It was after dark when Gilles stopped at a country house and begged shelter. He didn’t want to risk staying at a public inn, not after being recognized in Brussels and especially not with a kidnapped girl. The rain had continued to fluctuate over the course of the day and had left them damp. The sight of firelight in the windows of the house extinguished his last resolve to keep moving.
Gilles unclasped his cloak and leapt down from the horse. A knock on the door brought a woman to open it a crack and peer out at them. Gilles explained to her that they had been traveling a long way in the foul weather. She opened the door a little wider and stared up at the little person who barely sat upright under the cloak. The woman finally agreed and pointed towards the stable. She waited as Gilles pulled the girl down and handed her over. Aimée barely registered being lifted down from the horse and taken inside. The woman set her on a stool before the fire.
“You poor thing, my sweet, I will warm you something to eat. Would you like that?” The woman clasped Aimée’s cold hands in hers and smiled brightly. Aimée barely had the strength to nod. “First, I think I have a dry shift that will fit you.”
By the time Aimée was redressed and wrapped in blanket, the door swung open and lightning shot across the sky. Gilles stepped in more wet from the trip to the barn without a cloak. The woman started at the sudden intrusion, but put off her uneasiness to continue cooking.
“My husband will be returning soon,” she said, as if to warn off any impropriety.
“Good,” Gilles replied bluntly. He could care less. Instead he scrutinized Aimée’s condition, even putting a hand on her forehead that she shrugged off. She pulled the blanket up over her hair and ignored him. The woman served them eggs and a bit of ham a moment before the door opened again letting in the din of thunder.
“What’s this?” the man exclaimed at the sight of Gilles sitting at his table eating. The wife rushed to him and whispered to him about the girl caught in the rain. The husband looked skeptical. Without a word, Gilles placed a few livres on the table and resumed eating. Aimée poked at her food.
“Eat, ma Cher,” Gilles grumbled, “You’ll feel better.”
The husband and wife exchanged worrisome looks, but said nothing.