Sir Guy’s Atonement” (Book 3), Ch. 27 (PG): More Valuable than a Ruby, May 04, 2015 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #740)
[An Original Fan Fiction adaptation of the characters from the BBC’s Robin Hood; & a Sequel to “Sir Guy’s Dilemma”(Book 2) by Gratiana Lovelace] (All Rights Reserved; No copyright infringement intended)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Baron Guy of Gisborne, Clive Standen as Lord Archer of Locksley, Emma Watson as Lady Roseanna Gisborne, Tommy Bastow as the young Seth Gisborne, Lucy Griffiths as the spectre of Lady Marian, James McAvoy as Lord George Middleton, Toby Stephens as Prince John, Dakota Fanning as Lady Caroline Havorford, Chris Hemsworth as Sir Roderick Merton, Tamsin Egerton as Lady Rebecca Oxbridge Merton, Lee Ross as Sir Jasper, Sir Derek Jacobi as Fr. Bale, David Harewood as Brother Tuck, Judi Dench as Mother Superior, Lady Anne/Marian is Lucy Griffiths, Kevin McKidd as Lord John Oxbridge, Patrick McGoohan as Sir Gilead Merton, etc.]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Sir Guy’s Atonement” 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 (S) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments (D). 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: Sustaining a memory loss since she was nearly killed seven years ago by Sir Guy of Gisborne in the Holy Land, the postulant nun Lady Anne/Marian is resigned to being transported back to England from the Holy Land as the nurse companion of her friend Lord John Oxbridge Earl of Leicester. He had sustained life threatening and life altering injuries while in the service of the Late King Richard. He, too, was thought to have died. These friends know not what awaits them England. And those left behind in England have moved on to live their lives. Such that the now recently remarried widow of Lord John Oxbridge is beginning her life anew with her childhood sweetheart Sir Roderick Merton.
“Sir Guy’s Atonement” (Book 3), Ch. 27: More Valuable than a Ruby
A world away from the Holy Land where Lady Anne/Marian and Lord John are soon to leave to travel to England with Brother Tuck, the newly married couple Sir Roderick and Lady Rebecca Merton in England have traveled from Leicester with her children Lord Graham and Lady Rachel Oxbridge to Sir Roderick’s home in Staffordshire to greet his family. His parents are old and frail now–Sir Roderick being the child granted to them later in life.
And not being their first born–nor even their first son, Sir Roderick has always felt that he was following after someone else. It was sadly only when Sir Roderick’s ten years elder brother Sir Baldwin Merton was killed in the Crusades that Sir Roderick felt his parents began to take an interest in him. But Sir Roderick did not begrudge his brother his position in the family and he and his brother had been especially close–even despite the age gap. Sir Roderick worshipped his brother Sir Baldwin, as most younger brothers do.
Baldwin means “brave friend” [(2a)] and Roderick means “rich in glory” [(2b)] –names at their births, both befitting the then future knights. Yet, until his brother’s death, Sir Roderick was simply the other son with no legacy or lands to inherit–the spare heir not worthy of note by society nor even by his father as his harshest critic–Sir Gilead which can mean “stone forever” [(2c)] . Though Sir Roderick’s Mother Lady Sharon was always kind and loving with Sir Roderick in private, he craved attention and as he grew older into adulthood respect from his father. So Sir Roderick has had to make his own way in the world as a knight for England–despite his father’s protestations to the contrary–which Sir Roderick could never understand.
The first meeting when Sir Roderick and his new little family with Lady Rebecca arrived at Staffordshire Castle [(3) right] and were given refreshments went well–or as well as could be expected, with all of the adults mindful of the children and their tender hearts, such that everyone was civil and courteous to the newlyweds. Sir Roderick’s mother Lady Sharon Merton finds Lady Rebecca as charming as ever and she is particularly delighted to see the children–her only living grandchildren, even if they are not by blood–her having a soft spot in her heart for her son and his childhood sweetheart.
