A Knight in Central Park - By Theresa Ragan
Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.
“Alexandra! Run! They are coming!”
Alexandra turned from her work in the fields and saw her brother, Garrett, shouting and waving his hands in the air as he ran toward her. She jabbed the spade into the soft dirt at her side and said, “What is it, brother?”
Garrett slid to a stop before her and bent forward. His small bony shoulders heaved from exertion. “They are coming,” he said.
“Sir Richard’s men.”
Alexandra looked past her brother over the fields. Twice, her sister Mary had turned down Sir Richard’s proposal of marriage. Until her father returned from his journey north, she would do anything in her power to stop Sir Richard from taking matters into his own hands. He wanted her father’s land, not her sister. “Garrett,” she said firmly. “Hide. Now! Do you hear me?”
Garrett nodded, his eyes wide. “What about Grandfather?”
Thankful her two younger sisters accompanied Mary to the village, Alexandra pushed him along. “Tell the field hand to inform Sir Richard that we have left to visit relatives. Then stay well hidden. I will take care of Grandfather.”
She prayed for her young brother’s safety as she watched him disappear through the fields of tall wheat. She headed for the farmhouse, her mind whirling with speculation. Sir Richard’s father had been an evil man, using force to take what was not rightfully his. And now his eldest son was proving to be no better. Why else would Sir Richard’s men come? She knew Sir Richard was a stubborn man, but she knew not how far he would go. Ever since the death of Sir Richard’s father, rumors had been rampant. Would Sir Richard carry on his father’s brutal ways?
She ran faster, unwilling to find the answer at her family’s expense. Hens and geese fluttered their wings as she ran.
As she rushed up the stairs, the wood planks creaked. Near the hearth, Grandfather rocked in his chair as if he had not a care in the world. Kneeling before him, she gazed into his wrinkled face and tried to catch her breath. “Grandfather, you must listen. Sir Richard’s men are headed this way.”
He looked straight through her, unblinking.
She shook his frail arms, trying to stir him to mindfulness. “Sir Richard’s men will surely destroy the farm if I turn him away, mayhap even harm us. We must hide.”
Her grandfather was as old and gnarled as the oak tree that shaded their small manor. His mind sometimes wandered aimlessly like the branches of that same tree. Once in awhile, though, his eyes would light up, as they did now, and a spark of life would come to the old man.
She breathed a sigh of relief when he stood, using his apple wood cane for support as he moved toward the door. She followed him.
A sickening wave of terror welled within as a trio of armor-plated men rode over the hill, a coiled snake on their shields and surcoats...Sir Richard’s insignia.
One of the men came to a halt in front of the hired hand near the edge of the wheat field. The two men exchanged words. Sir Richard’s man seemed to ponder on what the worker told him before he turned and viciously struck the field hand down with one swift blow of his club.
Alexandra held back a strangled cry as she tugged frantically at her grandfather’s arm. If she could get him to the back door, they could escape through the fields and hide with Garrett. But he was like the old rooted tree, refusing to budge. “Grandfather, please do not be difficult.”
“There is something I must find,” he muttered. He was almost as stubborn as she, and thus she knew he would not cooperate until he had whatever it was he needed.
She followed him back to his room, nudging him all the way. Impatiently, she watched him struggle to reach under his bed and pull out an old wooden box. As if this delay was not enough to make her scream, he then set about searching for a key.
She peered through the open door and swallowed dryly at the sight of Sir Richard’s men outside their front entry. Quietly she shut the door to Grandfather’s room, securing it with a thick wooden beam. Oblivious to their predicament, the old man searched through an ancient wooden trunk. Alexandra’s mind reeled with the absurdity of her letting him have his way. Now, of all times. Raking a hand through sweat-dampened hair, she tried to think, but the