You can surely imagine Eleanor’s surprise at learning about tapering. For her, tapers are what are lit to guide everyone’s passages through the dark halls of Blystoke and other castles she visits. Tapering also is what her feelings do when she thinks of having to marry that despicable William. Her thoughts taper off into blankness and she reaches for a goblet of wine. She can’t imbibe too much, however, for she must keep her faculties sharp. Plotters are scheming to take her forests from her and to ruin her and her sister’s lives. Alas, her feelings for Lord Hugh are not tapering in the least, she blushes to think. What can she do? What would Ben Bernanke suggest? Put a call on Hugh? She certainly could not think of shorting him. She takes another sip and ponders what the future holds.
First off, Eleanor has no idea that Kauai even exists, but, should she ever see it, she would surely feel at home, because this remote island resembles the village around her castle in so many ways. First, there are few shops and markets, and those that are here close when sun sets, just as they do in the village of Blystoke. Second, everything is built of stone — see the church — except, of course for the peasants’ thatched roof cottages. Third, and most important, everyone knows who everyone else is — there are fewer than six degrees of separation here. Ah, Eleanor sighs….six degrees or less of separation. How she wishes there was less than one degree of separation between her and Lord Hugh. Will they ever meet as one?
Naturally, Eleanor knows of St. Oswald, he having been the Archbishop of York and Bishop of Worcester, and she is well aware of his proclivity for keeping vigils. St. Oswald’s vigils were in keeping with his desire to shape up the monastic orders, so he would keep long vigils with the townsfolk and the brethren, encouraging them to be faithful. Eleanor, on the other hand, keeps her vigils for an entirely different reason — Lord Hugh. Her sleepless nights are haunted by dreams of his handsome visage, and she tosses and turns, wondering, will he ever pay her any mind, save for trying to belittle her intelligence and her management of her forests? Eleanor offers up a prayer to St. Oswald, in the hopes that someday, perhaps, she may be granted her wish — to be faithful to Lord Hugh. What think you, dear readers?
Eleanor is well-aware of the meaning of today’s date, because it is the feast day of Saint Anne, the patron saint of unmarried women. Until recently, she’s been quite happy to be a widow, free of the disgusting Edgar, who fell off his ship on the way to the Crusade. Then, she met Lord Hugh, he of the intense, blue-eyed gaze and arrogant attitude, and her life changed. Now, she cannot rid herself of thoughts of him — thoughts that haunt her day and night. She blushingly admits to herself that she will now light a candle to St. Anne, in the hopes that Hugh might come to his senses and renounce his bid to wed her sister and ask for her hand, instead. But, how to convince him, when he is so stubborn? Please, St. Anne, come to our heroine’s aid!
When Eleanor chooses to go on the road, she sends a servant to notify her Master of the Horse and her knights, as well as Nicholas the Steward, so that all the horses, guards, and provisions will be at the ready. Naturally, she has never heard the term “road trip,” this year being 1272. ‘Twould take her two days to journey to see that devilishly handsome Lord Hugh, a time she would spend daydreaming of his intense blue eyes and what it might feel to have his strong arms around her. Truly, she blushes at the thought. A modern road trip would flummox her, indeed; she would arrive at Lord Hugh’s castle in a few hours’ time, not giving her enough time to plan how to defeat his plans for wedding her sister. Besides, horses need no fuel besides hay, nor they ever get flat tires. Eleanor would far prefer her own time period, should she be given the choice. Now, what to do about Hugh and her sister?
If Eleanor knew it was Father’s Day, she would celebrate and honor the memory of her dear father, who entrusted her with the care of her younger sister Mary, and who taught her their family motto, “Honor et Fides.” It is he who gave her a fierce, independent spirit, encouraged her analytical powers, and cautioned her to, above all, be effective in what she did. In 1272, as you know, dear reader, women were given scant power, save for being pawns in political games, as that cur, William of Litchfield, is plotting. Thanks to her father, Eleanor is up to the task.
What she doesn’t know, however, is that her father also prepared her for dealing properly with Lord Hugh, he who is so condescending to her, and yet, whose gaze transfixes her, sending her heart all a-flutter. Happy Father’s Day!
