“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch.1–A Brother’s Burden, 10/26/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #296)
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[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Sir Guy, Clive Standen as Lord Archer, Emma Watson as Lady Rose, etc.]
Prologue: Sir Guy of Gisborne had been an older brother once before–to his late lamented younger sister Isabella. As we all know after their childhood tragedy of their parents dying in the fire and them having to fend for themselves amongst lackluster French relations before contracting her in marriage to someone whom he thought would protect her he had not seen her for many years. Then when Guy and Isabella were reunited, their relationship did not go well. They were on opposite sides–with her first siding with Robin Hood and then later with Prince John against him. Isabella finally sided with Sheriff Vasey and she was killed by her own vengefulness and ambition.
But when Sir Guy was given a second chance at life and happiness with his Lady Roseanna and their children–the now four years old Seth Gisborne born out of wedlock to a serving girl and Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna’s 4 months old infant Lady Helen Rose Gisborne–Sir Guy was also given a second chance at being a positive force for good for his new half brother Lord Archer of Locksley, Earl of Huntington. And Sir Guy vowed to endeavor to be as good a brother and mentor as his much younger brother–who is 28 yrs old to Sir Guy’s 41 years old–had ever known or wished for. But brothers do not always see eye to eye, especially with regard to family matters. And even the finest of families have their difficulties to be overcome, or at least, traversed–perhaps even more so.
[Author’s Note: For the beginning of Sir Guy’s and Lady Roseanna’s love story, see the first story in this series, titled “Guy’s Rose”. The link to “Guy’s Rose”, Ch. 1 is https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/guys-rose-ch-0-1-a-fan-fiction-110411-gratiana-lovelace-post-47/]
“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 1: A Brother’s Burden
For Sir Guy of Gisborne to view his seemingly always scheming half brother Lord Archer–Earl of Huntington, Lord of Locksley, and now Sheriff of Nottingham–as a diamond in the rough, is to, perhaps, disparage the diamond. This is not to say that Lord Archer is bereft of manly and honorable qualities. It is just that these two aspects of his character do not often meet agreeably–nor exist in abundance independent of each other–as much as Sir Guy would like them to. Though their brotherly bond grows stronger over time. Lord Archer’s character when contrasted to Sir Guy’s character is explained because they grew up so differently. Sir Guy began his life to manhood with a loving family in his mother the Lady Ghislaine Gisborne–but he had to strike out on his own path as a young man, becoming a knight. Though not as chivalrous to begin with as he would have liked, Sir Guy has mended his ways and become an honorable man. Connversely, Lord Archer had to live by his wits from the very beginning of his existence, growing up as a foster child–the bastard and orphaned son of Sir Malcom of Locksley and the Lady Ghislaine of Gisborne. So, Archer developed skills of cunning, bravado, charm, and allure–especially for the ladies.
But that is one of the dilemmas that Sir Guy now finds himself in–helping Lord Archer select a suitable wife and helpmate, while also keeping him out of trouble with Prince John. Most nobles of Archer’s station have a wife selected for them in childhood by their parents–in order to strengthen and solidify family ties and alliances. And the young couple is thrown together as they grow up–to hopefully cement their bond–of fealty, if not of love. That is the case with Lady Roseanna’s brother the now 23 year old Lord George Oxbridge Middleton and his betrothed, the 18 year old Lady Sarah Madeline Talkington who have been engaged for ten years. Her parents’ estate–owned by the Lord Denholm and the Lady Eliza Talkington–borders the Middleton estates and lands. So it has always been considered most agreeable that Lord George and Lady Sarah Madeline would wed and combine their estates into an even larger estate–since the Talkingtons have no male heir and the inheritance uncharacteristically flows down the female line.
But, Lady Sarah Madeline–or the Lady Saline as she is called by those closest to her as a blending of her two names–has grown weary of waiting for Lord George to come home from playing at being a soldier in the Crusades and make her his bride. At eighteen years of age, Lady Saline is already three years past the age when most young ladies of nobility are wed. And even were Lord George to come home this very day and wish to set a wedding date, Lady Saline is not altogether certain that she would have him for her husband anyway since she knows that he expects a traditional wife–something she does not aspire to be. As an only child, Lady Saline grew up quite the jewel of her family–pampered and fawned over, while also well educated for a woman, as Lady Roseanna was also well educated. The two young women are so friendly, in fact, that they quite think of each other as sisters–especially since Lady Saline has been betrothed to Lady Roseanna’s brother Lord George for ten years. And, with Lady Saline having only recently returned from a tour of the continent with her parents, she is doubly eager to reacquaint herself with her friend Lady Roseanna Gisborne and her growing family.
