Once the leaders had returned to their table the hall became a hive of activity. People started bussing their platters and preparing to go back into the cold. Sarah stayed put, as did her group.
“We can wait,” Sparrow nodded. “Most of you will be riding and only Kevin and his highness,” she nodded to Hermanus, “really need the practice.”
“Still don’t understand why we can use snow shoes,” Charles commented.
“Remind me to tell your mother to have you make a pair of snow shoes this break,” Sparrow chuckled.
Charles shot a glance at her and sighed. “Skis it is then, eh Kevin.”
Kevin shook his head. “I know my mother won’t believe it.”
“So, what about me?” Sarah asked.
“You’ll be sharing a horse with Lady Miriam, if the Lady doesn’t mind.”
Miriam looked up from the baby at Sparrow, bewildered.
“Maybe she should share a horse with Katherine and the child?” Sarah suggested.
The baby had a calming effect on Miriam, which, Sarah thought, could be useful, especially if they ended up fighting. They all watched as Sparrow pondered this suggestion.
“Yes, that makes sense,” Sparrow nodded. “You will ride with the Princess, Katherine and her child with Lady Miriam and Ladies Tralee and Harriet will ride together. Now,” Sparrow rose, “I think you women ought to go visit and exercise your steeds while the men and I practice skiing.”
Once the hall had mostly cleared, their group rose. Sparrow and the men bussed all of the platters as the rest of them began their slow way out into the cold.
“You guys don’t have to wait for me you know,” Sarah told them, realizing they were keeping pace with her.
“It really is no trouble,” Allmarah dismissed her concern with a hand gesture.
Sarah sighed and kept hobbling along, trying to keep her thought to herself. She really, really hated being injured or sick, or in any way less than her normal self. Trying to keep her thoughts from wandering too far she watched Lady Miriam and Katherine. The girl had taken to the baby quite well. Maybe Jason could sleep in their tirug tonight and James could sleep with Lord Farquad.
The whinny of horses, brought Sarah into focus and she found their group had moved to a part of the camp she’d not seen before. A small fenced area allowed the horses some room to move, but it was clear to exercise them properly they would have to be taken out. A man looked up from where he was cleaning a horses hooves and Sarah knew he was a Skathian.
Princess Allmarah stepped forward. “We were told to come here and exercise our steeds.”
The man looked at her and at them all and grunted. He turned away from them and shouted out, “Cwmfen.”
Sarah wasn’t sure if it was a word or name, but in a little while an elderly lady, that Sarah vaguely recognized stepped from the tirug that was nearby. She said something to the man who then gestured at them before going back to his work.
The elderly woman nodded to Allmarah. “What can I do for you Alithana?”
“We were told to exercise the horses we’re to ride,” the Princess smiled, “get to know them better before we start the long road home.”
The woman nodded once more and clouted him on the shoulder as she sounded out a string of words. Sarah wondered if Skathains cussed a lot, or it just sounded like it. She did recognize the word Alithana, so she may have scolded him for not realizing he had a royal visitor. The man’s response was to grunt and finish cleaning the hoof.
“Alithana, you will be riding Brianne’s horse, your maids,” she stumbled over that word slightly, “will share my daughter’s horse, but...” She looked at the rest of them in concern.
“Cwmfen,” Allmarah brought the woman’s attention to back to her. “Good woman Sarah,” she touched Sarah’s shoulder gently,” will ride with me, and I was given to believe that Lady Miriam has a horse, provided by Lord Farquad.”
“His horses are over that way,” Cwmfen gestured to their left. “[Skathain name] will get the others in a moment.” The elderly woman raised her eyebrows at the man and said a few more words to him in Skathain.
The man nodded and stood up, giving the horse a pet to send it on its way. He searched through the group, and brought forth two horses. One Sarah remembered seeing in the lineup, yesterday. The other was just as sturdy of a horse and if it wasn’t for the fact the two had slightly different marking, could have been the same beast.
Taking the reins, Cwmfen gave the man some more orders and he disappeared into the stables before returning with the tacking. These he plopped upon the railing before moving back into the pasture.
“A couple laps around the village ought to suffice for exercises,” the woman nodded before returning to the warmth of her dwelling.
Strangely enough it ended up being Allmarah who began to saddled the two horses. Tralee and Harriet had never done it before. Sarah decided not to ask any questions. Instead she offered what help she could. They got them out of the corral and moved to the left where Cwmfen had indicated Lord Farquad horses had been stabled.