“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 10: Prince John sniffs around; The Havorford-Huntington marriage contract is announced, 12/21/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #330)
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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.]
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Author’s Mature Content Note: “Sir Guy’s Dilemma” is a story of romance and intrigue set amidst Medieval times. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: With both Seth and Lady Saline on the mend Tuesday evening from an ill defined illness and the measles illiness, respectively, the Gisborne-Middleton-Locksley and Talkington families were hoping to catch a break and have some peaceful time the rest of the week. But it was not meant to be as a rider informed them Tuesday evening, that Prince John, Lord Haverford, and his eldest daughter Lady Mary Havorford will be with them midday on Wednesday–ostensibly looking for Lord Archer with regard to a betrothal scheme Prince John is working on.
“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 10: Prince John sniffs around; The Havorford-Huntington marriage contract is announced
Somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, Sir Guy knew that it was inevitable that he would have to face Prince John again. Sir Guy just did not think that it would be so soon. Well, soon is a relative term. It has been nearly 11 months since Sir Guy’s almost death last year. His recuperation has been slow and painful, but he is recovered. But now–in addition to the risk that hiding the Nottingham treasure for Lord Archer poses to he and Lady Roseanna and their children–Sir Guy must worry about whether Prince John will command him to return to court to do his bidding.
The dread that spreads through Sir Guy on Tuesday evening whilst preparing and waiting for Prince John to arrive on the morrow’s midday is felt by everyone. Not the least of which is because, Sir Guy has fallen back on his former Nottingham days demeanor of barking orders at the servants and generally being unpleasant to all around him. Of course, Sir Guy’s behavior does not go over well with Lady Roseanna when she finds Sir Guy in the stables berating her favorite groom whom she brought with her from London.
Sir Guy: “Tanner! There you are! Where have you been boy? The stables have not been fully tended to in preparation for Prince John’s arrival on the morrow!” Sir Guy stalks around like a wild animal–looking everywhere, but seeing nothing.
Tanner: Tanner’s face is fearful–he looks like a deer caught in torchlights. “Beggin your pardon, Milord. I was just eating my supper.” All of the servants have an evening meal together at the manor. It is Lady Roseanna’s way.
Sir Guy: “With Prince John arriving tomorrow, this is no time for food. You do not see me stopping to take my ease, do you?” Sir Guy Thunders.
Tanner: “No, Sir Guy.” Tanner stands there mutely–in shock with this transformation of Sir Guy from the benevolent master they have all known these past 11 months to this unknown man yelling at him.
Lady Roseanna: “My Lord Husband! What are you doing?” She asks incredulously–also never having seen her husband in such a state of agitation.
Sir Guy: He startles and turns to see his wife–with displeasure. “My Lady Wife, please return to the manor and leave the preparation details for Prince John’s to me.” He seethes gritting his teeth.
Lady Roseanna: “I will not leave if your preparations consist of chastising a trusted servant who only seeks to do your bidding.” She states stubbornly to Sir Guy. But then she smiles kindly to Tanner.
Tanner: Blanching at now being caught witnessing his master and his mistress disagreeing with each other, he tries to slink away. “I will start work on the stables, Milord.” He bows.
Sir Guy: “Stay where you are!” Sir Guy points at him admonishingly. “I’m not done with you!”
Lady Roseanna: “Yes you are, Guy.” She frowns at her husband.
Sir Guy: “My Lady Rose …” He starts to say annoyed with her for not taking his side with a servant. But he stops, when he sees that she is in distress.”
Lady Roseanna: Lady Roseanna clutches her two months pregnant tummy and begins to swoon forward toward Sir Guy. Sir Guy lunges toward her to catch her. “Guy!” Is all she can get out before she falls into his waiting arms in a faint.
Sir Guy: “Rose! My Rose!” He lifts her up into his arms–her right arm hanging loosely behind his back. Sir Guy’s priorities are instantly changed and his behavior softened. “Tanner, please tend to your duties. I must see to my wife.” Sir Guy’s mind is racing–worried about their babe that she is carrying. The babe who will, perhaps, be his legitimate heir–sadly, something Seth can never be.
Tanner: “Of course, Milord. I hope Lady Roseanna feels better.” Tanner calls out to Sir Guy’s back as he strides toward the manor carrying Lady Roseanna in his arms.
