you?’
‘No, I’m still a maiden.’
The look on their mother’s face was harsh. ‘I will not have a disgrace for a daughter. Damn it. No one is going to want you now. Why did you do this yourself?’ Then she calmed herself as her eldest daughter began to cry. ‘You will go to Evelyn and they will fix everything. I can’t go because it will look suspicious. Edwina, you will accompany your sister. If people ask, say she’s coming down with the pox.’ Then she left through the front door. Daphne was silent as tears fell down her face.
‘Who is it?’ Edwina asked. Her sister shook her head. Why wasn’t she saying? Her stomach clenched as she thought that how the child was conceived. What type of man would hurt her sister like that? Their mother shouldn’t have blamed her if that was the case.
She couldn’t place a time when Daphne was alone with a man here. Unless it didn’t happen in the house. Maybe it happened in a few moments of stolen privacy. Maybe behind the Tavern? And Daphne was not one who could count on looks to ease her passage through life. A child out of wedlock would mark her out. At least someone can hide their lost girlhood.
Then their mother re-entered the house. ‘The mule is saddled up. You two will ride along the cliffs until you get to Evelyn. It will take you all day, so you need to leave now. Edwina, I need to talk to you. Daphne, pack some food; the women are not a charity you will be expected to do chores in exchange for their services.’
Outside the house, Edwina and her mother talked. ‘Did you know about this?’
‘No, I only just found out.’
‘Mr. Cole will not have his son to marry into a family that has a tainted daughter. Make sure your sister comes back without it.’
‘Don’t let her out of your sight.’ Then her tone changed slightly. ‘I have to admit. I’m surprised that she managed to find someone to lay with. I would have thought it would be you in this position.’ Edwina knew exactly what her mother was referring to. How could two full blood sisters look so different from each other? It was almost like the Lord himself had taken the beauty that should have been halved between the two of them and gave it all to her. h seemed destined that Edwina was made divinely beautiful so that she could secure a rich man.
She thought of Eli Cole, the only son and heir of Mr. Cole the biggest landowner in the region. According to her mother, how Edwina played herself would decide how her life would turn out.
‘No, I will be with her all the time.’
‘Good. Also, find out who it is. And never speak of this outside of Evelyn.’
They went back inside, and the two sisters got dressed in their winter garments. It was always windy along the coast no matter what time of the year. So just like their father and brother, the pair set off, but in the opposite direction. They carried with them food in a knapsack, a knife for defence and the order to follow the white stone path and not stop for anyone. Their mother made sure to mark Daphne’s skin to give credence to their story. After all, a person infected with pox needs to look like they are contagious.
The woods gave way to open plains and they turned to travel parallel to the cliffs of Evelyn. Their trip along the most well-known but seldom travelled path was uneventful.
‘How much longer?’ Daphne whined. Edwina rolled her eyes, a lot sooner than seven, eight months, she thought. ‘You can see it in the distance,’ she pointed ahead of her to the singular stubby mountain that was highlighted by blue skies.
‘Really? We’re only halfway there.’
‘It’s going to be sunset when we arrive remember?’ Her sister’s hands tightened around her waist. ‘This wouldn’t be an issue if you didn’t get yourself into this mess.’ She added.
‘You think I wanted to be in this position?’
‘Well, why did you sleep with a man you’re not married to?’
‘I didn’t think,’ her voice stopped, ‘I didn’t think that you could become pregnant on the first time.’ Then Daphne hugged her sister, ‘I didn’t think it’d happen to me. Not like this. You’re not going to tell Father, are you?’
‘No, this is women’s business.’