The food was long gone now, along with the merry games played by the villagers to keep warm in the winter snows. The ivy and holly so gleefully gathered and hung by the children to brighten their tiny thatched cottage had grown dry and crisp, crackling off their garlands and crushed by shoes to form a fine, fragrant dust on the earth-beaten floor. Today, Epiphany, the day the Magi had presented their gifts to the Christ child, was the last day of respite her family would have from the backbreaking work in the baron’s fields.
“What foolish thing have you done?” Marriot demanded of her husband. Gifts were only given to small children on Epiphany, especially among the poor.
Her husband’s dark eyes danced with that mischievous gleam that had won her heart ten years ago. “Sometimes a bit of foolishness is just what a man needs to bestow on the woman he loves.”
She heard a trio of high-pitched giggles from the children.
“Open it, Ma, open it!” little four-year-old Lottie trilled.
“Aye, Ma. Da’s been ready to bust for days, waiting for you to see it,” said Robin.
Marriot cast a suspicious gaze at her middle child. He bounced excitedly on the balls of his feet, the exact image of his father at the same age with his black hair and bright dark eyes.
“Do you know what this is, Robin?”
Robin smiled slyly, but neither shook nor nodded his head.
Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season is now available at the following sites in the following formats:
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