It is almost the end of a long Friday morning in July for Sir Guy as he and his estate steward, Dawson, begin their journey back to Middleton Manor. The morning has been spent traversing the estate on horseback visiting Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna’s estate tenants. Sir Guy does not often accompany his steward, but from time to time he does so to make his presence known and felt amongst the peoples. Sir Guy does this not to intimidate–as he did when he was Sheriff Vasey’s henchman lieutenant at Nottingham. No, Sir Guy has learned that building trust and respect among the tenants and Middleton villagers in the small hamlet that is situated just to the west of Leicester, comes by him earning it. And his sojourns with the tenants is developing into a friendly and respectful rapport.
As Sir Guy and Dawson slow their stallions on the far hill, they can see Middleton Manor some two miles in the distance across a forest bordered valley of lush farm land and green meadows where sheep and other cattle are grazing. Middleton lands are a bounteous estate extending for several miles in all directions around the Manor house at its center–made more so by Sir Guy’s careful management of them these past nine months after so many years of neglect when his yet to be met brother-in-law Lord George Middleton went off on the Crusades with King Richard to the Holy Land some three years ago.
Dawson: “Look there, my Lord Sir Guy. A coach and wagon with guards on horseback are approaching the manor from the London town road. Are you expecting a visitor today?”
Sir Guy: “Not that I was made aware of.” Sir Guy says with growing suspicion. Could it be that Prince John has decided that a Sir Guy recuperating from his injuries is still a threat to be dealt with? Sir Guy wants nothing of politics and intrigue. He wants to maintain the peaceful calm life that his lady wife Lady Roseanna has bestowed upon him. And Sir Guy wants to protect his growing family. “Dawson, let us make haste to the lower stables. You gather up the grooms to attend to our visitors. I will ride on to meet them in the courtyard.”
Dawson: “Very good, Milord.” Dawson nods, grateful that their grooms have had some training by Sir Guy as a militia–in preparation for the day when they might be needed to defend the estate from attack. They just did not think they would be needed quite so soon.
Sir Guy: Leaning down to his white stallion Pegasus’ ears, Sir Guy whispers his urgent command. “Run like the wind!”
Sir Guy and Dawson set their horses at a brisk gallop as they cover the two miles to Middleton Manor. As prearranged, Dawson peels off at the lower stables to rally the grooms and Sir Guy continues on to the Manor Courtyard to see who might be visiting their estate today. As Pegasus brings Sir Guy closer, Sir Guy can see that though the carriage is fine, it is not so regal a coach for Prince John–nor even his sycophantic toad Sir Jasper. But, the other wagon of boxes covered with a tarp concealing what lies therein and the retinue of guards makes Sir Guy apprehensive about what will greet him upon arriving home.
As Sir Guy pulls up to the caravan stopped in the courtyard, he quickly dismounts and strides over to the carriage–only to find it empty. This does not bode well. The carriage attendants and wagon guards stand stiffly by them.
Sir Guy: Forgetting that his own retinue of stable groom guards has yet to arrive–and he is defenseless–Sir Guy thunders his annoyance to the assembled intruders. “Who are you? And what are you doing here without invitation to my estate?
Lead Guard: Standing next to his horse at the front of the caravan, he bows. “Our pardon, Milord Gisborne. We are bound to the Earl of Huntington, who has just this morn arrived.”
Sir Guy: “You mean to tell me that you belong to my brother, Lord Archer?” The guard nods. “And what would he need of a retinue of this size? What are you about? And what mischief do you bring with you?”
Lead Guard: “We are not at liberty to say, Milord.” Then seeing Sir Guy’s rage beginning to fume, he shrugs his shoulders. “But in truth, we do not know. Lord Archer’s carriage and wagon were already loaded when we set off on our journey. We were bade to neither inquire about nor look into either of them under pain of having our tongues cut off and our eyes removed.” He says with some fright.
Sir Guy: “Indeed! Very wise of the Earl.” Sir Guy says with a steely stared review of the guards and what they are guarding. “Carry on then. My stable grooms will soon be here to show you to the stables.
Lead Guard: “But My Lord, the Earl said that we should not move from this spot, else he will break our legs.”
Sir Guy: Thinking that his brother Archer is getting excessive with threats of intimidation, Sir Guy countermands. “You are on my estate now–Lord Archer will have to bend to my will. And I do not want my courtyard cluttered up with this.” Sir Guy gestures to the caravan and men. Sir Guy motions to Dawson and his stable grooms walking up with their swords at their sides–their hands on their hilts. “Dawson, remove this carriage and wagon to the stables and get the men something to eat. Lord Archer is here and he has some explaining to do.” Dawson nods and directs the grooms to do Sir Guy’s bidding.
Sir Guy stalks toward the Manor’s courtyard steps. He takes the steps two at a time. Upon entering the Manor, Sir Guy starts looking for his brother Archer–and an explanation. If Archer has brought some trouble with him, then there will be hell to pay. Sir Guy’s wife Roseanna, Lady Gisborne is a charitable soul–but only up to a point with Archer. Not to mention the unease Sir Guy feels for the safety of his growing family if trouble is what Archer brings.
