Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"I Stabbed Him In the Leg."

Nesta, she not quite herself since ere the last night in Rouen, brachtèd up the subject she herself decided no one, naught but God, to tell. And yet, as well: “He came upon me, Imogene. In the night time of your absence from the castle there.”

“Who came upon you, Ness?”


“Odo? He my raptor with the silken sable mane? That man you mean to say?”


“Nay. You must have misconstrued. Did you take drink again belike the prior feast?”

“I—do not know, my dam. But know the thing a man wants when his civil case doth fall away from him.”

“I’ve never told you of that thing. How you could know of it?”

“He came and told me I to be the second Virgin Mother, and he visited to make me so. This spake he, Imogene.” The grim admission chilled her, for he’d said the same to her some years ago.

“No,” said Imogene, and firmly now. “It happened differently than this. This is what I warned about, my starling: keep strong drink away, for raise it passion of the loins, and take way acclivity of thought. I understand you must desire of our Bishop, as most every girl in Normandy would do--”

“—Desireth? Me to him? Imogene! He is a horrid man!” And Imogene reared back and slapped her charge in anger, for the second time about the Bishop Odo as the subject of correction.

They stopped and looked – each servant girl and woman, and the ladies Gen and Nesta there. Nesta’s mouth fell open and her eyes welled up. And Imogene’s as well did open and as well her eyes welled up, four wells for tears of inner wounds displayed.

Nesta stood and turned to one the girls, and thus commanded: “Dry me off and dress me once again. I wish to take a bracing walk about the outer curtain of your pitiful château.”

Imogene rose up as well, her heart near wracked too heavily to bear, and grabbed a servant-girl about the nape. “Girl. I wish to have a meal of honey, wine, and newly bread. Baguettes! Baguettes! Make sure the setting place is ready for me, down within the kitchen!” And with that, dame Imogene flung forth the waif and threw her bodily outside the little tent. “Make haste!” She shouted after her, and balled her fists up, showing those who knew her well her inner gravely insult, hearing word from Rouen of the scoundrel’s game; an insult to her heart from Heart of Normandy proclaimed.

“Dry me off and dress me once again."

Later on that languid afternoontime, Nesta sat against the curtain wall aside the gate, with knees drawn up and head bowed down, the seabreeze cooling her. Uncomfortable was she, inside and out. Imogene approached and was atop of her position ere before dame Nesta saw she had appeared. Imogene sat down before her there.

“Never trust a man of God when acting as a man of flesh,” she coolly said.

“Never did and never will,” did Nesta then reply, but never raised her head to meet her master’s eye.

“It’s time to make your homage to the Duke.”

“And over that, my homage given ere direct to him, a priest will minister to that transaction, I suppose?”

“He will.”

She looked at Imogene, “Then what’s it mean? This homage? If between my Lord and me, there’s God’s own man to make a mockery of freely given hand?”

“Perish,” Imogene then said, for second time this day. But here, in earnest did she grant. “These ways are the ways it’s done. You’re insolence will cost me. And cost you, of course. But when you spend your reputation of your own, it’s yours to spend. Ask not for usury against my own supply. You mind?”

“I mind you, Imogene. I’m sorry for the folly me of questioning.”

“Every man has place within the World. It is God put down the order of the Firmament,” she said, looking up at skies unrestful now. “Some have man makes himself the order from ere Chaos where before the Gods firm hand. I mean to say, they said it in Antiquity like that. You knowest this from history, my charge?”

“Aye, since I very small, Cael Morth and some the tutors back at Wolvesey taught me this and other things from back in ancient times. My favorite is Juno, wife of Jupiter, and patron of the peacock, of all women and of Rome. For she was clever, and she loved us, Imogene. She gives us of our agency deliver out a babe, and gives us the ability to learn and grow our intellect – whacht men may scoff! But also did she have the failings of a woman, stark reminder to us always to be guarded ‘gainst our own weak failings, inspext[1] to our sex.”

