The object of their conversation was at that moment cantering her horse along the bank of the Orne, much further north. She had seen no bodies and there were no messages from her father, who was away pursuing one of his seemingly endless battles. The day was fair, her horse was mettlesome and she had her hands full to keep him from charging the riverbank. The strong choppy rhythm of the horse combined with the scent of crushed bracken and churned-up mud to feed her senses and she didn’t really want to stop, but the murky water was getting awfully close.
“Mon Dieu!” she finally exclaimed, getting him stopped before he could make the leap. He was so close she could see her reflection and his forefeet sunk in muck inches from the river. She had been unhorsed in water before and been none the worse for it, but of course it was never a pleasant experience and Maman was unhappy when she came back dripping river water on the floors. “This one should go to the cavalry, I think.”
Broussard’s head groom only grinned. He did not go to battle with her father, but he did ride with Catherine, since he was one of the few riders who could keep up with her and was a man of impeccable character besides. There was not the least indication he would ever behave improperly and since she was being groomed for an advantageous marriage, such considerations counted. All Leon wanted was to keep her in one piece. He was fond of the little termagant.
“Or perhaps to the hunt,” he suggested. “A few miles of hard hunting should blunt his edge. And he obviously has no fear of water.”
“Obviously.” Catherine bent to slap the bay gelding’s neck. He had been cut to make a riding horse of him, but it was hard to tell. He still seemed half stallion, curveting and snapping at her companion’s quieter gelding. “I will tame him, never fear.”
Leon smiled at her again. “No, that I do not fear. Just have a care for your neck.”
“No one would miss it.”
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