In the morning he gave Barry a washing in a fountain and then found a bathhouse for himself. He indulged in a thorough cleaning and a haircut. He sent his underwear and shirt to a laundry while he steamed away the grime of the road. Thus it was midmorning before he embarked on the last stage of his journey to the village beyond Kolossi where Father Andronikos lived.
By now a new kind of nervousness had overtaken him. What if Eirini wasn’t glad to see him? What if her father shared his father’s views of his intentions?
He had already resolved to pretend he was representing his father and had come to share the terms of the agreement, but that wouldn’t give him any excuse to be alone with Eirini. . . .
John’s changing thoughts and moods produced an erratic pace. Sometimes he pressed ahead eagerly. Sometimes he slowed to a walk as he rehearsed speeches and imagined encounters in his head. He had already passed the turnoff to Kolossi when abruptly, out of a grove of trees, an armed knight burst out to block the road in front of him. John reached for his hilt as his heart leapt into his throat. It didn’t help that he recognized Sir Galvin almost at once. John was (naively) more afraid of his father’s wrath than he was of robbers.
“Been taking our sweet time about this trip, haven’t we?” Sir Galvin mocked with a grin as he blocked the road.
John drew up. Sir Galvin was bigger, stronger, and more experienced in combat. He also rode a larger and heavier horse. Nor did it help that Barry recognized Sir Galvin as the man who often gave him scraps of meat and started wagging his tail in delight. The dog would be no help to him now, and John did not stand much of a chance trying to force his way through anyway. He didn’t try. Instead he called out defiantly, “I’m not going to just turn around and go docilely back with you! You’ll have to tie and gag me.”
“Now why would I want to do that, laddie?” Sir Galvin asked with a grin. “You father simply suggested you shouldn’t be riding about on your own at your tender age.” That was a provocative and calculated insult, John noted furiously as the old knight continued, “He sent me to escort you.”
Damn him! John thought resentfully. Now he would have someone watching his every move and word when he was with Eirini! He glowered sullenly at Sir Galvin for half a minute, while trying to think what he could do or say to shake off this unwanted “nursemaid,” but his brain was empty. After another half-minute he conceded defeat and nodded.
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