Turning, Sarah and the others watched the door in trepidation, until Sharon appeared with supper. A collective sigh left the four women’s lips. Grateful to see someone who could help her, Sarah strode over to help unload the tray.
“There’s only enough for them,” Sharon told her. “You’re expected down in the dining hall in an hour, after you have bathed and dressed.”
“Do you still have the shirt I was wearing when I got here?” Sarah asked in a whisper as the other girls joined them.
“Of course, I was given explicit instructions...” the woman stopped and glanced about, particularly at the door, which was open and unguarded. Furtively she pulled a note from under a plate and handed it to Sarah. “I’ll get your shirt.” She glanced about again as two men entered with a tub.
Moving to the other side of the room Sarah turned to face the fire to read the note. It had been hastily scrawled and though she didn’t know James’s hand writing, she gathered it was from him. At least, there wasn’t anyone else she could think of who would send a note by Sharon.
Jay, she thought out, interrupting whatever it was he was doing. James is coming out to meet you.
What? Jason though back in slight astonishment.
Listen, Sarah read him the note, ‘Tonight, at dusk, I lead men out to uncover the cause of recent patrol mishaps. My Uncle will know who we are. You must make your move soon, or I fear your woman shall find her fate much the same as my Uncle’s daughter, and all the other women who have passed through these walls. I even begin to fear for the one we must protect.’
There was a slight pause. Read it again, he commanded and Sarah did so. He thought for another moment and then asked her to read it one more time. Now burn it, he told her once she had finished. Do not let Wholawski know James is on our side. Do not once mention my name, in any form to him. Other than that, play as you feel fit to keep yourself and the other ladies safe. I love you and with the Gods help, we shall be sleeping in the same bed on the morrow.
Sarah smiled and casually fed the letter to the fire. Turning, she found that her bath was ready and the maids going through the closet. Sharon reappeared with a towel, which she set upon the couch before leaving. Folded into the towel was Sarah’s willow cloth shirt, looking as though it had been bleached.
I’m bathing Jay, and then I must dress, so I’ll talk to you again when I have my shirt on.
No need, he informed her. It will be better for us to be distant so that we can do what it is we have to do without worrying the other.
Sarah felt her breath catch. Jay?
Do not worry. We should soon be close enough that Willow cloth will not be needed.
Right, Sarah sighed, knowing she’d worry anyway. I love you.
As I love you. Jason filled her mind with love as she slipped off the Willow pants and plunged into the bath, feeling very naked indeed.