And still in a faint–for her husband’s benefit–Lady Roseanna slightly lifts her loose hand behind Sir Guy’s back and secretly gives Tanner a thumbs up sign before letting her arm flop down again as Sir Guy carries her to the manor. Tanner blinks, then smiles.
The distance of 200 yards from the stables to the Manor gardens in front of the back terrace is taxing for Sir Guy given his injuries last year. His old healed wounds begin to pain him and sweat begins to pepper his brow. But he must get his Lady Rose to her bed chamber where the healer woman Althea can tend to her. Lord Archer having returned from his ride and seeing Sir Guy carrying Lady Roseanna, he catches up with them.
Lord Archer: “Guy, Rose! What is wrong?”
Sir Guy: He stops, kneels down on one leg–draping Lady Roseanna over his outstretched leg–and he breathes heavily. “I do not know, Archer. My Rose fainted in the stables … after some unpleasantness. I fear for the babe and must get her to our bed chamber. But my wounds are paining me. I cannot go one step further.”
Lady Roseanna: Instantly regretting her ruse that is now truly causing her husband pain, she pretends to come out of her faint. “Hmmm. Guy?” She says purposefully meekly. Her eyes flutter, but do not open yet.
Sir Guy: “My Rose! I am sorry. Please be well.” He buries his face in her neck and weeps.
Lord Archer: “I will carry Rose the rest of the way, Guy.” He offers helpfully as he pats his shoulders. “You must not over exert yourself. We cannot have everyone in the manner taken to their sick bed.”
Sir Guy: “Thank you, Archer.” Sir Guy gingerly hands over Lady Roseanna into Lord Archer’s waiting arms. “Be careful with her. She is my life.” He caresses her cheek.
Lord Archer: “Never fear, Guy. All will be well.” Lord Archer shifts Lady Roseanna to a more comfortable position for him and he begins to carry her the remaining 100 yards to the manor with Sir Guy trailing behind. “What was the unpleasantness that caused her to faint?”
Sir Guy: “I was stupidly barking orders at Tanner the stable boy to get all in readiness for Prince John’s arrival tomorrow.”
Lord Archer: “Prince John! Why is he to come here?” He asks fearfully.
Sir Guy: “The herald sent to us said that Prince John was looking for you, with Lord Havorford and his eldest daughter Lady Mary in tow.”
Lord Archer: “Sweet Jesus! This is not the answer I wanted from god.” He frowns as they take the terrace steps two at a time.
Lady Roseanna unconsciously grips Lord Archer’s tunic to hold on as she is jostled. Lord Archer looks down at her in his arms with her eyes still closed–but her lips are pursed, as if trying to hold back from speaking. And Lord Archer has the realization that Lady Roseanna is in no faint.
As they walk into the manor, they are immediately beset with servants concerned for Lady Roseanna.
Sir Guy: He tells one of the servants. “Please ask the healer woman Althea to come to our bed chamber to tend to Lady Roseanna.” The servant nods and departs.
Lord Archer: “Guy, you look like you’re going to collapse. Sit here at the base of the stairs for a moment to collect yourself. I will take Lady Roseanna to your bed chamber and you can join her in five minutes.” He starts walking up the stairs slowing.
Sir Guy: Sitting down on the stairs–or he would have fallen down–he sees the wisdom of his brother’s suggestion. “I will, Archer. But only for a moment. I want to make sure that my Lady Rose is alright.” He wheezes a bit and tries to slow down his breathing and he also grimaces in pain.
Meanwhile, Lord Archer reaches the top of the stairs and turns toward the family wing corridor–with his sister-in-law still in his arms. But they are out of ear shot of Sir Guy.
Lord Archer: “Faker! And you chastise me for my behavior.”
Lady Roseanna: Flinging her eyes open immediately, she says contritely. “I did not mean to cause my husband pain. But he was out of control in the stables–like a wild man. I had to do something.”
Lord Archer: “And fainting was the first thing that came to your mind?” He shakes his head.
Lady Roseanna: “How is Sir Guy? Truly, I am worried for him.”
Lord Archer: “As well you should be.” He rolls his eyes. “He will recover. He has merely over exerted himself.” He enters Lady Roseanna and Sir Guy’s bed chamber.
Lady Roseanna: “You can put me down now, Archer.”