But then, Sir Roderick’s father Sir Gilead Merton shares his concerns privately with his son in his study. The Merton coat of arms [(4) right] on a massive shield above the stone fireplace, proclaiming this a serious space for serious discussions. The two men–father and son–gaze at each other without speaking for several moments. The young man tall and physically imposing whilst the gray haired and bearded older man is slightly hunched over with age and infirmity. Finally, Sir Roderick decides to state the obvious.
Sir Roderick: “Father, I appreciate your courteous greeting of my wife Lady Rebecca and her children. And I hope that you will grow to love her and the children as I do.”
Sir Gilead: His face implacable, Sir Gilead nods curtly. “I will grant that Lady Rebecca is as lovely as ever.”
Sir Gilead: “But, you should have looked for a lady who had a sizeable dowry–as did your first wife. Not a wife that required you to purchase her like a common trollop!” Sir Gilead sneers [(5) right].
Sir Roderick: Advancing angrily upon his father, Sir Roderick fumes loudly as he spits. “You take that back, old man! My Becca is the sweetest and gentlest of noble ladies! None can besmirch her honor–least of all, you!”
Sir Gilead wonders about his son’s phrasing–and what his son might know about his secret past as a Black Knight, Sherriff Vasey of Nottingham’s organization to unseat King Richard. So when Sir Roderick began his service to the crown for King Richard, Sir Gilead was on the opposite side–secretly plotting to put the then Prince John on the throne in his brother’s place. Sir Roderick and his father have never seen eye to eye on matters of family duty–even as they stand toe to toe, their fists clenched as if coiled to fight each other.
Sir Gilead: “But our family’s prized heirloom for generations! The Staffordshire Ruby! How could you barter away our family legacy like that!?! For a woman!?!”
Sir Roderick: “Father, legacies are built by people–not by objects that have long since lost their luster. And I would have given King John this castle if he wanted it to allow Becca and I to finally marry. She is my treasure–more valuable to me than that blasted ruby! And our children that we make together will be our legacy for generations to come.” Sir Roderick’s [(6) right] impassioned plea is not without merit–except for his father.
Sir Gilead: “Then praise God that our newly anointed King John is not in need of drafty and crumbling wreck of a castle or we would have been without a roof over our heads even sooner.”
Sir Roderick: “What do you mean, even sooner? Are not the estate land rents giving you enough income to sustain you and Mother?” Sir Roderick looks at his father suspiciously. This is his father’s way–to try to get his son to bend to his will out of guilt.
Sir Gilead: “Hardly! There was a pestilence that killed many of the peasants and left few to tend to the land. As a result, the early harvests have been poor this year. And I do not know if we can survive this.” He shakes his hands out in frustration to his son. He is not really trying to making his son feel guilty, he is simply relating the dire circumstances that they now find themselves in.
Sir Roderick: Instantly contrite, Sir Roderick offers his support. “I am sorry, I did not know that you were in distress. Perhaps my own estate can spare some workers.” For Sir Roderick lives on a large estate bought with the funds from his late wife’s dowry when he and Lady Rebecca were first married. And he has supplemented his own income through his service to the crown in keeping the Northern borders safe from invading Scots–and the tribute monies that come from his grateful countrymen nobles to the North.
Sir Gilead: “Thank you. That will be welcome.” He says stoically. For a man as prideful and stubborn as Sir Gilead, it is difficult for him to ask for aid. “I would not burden you if it were only me. I am an old soldier and accustomed to hardship. But your mother, My Lady Sharon. The past winter’s chill entered her bones and has caused her more pain of late. She would not tell you so. But I want you to know.”
Sir Roderick: “I thank you for being frank with me, Father.” Sir Roderick nods, disturbed to hear of his parents’ travails–and especially of his mother’s illness.
Sir Gilead: “And I want you to promise to take care of your mother when I am gone.” Sir Gilead stares his son down.