Today is one of Lady Saline’s midday Friday in early July visits to Lady Roseanna to see how the now four month old Lady Helen Rose is growing that she gets her first glimpse of a young man of noble rank who is not at all stuffy and pretentious like the other nobles of her acquaintance–which includes her betrothed, Lord George–when she meets the devilishly handsome and charming Lord Archer. Lady Roseanna has just finished nursing baby Lady Helen and gone to her own bedchamber to change into her simple day dress for their mid day family meal together while leaving Lady Saline–also attired in a simple but lovely day dress–to watch over the sleeping baby.
Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna always welcome Lord Archer into their home as their much loved younger brother–who still needs some guidance and a correction or two now and again–but he comes and goes as he pleases as a member of the family. So, on this monthly visit to his brother Sir Guy’s and his wife’s Lady Roseanna’s home, Lord Archer leaves his caravan in the courtyard and heads straight to see his little niece Lady Helen Rose with the silver rattle present that he brought for her. It seems that Lord Archer is charmed by and charming to ladies at any age. As he quietly opens the door to Lady Helen’s daytime nursery bed chamber–at night she sleeps in her parents’ room–Lord Archer spies a lovely scene, Lady Helen being sung to by a black haired angel with pink cheeks and a rosebud mouth–perhaps a maiden fair to be courted Lord Archer wonders. Lady Saline is so enraptured by the sleeping girl child–singing her a sweet lullaby–that she does not hear the bed chamber door open and that someone enters.
Lord Archer: “And how does my niece fare today, Mistress?” He asks cordially with a devilish grin. He is always happy to meet new and comely women such as the lady before him.
Lady Saline: Turning around sharply, startled with the intrusion, she hisses in a whisper with her finger at her lips. “Shhh! Sir! We must not awaken the sleeping child. She has just had nourishment and must rest if she is to grow strong.”
Lord Archer: Studying her lips that she so helpfully drew his attention to, he whispers. “My Lady is quite right. We must not disturb my niece’s rest.” He bows with a flourish, then says importantly. “I am Lord Archer of Locksley, Earl of Huntington, at your service, My Lady.” Lord Archer waits for his manly appearance to have its affect on her. The seconds tick by–slowly. It seems that a swoon on the lady’s part is perturbingly–for Archer–not forthcoming.
Lady Saline: “Hmm!” She looks at him with the practiced disdain of a lady–who has been taught not to reveal that she likes what she sees. “So you are Sir Guy’s younger brother. Lady Roseanna thought that you might visit again soon.” She eyes him with studied suspicion since Lady Roseanna has warned her of Lord Archer’s reputation with the ladies.
Lord Archer: “As you see, My Lady. I am before my expected time. But you have me at a disadvantage.” He alludes to the fact that he does not know who she is.
Lady Saline: “Just so. Though given the distances one must travel for company, you might be able to hazard a guess.” She looks at him petulantly. Lady Saline does not plan to be another easy conquest for Lord Archer. Well, nothing about Lady Saline could ever be considered easy. In fact, she is a most difficult young woman at times–headstrong in riding about the countryside unattended, and unnervingly for her father, as well as taking his tenants’ side in some landlord disputes. All in all, not an easy young woman.
Lord Archer: “Ah! So, we have an intrigue that I must puzzle out.” He smiles at her mischievously.
Just then, Lady Roseanna returns with Sir Guy carrying Seth in tow.
Seth: “Uncle Archer!” Seth claps cheerfully upon seeing his uncle.
Sir Guy: “Archer!” Sir Guy smirks and claps his hands on his brother’s back. “I should have known the caravan was yours. We have stabled your horses and your attendants.” Sir Guy narrows his eyes. He will seek an explanation from his brother later, when they are away from the ladies.
Lord Archer: “Guy!” He returns the favor, clapping Guy on his back. And he tousles his nephew’s hair for good measure. “Seth! You’ve grown.” Then Lord Archer bows, while taking Lady Roseanna’s hand and kissing it, he says “My Lady Rose, you are lovelier every time I see you.”
Lady Roseanna: Accustomed to her brother-in-law’s charming compliments by now, she looks at him nonplussed and pouts. “Archer, you are a week early. We expected you next week. Your room is not yet ready.”
Lord Archer: “How unforgivable of me to mistake my arrival day. But I could not wait to return to you.” Archer looks over at Sir Guy–as if to communicate that he wishes to speak to his brother. Sir Guy shakes his head, there will be time enough later to consult.
Lady Roseanna: “But no matter, you are welcome.” She smiles warmly and kisses his cheek. “I see that you have met my good friend, the Lady Saline.” Lady Roseanna gestures to her friend.
