The family proceeded into the Knight’s Manor and into the large hall where everyone was gathered. No one was seated except for the grieving parents. The Borguez family went to one of the seated couples. Lady Abigail introduced Sarah to Lord Godfrey and his wife. After murmuring appropriate condolences Sarah moved back to let the other speak.
Looking about the room, she realized that Jason’s family were the only people she knew. It appeared that none of the other Hopefuls had made it to the Reception. Given the people coming and going, Sarah presumed they had already come and gone. Watching a new group arrive she noted Bennett, hobbling in with a very forlorn look.
He’s like a puppy without his Master, Sarah thought, feeling sorry for him.
Glancing back towards Lord Godfrey, Sarah noted that Lord and Lady Borguez were intently chatting with Marcus’s parents. With a sweeping gaze about the room, she checked and couldn’t see any of the three Borguez boys, or Madame Guinevere. So, presuming the coast was clear, Sarah slid over to where Bennett had seated himself. He looked a bit shocked as she sat beside him.
“He died honorably, you know,” Sarah whispered to Bennett.
“What? Who? How would you know?” Bennett demanded. “And who are you?”
Sarah smiled, but contained her mirth. “Sarah Anne Smith,” she emphasized her last name. “Phoenix’s betrothed, or will be tomorrow if I understand correctly.”
“Smith?” Bennett glanced over her once more.
“I know,” she smiled and patted his good knee, “Marcus and I didn’t get along, but he came through in the end, taking a dagger for the Prince and all.”
Sarah stood and left as she noticed Lady Abigail glancing at her. No sooner had she done so then Gregory materialized beside her offering food and drink. Feeling hungry, she accepted them though he was clearly trying to win her favor.
“Gregory,” Lord Robert came upon them, “Goodwoman Sarah seems to be a bit upset by this Memorial. Be a good boy and take her home.”
Sarah and Gregory blinked at the Lord in surprise.
“I’m fine,” Sarah stated, wondering what emotions her face might have betrayed.
“So fine, you were talking to the retainer’s son?” Lord Robert shook his head.
“But he was...”
“No. I think you should go home and think about the explanation I expect to hear when I get back.”
“Robert.” Lady Abigail came up to her husband.
“No,” Sarah stated. “It’s fine. I’m sure Gregory can be a gentleman and escort me home.”
“My pleasure father,” Gregory played a sweeping bow. “Come Goodwoman Sarah.”
He offered his arm to her and she took it with a resigned sigh. As soon as they were away from the Knight’s Manor, Sarah pulled her arm from Gregory’s.
“Does my company offend thee?” he asked. “For I assure you I mean no offence.”
Yeah right, Sarah thought as his eyes studied her body before returning to her face.
“Perhaps a drink might calm your nerves,” he continued. “I know of a very private place with excellent wine...”
“No,” Sarah cut him off. “I think it would be best to return to the house as your father requested, don’t you?” She turned to him, plastering a smile upon her face.
“If you insist, but they are likely to be a while.”
They lapsed into silence as Sarah kept pace with Gregory and he led her through the streets. She noted that he went around the long way, rather than cutting through the barracks as she had done previously. As they rounded a bend and the Manor house came into view Gregory spoke again.
“You know, we should go in the side gate,” he suggested. “The garden is quite a relaxing place and you do seem a little tense.”
Sarah couldn’t argue that point, she was at least nervous if not tense. Lord Robert's reaction to the explanation - ‘the Gods told me so’ - made her feel little hope that he would accept her story. Occupied with her thoughts, Sarah followed Gregory into the garden and allowed him to proffer her a seat. He excused himself to bring her a drink; to help them relax after the depressing Memorial.
A drink to relax, Sarah snorted at the thought as he disappeared into the house.