Lord Archer: “Oh no! I will not have Guy thinking that I shirked my duties. And if I have to lie for you, then let us keep it simple.” He gently lays her on her bed. “Now my task is discharged. What is this about Prince John coming tomorrow?”
Sir Guy: “Never mind about that now.” Having reached his bed chamber, Sir Guy moves quickly into the room and kneels at his wife’s bed side. Seeing her awake, he caresses her face. “My Rose. You scared me! Are you feeling better now?”
Lady Roseanna: “I am. It was just a momentary dizziness. I am sorry you were distressed.” Now she caresses his face. “You are warm and sweaty. Are you alright?” She asks with great concern now that she sees the pained expression on his face.”
Sir Guy: “My healed wound has reminded me of its existence. That is all. It will pass. As long as you are well, that is all I care for.” He gazes into her eyes with love and devotion. He motions for the healer woman to enter the bed chamber. “Here is Althea to tend to you.”
Lady Roseanna: “You must rest yourself, my Love. And have you eaten?”
Sir Guy: “I will rest. And no, I have not had time to eat.”
Lady Roseanna: “Archer, you missed dinner as well. Please take Guy to your room and I will have some meat and bread and wine sent to you.” She begins to sit up.
Althea: “My lady, please lie back down. The men have tongues enough in their heads to request their own meals from the servants.” Lady Roseanna reclines as requested. “Now begone with you while I tend to your lady.” Althea shoos the men away.
Sir Guy: Sir Guy stands, clasps Lady Roseanna’s hand in his, then kisses it before departing. “I will only be gone a little while.”
Althea: “No, my lady must rest. You will have a leisurely meal and rest yourself, Sir Guy. When I was bidden to come here, I was promised only one patient. Now, there are three. Do not make yourself the fourth or I will start charging you by the head–and seek you to install my children and I in a cottage home nearby since you are providing me with such regular work.” Althea looks at him amusingly as Sir Guy sheepishly shrugs his shoulders.
Lady Roseanna: “Hm!” She stifles a laugh.
Althea: “I will come fetch you when you may return.
Lady Roseanna: “I am alright, my Lord Husband.” She is always a bit more formal around servants. “You go rest and enjoy your dinner with Lord Archer.”
After the men leave, Althea turns to Lady Roseanna.
Althea: “Now Madam, let us tend to you.”
Lady Roseanna: Sitting up in bed, she says blithely. “I am fine, it was merely a dizzy spell.” She fibs.
Althea: Feeling Lady Roseanna’s forehead and finding it a bit warm, she commands. “Lie back down and I will examine you.”
Lady Roseanna: “But I really don’t think …”
Althea: “Milady you are young and strong, but that does not mean anything to babes. I have watched you do entirely too much for a lady in your delicate condition during the few days I have been here already.”
Lady Roseanna: Galled to have to admit to a servant that she was faking her faint, Lady Roseanna reveals. “I did not actually swoon, Althea. I merely wanted my husband to think it, so he would return to the manor with me.”
Althea: “Hm! Well, I am still examining you, since I am here anyway.”
Althea directs her to lie down and then she gently feels her abdomen and listens to it. Lady Roseanna looks askance, but begrudgingly submits to Althea tending to her.
Meanwhile, Sir Guy and Lord Archer are enjoying a light repast of meat, bread, fruit, cheese, and wine in Lord Archer’s bed chamber.
Lord Archer: “Excellent suggestion by Rose for us to eat. She looks after you so diligently Guy.” He smiles at his brother as he chomps his meat and gulps his wine.
Sir Guy: “I am blessed. I just worry for her health with two children–one of them still nursing–another baby on the way, and our home to run. How can she manage?”
Lord Archer: “Do not the thirty manor servants help?” He raises his eye brow facetiously, tilts his head, and smiles at him..
Sir Guy: He tosses a grape at his brother. “That’s not funny.” But Sir Guy has trouble with his mouth wanting to curl upward. “It is the strain of everything that I worry about. And now with Prince John coming tomorrow? Hhhhh!” Sir Guy sighs.
Lord Archer: “Tell me about that.”
Sir Guy: “It was barely two hours ago that Prince John’s Herald brought the news that Prince John would arrive midday on the morrow–ostensibly looking for you with Lord Havorford and Lady Mary in tow.” Sir Guy fixes his brother with a glaring gaze.
