“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 19: Courting Disaster, Part 2: Palace Intrigues Collide, 2/22/13 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #367)
(All Rights Reserved; No copyright infringement intended)
[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, and James McAvoy as Lord George, 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: While Lord George woos Lady Mary almost under Lady Saline’s nose–she fumes a bit with her suspicions, but then Lady Saline and Lord George have a heart to heart chat about her real feelings and wishes tending toward Lord Archer. However, Sir Guy and Lord Archer have had rather a tougher first week in Nottingham–with Sir Guy attempting to make amends for his past actions and only succeeding partially. Sir Guy’s and Lord Archer’s second week in Nottingham gets worse, with Prince John spying on them.
So far, Lord Archer has been adept at keeping the existence and the location of the recovered Nottingham treasure–consisting of 150, 000 pounds–secreted from Prince John and his associates. But no plan is fool proof, as Lord Archer and Sir Guy will soon find out when Prince John’s stooge Sir Jasper pays them a visit on Monday of their second week in Nottingham.
“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 19: Courting Disaster, Part 2: Palace Intrigues Collide
As Lord Archer and Sir Guy are standing in front of Nottingham Castle’s ruins while workers continue to remove debris from the explosion’s collapse, they look over architect plans on a makeshift table for its rebuilding that contains some important modifications to the fortifications. They just do not expect to be interrupted.
Lord Archer: “Guy, are you certain it is necessary to build a new perimeter wall 50 yards outside of the current fort walls?” He shakes his head. “Do we really need it?” He scratches his stubbly chin.
Sir Guy: “Archer, you have an opportunity to make Nottingham Castle a leading defense post of the middle Northern territories. You must think strategically about the future, not merely about our currently peaceful times.” He says stridently like the seasoned battle commander he is. “An extended wall perimeter will allow us to enclose more of the villagers homes and fields thus protecting them and their crops for Nottingham Castle’s food stores. This section here will also give Nottingham Castle an uninterrupted flow of fresh water via the underground aquifer, but restrict access from attack by the river.”
Lord Archer: “It is a sound plan that you propose. But it will take us longer to rebuild–at least two years beyond the planned 5 year rebuilding timeframe that I promised Prince John.” He winces. “And you know Prince John will not take kindly for my request for extending the tax moratorium until all of the rebuilding is completed.” He rolls his eyes ruefully.
Sir Guy: “Then you must make Prince John understand the importance of Nottingham Castle as a defense from Pict [(2)] or even Viking [(3)] raids. If Prince John does not want to be rousted out of his comfortable bed in London one day, then he needs to plan ahead.”
Lord Archer: “You are right, of course.” Then Lord Archer looks over Sir Guy’s shoulder at an approaching carriage with a dozen or so palace guards riding along side. “Blast! Speak and he appears.”
Sir Guy: “What?” Sir Guy turns around. “God’s Teeth! Am I never to be rid of Prince John?”
Lord Archer: “Well …”
Sir Guy: “Archer, the question was rhetorical. Let us just put on our facades of fealty while he is here. Prince John will not want to stay overnight in the area since we have no adequate accommodations to suit his comfort needs.” He looks over at his brother’s scowling face and crosses his arms. “Come Archer, smile like your life depends upon it–because it does.” Archer smiles hard.
The enclosed carriage stops in front of Sir Guy and Lord Archer. A footman disembarks from standing on the rear of the carriage, opens the carriage door, places a step stool on the ground, and stands at attention. Sir Guy and Lord Archer await their prince–only to find that it is Prince John’s toad who has arrived as Sir Jasper steps out of the carriage. The disdain evident on Sir Guy’s and Lord Archer’s faces is difficult to mask.
Sir Jasper: Swishing a scroll in one hand and a riding crop in the other, he asks facetiously. “Miss me?”
Lord Archer: “Does a horse miss an annoying flea?”
