I came back to the oak in the early hours of the morning by myself, eagerly reaching for the book. Good, it was still dry. I tucked it under my arm and climbed up, pulling myself into the foliage.
The brown exterior possessed an embossed design. I traced the bumps with my finger. As I cracked open the book, holding my breath, I admired the gold and ornate lettering. Isolde’s name looked so elegant. It was the only word I immediately recognized. These words were certainly not in the Irish tongue. I flipped through the pages gently, then paused, catching a faint scent of cowhide. I turned to one page with what might be a psalm and sounded the words out loud,
“Lauerd me steres noght wante sale me…”
When I spoke the words as best I could, I could hear the language of King Marc’s people in them.
Time passed at a luxurious lilt.
“A talking tree, what a novelty,” I heard someone’s voice down below. It sounded like Tristan’s.
I stopped reading and stayed still for a moment, then peered down.
Yes, it was indeed Tristan, who had guided his horse over to the book tree.
“Good morning, Tristan,” I said.
“Hello Brangien, what are ye doing?”
“I’m reading a book. Isolde and I…discovered it.”
“Ye may want to be careful of who passes by your tree. But please continue reading.”
“Would ye like to take a turn?” I asked Tristan.
“I am on my way to the castle. But if I were to pass by this tree on another occasion, perhaps I could lend an eye to reading this book.”
“Yes, certainly. I will hide it in the nook for safe-keeping,” I enthused.
“Good day, Brangien,” Tristan inclined the top of his head toward me, and flew away to the castle on his tawny-hued horse.
I best get back myself. Isolde would probably want to come here later today anyway? I hopped out of the tree and gently wrapped the book in the coarse fabric to keep it dry.
As I walked, I spoke out loud the words I had memorized, envisioning the spelling of each so I would not forget.
My voice trailed off as I entered the castle. There seemed to be some kind of brouhaha, servants scurrying around looking for something.
Isolde came over to me, worry shaping her facial features.
“Cecily reported that there is a book missing from the locked room,” she said softly.