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Story Notes:

I'm reposting this more or less as it was written for the CBB, though I'll try to seal up the worst of the plot holes. I'm planning to make it into a proper novel at some point, though...

 

O I forbid you, maidens all,
That wear gold in your hair,
To come or go by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.
 
There’s none that goes by Carterhaugh,
But they leave him a wad,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead.
 
(The Ballad of Tam Lin)

 

“All I’m asking is that you don’t wander about the woods by yourselves,” Jack repeated, holding up his hands in a gesture of appeasement and beginning to wish he had never brought the subject up.

Len and Con exchanged glances. It was Con who answered, in her most reasonable tone.

“But you haven’t explained why. It’s never been a problem before.”

“There are some odd people around at the moment.”

They looked at one another again, then at their father, eyebrows raised. There was a long silence. Finally, Jack sighed and made a great effort to explain himself.

“There are some odd people around – at the moment.” He gave them a hopeful smile.

“You said that before,” Con pointed out gently.

“Margot isn’t going to be happy.” Len’s voice was full of quiet satisfaction.

Jack pushed his hand through his hair and blew out his cheeks.

“Look, it’s for your own safety,” he said. “I don’t want any of you getting into trouble – not that I think anyone would hurt you, but I don’t want you getting mixed up with odd people.”

“What do you mean by odd?” Con insisted. “Are you talking about someone specific?”

“They say there’s a young man who spends a lot of time in the woods.”

“And?”

“He’s supposed to be...”

“Odd?” suggested Con sweetly. There was a silence. Jack shrugged on his coat, which, despite the fact that it was nearly Easter, was still necessary against the biting wind.

“Please, just do as I say.”

The front door closed with a thud. The triplets looked at one another.

“What on earth was all that about?” said Len.

 




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