Sir Guy: “Archer!” Sir Guy curtly admonishes his brother Lord Archer as he vigorously shakes his head no–hoping that Lord Archer will comport himself better in front of Sir Jasper. Then turning to the interloper, he asks. “So, Sir Jasper, what brings you to Nottingham? Come to help with the debris removal? You are not exactly dressed for it.” He says sarcastically as he reviews Sir Jasper’s overly ornate tunic–rather too much gold embroidery for his taste.
Sir Jasper: Sir Jasper’s eyes narrow. He and Sir Guy have never gotten along–and there is no prospect of that for the future. “Well actually, I come at Prince John’s behest for you, Sir Guy.” He points to Sir Guy with his scroll.
Sir Guy: “Oh?” His eyes narrow suspiciously, wondering what Sir Jasper and Prince John are up to.
Lord Archer: “Sir Jasper, as you can see we are rather busy with the Nottingham rebuilding project.” Lord Archer gestures to the piles of castle fortification plans–in hopes of hurrying Sir Jasper along.
Sir Jasper: “Yes.” He distractedly fluffs the ruffle on his sleeve cuffs–a new French style that Sir Jasper has adopted. “I can see that.” He says looking around. “I wonder how you are able to pay everyone for their work.” He jabs.
Lord Archer: “You know very well that Prince John has suspended Nottingham’s tributes to the crown in order to use these funds for rebuilding.”
Sir Guy eyes Sir Jasper warily.
Sir Jasper: “I suppose.” He says mistrustfully. “Might you give me a tour of the castle?” He asks pointedly looking around.
Sir Guy: “That is impossible!” He states emphatically.
Sir Jasper: “Why?” He whines. Sir Jasper has a job to do and he bloody well intends to do it. Being Prince John’s toady and sychophant is very rewarding. And he will not let an opportunity to goad Sir Guy pass.
Lord Archer: “Because, the castle is in ruins and moving about is dangerous. Even our workers have to take extra precautions where walls that seem to be stable are really near collapse.” He rolls his eyes.
Sir Jasper: “Your concern for my person is … admirable.” Sir Jasper says condescendingly. “Perhaps next time when you are further along you will give me a tour.
Neither Sir Guy nor Lord Archer want to ask if Sir Jasper is staying overnight before he returns to London. The prospect of having to feed and entertain him at Locksley Manor–Lord Archer’s home–is disagreeable to them.
Sir Guy: “Was there anything else?” He asks perturbedly.
Sir Jasper: “Your hospitality is … underwhelming. And especially troubling when I bring you a boon from Prince John.” Sir Jasper holds out the scroll to Sir Guy. Sir Guy starts to take it, but Sir Jasper snatches it away. “Not so fast!”
Lord Archer: Fed up with Sir Jasper, he bellows exasperatedly. “If you have a charge from Prince John, then fulfill it. Otherwise, get back to London so we may continue our work.”
Sir Jasper: “Temper, temper.” He teases maliciously. “Here you are Sir Guy.” Sir Jasper hands Sir guy the scroll and he takes it.
Sir Guy: “What is it?”
Sir Jasper: “How am I to know?” He asks mock innocently. “The scroll is sealed with Prince John’s ring for family communications. He would have my head were I to have somehow read what is inside.” He sniffs.
Sir Jasper: “Official scribes, you know–they are so easy to bribe or extort.”
Lord Archer: “Well?” He asks impatiently.
Sir Jasper: “Oh open it up, Sir Guy. You will find that Prince John has kept his promise to you.”
Sir Guy: “His promise?” Sir Guy quizzically furrows his brow as he breaks the scroll’s seal. Unfurling the document, he finds an inner seal and ribboned stamp indicating a royal decree. The document is in Latin, but Sir Guy quickly scans and reads aloud the important bits. “By royal decree, the five year old boy child known as Seth, acknowledged to be the out of wedlock son of Crispin Roger Sir Guy of Gisborne, is hereby afforded legal status as son and heir of his father with the name, Crispin Guy Seth of Gisborne with all rights of inheritance. Anno domine 1194. John, Prince Regent” The document legitimizes Seth as a Gisborne in the eyes of the law and the nobility [(5)]. Sir Guy is dumbfounded as he looks to his brother Lord Archer, back at the document, then over to Sir Jasper. Prince John could not have unhinged Sir Guy so completely in any other way.
