The next morning, Pioter was gone from the citadel and though Gerrad and Carrick searched hard and long, he was nowhere to be found.
“My wife and son wish me to let you speak before you go below. Have you anything to say?” “Since you ask, milord. I have.” “Well, then, speak,” Leochtor said. “But I warn you that nothing you say can change the outcome.”
Pioter pointed to Crooker, his high voice ringing through the hall: “That man killed my father!”
“So shall you go home now” Gerrad said quickly, clinging to the moment. “No. . . .” “So when shall we meet? What’s the surprise?” “Wait and see.” Gom’s small shape sparkled, then vanished.
“We did it, Dregg.” As Gerrad said that, four men burst from the tunnel, coughing and hawking in full cry. “You certainly did,” cried one. “And we gets our ransom after all!” Crooker.
Crooker burst in, seized Dregg by the shoulder and shook him roughly. “Hey—wake up. Gremla’s badly hurt and out for blood.”
Now Leth pulled his knife and ran at the woman, striking her in the arm. As the blade pierced her flesh, she let forth a loud cry and hurling herslef against the window pane, shattered the glass. Then before Nasidda’s astonished eyes she turned to mist and streamed out through the gap. map inset showing Burdick’s Ford and general location of Gremla’s lair
Reaching Mat’s door, Nasidda . . . raised her hand to knock. The instant before her knuckles rapped the wood a hand caught her wrist and held it fast. She whirled around, startled. “Leth.”
“ . . . Gremla’s the one I watch out for. She told me to thrash you, and thrash you I will, and when I’ve done, you’ll wish that you were dead!”
Gerrad heard a scuffle, a crack of bone on rock, then boots receding rapidly. Dregg’s great pudgy face hung over him. “Up, boy. Gremla wants to see you. Now.”
[Essie] was gone but a moment before she came scurrying back upstairs red-faced and flustered. “As if things aren’t bad enough there are redcoats coming. Lord Lugen’s just received a ransom note and there’s a warrant out for Leth!”
“Listen: I’m going after Master Gerrad . . . Tell Essie to get you four good men and bring them to the old smokehouses, they’ll know the way. Come quick and quiet, for Master Gerrad’s sake,” Carrick warned, then raced away. Comments on Gerrad’s Quest from a Young Reader
For a moment, he was falling, chill air fanning his face. Then with a shock that snatched his breath and numbed his thought, he hit the icy waters of the lake.
“. . . .My hat off to him for breaking free of that place and coming here on his own. But we both know that right now the Quarter is a dangerous place for anyone, let alone Leochtor’s son and heir.”
In the doorway stood a woman: tall, masses of black hair, thin red mouth unsmiling, deep-shadowed eyes. Gerrad went cold. She was looking right at him.
Then, as the man seized Pioter and swung him around, Gerrad called out again at the top of his voice: “Hey! Let go! Let go of him I say!”
“The brat’s not here.” . . . . Now came the scrape of boxes being dragged aside. Then a triumphant bellow. “Not here? Not here, you say, Dregg? Well just you come and lookee here!”
Maybe, he thought drowsily, he’d take the boy some food and clothing. The idea of going back, of meeting the boy again pleased and excited him. Another grand adventure, yes! “Whatever Leth says, I’ll find a way.”
. . . Gerrad staggered back against a stack of crates and the thief reared over him, something silver flashing in his hand. A knife, and aimed at Gerrad’s chest!
Suddenly, a tall youth burst through from behind and snatched the purse from the man’s hands. . . . “Help, my purse!” the man cried. . . . Gerrad glanced back. The thief was getting away. He ought to follow him but what about Leth? Oh! Oh! What to do? What would Gom do? Gerrad took off pell-mell down the cobbled slope.