Sir Roderick: “Of course, Father. She may come to live with Becca and I and our children.”
Sir Gilead: “Your children? I thought you have only been married a month? Or is there more to this tale of a hasty marriage?”
Sir Roderick: “No Father, Becca and I only hope for children born of our marriage in our future. We have no news to report–we have only been married one month.” Sir Roderick blushes manfully–glowering to stem his embarrassment. “Our haste to marry was solely caused by King John wanting to marry her off quickly to reap a marriage tax. And I would not lose Becca again.” Sir Roderick looks pointedly at his father–for Sir Gilead’s collusion with her parents in separating he and Lady Rebecca from each other five years ago is a continuing sore point for Sir Roderick. “And we became reacquainted when Lady Rebecca hosted the festivities surrounding her kinsmen cousin by marriage Sir Guy of Gisborne’s elevation to a Barony.”
Sir Gilead: “Gisborne!?! A Baron?” Sir Gilead looks strangely wary.
Sir Roderick: “Aye Father.” Sir Roderick quizzically looks at his father. “I had saved his children from falling to their deaths from the Keep Tower of Gordon Castle. He and his lady wife graciously bade me be their guests at Gordon Castle since I had dislocated my shoulder during their rescue and the barracks cots would not have aided in my recovery. I lived in close quarters with the Gisbornes for several days. They are an amiable and honorable family. I was and am proud to be acquainted with them. And now, we are cousins by my marriage to Lady Rebecca.”
Sir Gilead: “Still! Watch out for Gisborne! I would not trust him as a far as a horse could toss him off its back.”
Sir Roderick: “Nay, Father! Baron Guy is a good and honourable family man, respected by his noble peers and his estate’s villagers.”
Sir Gilead: “I find this good account of Gisborne to be puzzling. A leopard does not change its spots. How could he become the antithesis of what he once espoused?”
Sir Roderick: Shrugging his shoulders, he offers. “Perhaps it is like many of us, Father. The gentling influence of our lady wives demand that we become better men. Were you not referred to as the Scourge of Staffordshire before you married Mother?”
Sir Gilead: “I may have been. But I had naught the reputation for general mayhem that Gisborne has, or had.” He corrects himself.
Sir Roderick: “Then Baron Guy is a changed man from when you last knew him–for I only know of the good and honourable noble knight that he is today.” Then Sir Roderick ponders. “Father, how did you come by your ill impression of Baron Guy.”
Sir Gilead: “It is of no consequence.” He dissembles by curtly dismissing the topic of their conversation. And by Sir Gilead protecting his secret past dealings as a Black Knight, he is begrudgingly also keeping Baron Gisborne’s secret past.
The two men–father and son–nod at one another in a truce, for now
After a few days spent with Sir Roderick’s parents, he and Lady Rebecca and her children depart for his estate that is but a half a day’s ride North to the Northern edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands and his home, Cranert Castle [(7) right] . There he has a pretty estate with the castle on a fair prospect at the top of the hill with verdant lands for crops and cattle grazing and all manner of abundance. It is such a contrast with the austere and forboding castle fortification home that Sir Roderick grew up in.
And even though Sir Roderick’s estate houses and trains his own garrison of men to secure the Northern boundaries of England from the Scots, the knights live in a separate dwelling structure from the main castle. Only a small retinue of guards rotate their duties to protect the castle. And even with the misty drizzling rain, Lady Becca and her children are delighted with what they see in their new home. As they drive past the pasture of pink flowers geranium sanguineum that are more commonly called Bloody Crane’s Bill [(7)].
Lady Rebecca: “Oh Roddy! This is our new home?” Lady Rebecca asks excitedly as she and the children gaze out the carriage window.
Sir Roderick: “Yes Becca.” He smiles proudly. Then his voice softens and trembles with emotion. “This will be our home when we are here, if it pleases you.” Sir Roderick sadly thinks that this was his home with his first wife who lies interred with their infant son in the castle’s crypt.
