Author: AragornofRedwall PM
Martin takes a vacation. Post-Golden Age, but pre-Prince Caspian.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Chapters: 15 - Words: 12,017 - Reviews: 1 - Updated: 01-04-13 - Published: 08-03-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8389750
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Chapter One: Vacation
"You know, with all the money you've been saving, most people would have built themselves a castle by now."
I looked up at the General.
"I rather like living at the Cair. It befits a Head Knight."
Oreius' face darkened. My long-time friend was now entering his 300th year. His hair was white, but he still carried himself with the same pride, and his sword arm had lost none of its power.
"It's been a hundred years since Their Majesties left Martin. We're on our third Steward now. Perhaps Aslan does not intend for them to return."
I could see the pain it caused him to say it, even as the words left his mouth. He too was beginning to succumb to the fear that had remained in the back of every Narnian's mind for the last hundred years: The fear that the Four would never return.
"I rather think He does. I'll wait until the end of days if I have to."
"And if they haven't returned by then?"
"Then I'll ask Aslan to send me after them and haul them back from wherever they've been hiding."
"Meantime, what are you going to do with that small fortune of yours?"
"I'm not quite sure. I've considered taking a vacation. My leave has piled up for a few decades now. I might invest some of it, though I'll probably leave most of it in the bank and just live off the interest. There's certainly enough of it."
"I think you ought to take some leave. Aslan knows you've earned it."
"I have been considering a holiday in Archenland. The mountain air should do me some good."
A week later I was staying in a lonely little inn in the North of Archenland. It was owned by a kindly couple, both of them jolly and stout. Mrs. Hill was a fine cook. Her roast chicken was particularly delicious. Mr. Hill loved hunting and his home-brewed ale was the best in Archenland.
Their inn was situated high in the mountains, with a little brook babbling cheerfully nearby. The road was rough, but a horse could make it easily enough with good shoes.
There were few other guests at this time of year, and the nearest town was three miles away. Solitude and good company both dwelt there –a quality I greatly appreciated.
One day I decided to go on a hiking trip further up the mountain. Mrs. Hill packed me a lunch and I set off at about eight o'clock in the morning on Fourthday.
By noon I had reached a small glade with a lovely view down the mountainside. Here, I decided, was a fine place to make my meal. I opened my haversack and took out a venison pie, apple, cheese, and tea-cakes secreted therein. I also took out a wineskin full of ale, and another of water. I sat, munching quietly, enjoying the Autumn colours so brilliantly displayed.
I heard a rustle in the grass behind me, and turned slowly 'round, glad that I never failed to wear my sword. I needn't have been. All I saw was a small girl, crawling softly through the tall grass towards my haversack.
"Hello m'dear. Fine day isn't it? I honestly don't mind sharing if you're hungry, but I rather think it polite to ask first."
My warm smile (at least, I thought it a warm smile) had no effect on her.
"I'm sorry sir. Don't mind me."
With this she began to crawl away.
"Here now, you needn't go!"
I stood as I said this, and she cried out, trembling in fear.
"Oh no! Please don't hurt me sir! I'll never bother you again, just please don't hurt me!"
The fear and pain in her eyes horrified me.
"Child I have no intention of harming you. Please, come sit by me, and take a drink of water and a bite to eat."
"You mean you want to eat with me?"
The tone of her voice would have broken your heart.
"Of course child. Here."
I held out the water-skin to her, and she stared momentarily.
"You don't mean that. You'll only snatch it away when I try to drink."
Tears sprang to my eyes as she said this. I walked over to where lay and pressed the water-skin into her hand.
She took it gratefully as she sat up. Off came the cap in a flash, and she drank so greedily she nearly choked.
"Steady now! There's plenty more!"
She took a few more sips in a slower manner. As she did, I looked her over. She was a young girl, about nine or ten years old. She had red hair, grey eyes, and a tanned, well-nigh sun-burnt complexion. Her clothes were tattered and stained, and she looked as though she had had neither a bath nor a decent meal in quite some time.
"Here," she said, returning the nearly empty water-skin.
I smiled as I offered her the remains of my lunch: Half the venison pie, half of the cheese, and two tea-cakes. She devoured them ravenously.
"What is your name?"
"She replied through a mouthful of pie.
"That's a lovely name. Mine's Martin."
She said something that sounded like "good one", but I couldn't quite tell.
"Where are you from?"
This time I caught her in between bites.
"A village on the other side of the mountain."
"How did you come to be here?"
"My parents didn't want me. They died and left me to an old uncle. He didn't want me either, so he threw me out."
My emotions were mixed between wanting to explain that her parents' death didn't mean they failed to love her, and ridiculing her villain of an uncle.
"So you came here?"
"No. I went from village to village, seeking what food and shelter I could. The one at the bottom of the mountain was the last of many."
"And no one took you in?"
"No. No one wants a cripple."
"You look healthy enough to me."
Her eyes flashed with both anger and sorrow.
"Didn't you wonder why I was crawling?"
It was then that the truth struck me full in the face.
"You can't walk, can you?"
She shook her head.
"Lion alive! How did you make it all the way up the mountain?"
"We do what we must."
"Where will you go from here?"
"I don't know," she answered sadly.
"You'll come with me. I'm staying at an inn not far from here. It's only a little way down the mountain."
"I don't think I can make it there."
My eyes twinkled as I replied.
"Of course you will. You don't appear to weigh anything at all."
I scooped her up in my arms and started my descent. Judging by the sun, it was nearly two when we started, and it was after dark when we reached the inn, Einan asleep in my arms.