Lord Archer: “Ah! The erstwhile matchmaker, Prince John, is eager for his dowery fee cut.” He says wearily “But this is untenable for him to impose upon you. Do you think Prince John suspects we found the treasure?”
Sir Guy: “I do not know? They began their journey at Nottingham before coming here. Maybe someone at Nottingham revealed that you found the treasure.”
Lord Archer: “I hope not. I paid a pretty penny for their silences. Well, there is no time to move the treasure now. It will have to stay buried in your stables. Let us hope that nothing clues Prince John into it.”
At the mention of his name, Seth’s Mastiff puppy Prince stands up from his resting place on the other side of Lord Archer’s bed and makes himself known by loping over to the men and their food.
Sir Guy: Seeing the contraband dog in the manor, Sir Guy admonishes his brother. “Archer! What are you thinking, bringing Seth’s dog into the manor? Rose will have your head.”
Lord Archer: “Hmm. Yes, well, I think I rather have a bargaining chip in that regard.” Since he knows she was faking her faint. Lord Archer scratches Prince behind his ear and gives him a morsel of meat.
Sir Guy: “What do you mean?” He asks suspiciously.
Lord Archer: “Never you mind. If Prince here is to learn manners indoors, then he must practice. If I am willing to undertake that training, I would guess that Rose will be grateful.”
Sir Guy: “I didn’t think you were going to be with us for long.”
Lord Archer: “Guy, I can’t leave until I know that Seth is completely well.”
Sir Guy: “Is that the only reason?”
Lord Archer: “You know it isn’t. So why ask?”
Sir Guy: “Lady Saline is betrothed to Lord George. And your possible fiancé Lady Mary will be here tomorrow.”
Lord Archer: “Don’t remind me.” Lord Archer shakes his head ruefully. “Maybe Lady Saline and I will run away together and elope.” He suggests–only half joking.
Sir Guy: “You will do no such thing. Apart from it not being the way to ingratiate yourself with her parents, the lady is not well.”
Lord Archer: “But she does not have the measles. So, it must be just a cold.” He says brightly.
Sir Guy: “I do not know. I only know what I have been told, that Lady Saline is prone to bouts of illness. So she needs rest and calm to recuperate–not your usual forte, brother.”
Lord Archer acknowledges Sir Guy’s observation with a nod. But Lord Archer will not give up so easily on the prospect of Lady Saline becoming his wife.
The morrow on Wednesday dawns brightly. Seth is doing much better and breathing easier–though he is still confined to his room until all of his red spots fade. Lady Saline is also feeling better, but elects to stay sitting quietly with baby Lady Helen rather than meeting Prince John and his retinue. So there is nothing for it but for Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna, Lord Archer, and the Talkingtons to greet their prince at the courtyard manor entrance. As the Prince’s caravan approaches, they see an enormous and ornate carriage in the middle of what looks to be men two dozen men on horseback and assorted wagons. Sir Guy and Lord Archer exchange looks–wondering what Prince John needs with wagons.
Sir Jasper: Alighting from his horse–having ridden this leg of the journey from Derry uncomfortably by horse, he bows to Lady Roseanna, then nods curtly at Sir Guy and Lord Archer. “Prince John requests some answers.”
Sir Guy: “Does he?” There has been no love lost between Sir Guy and Sir Jasper ever since Sir Jasper tried for Lady Roseanna’s hand in marriage.
Lord Archer: “Well then, Prince John should ask his questions, Jasper. None of us have crystal balls.” Lord Archer says imperiously–because technically, he outranks Sir Jasper. Although Archer believes that he also has more stones than Jasper any day of the week.
Lady Roseanna: To avoid unpleasantness, she greets him warmly. “Sir Jasper, this is a pleasant surprise to see you with my cousin. But then, he seems to depend upon you greatly.” She says fawning over him strategically.
Sir Jasper: “I live to serve my prince, my lady.”
Prince John: Calling from inside the carriage. “Jasper! The door!”
Sir Jasper rolls his eyes and then complies by walking over to the carriage and opening the door. First out is Prince John.
Prince John: Looking every inch the prince with his blue brocaded tunic and velvet doublet, he says haughtily while examining Sir Guy up and down. “Well Gisborne, I guess tales of your death were grossly exaggerated.”
Sir Guy: “Happily so, my prince.” Sir Guy bows ever so stiffly while holding his side that is still paining him.
Prince John: “Rosie, you look quite the picture of domestic bliss. Motherhood suits you. I am eager to see your baby, my god daughter.” He smiles. And Rose looks at him shocked. “Nay nay, I know I could not be here in time for the baptism, but I still consider her to be my god daughter.”
Lady Roseanna: “Well Johnny, you will meet our baby Lady Helen after luncheon.” Both his and hers, thinks Lady Helen’s Mummy.
Prince: Moving on down the receiving line, Prince John exults. “Lord Archer, we have found you at last! The Havorfords are most eager to see you again.”
Lord Archer: “My prince.” He bows more deeply. Archer knows that Prince John is eager for part of the Havorford’s wedding dowery.
Then Lord Havorford exits the carriage. He is a large man in a tan ensemble–food and drink and more drink being his vices. But he is also a doting father wishing to see his beloved elder daughter settled into a happy marriage–as he himself has been these twenty years. He holds out his hand. A slender graceful arm extends itself from within the carriage. The skin is so creamy and pale that one wonders if it belongs to anyone made of flesh and blood. But then, Lady Mary Havorford dips her flower wreathed head out of the carriage as she decends the steps. At almost sixteen years old, Lady Mary [(2) right] is the picture of ripe feminine beauty untouched by man–her long flowing red hair falls in loose curls about her shoulders. Her dress is a simple cream colored empire waisted day dress with elbow length sheer sleeves and a slight train of fabric behind her. And her heart shaped face has a charming upturned nose below wide set slanting blue eyes and rosy cheeks above a small mouth and a serviceable chin. The men in attendance–Sir Jasper, Lord Archer, and even Sir Guy are quite transfixed by her
Prince John: Leaning in to Lord Archer, he suggests. “Isn’t Lady Mary a vision? She looks ready to marry this instant.”
Lord Archer: Remembering his manners, Lord Archer lifts Lady Mary’s hand to his lips and kisses it. “You are indeed looking lovely today Lady Mary.”
Lady Mary blushes and lowers her eyes, not saying anything. In fact, she and Lord Archer have never exchanged words, let alone engaged in a conversation–such has been the nature of Lord Havorford’s strict chaperoning of his eldest daughter. Lord Havorford is well aware of Lord Archer’s reputation with the ladies.
Lady Roseanna: Walking forward, she greets the shy young girl by kissing each of her cheeks. “You are charming, my dear.” Lady Roseanna–a lady of twenty one years now–remembers all too well what it was like to be as young as Lady Mary and on her cousin Johnny’s marriage market. So she links arms with Lady Mary. “Gentleman, My Lord Husband will give you a brief tour of the grounds before ending up on the terrace for luncheon. Lady Talkington and I will take Lady Mary into the manor to give her a sneak peak at baby Helen.” Then Lady Roseanna whispers to Lady Mary. “Would you like that, Lady Mary?”
Lady Mary: Whispers back politely. “Yes, please.”
So Lady Roseanna and Lady Mary–along with Lady Eliza Talkington–walk off arm in arm toward the manor while the men head to the stables.
Sir Guy thinks it is best to get the tour out of the way first–and get the stables done first–to distract Prince John and Sir Jasper in case they are looking for the Nottingham treasure. As they walk into the large stables, Seth’s Mastif dog Prince comes bounding forward to greet them.
Lord Archer: Patting his chest, he calls out. “Prince!” And Prince complies, bounding toward Archer and laying his huge paws upon Lord Archer’s chest.
Prince John: “The dog is named Prince?” He asks disdainfully.
Sir Guy: “Yes Sire. Seth named him. Seth said that since the dog came from his cousin Prince John’s kennels–and he remembered your pretty shoes–that he would name his doggie after you.” Sir Guy says nonchalantly as he leans against a stall wall–the stall that has the treasure buried underneath it.
Prince John: “Well! If my four year old cousin deems it so, than who am I to argue? Ha ha ha ha ha!” He laughs in that carefree, trying too hard way.
Everyone else: But everyone joins in on the laughter, because they know it is expected of them to appease their prince. “Ha ha ha!”
And of course, almost everyone but Prince John and Jasper know that Seth is really Sir Guy’s son from a previous relationship.
Prince John: “Where is little Seth? Does he not wish to greet his Prince, the prince?” He smiles amusingly.
Sir Guy: “He would indeed, Sire. But I fear he is just getting over the measles and his spots have not all faded. We would not wish to expose you to it.”
Prince John: “Measles? No one told me you had disease here. I cannot sleep here tonight if there is disease. Why was I not informed, Jasper?” He asks angrily.
Sir Jasper: “Sire, this is the first I heard of it.” He holds out his hands in exasperation. Clearly, Sir Jasper’s advance team of spies let him down in this regard.
Sir Guy: Thinking yes, a silver lining for their home being overrun with illness. “We perfectly understand if you cannot stay the night, but we hope to enjoy luncheon with you before you go.”
Prince John: “Is anyone else sick?”
Sir Guy: “No, my liege. Only Seth took ill.” Then he remembers Lady Saline and looks over at Lord Talkington.
Prince John: “What is it Talkington?” He demands
Lord Talkington: “My Prince, our daughter Lady Saline has also been ill. But her illness is unrelated to Seth’s and seems to change with the moontides.” He states worriedly. His daughter does become ill rather regularly–at least once a month–and they have no explanation for it.
Prince John: “Well, that’s alright then. But I will not impose myself on you to sleep Sir Guy, just in case.”
Sir Guy: “We perfectly understand, Sire.” He bows slightly in acknowledgement–grateful to be insulted by the Prince not wishing to spend a night under his roof.
Prince John: “I daresay we can still get the marriage contract between Lady Mary and Lord Archer arranged before I must leave. We can’t leave these things to chance, Lord Archer. You must strike while the iron is hot. Or in this case, before Lady Mary decides she likes someone else better. Eh? Ha ha ha ha ha!” He jests.
Everyone: Everyone laughs again. “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Meanwhile, the ladies–Roseanna, Eliza, Saline and Mary–are all cooing over the angelically sleeping baby Lady Helen.
Eliza, Lady Talkington: “Daughters are especially wonderful.” She gives Lady Saline an embrace.
Lady Saline: “Oh, Mother. You have nothing to compare it with.” She shakes her head in amusement.
Lady Roseanna: “Well I do. Sleeping babies are a delight. And our son, little Seth is quite the handful as a five year old now.”
Lady Mary: “But, I had thought that you were newly married last year, My Lady.” She says shyly quizzically.
Lady Roseanna: “I am. Our first anniversary is next month. But Seth is my husband’s child from before our wedding. His mother died. But we do not dwell on it with him.” She says obliquely–trying to give Seth some lineage. “He is my son, now.”
However, Lady Talkington’s eye brow raises almost imperceptibly–because she had been given the story last year that Seth was the son of Lady Roseanna’s deceased cousin Lenore–Harold’s sister.
Lady Mary: “Oh! I’m so sorry. How sad for him to lose his mother so young.” She looks forlorn, thinking of how she would feel if she lost her own mother. “But he is most fortunate in your tender care of him, Lady Roseanna.” She smiles wanly.
Lady Saline: Inquisitively, she wonders. “You seem very young, My Lady Mary. How old are you?” All eyes turn to Lady Mary.
Eliza, Lady Talkington: “Saline, my dear. We need not pry.” She chastises her daughter.
Lady Mary: “No that’s alright. I don’t imagine it is a secret. I will be sixteen on my next birthday in the new year.”
Lady Saline shakes her head, thinking, barely a whelp. She doesn’t feel jealous of her where Lord Archer is concerned. Lady Saline feels confident that Lord Archer prefers her over the Havorford girl.
Lady Roseanna: “My dear, you are young.” She smiles at her caringly. And thinks that she is very young to get married.
Lady Mary: “Yes, I know. But Mama and Papa say I am to wed Lord Huntington when I turn sixteen.” She says a bit nervously.
Lady Saline: “Lady Mary, you and I should join forces and refuse to wed the men who our parents have arranged to be our husbands.”
Lady Mary: “Oh! Are you also engaged to be married?” She looks at her wide eyed.
Lady Roseanna: “Yes, Lady Saline is to marry my older brother, Lord George Middleton.”
Lady Mary: “How much older than you is he?” She asks, losing some of her shyness.
Lady Saline: “Oh, George is twenty-three, isn’t he Rose?” Lady Roseanna nods. “So he is about five years older than I am. I have known him all my life.
