Isolde got impatient lying down, pretending to be ill. After an hour, she sat by the window with her embroidery and sought to capture new plants with her craft.
Twilight approached, the dusk grasping its heels.
“Let’s go now,” I suggested to Isolde. It would be wise to find a spot before night fell.
She set down her threads and fabric, and I tucked the book into my waist awkwardly with Isolde by my side to partially shield me. She carried a light for when it would be needed.
“Where should we…stroll?” Isolde asked me.
I waited until we passed by someone in the castle who eyed us suspiciously.
“Let’s find a tree near the Adventurous Ford,” I suggested.
We stepped outside and veered towards the forest of Mornois.
“But what if the ford moves again? That would make for a bewildering landmark.”
“I believe I could find it, and all the more confusing for others. But then let’s try at least to find a distinctive tree,” I said, scanning as I walked. “There, the oak. It has a deep crevice in the middle with one half arching left and the other to the right and away.”
“Yes,” Isolde murmured. I think she nodded in agreement, but I couldn’t be for sure in the fading light.
I placed the fastidiously-wrapped book gently in the crook of the oak.
“The night is falling quickly. We won’t be able to read it today,” I said regretfully, worried about leaving it in the wilderness.
I thought I heard someone or something snap a twig and froze. Isolde stood still, too.
“No, you’re right. Let’s return tomorrow,” Isolde whispered and turned back, eager to leave the languid blanket of the forest. She reached for my hand, and I squeezed hers to reassure her.
We walked quickly without speaking until we reached the perimeter of the castle grounds.
I sighed with relief.
But had someone followed us into the forest? Unlikely.