Sir Jasper: “Well, this is a first. Sir Guy of Gisborne is speechless.” He snorts sarcastically as he whips his riding crop in the air. Why a man riding in a carriage needs a riding crop is a conundrum. It is probably just a nervous habit of his to expel excess energy–by waving his riding crop about.
Sir Guy: “Why did Prince John do this for my son Seth?” Sir Guy asks incredulously, shaking with emotion that he tries to hold back from showing to Sir Jasper.
Sir Jasper: “As I said, Prince John used the family seal on the document scroll. Oh, by the way. Prince John asks to be remembered to his young cousin by marriage. He was quite pleased that Seth named his dog after him.”
Lord Archer: “You are serious.” He looks at Sir Jasper askance.
Sir Jasper: “Quite! Prince John is a mystery of contradictions at times.” Which some might think is a criticism, so Sir Jasper regroups. “But then, all great leaders are multi-faceted individuals with both fierceness and benevolence in their character.”
Ah, thinks Lord Archer. Sir Jasper is back to being Prince John’s sycophant–truly nauseating.
Lord Archer: “Can we offer you some refreshment before you journey back to London?” He asks, hoping to hurry Sir Jasper out of Nottingham.
Sir Guy is still stunned at what the document means for his son Seth–to have a place in the world, to look every man eye to eye, and to be a noble like his father.
Sir Guy: “Yes, please. We do not have much, but let us at least share a meal–and perhaps, even offer you a bed for the night.” He says graciously as Lord Archer winces. Sir Guy can do no less for the man–toad that Sir Jasper is–who brought the document guaranteeing Sir Guy’s son Seth [(6) right] the right to become an honorable man–and in time, perhaps a knight as is his Papa Sir Guy.
Sir Jasper: “Nay, Sir Guy. I thank you.” He acknowledges the gesture of hospitality–from at least one Gisborne brother anyway. “I must return to London to resume my very great responsibilities to Prince John.”
Lord Archer: “Of course. We thank you for taking the time to deliver this welcome news in person.” He nods–finally with some graciousness.
Sir Guy: “Please give Prince John my grateful thanks. And I will let Seth know that his cousin is thinking of him.” Sir Guy respectfully bows to Sir Jasper as Prince John’s representative. Sir Jasper nods to Sir Guy.
Then Sir Jasper reenters his carriage, taps the roof, and his whole entourage turns around and heads back to London.
Lord Archer: “Whew! That was a close one! That weasely Jasper is not one to be trusted.”
Sir Guy: “Nor is Prince John. And yet …” He raises Seth’s legitimizing document that he had rolled back up again.
Lord Archer: “Well, it looks like our family is legal again.” He jests–recalling his own out of wedlock birth to the Lady Ghislaine Gisborne and Lord Malcom of Locksley.
Sir Guy: “Archer, I cannot delay this news to my Lady Rose–nor to Seth. Though I doubt that he will be able to understand the full significance of this document to his future.
Lord Archer: “Very well, brother.” He claps his hand on Sir Guy’s shoulder. “The overseers can continue the debris removal without us. We leave for Leicester and Middleton Manor at first light. But tonight, let us celebrate.” He smiles.
The brothers Gisborne never experienced the comaraderie that brothers usually share in some mutual carousing by drinking ale, singing songs, and such. But there is always a first time for everything. As Sir Guy and Lord Archer walk into the Locksley Tavern and Inn, they are greeted by several area merchants, Brother Tuck, and surprisingly, Barkeep Much and his Tavern partner Kate.
Much: “Well I wondered how long it would take you two to find my ale house.” He says good naturedly. “Sit you down.”