Lady Mary: “That is nice. I am told that Lord Huntington is twenty-eight years old–so he is thirteen years older than I am.” She wrinkles up her nose. “If he were a little older, he could almost be my father.” She rolls her eyes.
Lady Roseanna: “Ha ha ha ha ha! I have heard Archer described as many things–but old wasn’t one of them.”
Lady Mary: “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.” She is a good girl who does as she is told.
Lady Saline: “Lady Mary, marriage is a lifelong commitment. You want to get it right. Do you like Lord Archer?”
Eliza, Lady Talkington: “Saline! It is not our concern.”
Lady Mary: “He seems nice. But I have only met him once or twice–when he came for dinner and then played some lawn games with my sisters and I.”
Lady Roseanna: “Well, Lord Archer is my brother-in-law. And we love him. But I know that he can be a handful at times.” She offers. “Ha ha ha!”
Lady Saline: “Ha ha ha! That’s an understatement!”
Lady Mary: Eager to know more of her soon to be betrothed. “What makes him a handful?”
Lady Roseanna: “Well, like most men, he is concerned primarily with his own comforts and welfare much of the time. But that is changing in him. He quite dotes on our son, Seth. And when he has a family of his own, he will surely focus on them.” She finishes on a positive note.
Lady Mary: “My Mama and Papa are a devoted couple–everyone says so. They are wonderful parents. So I want to do what pleases them. And my marrying Lord Huntington pleases them.” Then she adds hastily. “And I will be honored to become his wife.”
Lady Saline: “I say again, you had better start thinking about pleasing yourself in choosing your husband–like Rose did.” She nods emphatically.
Lady Mary: “Really? You were able to choose Sir Guy for your husband? Rather than him choosing you?”
Lady Roseanna: “We chose each other, my dear.” She smiles sweetly.
Lady Saline: “That’s what I want to do. Choose my own husband.”
Eliza, Lady Talkington: Shaking her head. “Girls, you need to be married first. Then you can fall in love with your husbands–and they with you.” She looks back and forth between her daughter Lady Saline and Lady Mary. Well, it worked for her.
Lady Roseanna: Seeing baby Lady Helen start to wake up, she says. “If you ladies will excuse me. I will nurse baby Helen, then join you for luncheon in fifteen minutes. Please go ahead and start without me.
Lady Saline: “Very well, Rose.”
As Lady Talkington, Lady Saline, and Lady Mary walk out onto the terrace for luncheon, they notice the men watching them. Lord Archer is particularly pleased to see Lady Saline since she was ill yesterday and he was not allowed to see her. He now notices Lady Saline’s very pale skin–even more so that Lady Mary’s. And he resolves to put some color back into Lady Saline’s cheeks by being attentive to her–perhaps even taking her on a picnic.
Sir Guy: “My Lady Roseanna is not with you?”
Eliza, Lady Talkington: “She is nursing baby Lady Helen and will be down directly”.
Prince John: “Good! I am eager to meet my goddaughter.”
Lady Saline: “Your goddaughter? Excuse me, Prince John.” he waves his hand in agreement. “But I thought she was my goddaughter?”
Prince John: “Lady Roseanna is my cousin, so her children are my godchildren.”
Lady Mary: Speaking without being asked a question–very bold for her in company. But she has a curiosity streak in her. “And are you Seth’s godfather, too?”
Sir Guy does an intake of breath. Lord Talkington’s eye brow raises–he had heard the Lenore and Harold story as well last year. Lord Archer just smiles bemusedly at Sir Guy.
Prince John: “Seth is only a very distant cousin–by marriage. So, no. I can’t be godfather to the county. Ha ha ha ha ha!” He laughs at his own jest. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
Everyone: “Ha ha ha!” Their laughs are force–and Prince John can tell.
Lady Mary: Stll confused. “But Lady Roseanna told us just now that little Seth is Sir Guy’s child with his fist wife who died.”
Lord Havorford: “Mary, it is best not to pry into other peoples’ concerns.”
Prince John: Turning to gaze upon Sir Guy, Prince John asks him directly. “But Sir Guy had not been married before. Gisborne, is Seth your bastard child?”
All eyes are now on Sir Guy. It is his moment of truth.
Sir Guy: “The circumstances of my son’s birth are not his doing, they are mine. So if anyone is the bastard, it is I.” Sir Guy glares and Prince John. “Regardless of how Seth came to be born, he is my son.” Sir Guy holds his head up high in pride for Seth.
