The Mysterious Minstrel
Following the Shoemaker
At the end of the street the minstrel stepped into the inn. I could hear cheers and shouts for him to play a song as the door shut behind him. There was no point following him. I would never be allowed inside without a chaperone.
Basil turned left out of the alleyway and I ran after him. If only I’d worn my cloak, so I could pull on my hood and turn invisible. But it was the middle of June, hot and quiet at the castle. I’d thought I wouldn’t need to sneak around now that Father was away for a few weeks. My new boots pinched my feet as I ran. I stumbled on the rough ground and fell to my knees.
Jumping up I sprinted around the corner, bang! Straight into Basil.
“Woah. What have we here? You’re not following me, are you, Lady Kinsey?” he said, his words soft and silky, flowing like milk from a jug. Curdled milk.
I stared at my feet, my face going red. “Um…” I pushed my foot out, took a deep breath and summoned my snootiest voice. “I saw you and wanted to show you my boots. Look, they have a scuff and a mark already, and I’ve hardly worn them at all! Surely they should stay clean longer than that?”
Basil stared at me, a hard look in his eyes. Then his face softened into a false smile and he flourished a bright yellow cloth from his pocket and a small pouch.
“I have some cleaning powder right here, your Ladyship.” He emphasized the word Ladyship as he bent down and rubbed some powder on both my boots. The scuff mark disappeared.
“Perhaps if you don’t run so, your boots will stay clean, hmmm?” he said as he stood, stretching his smile so wide it could have swallowed his ears. He turned and strode away.
Rats. I would have to try and follow him later—when I was wearing my cloak. My pendant felt warm against my skin, letting me know that Basil was definitely up to something.
That evening the minstrel was in the dining hall. He sung songs and told tales while we ate our meals. There were mostly just women left behind while their husbands accompanied Father. How they could all bear to be cooped up inside while the men had all the fun was beyond me. Though, if I didn’t have Basil to watch I probably would have enjoyed the Minstrel’s performance. The ladies around me seemed quite relaxed by it, all their eyes riveted on him. Even Crimson, lying near the door to outside, seemed enthralled with him. I wished I’d made time to talk to her about Basil, but it was too late now.
Nobody noticed me as I left the table and walked out of the room, pulled on my cloak and stepped back inside. Basil was leaving by the far door and I crossed the room and followed him out into the passage. My new books squeaked as I stepped down the stairs after him—I should have changed them.
Basil paused on the step and looked back. Standing still I held my breath and waited. He moved on and I followed from a distance.
Stopping in front of the library door, he turned and looked around before stepping inside. After a minute, I opened the door and slid inside. The room was dark and I pressed my back to the door.
A light flickered around the corner. Tiptoeing, I made way over. Basil was running his hands along a row of books. Stopping on a plain looking brown leather book, he pulled it out and opened it.
It wasn’t a book, it was a box! From the box he pulled out a key and put it in his pocket, then a piece of parchment. Holding it up, he shone his torch on it.
It was a map. I was certain it was a map.
“Huh, you were here all along,” Basil murmured and gently folded the map before tucking it into his tunic pocket.
He took a few more steps then pulled on another book and the shelf slid aside, revealing an opening in the wall. He stepped through and the bookcase started to close. I skidded across the stone floor and ducked through the door just as it closed behind me. I could see Basil’s torchlight flickering around a corner not far down the passage.
As I stood, my boots squeaked. The light from Basil’s torch stopped moving and next thing, Basil appeared around the corner.
“What are you doing here, Lady Kinsey?” he asked, his voice harsh and cutting. “I can’t see you, but I know the sound of those boots. I’ve heard about your cloak of invisibleness, Lady Kinsey.”
I stayed silent. Hardly anyone knew about my cloak. He must have spied on me!
“I haven’t got time for this,” Basil said. “But I certainly don’t want you sneaking around after me.”
He took off a flask from his belt, removed the lid and hurled something like water from inside it towards my knees. “I was right to put that Grow Fast Vine Powder on your boots today,” he smirked as the liquid hit my lower legs and fell on my boots where it sparked and danced, mingling and lighting up with powder he’d placed there earlier.
“Good luck with that, Lady Kinsey,” Basil said, as he turned and walked back around the corner.
My boots started dissolving. I reached down and grabbed my dragon dagger as they completely transformed into mass of slithering, dark green leafy vines that encircled my feet and stampeded up my legs, tightening and squeezing me hard as they shot towards my neck.
He reached over to the wall and twisted a torch holder towards the floor. As it moved, I felt the floor under me give way, then disappear from beneath my feet. I screamed as I fell down into blackness.
Thank you for Voting!
You’ve chosen for Kinsey to be:
A. Smothered in Vines
Q. What did the King name the extra knght?
A. Sir Plus
Q. Which day of the week do dragons eat most knights?
Q. What medieval knight wrote books?
A. King Author
Q. Why was the King’s army so tired?
A. Too many sleepless knights
He belongs to Rosie, one of our book club members right here in Tauranga, New Zealand. I have heard he’ll be moving to a new town soon. Still with a beach nearby though!
Isn’t he gorgeous?
If you would like your pet featured on the next chapter page, please email me at: “kc at karencossey dot com” and send me a photo and a few details. I’d love to share them with our book club community.
If you like a thought-provoking book that can lead to serious discussions with your child, this is one to consider. It deals with war and the long-term effects of war on those involved and those left behind. It also touches on Buddhist philosophy (done very well in a way I think children could understand), which is a perfect opportunity to have a discussion with your child about your spiritual beliefs.