Little Lord Graham notices the change in the usually amiable man his Mama married.
Lord Graham: “Papa Roderick? May we play on the grass here?” The three year old Lord Graham asks hopefully?
For at Lord Graham’s home at Gordon Castle, there was much land given over to training of the garrison there–and the sedate formal gardens were not likely to excite playful children–such that Lady Rebecca’s young children have had limited outings out of doors. Lifting Lord Graham onto his knee, Sir Roderick smiles warmly at him as he is spirits lift with having children fill his, fill their home. Lady Rebecca also smiles as she cuddles her two year old daughter Lady Rachel
Sir Roderick: “I think that we can arrange that? Do you have play clothes your Mama does not mind you getting dirty?”
Lord Graham: “Oh! No.” Little Lord Graham pouts dejectedly as he looks over at his Mama, Lady Rebecca. He is a good little boy and follows his Mama’s wishes. But even good little boys need to be little boys now and then.
Lady Rebecca: “I think that we should have some play clothes made for you, Graham. And for you, Rachel.” Lady Rebecca lovingly caresses their cherub cheeks. Her children are no longer babies, content to be held or to sit in their cribs. So they must be allowed some supervised playtime out of doors she realizes.
Sir Roderick: “I think that is a splendid idea, My Love!”
Smilingly, Sir Roderick leans over and tenderly kisses his wife’s lips and she kisses him back. Then they both feel little hands patting their arms to get their attention.
Lady Rebecca: Looking down at her daughter in her lap, Lady Rebecca asks sweetly. “What is it you wish Rachel?”
Lady Rachel gapes her mouth open and closed–trying to imitate a kiss, but looking more like a fish. Then Lord Graham does the same gaping mouth behavior. Sir Roderick and Lady Rebecca laugh joyously at the children’s antics.
Sir Roderick and Lady Rebecca: “Ha ha ha ha ha!
Then they each kiss the children’s cheeks as requested before their carriage pulls up to the front entrance of Cranert Castle. Several key castle servants–such as the housekeeper, cook, and such–and some of the castle knights and their wives are gathered there to greet them. They had all very much liked their first mistress, Lady Gwen. And they were all saddened by her death and that of their newborn baby Harold eighteen months ago. But life eventually goes on. And their lord Sir Roderick grieved a long time. So his people are glad that he has found love and happiness again.
Sir Roderick smiles at his castle staff and knight comrades and introduces his new wife Lady Rebecca and her children. Everyone is polite and gracious. Then a small boy child of one of the other knights clutches a cluster of flowers and walks forward as prompted to give the flowers to Lady Rebecca. Lady Rebecca bends down and thanks the youngster, then kisses his cheek as his parents look on smiling proudly. Then everyone is ushered into the castle to refresh themselves before this evening’s feast of celebration–both for their lord returning home as well as for their being a new Lady of Cranert Castle. However, since little Lord Graham Oxbridge is putatively the Earl of Leicester, Sir Roderick and Lady Rebecca and their family plan to split their time between here in Staffordshire and Gordon Castle in Leicester, Little Lord Graham’s ancestral home.
And yes, Sir Roderick will remember to send some of his own land workers with their families to temporarily assist on his father Sir Gilead’s lands–after seeking volunteers. If some families then decide to stay at his father’s estate, that will be of their own choosing. Sir Roderick is rare as a feudal land owner in that he believes that similar to training and rewarding soldiers has merit and begets productive results, so too does apprenticing and rewarding the peasants who work in the castle or upon the land.
And as Sir Roderick and Lady Rebecca and her children settle in to Cranert Castle–and into their marriage and their newly constituted family–they will find a happiness that they had always hoped for together. And Lady Rebecca is not yet certain, but she suspects that she is with child after only one month of marriage. So she has not said anything yet to her husband. Though Sir Roderick will be overjoyed with this wonderful news.
