Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Riding with William


June 24, 1066

On Sunday, here high summer in fair Normandy, the cock would crow quite early on, for brave Apollo roused the world as early now as ever in the year. But even earlier than cocks and suns, the Duke would rise. He needn’t sleep as much by half as other men require. He roused some of his men with heavy footfalls through the barracks. When he stood above Dame Ness, he woke her with a little kick. A gentle little thing, but ere enough to rise her humors up. And up with them was she.

“Time to tack the horses.”

“It early…? Or it late…? Pa…?” She was insensate at this hour. “Oh! My lord! ‘Tis you!” She scrambled to her feet and then she bowed to him, as stepped upon the filthy floor. “My shoes!” She fell akimbo once again and donned her riding boots of high, hard leather made.

“Stables,” said Duke William, as he’d already made way back toward the steeds, their tack, and hay.

Dawn broke. William rode a palfrey of some sixteen hands; no larger mount had Nesta ever seen in all her thirteen years. It took a steady heel to keep her own mount up to his. Her own was thirteen hands; a full pied shorter at the withers, and the length made difference in the speed. But Nesta kicked and kept her horse, a brute himself, near side of his.

Horseback Stroll by Leonid Afremov

“I keep losing ships. The blinking ships are sinking. Sinking.”

“Sinking, Lord? Are we at war?”

"Harbor. In the harbor, shipwrecks. Worthless shipwrecks, and they cost some great amount of money! Whacht, well I could have the harbor littered with old rubbish ships, and that for nearly free.”

“Why sinking?”

“Ask the shipwrights why. They say the boats need seasoning a year. But we ain’t got a year. We ‘ad neh year in January. Now it’s June, and still we haven’t got a year. The one thing Cousin Odo in’t be buyin’ us is time.”

“Why a year, milord?” Nesta’s mount was laboring, even though they were less than a league outside of town.

“And with the ships, my men. We got men morely macilent a’mer[1] nigh every day. The good ones going down with all these blinking worthless ships. But it won’t matter. Nay. We have the papal banner now.”

“The men who do remain will be emboldened by God’s truly sanction, lord.”

He looked at her askance. “They told me you were clever. But I find you thick and simple. What’s this about God? I said the Papiality.”  

And with this, he took his horse down to a trot, and dreweth out the syllables in dour downadmonishment, “They will embolden for the resource what they take. Money. Aid from Rome in men and in materièl and money from it come. We’re not be gone to England for the gold and for the women. Not this time.

“Land, Ness. We’re going for the land. We’re going to stay.” He cast his eyes to Occident; toward the pretty bird, this Angle’s Land, set in the sea of sapphire up around it, and the little dam did after him.

“Land,” said Nesta.

He leaned in closer to her ear. “By the way, Harold seized Northumberland and gift it to his brother. Of land? You’re right out y’self.”




[1] Lost at sea

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