Claudine nodded. “ Pieter and Nicolaes do not play too far from the path. We need to go home after a while to make supper for your father.”
“Where is Margriete?” Verena asked while she was making silly facial expressions to get the rosy cheeked lad to giggle.
“Over yonder,” Claudine pointed. “She is gathering an armful of flowers to fill our rooms with.”
“Meenen is such a pretty little town.”
Claudine fell silent. At least it doesn't have a dungeon like Ypres does. She suddenly felt cold and it had nothing to do with the stirring of a summer-like breese. How I would hate to be confined to a dark prison cell when the air is so fresh and there are all kinds of interesting things to do. She felt her grip tighten around the baby's small form. Verena didn't notice Claudine's change of mood. She was already rushing back to chat with Margriete.
“Mama!” Pieter called. “May I hold Jans please?”
Claudine handed the baby to his brother who promptly sat down in the grass and entertained him by tickling his face with a daisy.
What happy, sweet children I have, and such a good husband. Why then am I feeling cast down in my soul, all of a sudden? Claudine started singing and the rich, pure tones filled the air with a rare beauty.
Claudine had a good soup cooking by the time Piersom entered the door. Claudine quirked her eyebrows. He didn't bound in with his usual boisterous good humor.
Piersom motioned for her to step outside.
“Margariete, you can start feeding Jans. He's so hungry after all that fresh air this afternoon. Yes, Piersom?”
Her husband closed the door behind Claudine before speaking. Then he laid his hands on her shoulders and looked deep into her warm, brown eyes. “ Hendric matched my step as I was returning home from work.”
Claudine nodded. Why such a sober look?
“Titelmannus is out and about.”
“Who is he?” Why did I whisper?
“The Dean of Ronse.”
When his wife still wore a blank expression, Piersom continued, “The Inquisitor. A pious councillor warned me to flee. I will hide in yonder woods.”
“Could you not pause to sup with us? You must be tired after such a long day.”
“Nay, I must hasten. He may have rounded up the bailiffs already to come and fetch me.” He turned to go, then paused. “You come, to, Claudine. They may be after you as well.”
Claudine knew the danger they were in. “I will fetch the baby, but you go! Go! Don't wait for me! I'll be but a moment later.”
“Why doesn't Papa come in for supper? I am hungry!”
“Papa and I are going for a little walk. Go ahead and eat. Pieter, you can lead in prayer. Hallo Janzie! My what a sopping wet baby! Did he eat much?”
Margariete nodded. “Everything that I mashed up for him.”
Claudine quickly and deftly changed the baby's sodden garments then hurried out the door.
She saw a ragtag, but determined looking bunch of men heading down the street so ducked into the woods and quickened her pace.
Claudine de Vettre