William was enconsultating with a man, Ness knew not who he was. She elbowed him aside and raised a finger wagging up unto the Duke! “Now, tells’t me, Lord, what have thast done to rectify this grave offense against the house of Mortimer?!”
Men upon the drilling-grounds began to stop and stare thereat the spectacle. But Nesta could not feel their eyes upon her, for her cheeks had reddened up to welt from fear and insult ‘gainst her fair eld homeland wrought. Umber lost?
William said to her but naught. He met her gaze a moment, like him looking at a thing of nary but significance. A midge; a gnat; some fowl yet be dressed to cook.
“Lord, by what license dost thou yield my homeland and my right?” She did attempt again. But once again, with but a glance, he put the little woman in her place, upon a shelf perhaps, with toys at once outgrown. And once again, he turned to his companion and began to consultate.
She grabbed his riding jacket, made from worsted wool, maroon and gold, and pulled, and tore it at the seam. The host assembled on the grounds let out a gasp in common then!
“Tells’t me, Lord William, you, you Bastard Duke, and make it good for all these men to hear it: By what right dost take thee up to rule above all Normandy?”
This by now hads’t won attentiveness from all the men, they drilling in the bailey. And won William’s mind as well.
He looked down at his sleeve, seam torn, held in her little manalet. He looked then at his other hand – his left. He flexed his fingers, as if working in a newly glove. And suddenly, made fist of it and struck Dame Nesta right across the mouth!
She reeled and hit the dirt. Her teeth were loose and nose had sprought!
“The left makes up the right, you scion of a house of faggot prigs. Arms and sword-craft, you - you glos poutonnier. Mind your place, or I shall put you in it, little girl.”
She heaved upon the ground before assembled men.
Nesta tasted blood, and wiped some on her sleeve. Copper in the air spurred on her baser need. William turned away, reviewing all his men and shook out his left hand a bit in show so all who didn’t see should know what happened there. But just as he had brought his mind back to the consultation that he had, Nesta leapt upon his back and dug her fingers in his face about his cheek! She screeched, and knocked off his bycocket with a head-butt to his brain! Almost did she take him from his feet, she’d sprung with such ferocity!
He grabbed her off and growled, howled loud, so every man and woman in the castle heard the sound. Held her struggling within his iron hands above his head, and dashed her to the ground before him, right upon her back! She rolled and spun!
She turned up on her hands and knees, but then the Duke laid leather boot beneath her ribs, and something cracked. She prone upon her back collapsed. Ere, Nesta was now spent of her attack and could she breathe but nacht.
He slowly trod the several feet between the two and looked down at her, heaving at the stress and pain of mortal combat they betwain. Again, Duke William looked down at his broken sleeve, and tucked it in until the seamstress made it right again.
He stepped quite pointedly upon her pretty ankle. Once again, she at his mercy there.
“I yield, my Duke!” She coughed through broken lip. And off he stepped.
He bent low, hands on knees, and put his nose quite close to hers. He grabbed her by the nape, and lifted up her head a ways. And then he whispered in her ear, “Not what I shall do to keep your land. But what you shall do. What by right have you to rule that Umberland?” He dropped her head again, and crashed it to the dingy ground.
William called across the yard, “Take care of this. Put her into the donjon, there to flop it off.” He said some other things as men approached the scene, but Nesta couldn’t hear, nor see neh more.