Yet Sir Roderick’s and Lady Rebecca’s happiness is built upon a slim premise that no longer exists–of their union as man and wife being lawful with King John having declared her husband Lord John Oxbridge Earl of Leicester dead, based on obviously erroneous accounts. And Lord John Oxbridge Earl of Leicester travels home to England from the Holy Land with his nurse companion Lady Anne/Marian–whose killing by his hand has tormented the guilt ridden Baron Guy of Gisborne for seven long years, despite the blessing of the love of his beloved wife Lady Roseanna.
So it is only a matter of time before these truths will be revealed. And these truths will rock the foundation of not only the new Merton family, but also propel the families of their relations, the Oxbridge’s and the Gisborne’s into turmoil as six lives intersect and entangle beyond what anyone could have expected. And how these lovers and would be lovers manage and hopefully resolve these difficulties to everyone’s satisfaction will be anyone’s guess and quite unexpected–one might even say that it will be a novel approach.
To be continued with Chapter 28
Sir Guy’s Atonement” (Book 3), Ch. 27 References, May 04, 2015 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #740)
1) My story cover for “Sir Guy’s Atonement” is a composite image of:
a) Sir Guy portrayed by Richard Armitage found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodefive/slides/5_086.jpg (crop-hair-manip-hi-res); and
b) The spectre image of Lady Marian is that of Lucy Griffiths who portrayed Lady Marian in the BBC series Robin Hood from 2006-2009 and was found at Hamilton Hodell Talent Management at http://www.hamiltonhodell.co.uk/cv/client_lucy-griffiths_id_100044.htm; image found at
2) Baby name meanings of Merton men:
a) Sir Baldwin Merton, where Baldwin means “brave friend” was found at http://www.babycenter.com/baby-names-baldwin-487.htm ;
b) Sir Roderick Merton, where Roderick means “rich in glory” was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roderick ;
c) Sir Gilead Merton, where Gil-ead in Hebrew can mean “joy or “ stone” and ‘forever”, respectively was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilead
3) Image representing Staffordshire Castle—the seat and home of Sir Gilead Merton–is Tamworth Castle —was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staffordshire#/media/File:Tamworth_Castle_343714.jpg: “Tamworth Castle 343714” by Stan. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tamworth_Castle_343714.jpg#/media/File:Tamworth_Castle_343714.jpg
4) The image representing this fictional family of Merton’s Coat of Arms is taken from a real Merton family crest and was found at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/6d/Arms-merton-lb.jpg/200px-Arms-merton-lb.jpg
5) Image of Sir Gilead Merton, father of Sir Roderick, is that of Patrick MaGoohan as King Edward I “Longshanks” in the 1995 film Braveheart found at http://revistamedicinacine.usal.es/images/stories/photos/vol5/num1/originales01/Diapositiva9.JPG
6) Sir Roderick Merton is Chris Hemsworth in a still from Thor the Dark World that was found at http://www.audienceseverywhere.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/thor.jpg ; for more information, visit http://www.audienceseverywhere.net/happy-birthday-thor-5-roles-id-like-see-chris-hemsworth-occupy/
7) Image representing Sir Roderick’s seat and home Cranert Castle bought with his first wife’s dowry money is part of the Vindolando trust in Northumberland_May0115byMatthewWard and was found at https://twitter.com/HistoryNeedsYou/status/594043520828190720; the flowers are commonly known in Northumberland as Bloody Crane’s Bill (or bloody geranium) as found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geranium_sanguineum;for more about the Vindolando Trust, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vindolanda
8) Image representing Lady Rebecca Stafford Oxbridge Merton is that of Tamsin Egerton portraying Guinevere in the 2011 tv sereis Camelot and was found at http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/27400000/guinevere-arthur-camelot-2011-27467787-639-418.jp
“Sir Guy’s Atonement” (Book 3), Previous Ch. 26 Blog Link with embedded illustrations (Post #739)