Lord Archer: “And if anyone knows the pain of being separated from a father it is I. Guy has admirably taken responsibility for Seth. Seth is a wonderful little boy.” He stands next to his brother literally and figuratively.
Prince John: “Of course, of course. I was just clarifying the point in case you wanted to have Seth made your legitimate heir.”
What Prince John is proposing hangs in the air between he and Sir Guy. Sir Guy wants so much to acknowledge Seth to more than just their family. And he wants to give Seth a prideful place in the world, not two steps behind everyone else. Yet, the babe that Sir Guy’s wife Lady Roseanna carries might be a son–a son of their love who would be his true legitimate heir. And Sir Guy hesitates.
Sir Jasper: “Cat got your tongue, Sir Guy?”
Prince John: “Sometimes I wish that cat had got yours, Jasper. Apologies, Sir Guy. You may let me know your answer at some future date.”
Sir Guy: Recovering, he says “Thank you, Prince John.” And Sir Guy bows.
Just then, Lady Roseanna glides out onto the deck wearing a now quite happy smile as she carries the sated and content Lady Helen toward Prince John.
Prince John: “Ah! So this is the famous Lady Helen.” He peers into the angelic face of her baby. Then he talks to the baby. “Just think, in fifteen years, we will see you happily wed as Lord Archer and Lady Mary will be.”
Lady Roseanna visibility shakes at this news.
Sir Guy: “Are you alright, my love? Here, sit down.” He pulls out a chair for her and sits down.”
Prince John: “Lord Havorford. With your permission, I will have the banns read. And they may marry in three weeks time.”
Lord Havorford: “But sire, she is not yet sixteen. I promised her mother to wait.” He looks at Prince John incredulously.
Prince John: “Ah! Her youth will be all the better to mold her into a wife. But I take your point. Lady Mary and Lord Archer can use the time until her sixteenth birthday to get to know each other better.” Lady Mary blushes sweetly.
So after luncheon,it is decided that Lord Havorford and Lady Mary will stay at Middleton Manor for a while to get to know her intended family by her betrothed Lord Archer. And, Prince John gleefully departs for London late Wednesday afternoon, secure that the marriage–and his dowery fee–will happen within a few months time.
Prince John: “I will take my leave of your Sir Guy, and Cousin Rose.” Prince John pauses before getting into his carriage. “I almost forgot. My brother Richard…” He never calls Richard the King, because that is what Prince John hopes to be one day. “… sent a message by currier last week.” He motions to his scribe to hand the rolled but no longer sealed parchment to Lady Roseanna–who opens it eagerly after giving Sir Guy Lady Helen to hold. “It seems that Lord George has an arrow wound in his sword arm that will not heal.”
Lady Roseanna: “Oh no!” The first word she hears of her brother in two years, and he is injured.
Prince John: “It is a trifling thing, but Richard is sending him home to mend.” And he thinks perturbedly, his brother Richard wants Lord George to check up on him. “Anyway, he might arrive here in Leicester sometime next week. Maybe we can make it a double wedding with Lord George and Lady Saline getting married as well.” He smiles greedily–thinking of the dowery plundering he will do. “Farewell. my subjects.” He gives the royal wave and is swallowed up upon entering his large and ornate carriage.
As the carriage rolls away, Sir Guy looks at Lady Roseanna who is reading the parchment intently.
Sir Guy: “What does it say?” He asks with trepidation.
Lady Roseanna: “It is from George. He only says that he is eager to return home and reacquaint himself with his responsibilities.
Sir Guy: “I see.” Sir Guy’s eyes narrow at Lady Roseanna’s enthusiasm to see her brother. He has yet to meet his brother-in-law–nor him to know of Sir Guy’s existence, let alone their children. And Sir Guy does not know what will transpire upon Lord George’s return to the Middleton Estates–and what Sir Guy’s place will be.
To be continued with Chapter 11
Ch. 10 References, 12/21/12
(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) Image of 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 Office Clip Art was found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=sword&ex=1#ai:MP900432917|
2) Lady Mary image is Arthur Hughes’ “Ophelia” painting circa mid 1800’s at http://preraphaelitesisterhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/hughes-again.jpg
Previous chapter installment, Ch 9: