Sinking – Chapter 4

The day I met her.

It was long ago, the start of August, and I remember the majority of leaves had turned that crisp crunchy brown, The children running amok in the streets would frolic in them. It was a day like that, with an ambient glow that placed myself in a particular joyous mood, that I met her. The neighbourhood children had made a pile of leaves three times their size, and as I had walked out the front gate they’d propelled themselves into it, scattering those auburn blades, and momentarily blinding me. Then, as the leaves had cleared, like a figure straight from Lucius Apuleius’ The golden Asse, she emerged from her carriage. Walking in her leather bound shoes, bold artichoke patterned silk houppelandes, feathered head dress which made my embroidered shirt, satin doublet, and woollen hose appear plain. I believe it was when her melting eyes had met mine, she’d slightly bowed, and her husky voice spoke with the civility of a queen that I fell for her,

“Are you Charles III, the son of Francis I, Duke of Lorraine?”

I was stunned, she mistook me for royalty when I was barely apart of the middle class, I found myself pause.

“umm, no your mistaken, I am one of his housekeepers and a scholar, Florance Bell, I am sorry to say that the Master is no longer in England, he recently left this estate and isn’t planning on returning until the next year. He is now in Lorraine.”  

My words left a heavy register which became heavier as thick tears began to well in her eyes.

“Oh dear, what do I do?…How could I have missed him??? Arggghhh such a mistake.”

Excusez-moi madame, what is the problem?”

“The problem! I have failed… failed my household, my family name, how can I go home to bear the shame…”

She’d began hysterical nonsensical cries, so without thought I led her and her escorts into the estate and had the other servants prepare some food and drink. Which was a good choice as her cries calmed as she ate.

“Thank you, I apologise for the trouble.”

“No you weren’t any trouble at all, in fact I’d had a free day today and had been worried about how to spend it, I’m glad that it has been spent with a lady as beautiful as yourself.”

A bright smile glanced on her lips, “You are too good with words Monsieur.” She laughed and it was as if angels had perched on my shoulders and sang.

“I have been betrothed to Charles III since I was born, however we have never met, and I am over a decade younger than him. Him being the youngest son of Duke Francis no one expected him to stand on the throne, thus it wasn’t important whether our wedlock was seen through. My parents were searching for a better suitor, however now that he is the last surviving son of the Duke he has grown in importance, and it has become more urgent for me to wed him and offer more status to my family. However we recently caught wind that he was to marry Claude of Valois, the princess of France, I was sent to stop him and remind him of his pact to our family, but alas he is gone. A previous engagement is nought when he is wed. I have lost, my purpose is gone. Whilst my sisters are happily wed elsewhere I am trash thrown to the side. My parents are likely to give up on me and I shall become some spinster caring for another nobles child….”

“I see.” Was all I could muster, for with her words it was as if I’d been given the most lavish rose but its thorns were so sharp I could neither touch nor smell it, all I could do was stare at her from behind the glass. Our statuses were too different, and I was now going to suffer an unrequited love. Fate was cruel to let me set eyes on her.

“Only ‘I see’ I am facing the dilemma of my life and all you can say is ‘I see'”

“Calm yourself, I did not mean it in such a fashion, I only acknowledged your tale. From what I can see however is that you exaggerate.”

“Exaggerate, how dare you say such a thing!” As her voice raised her male escorts eyes glowered at me. Such treatment to a man whom had given them such hospitality, the elites really are good at throwing their pride around.

“It is an exaggeration! No man in their right mind would toss aside a beauty such as yourself. If the Master had met you, the moment your eyes connected would have been the moment he turned down his wedding. He will surely come to regret his marriage when word of your allure reaches his ears. If there is a Cupid then you are his Psyche, the day you are a spinster without love raising another’s child is the day when purgatory ends and all the evil souls will come to reek havoc on the mortal world. So please do not belittle yourself, for you are also belittling every man out there with eyes that can clearly see you.”

The words had come out before I could stop them, and almost everyone present had halted and stared at me, astounded by the romantic lyrics that dripped from my tongue. I think I was more surprised than them. But what surprised me more was the rouge colour that had taken over her pale skin.

That was how our romance began.






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