Dicing carrots for tomorrow’s stew, she thought back to her walk with Perceval. Joan’s best friend, Carina, had warned her about the knights.
“Careful of those men!” the vivacious, curly-blond-haired Carina had warned. “As you well know, I have plenty of experience with men, some knights included, and most of those knights are looking for nothing more than a one-night thrill. Of course I find nothing wrong with that, and have spent many an enjoyable evening in their company, but you should be careful.”
“And why should I be careful?” Joan had asked.
“Because I don’t want to see my best friend get hurt. You’re more sensitive than I am.”
“You mean, ‘You’re a virgin, Joan.’ I know you’re dying to say it.”
Tiny Carina waved off the comment. “No, no, no, that’s not what I meant. I only meant you should protect your heart…”
Joan knew exactly what Carina meant. Joan was sensitive when it came to matters of the heart. Before she’d moved to Camelot, she’s taken a liking to a carpenter, a young man close to her age. A strong liking. They’d kissed a few times, and Joan had found it special. But when the man had wanted more and Joan refused, he never spoke another word to her. A few days later, Joan saw him behind a barn, feeling-up the milkmaid. She’d been devastated, and Carina had dried her tears for days.
Joan was so grateful her dear Carina had moved to Camelot at the same time she had. The two girls had grown up together and were close in age. She cou...
... middle of paper ...
...nderstand why people shouted; this man was obviously in a poor state, and it pained her to think of all he must have endured.
“I led him out the back door. And I gave him some leftover bread and cheese.” She glanced over at Perceval. “All right, that’s not true. I gave him fresh bread, two loaves, and some cold ham. And a coin, too.”
“Weren’t you worried he’d keep coming back?”
Joan shook her head. “Coming from Rheged, poverty and begging was common. If I can help anyone, just a little, I will always do so. That man could easily be one of us; we never know when our health or good fortune will change. My mother dying of the sweating sickness when I was three taught me that, though I don’t recall much about her. Besides, a little kindness never hurt anyone.”
Perceval gave her a peculiar look. There was something in his gaze Joan couldn’t identify. Admiration, perhaps?
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