Lord Archer: “Indeed I have. Though, it was not until this very moment that her name became known to me.”
Seth: “Hi Lady Saline.” He waves at her. Then Seth wriggles out of his father’s arms and runs over to her and gives her a hug that she returns with equal fervor–having had Seth wrap his little fingers around her heart already. “Uncle Archer, why didn’t you know Aunt Saline’s name?”
Lord Archer: “Aunt Saline? Hmmm.” Archer asks quizzically. “Seth, the lady prefers to be mysterious.” Lord Archer gazes at Lady Saline with unbridled admiration. Her dark beauty and lively spirit make an interesting combination in a woman, he thinks.
All eyes turn to the Lady Saline who is now turning several shades of pink at her coquettish jest.
Lady Saline: “Hhhhh! Well, he was impertinent! So I was in no mood to give him my name.” Lady Saline discomfittedly attempts to explain her ladylike but discourteous behavior to her best friend’s brother-in-law.
Sir Guy: “Are you hungry, Archer? We are just collecting Lady Saline to sit down for our mid day meal together en famille on the terrace.”
Lord Archer: “It would be my pleasure to escort the Lady Saline to the meal.” He focuses his laser like gaze on the young woman whose serene countenance belies the effect he is having on her.
Lady Saline: “No need, Lord Archer. Seth is my escort.”
Lord Archer: “Well then, let me at least give Lady Helen Rose my present.” Lord Archer produces the lovely silver rattle and hands it to Lady Roseanna.
Lady Roseanna: “This is lovely, Archer, thank you.” She beams him an appreciative smile.
Sir Guy: “And do we know from whose pocket that this gift might have been sponsored?” Sir Guy asks warily with an eyebrow that is permanently raised when his brother is around.
Lord Archer: “Well, if the weasel can’t hold on to his money it’s not my fault.”
Both Sir Guy and Lord Archer rock their heads back in laughter. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
Lady Saline: However Lady Saline shushes them so as not to waken the sleeping babe, Lady Helen. “Gentleman! Shhhh! Please! The babe.”
Lady Roseanna: “Quite so. Hush.” Lady Roseanna merely smiles at the notion of her weasely cousin Prince John being bested by Lord Archer once again.
Seth: Running to his Uncle, Lord Archer’s side and clinging to him, he asks hopefully. “What about me? Do you have a present for me, Uncle Archer?”
Lord Archer: “I do. And you will find it awaiting you in the stables–thanks to your father.”
Seth: “Is it another horsie, Uncle Archer?” He asks gleefully.
Lord Archer: “No, I fear that he is not that large. Though in time, he will become larger than he is now.”
Sir Guy: “Archer? I thought we agreed to wait on that particular gift until Seth is a little older.” Sir Guy has an inkling about what the gift might be.
Lord Archer: “Ah Brother, my apologies.” He says with practiced contriteness–usually reserved for Prince John. “I thought that the issue was finding a compatible companion for Seth, rather than the companion’s or Seth’s age.” Besides, Lord Archer always finds that it is better to act then seek forgiveness, than to seek permission ahead of time.
Sir Guy: “We will see.” He squints at his wiley brother.
All the while, Lady Saline watches this brotherly exchange with interest and gives a knowing glance to Lady Roseanna who smiles back at her.
Seth: Running over to Sir Guy, he asks. “Papa Sir Guy, can we go see my present now?”
Lady Roseanna: “May we go see, Seth.” She corrects him gently as she tousles his hair.
Seth: “May we, Papa? I don’t know what my present is yet?”
Sir Guy: “Alright.” Sir Guy smiles at his eager son. “Will you ladies excuse us if we detour for a few minutes before our midday meal?” He lifts Lady Roseanna’s hand to his lips and bestows a lingering kiss there.
Lady Roseanna: “Of course, my love. I fear that our schedules are never on time when Archer is here.” She says with bemused ruefulness. Lord Archer sheepishly shrugs his shoulders. “Lady Saline and I will take a turn about the garden while we wait for you. Nurse Agatha will watch over Lady Helen while we are at luncheon.” Lady Roseanna nods at the nanny who enters the bed chamber after she had discreetly waited in the hallway for the family’s departure. The Lady Helen Rose is always under someone’s watchful gaze–be it a family member, devoted friend, or trusted servant.
So, the men head to the stables and the ladies head to the garden.
To be continued with Chapter 2
1) “Guy’s Dilemma” logo is a composite of three images:
a) Sir Guy (portrayed by Richard Armitage) in the BBC’s Robin Hood, Series 3, episode 13 (pix 64).and is found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodethirteen/slides/13_064.html;
b) Lord Archer (portrayed by Clive Standen) http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/episodetwelve/slides/12_093.html;
c) a sword hilt from MS Ofc Clip Art was found at MS Office Clip Art at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=sword&ex=1#ai:MP900432917|