continued from The Green Monster
The mountain horses and ponies, stout, shaggy little things, steamed in the early morning cold as the hunting party readied to depart. Maggie stood at the head of Odnar’s pony, whispering to it as she tied ribbons around its bridle. She’d tried to ribbon Tenk’s goat, but he’d waved her off– his mood had not improved one bit, it seemed.
Maggie stood back to admire her work. Odnar beamed at her and blushed.
“Can I help you on your pony?” Odnar asked, holding out his hand to her. Around them everyone was starting to mount.
“I can’t go.” Maggie said, sounding apologetic, “it’s forbidden for me to hunt the King of Birds.”
Odnar looked startled and behind him a sharp laugh sounded from one of the three sister. “It’s good luck to hunt the wren. Everyone knows that.”
“Not for me it isn’t.” Maggie’s crossed her arms, defensively. Odnar looked over his shoulders at his nieces and stepped from foot to foot.
“Then I’ll stay here with you.” He said, which brought up a chorus of protests from his nieces who suspected that if Odnar stayed, then Tenk would stay as well.
“And miss your chance at luck? No! Go, go, I’ll be fine.” Maggie insisted.
“She will be, Oddy. Miss Maggie asked if she couldn’t help me clean while you lot are away and not here tramping mud all over my home.” Odnar’s mother had emerged from the house. She was a broad, thick-armed woman with steel grey hair and a smile that made her cheeks particularly rosy.
Odnar nodded and mounted his pony. Ahead of him one of his brothers blew on a horn and all the other brothers answered with their own, it was time for the party to move out.
“Odnar, catch!” Maggie said and tossed something to him. It was a small painted bird strung on a thin piece of leather.
“What’s this?” Odnar asked, holding it up.”
“It’s a whistle, silly. For calling birds.”
He smiled and hung it around his neck, tucking the wooden bird beneath his coat. He tapped his heart, twice, and bowed his head at Maggie. Maggie curtsied to him in reply and in another moment the party was riding away into the woods.