What she heard, at first, was his singing. Late on a moonlit night, she would hear a sweet tenor voice, the notes wafting over the valley, then dropping into her canyon like snowflakes in early spring. One night, she took Mars, her Wolfhound, and headed up the canyon along the stream to find the troubadour himself.
She did not expect to find him in the King's keep. He could not see her in the shadows below the tower, so she stood for hours, listening to sad ballad after sad ballad. Finally, as the sky began to lighten, she headed back down the canyon.
The next day she inquired of the people in the village, and discovered that he had been imprisoned by the King for failure to pay taxes. This, surely, could be remedied. Such a man with such a voice deserved his freedom. She gained permission to see him the following day. When she and the jailor finally reached the top of the tower, she found a young man as handsome as she was beautiful.
"I can pay your taxes, set you free," she told him without preamble.
"Why?" he asked.
"Because your songs should not be imprisoned here."
"I cannot take your charity," he told her, not with pride, but with a humble integrity, a strength of will that seemed as strong as his arms appeared. She looked into his deep green eyes.
"Then you will repay me by singing at my wedding."
He agreed. And it was only after he was released, and he came to find her to thank her, that he learned she was not engaged. At least, not for long....
And so he did sing in her wedding... and to her, softly, on their wedding night.
~ S. Kay Murphy
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