Memory of Love

Memory of Love
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  • ISBN-13: 9780345434340
  • ISBN: 034543434X
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group


Small, Bertrice


The late spring rain was heavy and chill. Some of it was seeping through the roof where the thatch was worn. The fire had gone out the day before, and the two children did not know how to restart it. They huddled together to keep warm. Their mother's body lay on the bed amid a pool of blood that was now congealed and blackening. The stench in the cottage had already numbed their nostrils, even as the cold had numbed their fingers and toes. The wind suddenly howled in mournful fashion, and the smaller of the two children whimpered, pressing himself closer to his elder sister. Rhonwyn uerch Llywelyn focused her brain again as she had these past two days. How was she to save Glynn and herself from certain death? Their mama was dead, birthing the prince's latest child. Their cottage was isolated from any village, for decent women would not tolerate the prince's whore and his bastards. The old crone who had helped Vala in her two previous births had not been there this time, because this time the child had come too soon. Much too soon. They needed to be warm, Rhonwyn thought sleepily. How did one start a fire? If only it would cease raining. Perhaps they could walk and find another cottage or village--but whatever a village was for she didn't really know, having never left the hill on which she had lived her whole five years. Rhonwyn hugged her three-year-old brother tighter against her when he whimpered again. "Hungry," he complained to her. "There is nothing left, Glynn," she repeated for the tenth time. "When the rain stops we will go and find food. If we leave the cottage now, we will surely die." They were apt to die in any event, Rhonwyn thought irritably. If she could only start a fire to warm them, the gnawing in their bellies might not seem so fierce. She hadn't meant for the fire to go out, but when her mam began screaming with her pain, Rhonwyn had taken her brother from their cottage so he would not be frightened. They had gone out on the hillside to pick flowers for the new baby. But when they had returned their mother was dead, and the fire was out. Not even a lingering coal remained that Rhonwyn might coax into a warm flame as she had often seen her mother do. Then the rain had begun. It had rained all night and into this day, which was al-most over. Suddenly Rhonwyn's ears pricked up at the sound of dogs baying in the distance. The noise grew closer and closer until it was directly outside. The door to the cottage was slammed open, and Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was outlined in the fading light of day. He stepped quickly inside, his eyes sweeping about the room. Seeing his children huddled together on their pallet, he asked them, "What has happened here?" "Mam's dead," Rhonwyn answered her father. "The new baby came too soon." "Why wasn't the midwife here?" he demanded. "Who was to send for her? And where is she? Mam was screaming and screaming. I took Glynn and went outside. When we returned Mam was dead. There was no fire. No food. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to go, or I would have gone. Our mam is dead, and you and your rutting have killed her! She would not have died but that you put another baby in her belly." Startled at the venom in the child's voice, he looked down at her, seeing his daughter for the first time. It was like looking into a glass but for her coloring, which was Vala's. She didn't like him, he knew. Her green eyes glared angrily into his. He would have laughed but for the seriousness of the situation. Rhonwyn was certainly his get and every bit as intense with her anger as he was. "I'll make a fire," he replied. "Go outside and look in my saddlebag. There is food in it. Do not miSmall, Bertrice is the author of 'Memory of Love' with ISBN 9780345434340 and ISBN 034543434X.

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