“My favorite,” said Imogene, “was Leda and the swan. For Leda, she seduced by Zeus when in disguise, bore him two children: Helen and Polydeuces; but also did she bear for Tyndarus two children: Castor and the girl named Clytemnestra. Four children, each a hero or a consort to a hero be. Two men: One the king of mighty Sparta, and the other God to Greeks. She changed the ancient world through holding good fidelity to motherhood, and thought she highly now, despite her virtue take’d in subterfuge.

“And now upon my afternoon in daydream wrought, and contemplating Odo and my heart, I feel a greater sistership to Leda than before.

“Now come with me and be presented to the Duke.”

And so she did. “Don’t you wish to know what thence transpired? When he came upon me, Imogene?”

“…No. Perhaps? I do not know.”

She spoke now not to Nesta, but herself. “For there is peace in letting that which will not change be also something one will never know. It’s done. There is no second act to play.

“But curious is she whose heart is twain: one side spurned by vile comedy, and one side t’ward his heart it doth remain. It’s worse to know than not to know, for half a heart beats firmer in our breast than none at all; however, God hast made from Adam woman to betray. And ere, within the matter of her heart, betray herself. It is our lot and pain.

“When men make feast of lamb, they are like wolves. They hunger, slaver, famished they of flesh. ‘Tis true of them, whichever were the lamb be food for stomachs or for loins. They have no high civility when the hunger in their case they feel for thee. They’re wolves.

“The lamb is slaughtered, dressed, and fed unto the wolf; the skin of her is tanned. The glover makes then iv’ry colored gloves from her, to separate the skin of precious youth from raunch and nast and slime. Tell me now, what purpose is the glove?”

Nesta tried to answer her, but Imogene was speaking t’er but naught.

“The glove protects the hands from fraudulence and base, and keeps good virtue good and whole, against poor custom and some down acclivities. But also from the touch of something greater: ere, good passion. Good passion dost it cloister off a woman from her wedded master.

In daydreams then, did Imogene continue thus to speak now to herself: “Why then, do we wish ours to keep the glover’s wrought between ourselves and hands most gentle, Imogene? Ah, Genny! Would but thought this raptor would take to us and together make a roost! And so dazzled by him, Sunna in the Eastern morningtide, mistook his claws for plumage of the crest. He rent me, Leda! Ach! He rent me!

“But were the child here before me, Leda, gloved before she were in hand? Or were she now made shewn the fallen world, the foul fallen dignity, and gobbled up her virtue by a predatory swan? Were she made a roustabout by artisan of basest infidelities? Woulds’t she be Medusa, laid to rape, and then admonished for her fall? And he, Bayeux of deviltry, there residing up within the girl ere now?  She pregnant? What to say! Oh, Imogene, would William think of me, should bring him up an ingénue, when lioness the promised be?”

Nesta shook her then and said, “he didn’t take my virtue, marm. I stabbed him in the leg.”

This woke Breton brains back from their murky reverie. “You stabbed him in the leg?!”

“But wee.” She shewed her mistress off the dagger in her boot. “It never leaves my ankle, for necessity of valor knows not proper season ell to roost.”

Imogene broke into shivering and tears, and held her Nesta tight. “This you tells’t me is good. ‘Tis good!”

“Have ye faith in me, my mistress.  Never shall a man me overcome!”

“He lives, you think?”

“He lives. It was a cut of admonition, not of deadly fell incision.”

And presently, the pair approached the donjon once again, and met Duke William in the garish-colorful great hall there at Caen.

[1] Inherent.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Fist Fight

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.[1] 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.

[1] Fat scoundrel

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Longchamp's Soliloquy

Napoliyun du Longchamp


It is among the animals and plants
Upon the Earth, and dirt and pestilence;
And pestilent doth make the men who on
The land do longwise gashes meant to make.

Behind the ox, ten grooves each Spring, for far-
ther than the grooves an ox cannot his plough
To goodly bring. And rather he, the far-
mer, then play bones with Fate for fate of ox

And for his fam'ly's weal doth make, he stops
The ox, and pauses, in fair sunshine or foul rain,
And turns the beast about and then they
Do depart again.

