I Am Morgan le Fay

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Authors: Nancy Springer
king.”
    â€œIt knew me?” I had always felt this to be true.
    â€œIt knew you and chose you.”
    â€œYet ...” This was confusing. “Yet I needed it....” The power had come to me through the milpreve. I sensed this surely.
    Ongwynn said to me in her quiet way, “Yes, you must wear it. Without it you are still Morgan, but... is an uncrowned king still a king?”
    I sat wondering yet delighted, for a king held his throne merely by birth and force, whereas I ... I was chosen.
    I had forgotten my question to Ongwynn, but Morgause had not. “Ongwynn, Morgan’s right. If this is your home, what were you doing in Tintagel, being a servant?”
    Ongwynn sighed in a way that meant she would answer when she had formed the words; we knew this from long acquaintance with her silences. Morgause sat beside me on the hearthstone. We waited.
    When she had combed every inch of my hair, Ongwynn said, “A sending told me to go.”
    â€œSending?” I did not know what she meant.
    â€œA dream. Strong. A vision in the night.”
    â€œSent from whom?”
    â€œMaybe the goddess mother of us all. Maybe fate. Maybe—I don’t know. I am just a pedlar. I obey.”
    Morgause and I sat looking at each other, trying to puzzle this out.
    Kneeling in front of me and to one side, Ongwynn started braiding my hair into many long plaits to make it ripple as it dried. “So I walked into Tintagel on the day of your birth, Morgan,” she said.
    As a child—that is to say, up until a few weeks before that day—I had assumed that Nurse had been there for me forever, like Tintagel, like the stones on which the castle stood. Morgause must have thought much the same, for she exclaimed, “I was a year old already?”
    â€œYes.” This time Ongwynn’s slow smile spread wide, almost mischievous. I had never seen such a smirk on her or such a glint in her pebble brown eyes. “You had another nurse taking care of you.”
    But then—but then why had they needed Ongwynn? I sat gawking.
    She almost grinned. “I looked your mother and father in the eye,” she said, “and told them I had come to nurse both of you girls, and that took care of it.”
    Green power.
    The uncanny power of her gaze. The power she had used against armed guards to protect our escape from Tintagel. The power that had cost her so dearly that she had sickened and nearly died. I hesitated to speak of it, but I asked anyway, “It didn’t tax you to do that?”
    She knew exactly what I meant. Slowly she shook her head. “I was younger and stronger then.”
    I wondered whether there was not more to the matter than that, and I might have asked, but at that moment Thomas called from outside the portal, “May I come in yet?”
    â€œJust a minute!” Morgause and I both shouted at once, and I bolted into my bedchamber, where a clean frock was laid out for me. It seemed that there had been a mighty washing of clothing during the day I lay abed, whether by my human companions or my small unseen ones I was not sure, but my sense was that the denizens helped those who were trying to do for themselves, and that Ongwynn and Morgause and Thomas had done much. The stone walls and ledges shone now from scrubbing. Sweet rushes lined the floors. Fat perch that Thomas had fished out of the spring pool lay cleaned and scaled and ready to poach for supper.
    Dressed, I trotted back to the warmth of the hearth, where Ongwynn knelt at my other side and set to braiding my hair again. “Come in,” she called to Thomas.
    He did so, lugging a bundle of sticks and a sack of peat, which he unloaded, stacking the squares to dry near the fireplace. At first I listened only to the good feeling of Nurse’s fingers tidying my head, but then the silence of Thomas’s back began to work upon me, and I turned to look at him. He felt my look and gave me a half smile

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