Kate nods stiffly at Sir Guy, who returns the nod. He and Lord Archer sit on one wall, with Sir Guy’s back to it and facing the room–the better to look out for attackers.
Sir Guy: “Thank you, Much. We’ll order two ales and some meat pies.” Lord Archer waves his agreement to Much.
Little John and his wife and son are sitting at a nearby table.
Little John: Leaning over to Sir Guy, he says with a wink. “Meat pies, them I like.”
Sir Guy: Sir Guy and Little John stand and clasp arms. “John! It is good to see you–and with your family. Mistress Little.” Sir Guy nods to her, she responds with a nod. “And who is this?”
Little John: “He is our boy, Johnny.” Johnny is about 10 years old.
Lord Archer: “You have a fine son, John.” He offers. Little John and his wife beam proudly.
Kate brings the meat pies and sets them down before Sir Guy and Lord Archer. Sir Guy looks at the meat pies, then up at Kate.
Sir Guy: “Should I have these taste tested for poison?” He asks half in jest and half seriously.
Kate: “Hmmm. Good thought. You can worry about that next time.” She tilts her head, flips her hair, and returns to the bar.
Much: Coming over to check on them. “Don’t worry, she didn’t have time to do anything to them.” Sir Guy still hesitates. “Here, I will take a bite of each pie.” Much picks up the spoon and jabs a bite out of each pie and pops them in his mouth. Much chomps away, looks over at Kate–who shrugs–then he looks back at Sir Guy. All of a sudden, Much’s face contorts and he grabs his throat as if he is choking. “Kkhh!” He coughs.
Sir Guy and Lord Archer jump to their feet.
Sir Guy: “No! That poison was meant for me!”
Meanwhile, Kate slowly sashays back with some ale in a tankard for Much–who drinks it greedily.
Kate: “He is only having some fun with you, Gisborne.” She rolls her eyes and goes over to wait on other customers.
Much: A grin spreads across Much’s face as he wipes the excess ale on his sleeve. “Sorry Sir Guy, I just had to do that.”
Sir Guy: Sir Guy glowers at Much for a few moments. Then he bursts out laughing. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I deserved that. Whew!”
Then all of the old outlaw Robin Hood gang laugh hysterically. When the merriment dies down, Lord Archer explains the reason for their coming to the tavern.
Lord Archer: “We are returning to Middleton Manor at Leicester tomorrow. So tonight we celebrate!”
Little John: “What are you celebrating?” He asks quizzically. “Still being alive?” He quips. None of them will let Sir Guy off the hook easily.
Sir Guy: “Well, there is that.” He says gamely with a wry smirk.
Lord Archer looks over at Sir Guy to see if he wants his family news shared. Sir Guy shrugs his shoulders and nods.
Lord Archer: “Though Sir Guy publicly acknowledged his son Seth last year, Prince John has made Seth legitimate by royal decree.”
Johnny Little: “What does legimate mean?”
Sir Guy: “Legitimate. Well Johnny, it means that my son Seth now has my family name of Gisborne.”
Little John: Remembering them finding the babe in the woods nearly four years ago, he tears up. “Providence was with us when Much found your babe in the woods.” Much smiles, proud to have helped save Seth’s life.
Sir Guy: “I am forever in your debt.” Sir Guy puts his hand over his heart and looks soulfully from Much to Little John with the heartfelt thanks of a father writ across his face.
Much: Wiping his own tearing eyes, he says. “Your food is getting cold. Eat up and drink hearty.” He says cordially before he returns to the bar.
Everyone returns to their own table conversations and Sir Guy and Lord Archer eat their meat pies as they chat.
Sir Guy: “So Archer, will you be glad to see your betrothed Lady Mary a week sooner than you thought? I know that I miss my Lady Rose dearly.”
Lord Archer: “You are blessed, Guy. As to the Lady Mary? Yes and no.”
Sir Guy: “That sounds rather uncertain. What concerns you, brother?”
