The supper done, the fire was stoked. The captain sat content amidst his family. His youngest son, Jeoffre, not yet seven, was captivated by the hooded sakret and questioned William thoroughly about the care of the bird. “How do you know it is male?”
“The sakret is smaller than his female counterpart,” William answered patiently.
“I should like to work with falcons,” the lad expressed dreamily, rubbing his sandy eyes.
“It requires diligence and time,” the crusader warned. “And patience.”
“Time for bed, I think me,” Corrick announced as his son yawned.
Matilde rose from her mending, “I’ll see to them, Father.”
“You as well,” he replied sternly.
She cast her sloe eyes demurely at the crusaders feet. “As you wish, Father. Good evening, Monsieur leSaber.”
“Bonsoir, ma petite fille,” William said. She locked his gaze for a moment, pouting flirtatiously, before rounding up her siblings and chasing them up the narrow staircase.
Marianne refilled their tankards with her home brew before sitting down to her embroidery. “So, Monsieur, to where are you going if not home to your family?”
“Beaucaire first,” he said somberly, swirling the rich amber liquid in his tankard absently. “Then Einsiedein and Arth. I have been charged with the task of returning some personal effects of the fallen to their respective families.”
She praised him from her stitchery, “You are performing a Christian service, Monsieur.”
“The least I could do.” Sorrow saturated his tone, exposing a brief moment of vulnerability that Corrick had not before seen. “The worst of men fight,” he stated finally. “The best of men die.”
Corrick raised his tankard, “Requiescant in pace in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.”
Surprise marked his countenance. “Latin?”
Genuflecting, he explained, “A meager comfort I learned to provide for those I’ve lost at sea.”