3. Help Offered
The morning after Hesgar walked Lilium home for the third time, the young woman was surprised to see the handsome Rider arrive at the homestead. She watched from the kitchen window as he rode, not to the house, but to the mill. He looked much different out of uniform, much less intimidating. She smiled, much more…appealing. His linen shirt was tucked neatly into brown breeches that fit him quite nicely, Lilium noted as she watched him dismount. His hair was pulled into a neat pony tail; making it easy to see his warm brown eyes… such welcoming eyes. The young woman sighed.
A tug on her skirt caught Lilium off guard. A small round face looked up, big blue eyes shining with concern. "Why you make that noise, Lil'm? Your face all red. Are you sick with fever? Shall I fetch Da?"
Lilium looked down at her little brother and answered with a nervous chuckle. "I am fine, scamp. No need to say anything to Da. I just got…just got warm is all. Come now, finish your breakfast. There are chores to do." She shooed him back to the table where his slightly older sister sat eating like a little princess. When the Miller's daughter returned to the window, she found Hesgar's horse tethered, but no sign of the Rider.
Hesgar took a deep breath before dismounting. He steeled himself for the less than warm welcome he might receive. The previous night, he had asked Lilium why her father disliked the men of the éored . The young woman had confided that, although her Da had much respect for the dedication and dangerous work of the soldiers, he did not like their apparent arrogance or the reputation the éored had with women. Lilium assured him that she did not feel that way and that she thought her father a bit prejudice because his sister had fallen for a rider who broke her heart.
So here he was, bright and early, at the mill, ready to offer help to a man who may well try to take his head off. He dismounted and strode into the mill. The Miller stood near his grinding stone, speaking with a rather large, burly man. They both looked up as Hesgar approached.
"What do you want?" the miller asked curtly. His companion eyed the younger man, wondering what it was about him that made the normally pleasant Miller bristle.
Hesgar stood tall. "I came to offer my help, sir."
The Miller almost sneered as he advanced on the younger man, coming to a stop mere inches from the Rider. Hesgar was surprised to find that the Miller stood taller than him and definitely wider, rather intimidating actually. "Surely you're not thinking of becomin' a Miller; hardly as exciting as being a Rider? "
"No sir, but your daughter mentioned that there were some repairs to be done. I am not scheduled for another patrol for a fortnight and would gladly help."
"The girl talks too much," the Miller growled.
"I am strong and good with my hands. My father was a farmer and I worked for him…"
The miller interrupted the young man, "Until you left for the adventurous life of a Rider. You are here because of my daughter and you think to win a place in her bed through acts of charity. Well, you get back on that horse and be gone." The Miller turned away, limping back to the millstone and his all but forgotten friend.
Hesgar remained where he was. He was interested in the Miller's daughter and yes, he was here to help because he had feelings for her but it was not a ploy. He wanted to show the Miller that he was an honorable young man with honest intentions. He truly wanted to help the injured man; the fact was he would have offered even if he were not interested in Lilium. He glanced at the two older men and a thought came him.
"Lilium works at the Warrior's Den to earn money to pay for the repairs for she know you cannot do them all yourself. I know you do not like that she is there and you worry. If you accept my help, then perhaps she will not need to work so often, as my offer comes at no cost." It was a dirty trump card, but if Hesgar hoped to win over the protective father, he had to play it.
The Miller snorted and turned back to the younger man, looking him up and down. Slowly he nodded; the Ride was persistent and not easily intimidated. He had lasted longer than most young men who came sniffing around. But time would tell; there was much to do and it was backbreaking work. This Rider would lose interest—like the others-- when his body ached and he still was no closer to bedding the girl.
"Well, then come give us a hand with this wheel if ya think ya can. Gotta get it off to see the damage."