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by Pat McDermott

Excerpt - WAGON RIDE

Old Irish Saying: Going to a Wedding is the Makings of Another.
Ireland's Princess Talty attends the wedding of a dear friend in Brittany.
After the wedding, an emergency rescue mission sends her to an 11th century Ireland.
She catches up with a treasured friend, who invites her for a wagon ride.


“Why do you bear a different name now?”

Here we go. I took a moment and did my best to put my thoughts in order. “It’s a long story, Gayth. I bore the name you first knew me by, Christy McKenna, for protection. My name has always been Talty.” I wouldn’t reveal my family name. That would cause all sorts of problems.

“Do you swear that’s your true, God’s honest name?”

I chuckled, pleased that we’d maneuvered through what I hoped would be the hardest part of our talk. “Yes, I swear it is.”

He held the reins with both hands now and fixed his attention on the road. At least I thought he did, until he spoke again.

“Whatever your name is, I’ve never forgotten you, nor have I forgotten the day you and Richard Gale disappeared before my eyes. I was on my way to your camp to see you. To apologize for the poor business I’d made of bedding you the night before. To beg you to let me make it up to you.” He gazed sadly at me. “But I never had the chance to do so.”

“Poor business? Our tryst that night left me with fond memories of a gallant man who whispered tender poems and loved me well. You’ve no need to apologize, Gayth.”

For a mesmerizing moment, we gazed into each other’s eyes. I broke away first.

Breda shouted then: “Look at all those cows!”

The fields to the left were full of cattle, Ireland’s wealth in early medieval times. Our walking companions engaged in a good-natured chat about cows and hides and butter and milk.

Gayth ignored them. “The ring you wear leads me to think you have a husband.”

“I do.” My darling Neil. He was so far away now. I missed him, missed our little Donal. “We have a son. He’s three years old.”

“You smile well, lady.”

Smooth as honey. As much as I liked Gayth, I couldn’t let him get to me. Time to take control of the conversational reins. “You mentioned sons yourself. Do you have a wife?”

“Not at the moment. I’ve outlived two. The first gave me three sons. A fever claimed her. The second gave me a son and a daughter, though she died in a raid soon after the girl was born. We’ve endured much warfare of late. The Owenachts seek to reclaim the Kingdom of Munster from our noble Dalcassian clan. Even after all these years, they consider us upstarts. King Donough wants peace. He’s arranged for me to wed the daughter of an Owenacht chieftain.”

“Donough? King Brian’s son?”


“I see. Are you agreeable to this marriage?”

He shrugged. “Neither agreeable nor disagreeable. I see it as a duty. It’s also the reason why my mother will travel to Kincora with us. To attend the wedding.” He smiled at me again. “She’ll be overjoyed to see you.”

“I’ll be glad to see her too.” I wondered how Leesha had weathered the last fifteen years. Well, I assumed, if she still trained young warriors.

Mountains loomed in the distance. As the sun dropped behind them, a signal seemed to pass between Gayth and me: our intense discussion had come to an end, at least for now.




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