Lord Archer: “I do not know her very well yet–nor she me. I fear–for her sake–that we might be mismatched. I am so much older than she.”
Sir Guy: “Archer, you are but 13 years older than Lady Mary. Whereas I am 18 years older than my lady wife Roseanna.” Sir Guy raises his eye brow.
Lord Archer: “That is right. You are positively ancient at 41 years old.” Sir Guy grimaces. “Pray tell me. What is the secret of keeping a young wife happy?” He muses impishly.
Sir Guy: “I am no expert. I think the primary reason behind our successful marriage lies with milady Rose. Her love is such a blessing to me that I do not take it for granted–ever!”
Lord Archer: “So it seems. With another child to be born from your loins within a year of Lady Helen’s birth? No, I would definitely say that you do not take Lady Roseanna for granted.” He smirks saucily and both brothers laugh.
Sir Guy and Lord Archer: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Sir Guy: “You might jest with me now about our loving bond, but when you are happily wed I hope that you will know equal joy.” Sir Guy says sincerely.
On that heartfelt note, Archer has another surprise for Sir Guy.
Lord Archer: “Guy, I was going to wait to give you this until we returned to Middleton Manor. But I think you should have it now.”
Sir Guy: Putting down his spoon, he asks curiously. “What is it?”
Lord Archer: “I found it in Isabella’s bed chamber in the castle. She had obviously brought it with her.” Lord Archer slides a folded parchment over to Sir Guy. “It is a message and a bequest from our mother, the Lady Ghislaine that our sister Isabella must have found in the rubble of mother’s home. But Isabella had not had time to destroy it–or kept it for perverse reasons of her own.”
Sir Guy: “Thank you, Archer.” He opens the parchment and reads silently to himself.
Lady Ghislaine’s note to her son, Sir Guy: “To my beloved son, Guy. You have been so strong and brave during your father’s absence with the crusades and then his illness that will eventually take him from us. And I worry that were I to become ill as well, that I would not be able to tell you how I feel. My son, these burdens thrust upon you are ones that you should not have to carry at your tender age. And I fear that they will haunt you all of your days. You must not reproach yourself for anything that you must do when your father and even I are not here to guide you. I know that you will watch over your sister Isabella as best as you can. Marry her off to a man of good fortune who will keep her from hardship if you can–and hopefully, she will find love in her marriage. Love is what I also wish for you, Guy. You have such goodness in you, my son, such strength that I know that you will become the good and honorable man that I hope for you to be. For what I wish for most is for your happiness–and only you know what will make you happy. Embrace love when you find it. Love and family are the only things that makes our lives worth living–not wealth, not position, not power. For if you have these things and not love nor family, you will not be happy. And I want you to be happy. You have already made me proud of you, my son. Carry my love with you always, Mama.”
Lord Archer watches his brother’s reactions as he reads the letter. He is envious of Sir Guy having known their parents, when Lord Archer was raised as a foster child. Perhaps his own upbringing is one reason Lord Archer has such an affinity for his nephew Seth–who was also orphaned initially.
Lord Archer: “Guy, are you alright?” He asks in concern, not having read the letter himself.
Sir Guy: Looking up at Lord Archer with tears in Sir Guy’s eyes, he says. “I will be. Come, let us finish our meal and have a good night’s rest. For tomorrow, we return home.”
Lord Archer: “Aye. Home.”
Both brothers smile.
To be continued with Chapter 20
(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|
3) “The Vikings (from Old Norse víkingr) were the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.” Information is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikings
4) Image of a scroll with seal (cropped) was found at http://wa3.cdn.3news.co.nz/3news/AM/2012/6/4/256579/scroll-list-seal.jpg?width=460
6) Image (flipped) representing Seth Gisborne is a “Portrait of a Young Boy” by Jean-Leon Gerome (1924 – 1904) and was found at http://www.paintingall.com/Jean-Leon-Gerome-Portrait-of-a-Young-Boy-Oil-Painting.html
Previous chapter installments, Ch 18: