“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 17: –“Nettlesome Nottingham; and Poor George”, 2/08/13 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #358)
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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.]
[Story Logo 1ab]
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: Having made amends to the little girl Mary whom Sir Guy dangled over the cliff as a gambit with Robin Hood when they returned from the Holy Land and Lady Marian’s death–at Sir Guy’s hands–Sir Guy is eager to continue his efforts to make reparations and atone for his past deeds. He will get more than he bargained for. And Lord George with two ladies on his hands will find guidance from an unlikely–and rather short–font of wisdom.
“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 17: –“Nettlesome Nottingham; and Poor George”
After Sir Guy made amends to and was forgiven by little Mary for dangling her over the cliff–and the Nottingham villagers witnessing his atonement–the dam burst. Soon other aggrieved parties came forward to Lord Archer’s informal court held on Market Day.
The woman whose heirloom necklace Sir Guy stole to give to Lady Marian was recompensed out of Sir Guy’s own pocket for the value of the necklace–and Lord Archer’s Steward Thornton was dispatched to Locksley Manor to retrieve the said necklace to return it to her. The man whose tongue Sir Guy had cut out will receive a living stipend and talk to read and write so he could become a scribe–both a means for him to earn a living and a way to communicate. There were many this afternoon who sought and received compensation from Sir Guy. However after two hours of a steady stream of satisfied villagers with a contrite Sir Guy, Lord Archer was finding his brother Sir Guy’s redemption a bit tedious–mostly because it was not focusing on him.
Lord Archer: Lord Archer leans over to his brother sitting next to him at the outdoor court and whispers. “Guy. Any chance you will be done making amends before dinner? I find that atonement is making me hungry.” He winks at him impishly.
Sir Guy: Sir Guy smiles wanly and says privately to his brother. “Archer, I feel that I must put myself at their disposal. For in the past, they were quite at mine.” Sir Guy winces remembering how odiously he behaved as Sheriff Vasey’s second in command years ago.
Lord Archer: “I mean, damn it man, I was a reprobate, licentious, and a con man. But I don’t expect to atone for everything I have done all in one day.”
Sir Guy: Sir Guy offers a compromise. “Well, I will likely still be in Nottingham next Saturday’s Market Day. So we could continue my rehabilitation then.”
However, there is one more petitioner who would confront Sir Guy this day. Kate’s and Matthew’s mother steps in front of Sir Guy, but he does not recognize her.
Lord Archer: “Mistress, we have had a long day of hearing complaints. Might we put you at the head of the line for next Saturday’s audiences?” He asks hopefully.
Kate’s Mother: “Nay, Lord Sheriff. For mine is a blood debt that Sir Guy can never repay.” She turns her gaze to Sir Guy and glares at him. “You killed my son Matthew when he was but a boy of 14–not a child, but not yet a man.”
Sir Guy’s face drains of its color and the warmth of the mid day sun feels cold as he looks upon the childless mother he created.
Lord Archer: Sensing Sir Guy’s unease, he unhelpfully tries to intervene. “Your loss is to be pitied. But none can bring him back to life.”
Kate’s Mother: Staring accusatorially at Sir Guy, she lays the charges at his feet. “Where was your pity then , Sir Guy? Where was your humanity, then? Your hollow words of regret now will indeed not bring my son back to life.”
Lord Archer: Seeing a crowd gather round to watch the spectacle of his brother Sir Guy’s degradation, he starts to say. “I do not think …”
Sir Guy: Waving his hand at Lord Archer, Sir Guy wearily says. “Please Lord Sheriff, let her speak. She has the right.”
Kate’s Mother: “By God and man I do have the right to condemn you and charge you with murder!”
Crowd: “Ohh! Ahh! Hmmm!” The crowd murmurs amongst itself. Will Sir Guy truly have to submit to punishment for his crime?
Little Mary and her father have wandered back toward the commotion and stand riveted to the spot. Several others, including Brother Tuck are also standing on the periphery.
Kate’s Mother: Spying Br. Tuck, she enlists his aid. “Brother Tuck, Does not the good book say, an eye for an eye?”
Br. Tuck: “It does, but that must be tempered with the knowledge that God will judge all in time. It is not our place to judge.”
Kate’s Mother: “Then I will be merciful.” Her face is determinedly fiercesome. “Sir Guy, I will not seek your death if you give me what I have lost–a son, your son Seth.”
Sir Guy freezes in his chair and he does not breathe. She gives him a choice that is no choice.
Crowd: “Oh! Ah! No!” The crowd is thunderstruck at this mother’s biblical revenge.
Lord Archer: “You are not taking my nephew from his family. And as a noble, Sir Guy cannot be charged with a crime whose punishment is death.”
Sir Guy: Sir Guy stands. “But I can freely choose to submit to it, My Lord Sheriff.”
Lord Archer: “Guy, no!” He cries out, forgetting all formality and etiquette as he grabs for his brother’s arm.
Sir Guy: Sir Guy walks forward to Kate’s Mother–Matthew’s Mother. “My son Seth now has a happy and loving home with my wife the Lady Roseanna and I and his baby sister Lady Helen. I could not take him away from all of that to save me.” Sir Guy looks longingly over at his brother Archer, as if to say please tell my family that I love them–as he did when Kate tried to kill him. Sir Guy begins stripping himself of his sword and belt, his finely brocaded tunic, and then his vest–leaving him standing in only his full sleeved linen shirt and breeches. Hi long hair flutters in the wind. Then he kneels before her. “Mistress, whether I pay for my debt to you now or in the life here after is up to you.” He closes his eyes. Kate’s mother picks up his sword and slowly removes it from its sheath.
Br. Tuck: Stepping forward with due reverence he says. “Mistress, you cannot do this!”
Lord Archer: “No she will not. Guards!” He says with authority and signals to the guards standing around to intervene at his command.
Kate: Rushing through the crowd, she turns her mother around. “Mutha! No! Even I can see now that killing Gisborne will not bring Mathew back.”
Sir Guy knows that his reprieve from death will be but a moment if no one can convince her veer from her purpose.
Br. Tuck: “Mistress, do you know that Sir Guy pleaded for Kate’s life to be spared when she tried to kill him herself not five days ago? She only lives because Sir Guy intervened on her behalf.”
Kate’s Mother: “But my Matthew is still dead.” She turns around to face Sir Guy with the intent to plunge his own sword into his belly.
Child Mary: Having escaped her father’s tight grip on her hand–and being small and wiry as she wriggles through the transfixed crowd of onlookers–little Mary comes up behind the kneeling Sir Guy and wraps her arms around his shoulders, which startles Sir Guy. But he covers her arms with his hands. “Please do not hurt him.” She cries. “He was a demon man, but I cured him. He promises me he will be good and I believe him. And I want happy dreams of him being good, not scary dreams of him being bad.” She starts to cry, wailing as she used to when she woke up from nightmares.
Sir Guy: “Shuuu, shuuu. Hush little one.” He starts rocking himself from side to side as little Mary clings to him. Then she walks around to Sir Guy’s front and hugs him tightly. Sir Guy hugs her back and continues rocking her. Then he stands up with Mary in his arms and carries her over to her father. “You must go home and rest with your father, Mary.” Then turning to Mary’s father, he says. “This is not fit for her to see. Take her home and keep her safe.” Sir Guy tries to hand her over to her father, but she will not go–clinging to him even more tightly.
Child Mary: “No! If I leave you, she will kill you–and it will be my fault.”
Mary weeps uncontrollably now as Sir Guy pries her fingers off of him and hands her over to her father. Sir Guy pats her head, then he turns back to Kate’s Mother. Then Sir Guy returns to kneeling in front of Kate’s Mother and closes his eyes, waiting for his punishment.
Br. Tuck: Sensing a way to dissolve the situation, Br. Tuck says to Kate’s Mother. “Mistress, the child will be forever scarred–blaming herself– if you do this. Sir Guy took your Matthew’s life–and he did wrong. But he paid that debt to you by pleading for your daughter Kate’s life when she tried to kill him not five nights ago. Leave Sir Guy to God’s judgment and do not imperil your own mortal soul.”
Kate: “Come away, Mother.” She gently removes the sword from her hand and gives it to Br. Tuck. Her mother does not resist.
Kate’s Mother: “He was my boy, I gave him life. And you took his life away.” She whispers hoarsely through her tears.
Sir Guy: Sir Guy opens his own tear filled eyes and stands. His arms are at his side, but with his palms facing upward–in supplication. “I am so sorry. Your Matthew did not deserve to die. No one deserved the hurt and pain and injury that I inflicted upon them–but least of all, Matthew. As a parent myself now, I know how precious my children are to me. They are my life! I could not withstand their loss. Your pain for losing Matthew at my hands torments me.”
Kate’s Mother: “Good.” She abruptly turns away from Sir Guy. There will be no forgiveness from her. How could there be?
Sir Guy is reminded that his sins run deep–and that forgiveness is an unlikely goal.
Sir Guy dresses himself in his fine clothes again and returns with Lord Archer to Locksley Manor–feeling it is better to absent himself from the villagers and to reflect upon the day’s events. Though Sir Guy’s dreams this night are not all tranquill, he fervently prays that one little girl, Mary, sleeps contented and unafraid this night.
Deciding that he would be less melancholy were he to remove himself from the object of his desires, Lord George quits his sister Lady Roseanna’s home and returns to his own home–the family seat at Middleton Hall. But his leave taking is not without some drama. Lady Roseanna has been walking the hallway in an attempt to soothe baby Lady Helen to sleep for her afternoon nap. She pauses by her brother’s open bedchamber door, perplexed at the sight before her. Venturing into her brothers bed chamber, Lady Roseanna finds trunks lying about and servants engaged in packing them.
Lady Roseanna: “George, what is this?”
Lord George: “I’m packing. Well, they are, for me.” He gestures to the servants.
Lady Roseanna: Shifting baby Lady Helen to her other shoulder, she states wryly. “I can see that. I did not give you leave to go. Will you not explain yourself?”
Lord George: “Rosie. Hhhh! Will you leave us for a few moments, please?” He asks of the servants and they discreetly walk into the hallway and he shuts his bedchamber door.
Lady Roseanna: “I wonder at your need for secrecy. Are you on some mission for King Richard that you can not tell us about?” She smiles impishly.
Baby Lady Helen: “La la la.” She gurgles contentedly as sleep almost claims her.
Lord George: “I find that I am in an untenable situation.”
Lady Roseanna: “Oh? Is that a fiveable or a nineable situation?” She grins broadly at her using an old family joking pattern of making a play on words.
Lord George: He looks at her ruefully. “That’s not funny, Rosie. My life is in a shambles! My blasted arm won’t heal enough for me to hold a pen yet, let alone hold a sword. The tenants hate me and snigger behind my back. And I’m in love with Lady Mary not my betrothed Lady Saline.” He starts pacing the room in frustrated agitation.
Lady Roseanna: “George!” She gasps at his third revelation–trying to maintain her calm, for the baby if not for her brother. “But you cannot back out of marrying Lady Saline. You have a marriage contract these past ten years. We are to be sisters. And it goes without saying that our parents wanted this marriage.”
Lord George: He stops pacing and fairly spits out the words to her. “I know that! All my life, I have been told of my duty to the family. But what of my duty to me? Why can’t I be happy and do my duty?”
Lady Roseanna: “George, you forget yourself. And you still have not acclimated to being a country squire rather than being a soldier.” She almost said playing at soldiering, but thought better of it. “You have to give yourself time to adjust.”
Lord George: “Rosie, I do not think that I want to adjust. You and Guy have a loving marriage. Why can’t I also find happiness by choosing my own wife?”
Lady Roseanna: “But could you be happy–knowing that you had caused so many people pain? Think, George. Maybe your going to your own home for a few days will give you time to reflect and put everything into perspective.”
Lord George: “Perhaps.”
Lady Roseanna: “I don’t suppose that you will return to dine with us this evening, then?” She asks curiously.
Lord George: “That would rather defeat the purpose of my going.” He rolls his eyes.
Lady Roseanna: “Well, we will at least send you to your home with some provisions for your dinner this evening, since I doubt that Middleton Hall servants will be able to prepare anything on short notice. And you will need to hire more staff to run the place if you are to live there comfortably. It has been on a caretaker number of servants during your absence.”
Lord George: “Yes, thank you Rose. Thanks for everything!” He bows his head to her. Then he impulsively leans in and kisses her check and the baby’s.
So, Lord George removes himself to his own estates at Middleton Hall this Saturday evening–to put some distance between himself and Lady Mary. And he sulks his way through his dinner of cold meat, bread, fruit, and cheese with wine. Yes, he drinks lots of wine this night.
Lady Roseanna had explained to her guests the Talkingtons and Lady Saline, and the Havorfords and Lady Mary that Saturday evening at dinner that Lord George had returned to his own home. Predictably, Lady Saline is outwardly perturbed and inwardly pleased. Lady Mary is confused and a little hurt that Lord George didn’t say good bye to her. The two fathers look at each other knowingly–with Lord Havorford having recovered from his injuries enough to sit up for meals and tea time..
But the next day after Sunday morning mass in the Middleton Manor Chapel, Lady Mary asks Seth if he has seen his Uncle George’s home. And Seth informs her that he has–when his Papa Sir Guy was overseeing the repairs of it Seth got a tour of the place. Seth especially likes sliding on the marble floors of the front entrance hall. Overhearing Seth’s glee, Lady Talkington suggests that Lady Saline, Lady Mary, and Seth take a small gig with a basket of sweet rolls and sausage to tempt him to break his fast. Lady Roseanna had already returned to her bed chamber to nurse baby Lady Helen and is unaware of their excursion–especially given the context of Lord George’s stated dilemma.
As their carriage pulls up at the enormous Middleton Hall [(2) right], Lady Mary looks up and around her in wonder and awe. Next to the palace, it is quite literally the biggest home that she has ever seen. Lady Saline who had driven the carriage herself, now hands the reins to the groom.
Lady Saline: “Come Seth and Lady Mary.” She waves her hand at them to follow her. Being accustomed to having free reign to roam at will around Middleton Hall as a child, she expresses her familiarity by marching into the large home–a small palace, really–and up the stairs toward George’s bedroom. Lady Mary and Seth are trailing quickly behind–trying to keep up.
Lady Mary: “Lady Saline, should we not wait and let one of the servants inform Lord George that we are here and greet him in the great hall when he comes down?” She asks as a point of etiquette–which both ladies know, but Lady Mary is more likely to exercise.
Lady Saline: “Nonsense! Doubtless we will find him recovering from being in his cups and not in any condition to receive us.”
Lady Mary: “In his cups?” She inquires about the slag term.
Seth: “What kind of cups?” He asks quizzically, trying to puzzle out cups big enough for his uncle to sit in.
Lady Saline: “Drink, Mary.”
Lady Mary: “Oh! Does he drink … much?” She asks timidly–not having been around anyone who drinks to excess, she doesn’t quite know what to expect.
They climb the great hall’s grand central staircase. Then Lady Saline motions to their right and they walk down a long hallway that is the family bed chamber wing. She is just about ready to turn left down the next hallway when she spies an open bed chamber door–and hears snoring within.
Lady Saline: “I think we found him.” She shrugs her shoulders at her companions. So she knocks very loudly on the bed chamber door. “George! George! Seth and Mary and I are here to break our fast with you.”
Lord George: Sitting bolt upright, he says only half coherently. “Bring me my shield and armor. By god we will do battle against the heathen army and win today.”
Seth: Wandering into the bed chamber and over to his Uncle in his bed, he jiggles his shoulder and asks. “Uncle George, you are not in the Holy Land anymore.” Then he gets an inspiration. “You are in Leicester land.” He claps his hands together. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
Lord George: His eyes beginning to focus, he looks down at his nephew. “One can dream, Seth.”
George’s disheveled appearance is what you might expect from someone who had gone to bed drunk. He is still wearing his breeches but not his boots, his shirt is not tucked in and it is unbuttoned so far, one wonders why he even be buttoned it at all.
Lady Mary: “Maybe we should leave Lord George to his privacy.” She blushes at the hint of chest hair peeking out of Lord George’s open shirt.
Lord: Swinging his legs over the side of his bed, he stands. Then he promptly sits back down. “Oh! My head is pounding.” He rubs his temples.
