Ransom

Free Ransom by Julie Garwood

Book: Ransom by Julie Garwood Read Free Book Online
Authors: Julie Garwood
boasting of an incredible feat and smiled when he held his hand up for her to see. “Now I can’t do nothing to help us, ’cause my fingers burn.”
    â€œI imagine they do.”
    His face lit up. He was a beautiful little boy, with dark curls and the most beguiling gray eyes she’d ever seen. His nose and cheeks were covered with freckles.
    He scooted away from her and pulled his tunic up so she could see his chest and stomach. “I’m gonna get scars.”
    â€œNo, I don’t think you will,” she began, but then she noticed his crestfallen expression. “Then again, I do suppose you’ll have some. You do want them, don’t you?”
    He nodded. “Yes.”
    â€œWhy?”
    â€œAll warriors have scars. They’re marks of valor.”
    He was so serious she didn’t dare laugh. “Do you know what valor is?”
    He shook his head. “I know it’s good.”
    â€œYes,” she agreed. “Valor is courage, and that is very good indeed. I imagine those cuts sting,” she added as she leaned forward to pull his tunic down over his belly. “When we’re taken back to the holding, I’ll ask one of the servants to put some salve on your fingers and chest and stomach, and then you’ll feel much better. Some of the older women remember me,” she added. “They’ll help us.”
    â€œBut we can’t go back,” he cried out.
    The change in him was so abrupt it startled her. “Try to understand,” she said. “We’re trapped here. This ledge doesn’t go anywhere.”
    â€œI could crawl to the end and see if—”
    â€œNo,” she interrupted. “The rock might not be sturdy enough to hold your weight. Can’t you see how it thins out near the curve?”
    â€œBut I could—”
    â€œI cannot let you take such a chance.”
    Tears came into his eyes. “I don’t want to go back. I want to go home.”
    She nodded in sympathy. “I know you do and I want to help you get back home. I’ll find a way,” she promised. “I give you my word.” He didn’t seem convinced. He relaxed against her and yawned loudly. “Do you know what my Uncle Ennis says? If an Englishman gives you his word, you’ll come away with nothing.”
    â€œI really must meet this uncle of yours one day and set him straight about a few matters.”
    He snorted. “He wouldn’t talk to you,” he said. “Leastways I don’t think he would. Gillian?” he asked then. “I know I was supposed to wait in the stables for you, but then that man came inside and I got scared and ran.”
    â€œDo you mean the baron went into the stables?”
    â€œThe ugly man with the red beard.”
    â€œThat’s the baron,” she said. “Did he see you?”
    â€œNo, I don’t think so. When I was hiding in the trees, I seen him leave with two other men. Maybe they won’t ever come back.”
    â€œOh, they’ll come back all right,” she said, for she didn’t want to give the boy false hope. “If not tomorrow, then the day after.”
    The child’s wrinkled brow made him seem too wise for his young years, and that saddened her. Little boys should be outside running and laughing and playing silly tricks with their friends. This little one had been plucked away from his family to be used as a pawn in Baron Alford’s scheme. The child had to feel as though he’d been dropped into the middle of a nightmare.
    â€œAre you still afraid, Gillian?”
    â€œNo.”
    â€œI never get afraid,” he boasted.
    â€œYou don’t?”
    â€œAlmost never,” he corrected.
    â€œHow old are you?”
    â€œAlmost seven.”
    â€œAlmost?”
    â€œI will be pretty soon.”
    â€œYou’re a very brave boy.”
    â€œI know,” he said very matter-of-factly. “How come those

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