Eleanor’s pulse races! ’Tis Flag Day, and the flags on the battlements of Blystoke Castle are fluttering in the breeze, awaiting the arrival of Lord Hugh — yes, the one whose arrogance incenses her, but whose blue eyes pierce to the very core of her being. If she were to fly a flag just for Hugh, (she blushes to think!), it would be argent in colour, charged with a red heart in the center, pierced through with an arrow of or. Pierced, indeed, Eleanor sighs.
Then, her spirits flag, as she worries about the dilemma in which she finds herself — the wretched William lusting after her, devilishly handsome Lord Hugh who wishes to marry her sister, and the infernal poaching in the forests that has jeopardized her reputation and has goaded Lord Hugh to accuse her of mismanagement and naivete and worse. What to do?
One thing she will not do, Eleanor vows, is to raise the argent flag of surrender. She will unflaggingly pursue the criminals and extricate herself and her sister from the mesh of lies and intrigues that threaten them. Being a “mere woman,” as some have so rudely said to her (we’re remembering Lord Hugh, here), will definitely not prove to be an obstacle. Into the fray, she tells herself, with flags flying!
Now, of course, Eleanor has no inkling that there is such an event as King Kamehameha Day. Indeed, she has never even heard of Hawaii — who would have even dreamed of this tropical paradise back in 1272? However, knowing Eleanor, she would more than welcome a chance to put a lei around Lord Hugh’s neck (please, no homophone thoughts, here) and bid him a real aloha. Her face burns, of course, at the thought of being so close to that devilishly handsome Lord Hugh, but, forsooth, she would paddle a canoe all the way to Hawaii if she could but gaze into his eyes, uninterupted.
So, let’s celebrate the unification of Hawaii under King Kamehameha, knowing that Eleanor longs to be united with Lord Hugh. She must, however, battle her despicable liege lord William — and even Lord Hugh, himself, whose marriage proposal to her sister now fills Eleanor with feelings that are quite the opposite of aloha!
Naturally, Eleanor knows of St. Ephrem, the saint whose day is today. He wrote multitudinous, lyrical hymns that warned the populace of his day — the 4th century — against the deceit and wiles of unscrupulous people.
Aha! Eleanor thinks, with a little smile. She could most certainly use some of those hymns to spur herself on in her battle against the scurrilous William of Litchfield, he who sloshes his wine on the high table in his eagerness to lean closer to her. ‘Tis quite difficult to quell the nausea she feels upon even seeing him, much less having to sit at table with him, or even having to share a wine goblet with him. ‘Deceitful’ and ‘unscrupulous’ are the perfect words to describe this cur — actually, ’tis a slur upon all dogs to call William a cur. She knows he waits with anticipation for his poor hapless wife to die in childbirth so he can marry Eleanor. Heavens forfend! Eleanor can barely countenance the thought, and she would rather be a slavey in the kitchens than be wed to the spittle-flecked William.
Whom she would really like to marry, she admits to herself, is that Lord Hugh, he of the intense blue-eyed gaze that holds her rapt. Wiles and deceit are not her methods; she must rely on luck and fortune to bring him her way. If only he felt the same about her, but he seems to be quite taken by her younger sister Mary….Oh, readers, what can Eleanor do?
Oh, the horror! Eleanor knows it is Fleur-de-Lis Day, and she shivers in her solar when she contemplates the possibility of her hapless dear sister’s soon-to-be arranged marriage with the rheumy Count of Thiercy of France. The fleur-de-lis symbol of the French monarchy seems sinister to her, even more so because Mary will have to leave England for the forsaken country of France, wedded to an aging count to achieve the selfish political aspirations of her liege lord, the lecherous William of Litchfield. France! ‘Tis so far away. The alternative, however, is nearly as bad — since that handsome, oh-be-still-my-heart Lord Hugh has just asked for Mary’s hand in marriage. That cannot be! Eleanor wrings her hands and paces her solar.
Truth be told, Lord Hugh haunts her own dreams, waking Eleanor in the middle of the night. What can she do? How can she allow Mary to wed Hugh, when she herself cannot stop longing for him? But, how can she give Mary up to the disgusting Count of Thiercy, he of the dreaded fleur-de-lis country?
Lord Hugh….Lord Hugh…Eleanor gazes out her window at the forest…how can she resolve this dilemma?