Heir of Dishonor, Chapter Three: Morris

Fiction By LoriAnn // 1/4/2010

 

Daniel left Warrensburg with hardly a look back. He wasn’t in the least sorry to have put the seedy city behind him. He had a life to live—and he certainly wasn’t going to do it in a place like that.
Though…As Daniel paused, and stared down the long road that led who knew where, he felt just the slightest pang of unease. It was one thing to imagine grand quests out on the open road, and another thing entirely to actually leave everything he had ever known for complete uncertainty. He stood there, in the middle of the road, barely forty paces out from the gates of Warrensburg. Could he really do this?
“Get out of the way, you cock-brained fool!”
Despite the insulting words, the voice was wry and amused. Daniel jumped to the side of the road, and touched the brim of his floppy cap in apology.
“Sorry, sir,” he said, glancing up to see a red-faced farmer in a well-built cart. The man pointed at him reprovingly.
“Keep standing in the road like that, you’ll get run over,” he chided. “Where you headed, lad?”
Daniel shrugged. “What’s the name of the next town that way?” he jerked a thumb over his shoulder in the vague direction of the road.
“Morris—got a sister there, myself.” The farmer cocked his head curiously. “Eh…any particular reason you’re headed that way? Don’t often see youngsters like yourself out on the road alone.”
Squaring his shoulders, Daniel attempted to look older than his fourteen years. “I’m older than I look,” he said, avoiding the question.
“Hmmm.” The farmer scratched his stubbly cheek thoughtfully, and then nodded once—a sharp, brisk nod of a decision made. “Hop on board, lad. Old Holly isn’t as fast as those newfangled stage contraptions they’ve got in the city, but she’ll get us there before nightfall.”
Daniel hesitated only one more second—barely even a heartbeat—before accepting the hand that the farmer held out to him, and climbing aboard the cart.
“Morris it is, then,” he said, settling into the seat.
“Morris it is,” the farmer agreed. He snapped the reins, and the sturdy bay mare stepped out obediently. “By the by,” the man added, hunching his shoulders against the winter cold. “My name’s Joseph—Joseph Cobb.”
“I’m Daniel,” Daniel replied, and stopped. The Montague name was well known in Warrensburg, and not for honest reasons.
“There a last name to go with that?”
“Dixon,” Daniel said quickly—too quickly.
“Daniel Dixon?” the farmer’s voice was skeptical.
“Yes,” Daniel winced at the pathetic lie. What would his father, king of the liars, have thought?
But Joseph Cobb simply nodded. “If you say so. It isn’t my business.”
Daniel settled his pack between his feet, and said nothing more.
 
 
They rode in silence for nearly two hours, until the cart came to the outskirts of Morris. At the gate, Daniel tapped Farmer Cobb’s arm and asked him to stop.
“I’ll get off here,” he said, standing and slinging the pack over his shoulder.
“Are you sure, lad? I’m sure my sister would welcome you for dinner, if you wanted it.”
Daniel’s mouth watered at the thought of a hot meal, but he shook his head. “I know a good inn—I’ve got some money.” He didn’t trust himself to keep his history a secret in the friendly atmosphere of a farmer’s family dinner.
Farmer Cobb nodded and let him jump down just inside the city gates. “Good luck to you, Daniel Dixon,” he said. “And if you ever need anything, look up old Joseph Cobb. I make you no promises, but…” he shrugged. “Just keep the name in your hat.”
Daniel gave Cobb a thankful smile—though he sincerely doubted that he’d ever take the man up on his offer. “Thank you sir,” he said, turning to go.
Behind him, he heard Cobb chirrup to Holly, and the cart moved off down the gray, damp street.
Morris was a better town than Warrensburg—partly because it was smaller and less crowded, though Daniel didn’t realize it at the time. The entire population of the place was less than half of the neighboring city, but on this particular afternoon it seemed at least twice as large. It was a market day, and even in the dead of winter there were eggs to be sold and dry goods to buy, along with dried fruit from the summer and potatoes that had been kept in cellars and barns.
Daniel stood in the midst of a throng of people, still within sight of the gates. He had been lying to Farmer Cobb when he said that he knew of an inn he could go to, but he knew his way around streets tougher than this. It wouldn’t be too hard.
Striding confidently across the street to a bakery window, where hot buns steamed behind a thick pane of glass, Daniel smiled brightly at the young shop-girl who was waiting on customers. He waited until she had finished dealing with the crow-like business man purchasing a dozen scones, and then stepped up to the window.
“I’ll take a raspberry muffin, please,” he said with a charming grin.
The shop-girl, a pretty human with skin the color of a pecan, returned the smile. “You’re the first person to say “please” today,” she confided, reaching under the counter for the muffin. “Here.”
Daniel slipped one of his smallest coins from the hidden hem pockets—though by slight of hand, he made it seem as though he pulled it from the outer pocket of his jacket. He took the paper packet the girl handed him and looked inside. “Oh,” he said, looking up at her and sliding his hand into the paper. “I only asked for one muffin.”
She shook her head. “The extra one is for saying “please”. I mean, how hard is it to show some simple courtesy? But most people around here are in such a hurry…” she shrugged. “Anyway, it’s on the house.”
Daniel gratefully bit into the muffin, savoring the tart-and-sweet taste of the raspberries. “Thanks,” he said. “Say…I don’t suppose you can recommend a good inn around here?”
“I didn’t think you were a local.” The shop-girl thought for a moment. “Go down this street until you come to the candle maker’s. There’s a side street there called Beadle Lane, and there’s an inn down that way that’s pretty good. The sign of the Dragon’s Horn—tell them Marty sent you.”
“Are you Marty?” Daniel asked with a cocked brow.
The girl laughed. “No—I’m Pricilla. But my sister is Marty, and the owner of the Horn is her beaux. Simon will treat you well.”
Another customer came up behind him, and Daniel stuffed the last bite of his muffin into his mouth. Toasting Pricilla with the bag, he grinned a crumbly grin.
“Fanks,” he mumbled through the muffin. Swallowing, he repeated himself more clearly. “That is—Thanks.”
She laughed and waved him away. Daniel moved off down the street and merged with the slow flow of the crowd, skillfully blending in with the general hubbub. He did so without thinking, and suddenly grimaced. Dominic Montague had taught him that trick so he could pick the pockets of unsuspecting strangers.
“No more of that,” he muttered to himself, pulling the other muffin from the bag and biting into it.
At the candle maker’s shop, he turned left down the street proudly marked Beadle Lane. There, just a block away and marked with a colorful sign, was the Dragon’s Horn.
Daniel entered the warm, yellow-lit common room of the inn with a sigh of relief. Out of the biting cold, his nose finally began to thaw—enough to take in the mixing scents of the inn, anyway. The yeasty smells of baking bread and fermenting ale mingled with the sharper odors of sweat and the burning wood in a great fireplace. Men—several already deep in their cups, for all that it was barely dinner time—sat at small tables scattered around the low-ceilinged room. The wooden floor was swept clean, and a burly man with a thick beard wiped down an empty table nearby.
He looked up as Daniel approached and smiled, his teeth white in a dark face. “You looking for a room, elfling?”
Daniel bristled at the belittling term, but the friendliness in the human’s face kept him from returning the insult as bitingly as he wished. “Yes, human,” he said.
The man laughed and ran a hand over his short-cropped black hair. “Sorry, lad. I didn’t mean to be rude—we don’t get many of your kind around here, that’s all. And those we do tend to be the big warrior types, not…”
“Not scrawny boys like me, right?” Daniel raised an eyebrow questioningly.
“Right. But you’re bigger than I was at your age, so…” the human tossed his rag over his shoulder, where it draped damply across his homespun tunic. He held out a hand to shake. “I’m Simon.”
Daniel shook the man’s hand firmly. “Daniel Dixon,” he said, in an equally firm voice. “Marty sent me.”
Simon laughed; a hearty belly laugh that caused several of the men nearby to glance over curiously. “No she didn’t,” he said slapping Daniel’s shoulder. “Pricilla did. Marty never sends people over here—but Pricilla is forever pointing people my way and telling them to say that Marty sent them.”
“Why?”
Simon shrugged. “I think she thinks it will make me propose to her sister faster. Don’t ask me why she thinks that…the girl is beyond me.” He jerked a thumb in the direction of the bar counter. “Pull up a stool lad—I won’t let Pricilla make a liar out of me. You’re about to eat the dinner of a lifetime.”

Comments

:0)

Fun story! I really like the world you're building. Don't worry about not finishing this story--you've got me too hooked to allow you to do that!

And btw, I think that beaux is plural--beau is one.

Heather | Tue, 01/05/2010

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Fun story! Keep writing,

Fun story! Keep writing, please :)

Laura Elizabeth | Tue, 01/05/2010

*************************************************
The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

Aww...

I love it! The Dragon's Horn...I'd like to stay at an inn with that name...and raspberry muffins...oh, you're making me hungry.

Julie | Wed, 01/06/2010

Formerly Kestrel

:)

Yea! I'm glad people are liking this. I think I'm about 6-10 chapters from finishing Ander, so HoD can take its place when afterward.

LoriAnn | Wed, 01/06/2010

Ander is almost over?! thats

Ander is almost over?! thats awful. Ah well. I really like how this story is coming, and Pricilla.

Kay J Fields | Wed, 01/06/2010

Visit my writing/book review blog at http://transcribingthesedreams.blogspot.com/

Hey this is good!

Not as good as The Tale of Ander Collins , but its funny and it has a similars with SOMETHING I know about with boys who eat from bakerys and have adventures. LOL. Good job

Kassady | Fri, 06/25/2010

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

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