Scarlet Page 25

Rob looked at me. “Scarlet?” he asked quietly. “Not Will?”

I shrugged at Rob and smiled back to the big lug. “Hullo, George,” I greeted. I produced a small ewer of milk that I nicked from Marshal’s dairy. George took it and picked me up and hugged me like a bear, setting me down inside the house. He greeted Robin, but I went in and went over to Mary, who struggled to sit up. I put my arm on hers, stopping her, and kissed her cheek.

“You look right as rain,” I told her.

She smiled. “Almost,” she told me. “We’ve both been a little weak.”

The bundle in her lap started squirming and began to keen, and I picked up their newborn son, curling him in my arms. He looked up at me and stopped fussing.

“Look what she brought,” George said, pouring some milk into a cup. Mary drank and then held it out to me.

“Rob,” I said. “Dip your fingers in the milk and give it to the baby.” I looked up at him as he did what I said. He were focusing hard, but the sadness in his face were gone. I smiled.

“What’s his name?” Robin asked as the baby started to drink the little drips of milk.

Tears sprung into Mary’s eyes. “Scarlet didn’t tell you?”

He shook his head.

“We named him Robin. He’s given us hope, the same way you have.”

“Hope,” Rob repeated, touching the baby’s cheek with his fingertip. “I’m sorry if it’s been in short supply lately.”

Mary’s lip trembled, and tears darted down her cheeks. “Oh Robin,” she whispered. “We’d have nothing left if it weren’t for what you do for us. If giving him your name means our son will have just a bit of your courage and heart, I’d be the proudest mother there was.”

To my surprise, Robin looked to me, his eyes bigger and bluer. “You knew? About the name?”

I shrugged. “Thought it might buck you up.”

He smiled, a big, generous hero smile. I held the baby up and Robin took him, holding him against his chest.

“Scarlet near saved his life,” Mary told Robin, wiping her eyes.

“Did she?”

“A week and a bit ago. The birth was hard, and I was crying out,” Mary said soft.

George nodded. “Scarlet wanted to help, but I wouldn’t let her in; no one told me he was a girl, after all. Her. She, whatnot. And she climbed into the window instead.”

“She told me right away the boy was twisted, and she went and got Lady Thoresby. I never even knew the lady was a midwife.”

I were blushing hot, and I couldn’t even fuss with the baby. Honestly, I didn’t bring Rob here so he could hear them fawning on me. He were holding on to the lad like he were gold bars, though, so I reckoned my plan worked.

“She’s resourceful like that,” Rob said with a chuckle. The baby squirmed and twisted against his neck, and he beamed. Something in my belly flipped over a little bit, seeing him hold the baby.

“I’ll try and get you some eggs tomorrow, Mary,” I told her.

“We’re all right, Scarlet. You don’t need to dote. We just finished the harvest, and we’ll take it to market tomorrow.”

Rob looked to George. “How much did the sheriff collect?”

He sighed. “Near half. We’re still better than most, though.”

Rob nodded. “We’ll help as best we can. Can’t let my namesake go hungry.”

Mary rubbed my arm. “We thank God for your help. We all do.”

A bit of the shadow came back over Rob at that, and I knew he were thinking of Godfrey. He dipped his fingers in the milk again, though, continuing to feed the baby.

“You warm enough?” I asked Mary.

She nodded, and I tucked her feet into the blankets; I could feel how cold they were through her stockings.

“He’s a handsome lad,” Rob said, holding the baby out to look at him.

“Takes after his father,” I told George, and he puffed his chest up.

Mary laughed. “He thinks far too well of himself after you come, Scarlet.”

George chuckled, coming and sitting beside his wife on the small bed. “I’ve only eyes for you, my love, but I’ll take pretty words when I can.”

“I think he’s nodding off,” Rob said, watching the baby’s mouth open and his eyes close.

“I’ll take him,” Mary said, and Rob put the babe in her lap gentle, wrapping him up tight in the one fur they had.

“We won’t wake him, then,” Rob said, nodding at me. “But thank you, Mary, for letting me meet him. He’s a good lad.” He patted her shoulder, and she covered his hand.

George led us out, shaking Rob’s hand and hugging me again. When the door closed, Rob looked sharp to me. “You planned that?”

I lifted a shoulder. “After hearing ’bout Godfrey, seemed like a good time to remember why you’re doing all this.”

His eyes looked into mine in a way that made my breath suck out of my pipes. “You’re every kind of surprise, you know that?”

I shook my head.

He put his hand to my cheek, just touching the fingertips to my skin before pulling away. “You are.”

He looked away and started walking down the lane to Tuck’s, and it were a few paces before my breath came back.

Inside Tuck’s, we didn’t go straight for the back room. Keeping his hood up, Rob pulled Tuck to the side.

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