''Oh Gwen, there you are. Come along now dear.''

Greta, whom Gwen thought of as an old crone, was really not old at all, but her face upon recognition of Gwen puckered into an angry mask of a witch.  Fury sparked behind her eyes and her mouth shrunk tightly over pursed lips as her long fingers enwrapped Gwen's own delicate wrist, "Gwen!  Where have you been?  This charade of yours has gone on for quite too long!  Come with me!"

Gwen's first thought was to snatch her hand away from the clutches of her sadistic caretaker, but truth be told she was exhausted and didn't really think she had the emotional fortitude to partake in an extended screaming bout with Greta, so she allowed the other woman to drag her across the midway, to the awaiting carriage.  She supposed it would tickle Greta if Gwen were to kick and scream like a child, but Gwen gave her no such satisfaction, and walked as primly and erect as she could -- given the circumstances.

Greta wrenched open the door and shoved Gwen inside, then waggled a warning finger at the girl, "We will talk of this when we get home."

"I am sure we will talk of this long before we reach the Barony," Gwen retorted, though with more sadness than flippancy.  Greta would probably be overbearing in her upcoming discipline, and Gwen was not looking toward the next few days with any joy.  She sighed and watched Greta settle into her seat opposite her, just as the driver snapped the reigns and spurred the horses into action.

Gwen removed her coat and neatly folded it at her side, awaiting the initial waves of hellfire which were no doubt swirling around Greta's mouth.  This lasted for an unbearably long time, but Greta remained silent, and finally Gwen's attention was attracted to the window by her head.  The trip home would take the better part of an hour, so she rested her ear alongside it and watched the shadows of the overhead leaves course across her face as the horses trotted along, the carriage in tow.

She closed her eyes and imagined the fantastic scenery which may have passed them by: a hundred-foot ferris wheel, a troupe of juggling acrobats, a mile-long string of exotic elephants, all the marvels of the world just waiting for her discovery.  A smile trekked across her thin, wan lips, until Greta uttered a soft reminder, "Gwen, a lady never slouches."

Damn it!  She couldn't even relax for a moment under those watchful eyes of her oppressor.  Gwen was usually prone to fight, but this day's events took the starch from her fists and she was more concerned with the fortune teller's story.  So she wordlessly rose to full height on the seat as the carriage bounced along and said, "Yes, mum."

The End

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