Gwendolynn's journey

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Which way?

I had been walking for a few hours before he caught up with me. Of course he was on horseback so it was much quicker for him to get around. When Ulysses got beside me, I heard Merek dismount and he started walking beside me.

“You are one tough woman to understand Gwendolynn of Belhawe. I have yet to figure you out.”

I stopped walking and stood looking at him with both hands placed on my hips and a scowl on my face. I didn't want him to get to know me, I wanted to be left alone with my thoughts. I was on an important mission and I didn't trust him not to ruin my plans.

“If I wanted to converse with you then I would. But I don’t, so you won’t get a chance to understand me, Merek of Lavenham.”

I picked up my pace and soon we found ourselves close to a fork in the road. Oh no, I thought, I forgot to ask Muriel which way
was Suffolk. Any time I crossed paths with someone, I made sure to ask the way, just in case something like this happened. I did not remember what way father had told me. I would have to turn around and go back, but it would make me lose an entire day because I would have to stay another night at the same inn, it would take me too long to reach the next one with the time I would lose. I turned to Merek and tried to keep calm, he was my only hope out of this.

“Can you direct me towards Suffolk?”

He stopped and looked at me, realizing that he now had some power over me.

“Is that where you are from?”

I didn’t want him to know more than what he should, so I decided to answer with as little information as I could.

“If you must know, I am going to meet someone.”

He thought a bit, decided that my answer suited him for now and pointed towards the right road. I thanked him and began walking in that direction.

A few hours passed as we walked in silence together, I was beginning to feel that his presence was reassuring for some reason. He was leaving me my space yet he was there to protect me if I needed it. I had always been able to take care of myself, but on these roads, anything could happen so I was happy to have him close. Ulysses was nice to have too, the armoured horse was a beauty to behold. Every time I looked in it’s direction, it made me
happy, nature and animals had that effect on me. I would have loved to feel it gallop beneath me, but a man’s horse was not to be used by a woman. I had ridden many horses as a child, but as I grew older it was frowned upon in the village. I had to put that passion aside since we lived near town and not out in the countryside. The sun was going to start setting soon, we needed to find some shelter.

“Do you know of an inn close by?”

Merek nodded. We kept walking in silence until we rounded the corner and came upon a small yet well kept inn.

The arrangements were different this time, we each had a small and warm room, mine had its own bathtub. The innkeeper, Sybyll, offered to run me a warm bath, something I could not
say no to. When she finished bringing the buckets of water, she closed the door and left me to undress and bathe. As I stepped into the warm water, my sore muscles thanked me immediately. I laid down, wet my hair and rested my head on the side. I felt so relaxed that I fell fast asleep.

I heard the door open and froze in panic. How long had I been asleep? It was still dark in the room, only the lamp gave off a dim light next to me. I stood up, grabbed the nearby towel and wrapped it around me. When I stepped out of the bathtub, I saw Merek standing there, staring at me again.

“Why are you here when I am trying to bathe?”

He just stared at me, as if he was in a trance. He walked towards me, I had nowhere to go, I was up against the bathtub. He held out his hand and touched my wet hair.

“It’s like fire. So beautiful.”

I saw something change in his gaze. He pulled his hand away, excused himself many times and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him. What one earth was wrong with that man? Did he not know that a woman such as myself should not be alone with a man like him? Did he enjoy making me feel embarrassed and aroused at the same time. I had never had a man look at me that way and it was just too much to handle. I did not want to want him, yet I did and it made me so mad.

The journey began early the next morning, I didn’t eat because my stomach was already in knots. I hadn’t slept very well after Merek had left the room, I felt as though he could come back at any moment and if he did, who knows how I would have reacted. As I marched down the road, it made me so mad to think that he had finally gotten under my skin. I didn’t want to like him, he was the type of man that a woman like me should avoid. He acted so strangely around me too. After a few hours, I heard a horse galloping towards me. This time, I turned around, to realize that it wasn’t Merek and Ulysses. A young boy and his father passed me on horseback, I smiled and kept on walking, but inside I felt disappointed. I had wanted it to be Merek. I was going crazy.

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