                         Ten times in one arpent,
The grooves within his Mother Earth dost Ev'-
ry peasant make; ten rows for planting, and
Then do his fam'ly members tuck the seeds
And under do they go.

                                  The seeds to sleep,
And in so slumbering, push do they
With fingers down, and touch the thing which gives
Us gain within The hallowed Globe there what's
beneath this place.

                             And after three-score years,
The man doth follow aft the oxen and
Make grooves, and plant the seeds, and then repeat
It, does he pass to sweet relief, and ne'er
Has he re-act the dreary thing. Adieu!


The second of the three, mark: You,
Dear Nesta, as the world can plainly see,
Have done the second part of this, the sal-
ly from the part beginning, and ye to
The part which endeth all.

                                                  This part, I mean
To say, is that of steel and ringèd iron,
Aback of horses, bred to carry us
To valor; and then to our end. Take up
A banner, Nesta! That, though you high
-Born, and you ver’ly clever, have ye but
A single choice if ye intend to leave
To fated History your voice, like eld the sa-
gas of our ancestors did do.

                                                      It is
By sword, and not as other chance for you,
By cursèd cloth. The crown comes hard upon
The head of those do win it from a low-
ly state, but stowed with strain it comes by those
Betray the cornerstone of rulership:
Nobility. Ye noble or a beggar, Nesta dam?
Methinks the former-


                                          -And you’d better!



The third life’s path that Man can take, in this
Time through the dreary-vast, is by the cloth,
And pray for those whose souls would otherwise
Be lost. A life perhaps the better than
The one of many peasants, but still on
the narr’ and rapid straits to sluggish mis-
ery, inferior to those high-ups
Above the salt in Mother Church it be.

I did’st know a man who, rather let
He let his passion run amok, and make
For trouble infangthief and honor lost
Without, did still ensconce himself within
The sill and cloister of a monastery
On a hill, and ne’er did he r’appear.

For six and thirty years, an elder man,
His passion spent. And had he spent those years
In earnest passion for repent. Repent
-eth for me too, this man did do. Wore he
The sackcloth and applied the ashes too,
And he did nary speak to anyone
Unless good custom did it shew to them.

But naught he taketh feast on sumptuare,
Nor use he excess flavorments, nor salt.
But naught he take in recess with the men
At sport and play within the common room
Or court. But naught did he raise up his voice
In happy-frain, but only with the dirge,
His voice uplift remain.

And all this did
He do, give he his life to God anew,
and never misery eschew, for his
Bald passion other might endanger vir
-tue, reputation, of his fam and hearth!

So which be worse, the worsening of life
For virtue, or the missing man, nay, lad,
From family a-gathered round their perch
A-dreadful mourning he who lives but from
Them separates, for honor due?

In mine own case, did I put in the ground
Each of my sisters, young and eld, and two
My goodly brothers, they both eld of me,
And mother and my pa. Each did I give
A plot from our inheritance, in kind
For each the other, side-by-side, as life
They passionate would be, sleep in sleepy
sap-André’s fair Val aux Clercs stone chap-

          With windows made for they of paint-ed
glass, installed so that their mornings and
Their eventides are pretty, like shewed in
Our vineyard that they knew’d in times long past.

But for my passionate dear sir, his name
Roosts, stayeth sacrèd in me now, for now
I wish not his pellation say, and so
Dishonor lineage and hearth he wished
To hide it from, I do so keep it near
To me in all our years apart, and nar
Did he escape from this, my sacrèd
for him heart.

And those three are the thrace good pathways three
To sweet oblivion, oublitted every
Man in History, but precious few.

And though the sainted Church and St. Marié
Just down the lane a ways, I have to been good
To patron for the years, and done
My works and days for Her, I can’t abide
A God who would’st call what we had shared
‘Abomination,’ and did cleave him from
His good vocation and from mine, the flow-
er of our youth, sublime, and dwellest there
In cloister nary-fair, a vulture under