Ransom My Heart by Mia Thermopolis by Meg Cabot

Ransom My Heart by Mia Thermopolis by Meg Cabot

Author:Meg Cabot [Cabot, Meg]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780330511001
Publisher: Pan
Published: 2009-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

Chapter Eleven

I t had been ten years since Hugo had last seen his home, if one could call Stephensgate Manor a home. Hugo himself could not. The memory of his brother’s betrayal was still as fresh in his memory as if it had occurred yesterday. And though his brother was long gone, and his parents as well, Hugo could not help giving a shudder as he approached the manor house’s gates.

Though the village church bell had struck eight, there was still plenty of light in the sky. It was only the second week of May, but the sun stayed above the western horizon well past Vespers, and in that purple light, Hugo could make out only too well the twin towers that flanked the stone walls surrounding the structure that had come to be known as Stephensgate Manor. Not quite a castle, lacking moat and drawbridge and the normal accoutrements one came to expect from a well-fortified structure, it nevertheless was an imposing building, looming over the village of Stephensgate like a bird of prey.

Constructed entirely of stone, including the roof, which consisted of piled slate, and the six-foot-tall wall surrounding the house and its adjoining stables, bakehouse, and storehouses, Stephensgate Manor been built as a shelter for Stephensgate’s lord and his minions during a time of warfare, but the only concession to that purpose were the towers that flanked the two-story structure. Topped by battlements jutted with merlons, behind which archers might crouch, the towers served no purpose other than a military one, as the only thing existing within them were curling staircases to the platform roof.

Since Stephensgate hadn’t known feudal warfare in over a century, the towers had fallen into disuse before Hugo’s father’s lifetime, and except when Hugo or his brother, Henry, had climbed those stone-carved stairs to enact some boyhood prank, Hugo could not remember anyone ever having entered the towers for any reason whatsoever.

Which was why, when he and John de Brissac passed through the manor house’s gates and dismounted, Hugo was surprised to hear a voice call down to him from the battlements.

“Hullo, there.”

Looking up, Hugo squinted in the half light, and saw the face of a towheaded boy staring down at him from between two merlons.

“Hullo,” Hugo said. It was a quiet evening, the stillness broken only by the occasional cooing of doves that nested, as they’d done when Hugo’d been a boy, between the slates on the manor house’s roof. His voice sounded unnaturally loud in the silent yard.

“Hullo, there, Jamie,” Sheriff de Brissac called jovially. He had dismounted, and his mare, relieved from the burden of her master’s immense girth, danced a little on the cobblestones. “Fetch old Webster down here, would you? We need someone to put away the horses.”

Jamie’s head didn’t budge. “Who’s that with you, Sheriff?” he demanded. The boy couldn’t, Hugo judged, have been more than nine or ten years old, but he had a commanding presence, even from twenty feet overhead.

“That?” Sheriff de Brissac chuckled. “That’s His Lordship.


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