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In Lady Jayne the land of Thracia is under siege. Viking raiders have taken advantage of its weakness while its men are off to war. So in stark disobedience to her father's orders, Lady Jayne and her cousin, Lady Celia, decide to act as scouts to discover the threat posed by the raiders. The threat is real enough as the ladies learn. They are ambushed, but a pair of knights intervenes, thwarting the attack on the two women. Who were these knights? A pair of brothers, Garth and Rance Devane, on their way to see Jayne's father, Robert DeCorday, Baron of Thracia. The brothers have been sent by King Alfred to spy on the activities of the Vikings and report back. But in the meantime, it seems that they must deal with two headstrong ladies who are not only in need of constant rescue, but require appropriate chastisement as well. Wills clash and sparks fly as the Devane brothers set about to tame both the Viking horde and the Thracian ladies.
From TUMALO BEND 1895
"I hate to bring this up now," said Hank at breakfast, "but the second part of the judge's sentence needs to be carried out."
The girls immediately raised their voices in protest, but Hank cut them off. "I'm not going to do it now, girls. I have business over in Mill City. I'll be gone for a few days. That will give you time to heal up. But, girls, this business has got to be done. I'm sorry but that's the way it is. We'll take that little trip outside when I get back." Abby and Lucy grimaced at the news.
He looked at Diana. "Before I go we need to have a discussion."
Diana hung her head and nodded. Truth was, she didn't know if she could stay anyway. Maybe she wasn't cut out for this type of life. She thought the world of Hank, and she had grown close to the girls. Oh drat it! She didn't know what to do. She felt so ashamed, like she had failed in her most basic task.
Later they walked along the river. "The judge said he'd make a ruling about you," Hank began. "You see, unlike all the others you're neither a wife nor a daughter, so I have no right to, well, carry out the judge's discipline order."
"What will he do then?"
"My guess is he'd have to either order you to leave the county or serve time in jail."
"Oh, my! Hank, I don't want to leave. But if I go to jail, I'm no use to you or the girls. I don't know what to do. This is so awful and I feel so bad. You probably want me gone. I've failed in a big way. I put the girls in that riot." Hank let her go on for a moment, then he put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him.
"If you go while I'm gone, no one will come after you. They will say you ran away and that will be that. No one can make you stay. I won't. And I won't blame you either. Things are kind of rough out here. This isn't San Francisco. We got our own way of handling things and maybe, well, it's just not as civilized as you're used to. I'll get Hattie to take you to the train at Redmond if that's what you want. If you're not here when I get back, I'll understand."
Diana was silent. A thousand thoughts raced through her mind. She was about to speak, to tell him she'd stay for the girls' sake at least when he spoke again.
"There is a third possibility." He had turned it over and over in his head, but it felt right. He'd actually made the decision before he'd returned to find out about the suffragette rally.
"What is that?" asked Diana.
Hank looked straight into her eyes. "Marry me."
Diana looked at him in surprised shock. "Marry you and....?"
"Yes," said Hank. "Marry me and live here. Permanently. With me and the girls. Be my wife."
Diana was flustered. Her heart leapt but she hadn't expected this. "Hank, I--I don't know what to say. I don't....” she looked up, searching his face, trying to gauge his intent. Did he mean it? “Do you really?"
"Yes," said Hank. "I'm in love with you. I guess it took me a while to figure that out, Diana Fitzhugh, but it's true. I'm just a tough old rancher though. I don't know if it's the life you want, or if it's me you want." He released her shoulders and stood back. "I'll tell you what. This is a big decision. I want you to think on it and the reason is, I know life here is rough and I want you to be sure. And one other reason is that as my wife you certainly would not have to leave here, but...there is that other business with the judge."
"Oh my." She put her hand to her mouth. If she stayed she would have to...that is, her husband, or her husband-to-be, Hank would have to ...punish her according to the judge's decree. Because as a married woman she'd be subject to...his discipline. Oh my.
Hank could see her sorting it out, and the implication of what it would mean. "That's why I want you to think on it, Diana. I gave my word. Around here that's important. I can't go back on it. And even if I wanted to, well, just pretend to punish you and the girls, the judge has appointed a woman as a deputy to act as witness. If we become engaged then I'll have to....you know when I punish the girls, it'll have to include you too."
He had told her he didn't want an answer right now. He was going over to Mill City then back through LaForge. He'd be gone a week. "If you want to go, I'll understand. Not many engagements start out with a licking and, well maybe you want to go back to San Francisco anyway. You tell me when I get back."
He rode out the next morning. Diana had watched him go, his shape slowly dwindling in the distance. The truth was, she thought to herself later, she wanted very much to stay. She had come to the realization that she loved this man. But was he trying to tell her to flee? Even as he'd proposed marriage? It was confusing. She decided that she wouldn't go on her own accord. She would stay at least until he returned, then tell him her decision. She owed him that much.
Over the next several days she took to going on long rides by herself. Hank had told her not to do it, that she wasn’t that proficient at riding yet, but she did it anyway. She wanted to drink in as much as she could. The high desert, the vast stretches of Ponderosa pine, the entrancingly beautiful snow capped mountains that rose up abruptly to the south. On these rides she took to contemplating the Three Sisters and their lonely companion, the Bachelor---really the fourth sister, so they said. It was if she felt them reaching out to her on some spiritual level whispering�encouraging her to stay. But did she really belong here? It was after such a meditative interlude that she listened to that inner voice. Turning the horse around she turned back toward the ranch. She had decided.
From LADY JAYNE
Robert DeCorday, Baron of Thracia sat in a chair in the great hall, a cane at his side. With his injured leg he couldn’t even stand without the assistance of a cane. His wife sat beside him and Jayne and Celia stood rather uncomfortably before them.
“So. You took horses and took it upon yourselves to venture out looking for dangerous raiders and brigands. You found them, much to your dismay. Luckily for you, you stumbled upon these men who are not brigands, but agents of our ally, King Alfred, and that is why you are here and not in chains on a dragon ship going north. Is that about it?”
“Father, please. Someone must discover what threats we face. I am a fast rider and I know our lands. I can handle a bow and a short sword. I can�”
“What you can do daughter, is tomorrow morning right after breakfast, proceed to the garden and cut half a dozen switches, and bind them up in ribbon to make a rod for your own chastisement. You too, Lady Celia.”
The color drained from Celia’s face. Jayne spoke up quickly. “But father, we have already been punished.”
“What?” Robert sat up. “By who?”
“These men,” said Jayne. “These men had the effrontery to�to spank Celia and I as if we were children. It was humiliating.”
Garth spoke up. “Sorry, sire but we came upon them in the hut. We thought they were thieves. They said they were village girls, so we punished them in a way appropriate for common villagers who break in and steal food.”
“Is this right?” said Robert.
Jayne and Celia looked at each other. “Yes, father.”
Robert looked aghast for a moment, then slowly began to chuckle. The chuckle turned to a full throated laugh. It was infectious. Everyone else laughed. “Paddled like a couple of tavern maids, were you? I hope you two lads made a good job of it. Serves them right.”
Then he stopped laughing and scowled. “Well, it’s not going to save you from the punishment you’ve got coming. That is for disobeying me. But now I know who to give the job to. They put their lives at risk because of you two. They can deliver your chastisement. So off you go. We’ll deal with you later.”
Dismissed, Jayne and Celia repaired to their chambers. “You don’t think your father means for those men to switch us, do you?”
“I think that is exactly what he means. He can’t do it himself so he enlists these knights who, hopefully, we will never see again.” Jayne took a deep breath. “We’d better get to it first thing tomorrow, Celia. When father gives an order, he means it.”