Lady Mary: “Ooh! I am so sorry, George. Papa gets bad head aches and I just have to rub his temples and he is fine. Here, let me show you.” she crosses the room and stands before Lord George with a serious face as she begins to massage his temples.
Lord George: “That feels good.” He sighs as he closes his eyes.
Lady Saline: “Come Seth, I can see that we are not needed here.” Clasping Seth’s hand in hers, they turn and head back into the hallway.
Lady Mary: Stopping her, she asks. “Should I go with you?” Lady Mary asks mindful of being unchaperoned around Lord George.
Lady Saline: “No, George is harmless. Seth and I will be in the garden. George, why don’t you take Lady Mary on a tour of the Hall?”
Lord George: Coming to consciousness more, he asks. “Would you like that my lady?” Lady Mary eagerly nods her head in assent.
After Lord George excuses himself for his morning waking routine and dresses in fresh breeches and shirt, he and Lady Mary walk along the family wing bedchambers. Lady Mary is in awe of the scale of the place. Every available wall has an ancestor portrait on it. It seems the Middleton’s were quite a prolific lot.
Lady Mary: “Are all of these rooms really bedchambers, George?”
Lord George: “Yes! The place can sleep 75 lords, ladies, and servants quite comfortably.”
Lady Mary: “Oh my! Is there ever a reason to have such a large number of guests?”
Lord George: “Well, when the King visits, his court does strain our hospitality. But we manage.” He smiles warmly. Lady Mary’s shining auburn tresses are quite beautiful, he thinks.
Lady Mary: “That must be nerve wracking when so many people are about.”
Lord George: “Sometimes. Though in the Holy Land, our garrison numbered in the hundreds.”
Lady Mary: “I would prefer smaller more intimate gatherings where one can assure their guests are well tended to–perhaps twenty-five guests would be my limit.”
They walk on in companionable silence a little ways–peeking into bed chambers to inspect the décor. Lord George watches Lady Mary’s reactions to what she sees–noting when she wrinkles her nose in distaste, versus her small smile and head nod to indicate her approval. Finally, they come to the end of the hallway with the large and luxuriously appointed master suite.
Lord George: “And this suite of rooms is for the lord and lady of the manor.” He opens the door with a flourish into a large shared sitting room with hearth. The walls are hung with fine tapestries, the fabrics are plush and luxe in shades of ice blue and silver.
Lady Mary: “Oh! This is so beautiful, George!”
Lord George: “I think so. It was my parents’ bedchamber. To the right is the lady of the manor’s bed chamber. To the left is the lord of the manor’s bed chamber.” He smiles.
Lady Mary: “Separate bed chambers?” She asks quizzically since her own parents share a bedchamber.
Lord George: “Yes, that is customary. Each has their own refuge from the world.”
Lady Mary: “I rather thought that one’s husband or wife would provide the refuge.” She smiles warmly.
Lord George: “Indeed they do, My lady. My parents tended to sleep in my father’s bed chamber. My mother used her room for dressing and as a sitting room for she and her closest friends.”
Lady Mary: She blushes. “May we see them?” She asks eagerly.
Lord George: “Of course.” He strides over to his father’s bedchamber and lets her in. It is decorated in shades of navy blue and silver. It is a man’s room with dark woods and little ornamentation. In the place over the hearth is a portrait of his mother from not long after his parents’ were married.
Lady Mary: “Very nice.” But she is really eager to see his Mother’s boudoir.
Lord George: “Come, I will show you my mother’s room.” They walk into a very feminine room of pale pinks and silver.
Lady Mary: “This room is exquisite!” She delights.
Lord George: And once again, there is a large portrait over the fireplace–this time, it is of George’s father.
“My parents were devoted to each other.” He tilts his head toward the portrait.
Lady Mary: “So are my Mama and Papa. I hope to have that close bond in my own marriage.” She smiles sweetly, if a little sadly.
Lord George: “I am sure that you will, My Lady.” He raises her hand to his lips and kisses it.
To be continued with Chapter 18
(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) Middleton Hall image is that of the 250 room Biltmore House in the U.S. Image link is http://www.biltmore.com/images/content/slideshow/biltmorehouse_01.jpg For more about Biltmore House, visit http://www.biltmore.com/visit/house_gardens/house/
Previous chapter installments, Ch 16: