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Author Topic: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five  (Read 5373 times)

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Online Evie

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Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« on: May 23, 2011, 09:40:01 am »
   Chapter Five

   June 1, 1134
   Chateau de Moreau, Barony of Kinlochan


   We made our approach to the baronial castle slowly, the better to observe the progress of the Kinlochan laborers as they carried out their summer tasks.  In the near field, men were mowing down the hay grasses and spreading them out to dry in the hot sun, the hayward keeping close watch over the tenants to ensure no man was shirking in his labors.  They paused as the baronial retinue passed, doffing caps and bowing their welcome to the young lad who had begged to be let out of the coach with the Kinlochan arms painted on the side at our last stop, and who now rode into Kinlochan on my horse, sitting in front of me.  The heir to Kinlochan waved back, grinning ear to ear, bringing smiles to the faces of those who, for a brief instant, forgot the arduousness of their labors.  

   The retinue drew closer still to Chateau de Moreau, and the tableau changed.  In the distance, we could see sheep being gathered for shearing, but at the castle itself most of the domestic household had been assembled in the bailey to greet the returning Dowager Baroness, their future baron and his heir apparent.

   The drawbridge was down, the portcullis raised, in readiness for our arrival.  Piers and I rode through the gatehouse just ahead of the Baronial coach, the remainder of our small retinue traveling just behind it.  Loud cheers erupted as the coach stopped and first Taggert, then their Dowager Baroness, were assisted out of it.  Taggert broke free to run into the arms of a stout woman who gathered him into her embrace.

   Amanda peered curiously from the coach, staring around at the small crowd.  She, too, was lifted down.  Piers handed his horse off to one of the approaching stablemen and approached me to help Aldwyn down.  The Kinlochan heir soon joined his brother.

   I dismounted, giving my daughter a reassuring smile, and she scurried to my side.

   “Welcome to Kinlochan,” a man said, and I found myself making the acquaintance of Master Lars, steward over the barony’s domestic affairs.

#

   Although I was told that the young baron and his brother normally only put in a token appearance for the evening meals in the Great Hall before being ushered upstairs to the nursery to dine privately and be readied for bed, on the evening of our arrival the household celebrated the return of Kinlochan's heir to his baronial seat with a feast, so both boys were in attendance in places of honor at the High Table.  The Lady Avisa sat at young Aldwyn's right hand, with little Lord Taggert sitting to his left, their nurse standing directly behind both to assist them with the cutting of meat and in holding their shared goblet so as to avoid spills.  To my surprise, my daughter and I found ourselves seated to the left of Taggert, for Lady Avisa had decided this honor would ensure our faces and identities would quickly become known to all her household.  Amanda, up until now, had never so much as attended a formal feast; I hoped her manners had been amended to the point of allowing her a seat at High Table without too much risk of her embarrassing us both.  Masters Piers, Lars, and Gerard took up the seats to the Lady Avisa's right.

   As the feast began, I studied the faces seated before us in the Great Hall, doing my best to recall which ones belonged to which names.  The household had been introduced to me shortly after our arrival, but while I’d spent the rest of the afternoon answering hails and receiving welcomes—some guarded, others warmer—the rest of the household had had the advantage of having only one newcomer’s name to learn (or two, for those who had deigned to notice I’d brought a daughter).  I, on the other hand, had closer to sixty names to learn.  Fortunately, no one really expected me to do so on my first day.

   I glanced down at Amanda.  As instructed, she was carefully watching everything I did, copying my table manners so she wouldn’t make a misstep.  The effect was inadvertently comical; I had not meant for the child to mirror my every move!  I turned my attention back to my trencher, pretending to be fully focused on my meal as I dipped my sops in the rich sauce my squab had been stewed in.  Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Amanda follow suit, dipping her morsel of bread in the sauce then conveying it to her lips even as I did, her expression solemn, as if participating in some new form of Communion ritual.  I suppressed a laugh.  She caught my look and giggled.

   “Six,” she whispered.  “I don't like jellied eel.”

   “Neither do I, Grub,” I whispered back.  “Taste a little to be polite, move it around a bit on your trencher so it looks like you've eaten more than you have, then eat the rest of your food.  You like the squab though, don't you?

   She nodded.  “Aye, the squab's first rate!”

   I smiled to myself.  It had taken Amanda a little while to adjust to a richer fare than she'd grown up accustomed to, but now her tastes and her stomach had begun to acclimate to a wider diet.  She wasn't shy about opining whether she thought a particular dish was 'first rate' or 'pig leavings'.  Teaching her when and to whom it was inappropriate to express the latter opinion had taken a little more time and effort, but she was catching on.

   What had taken even longer was finding some form of address for her to use for me that we could both feel comfortable with.  Seisyll's children called him Papa, but from the very beginning Amanda had felt awkward using that name for me, and it sounded odd to my ears as well.  We'd tried 'Father' for a while, but if anything, that sounded even more formal and strained, so after a while, Amanda had privately fallen into the habit of calling me 'Sixth,' as a joking reference to my name's meaning, and that had quickly become shortened to 'Six.'  It drew the occasional questioning look, but neither of us minded.  I, on the other hand, had taken to calling her ‘Grub’ for reasons inexplicable to both of us.  Mayhap it had something to do with her tiny stature, combined with a penchant for attracting mud and dirt or for devouring nearly everything in sight, I wasn’t sure, but I had called her by that name once, and she had responded as if it were perfectly ordinary to be referred to as if she were an insect larva, so the moniker had stuck.

#

   After the feast was over, the nurse brought both boys upstairs to the nursery to settle in for the night.  Grub and I followed Master Lars up another flight of stairs to where a suite of chambers had been set aside for our use in the North Tower.  A door opened up to a small area that would serve well enough as a private solar and study, furnished as it was with a chair and several benches close to a cheery hearth; an exchequer table; a desk well stocked with ink, pens, and parchment; and several chests of various sizes.  Another door just off this room led to a garderobe on one end of a small passage and a tiny chamber at the other end which held a wooden tub, a shelf with folded towels and bar soaps, a small window just wide enough to light the chamber during the day, and what appeared to be a drain spout for emptying used bathwater out into the moat far below.  A small table also held a basin and pitcher of fresh water for washing face and hands, and a tray holding small birch twigs for cleaning teeth.  An entire room set aside for the primary purpose of bathing and freshening up was a luxury I’d never enjoyed; normally I’d simply made do with a tub set up in my bedchamber or out of doors under a canopy during the warm months, and Grub had grown up making do with an ice cold rivulet of dubious cleanliness to wash the worst patches of dirt off in during the summer months, so she and I spent a few moments gawking at the novelty.

   The bedchamber, it turned out, was situated above the common room we shared, accessed by a short flight of spiral stairs.  It was a bit more spacious, furnished with a curtained bed and several storage chests, one of which had been brought with us from Kinlochan House in Rhemuth, as it contained my household clothing and a few personal effects.  There was also a window embrasure with seating that flanked a cardounet table, and two chairs flanking another small table were alongside an elaborately carved cabinet which turned out to hold an assortment of wines and spirits.  One end of the chamber was partitioned off with an arras, behind which I found a much smaller bed and a storage chest sufficient for Grub’s meager belongings.  My daughter squealed with delight at the discovery that the bed had a feather mattress.  I left her to explore its cloud-like softness, returning with Master Lars to the common room below, thanking him for arranging these quarters for our stay and agreeing to meet with him the next afternoon to learn more about the domestic side of affairs at Chateau de Moreau. The baroness had requested that I spend some time with both of the chateau's stewards in order to learn the basic aspects of their duties, the better to ensure that if one of the Kinlochan stewards were to grow ill or become injured, another would be available to step into his shoes at a moment's notice.

   Master Lars had no sooner left than there was another light knock on the door.  I opened it again to find the baroness standing there.

   “I hope you'll find your quarters here a bit more satisfactory than your room at Kinlochan House,” she said.  

   I invited her in, assuring her that they far exceeded my requirements.  She smiled, glancing around the sitting chamber.  “Master Lars has made a few changes since I had these rooms,” she remarked as she took in our surroundings.

   “Since you had them?” I repeated, startled.

   Lady Avisa blushed slightly.  “Yes, Edgar set this group of rooms aside for me as my private bower when we first came to Chateau de Moreau.”  She walked over to the desk, toying with one of the pens lying atop it.  “I barely knew him yet, and I was still quite shy.  He thought it might help ease things a bit if I had a small corner of the castle I could think of as my own personal retreat until I grew more accustomed to being a wife.”  She shrugged.  “It did help a little.”

   “That was considerate of him.”  I glanced around the tower chamber, seeing its little luxuries through new eyes.  “I hope it wasn't any inconvenience for you to give up these rooms.”

   “Oh, no,” she assured me.  “I vacated them several years ago after Aldwyn was born.  The nursery is closer to the baronial suite, you see, and of course I was quite used to Edgar by that time.”  Avisa put down the pen, glancing up as we both heard a squeal of glee.  She laughed.  “Let me guess, your daughter's discovered her feather mattress?  Or perhaps the coffer under her bed?”

   “The coffer?” I asked, bewildered.

   The baroness glanced up the staircase.  “May I?”

   I waved her ahead, following close behind her as she ascended the stairs.  

   “Nurse Bridget found some of my old toys when she was preparing the nursery for our arrival last week.  I’d written ahead, asking her to set a few items aside for Amanda's use.  It's a Bartholomew baby and some baby clothes for it.  Aldwyn and Taggert have never shown much interest in them, but mayhap she might.”  She grinned over her shoulder at me as we reached the top of the staircase.  “Truth be told, I was more into marbles and hoops and carved horses myself, so my play babies never had much of a chance to wear out.”  

   We peeked behind the partition wall separating Grub's portion of the bedchamber from the rest of the room.  She sat on the bed, gazing delightedly at the contents of a small lidded box.

   “What is it, Grub?” I asked her.

   She pulled out the object of her fascination.  It was a small poppet made of fabric scraps, with features stitched in fine needlework and flaxen braids framing its face.  It wore a tiny chemise.  Reaching back into the coffer, Grub pulled out three equally small gowns.  She looked up at me, her eyes shining.

   “It's like a person, but little,” she said.  “What is it?”

   Avisa glanced at me in consternation.  I realized with a start that Grub probably had never owned a Bartholomew baby.  Had she been given toys of any sort before she came to live with me?  Probably not, come to think.

   “It's a poppet, sweeting.  A Bartholomew Fair-baby.”

   “What do you do with it?”

   I glanced at the baroness.  She perched on one end of Grub's bed.  “Well, you can dress her up like a real child, and you can play with her as if she were your little girl, or perhaps a friend.  You just pretend she's a person and that she can hear you and talk back.”  

   Grub looked awed.  “What's her name?”

   “I don't know, sweeting.”  Avisa smiled.  “I suppose you'll have to ask her.  Once you've played with her a bit, you'll know her name, and then maybe you can tell us.”

   My daughter frowned, puzzled.  “It’s like magic, then?”

   “Magic?”  Lady Avisa chuckled.  “Well, not exactly—not like Deryni magic, at any rate—but I suppose it could be considered a sort of magic.  Toys that you enjoy playing with a great deal often end up feeling quite real to you, so it’s ‘magic’ in that sense.”

   I wondered how much, if anything, my new employer knew about my Deryni heritage.  It wasn’t as tightly guarded a secret as it once was, but neither was my family all that open about it either.  There were advantages in our occasional line of work as fact-finders for King Kelson to not being widely known as a Deryni family.  Had she heard rumors of the Arilans possessing arcane powers?

   I still had not disclosed the truth of what we were to my own daughter, unsure how to broach the topic to a child who had been Nyford-bred and who might still harbor some of the prejudices that had long run strongly in that part of the Kingdom.  She would need to know soon, for if her more obvious powers had not manifested already, they were more likely to once she drew closer to young womanhood.  At least she had not seemed spooked by the thought that her new poppet might be 'magic,' but simply curious about Lady Avisa's statement.  That seemed promising.  Nor had there been anything hinting at disapproval or censure in the baroness's mention of Deryni magic.  Her voice had remained quite matter-of-fact as to the existence of such powers, without any tinge of judgment coloring the statement.  That, too, was reassuring.  I intended to remain discreet about my powers, but should they somehow come to light, at least now I was less concerned that I would throw the lady of Kinlochan into a panic or, worse, lose my position in her household due to the disclosure.

   “It's time to get ready for bed, Grub.  Why don't you head downstairs and wash your face and hands and clean your teeth.  Your poppet will still be here if she wants to sleep with you tonight.  Looks like she's already dressed for sleep anyway.”

   She put the fair-baby down reluctantly, bobbing a curtsey to the baroness as she thanked her for the gift and padding down the stairs towards the pitcher and basin in the bathing chamber.  As she left, I turned to the baroness.

   “Thank you, Lady Avisa.  In truth, I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn't thought of buying toys for the child when we were in Rhemuth, but I don't suppose she's ever had any to play with, growing up as she did.”

   “I thought you might not have.  I’ll see if we can find more that would suit her.  And of course there are always the shared toys in the nursery, but I thought she might enjoy having something to play with that was just her own.”  The lady wandered over to the window embrasure, idly toying with one of the cardounet pieces on the small game table between the window seats.  “Do you play, Sir Sextus?”

   “Cardounet?  On occasion.”  I wondered if she intended to ask me to join her in a game.  Not that I minded, but there were others in the household who might take a dim view of their lady paying too long a visit to a man’s private chambers, despite the presence of a young child to ensure his proper behavior.

   As if reading my thoughts, the lady gave me a wistful smile, putting the game piece back in its proper square on the board.  “It’s late.  I’m sorry, I suppose I should go and let you get ready to retire for the evening.”  She crossed the chamber towards the staircase.  I went before her as every trained courtier is taught to do, prepared to break her fall should the lady trip while descending the stairs.

   She had nearly reached the bottom of the spiral stairs when her foot slipped on one of the tread-worn steps, causing her to lose her balance.  She flailed slightly, grabbing for the wall to steady herself, but I turned and caught her before she could fall.  She landed against my chest, but I had expected the impact and had braced for it, tightening one arm around her as I steadied myself against the tower wall with my other hand.

   “Are you all right, my lady?” I asked, catching a glimpse of her face as she pulled back slightly.  

   “I...yes...thank you....”  She sounded a bit breathless.  I waited until I was certain she had regained her balance then relaxed my hold on her.  The pulse in her throat fluttered, birdlike, and I caught myself staring at it.  I wrenched my gaze back up slightly to meet hers.  It felt odd, angling my head upwards rather than down to look at her.  She wavered on the second step above me, her cheeks flushed.

   “Sir Sextus…?”  Her voice was a mere whisper.

   I offered her a hand to assist her in taking the remaining steps down.  She took it somewhat absently, her gaze never leaving my face.  As she reached level ground, her free hand reached up, startling me with the unexpected sensation of trembling fingers stroking my hair gently.  “I never really had a choice before,” she said softly.  “Would you mind terribly…?”

   I swallowed.  “A choice, my lady?” I repeated, my mind gone numb.  “About what?”

   Soft lips, feather-light, brushed against mine.  I hesitated only briefly, stunned, then found myself drawing her closer, enfolding her yielding softness in my arms as I bent to claim her lips again.  A quiet sound behind me alerted me to the presence of someone else, but for the moment I was oblivious, too caught up in instinctive response to consider my surroundings.

   “If ye’re goin’ t’ be bangin’ around down here, do I need t’ wait in th’ corridor?” a young voice asked, sounding disgusted.

   The lady and I broke free of our embrace, too mortified to meet each other’s eyes.  “Um…no, sweeting,” I assured my daughter, my face growing flaming hot.  “It’s nothing like that…we were just bidding each other a good night…run on up to bed, there’s a good lass….”

   “Are ye sure?  Because there ain’t no door upstairs, an’ I don’ wanna hear nuthin’….”  I dimly noted that she’d reverted to her Nyford rustic dialect, despite having lost most vestiges of it in more recent weeks under the nursery tutor’s careful coaching.

   Lady Avisa’s face bloomed scarlet.  “No, darling, I was just leaving!  Truly.”  She edged away from me, making a beeline for the door and fleeing through it.  Belatedly I realized I should have opened it for her.  Hopefully no one else had noticed her hasty flight from my quarters; there was no telling what rumors might fly through the castle if anyone had.

   Grub looked bewildered.  “That was fast!”     
   
   “Hm.  Yes.  Early day tomorrow, you know.  We ought to be abed ourselves.”  I waved my hand towards the staircase, motioning for her to go up ahead of me.  

   “What’s happening tomorrow?” she asked, confused.

   “Morning, same as always.  It’s just another morning.  You know how mornings are, one right after another….”  I was well aware I was babbling, but couldn’t seem to stop myself.  

   We reached the top of the stairs.  Grub immediately clambered into her bed, holding her new fair-baby close before turning her attention back to me.  “Are you going to make babies with Lady Avisa?”

   “Jesú, no, sweeting, I can’t!”  Near panic bubbled up; I’d hoped not to have to deal with this line of questioning.  “She’s not my wife.”  I gently tucked the covers over her.

   “Neither was my mam,” Grub reminded me.  

   “Um, yes.  Well.  That was…different.”

   “How?”

   I gaped at her, at a loss for a reply.  How could I explain to her the differences in terms she could grasp?  The blue-violet stare awaited my response, but I was afraid that no matter how I replied, my answer would be weighed and found wanting.

   “I’m in Lady Avisa’s service,” I finally managed.  “She’s the Dowager Baroness of Kinlochan; I’m just a knight errant and a steward in training.  It wouldn’t be right.”

   “Oh.”  She settled back into her mattress, apparently satisfied by my answer.  I started to breathe again, glad she hadn’t asked me how siring a babe on a barmaid I’d never met before nor had intended to see again was somehow more right.  I had no answer for that one.  I kissed my daughter’s cheek gently and withdrew, blowing out the tapers and settling onto my bed.  In the darkness, I heard her call out, “Six?”

   “Yes, sweeting?”

   “Aren’t you going to wash your face and hands and clean your teeth too?”

   I sighed.  “Yes, sweeting.”

   I pulled myself back out of bed, heading downstairs again to perform the nightly ablutions, returning shortly thereafter.  Grub was sound asleep when I returned, but sleep eluded me for some time.


Chapter Six:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=721.0
« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, 10:50:26 am by Evie »
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Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 11:45:22 am »
Phew!  I can call her Grub without getting slapped wrists now! :)

And uh oh, Sextus.  Getting in a bit over your head here, matey boy! ;)

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 12:53:57 pm »
Lady Avisa did say that Sextus was her first crush, but wow!  Not the best way for Sextus to win over the new household.

"Six" is priceless and Grub gets better with each chapter.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline Alkari

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 04:26:28 pm »
Hmm, a very ''convenient" trip down those stairs - Avisa is a fast worker it seems ;)    First crush, eh.  Sextus is going to have an 'interesting' time as her steward, I suspect ...

Quote
“If ye’re goin’ t’ be bangin’ around down here, do I need t’ wait in th’ corridor?” a young voice asked, sounding disgusted.
 
Oh I do I love Grub's ability to turn up and comment at the most inopportune moments!

« Last Edit: May 23, 2011, 04:30:11 pm by Alkari »

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 06:35:23 pm »
Kids do say the darnest things!! ;D
This story just gets better and better!! ;D
« Last Edit: May 23, 2011, 06:37:40 pm by derynifanatic64 »
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline kirienne

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2011, 08:39:36 pm »
Six and Grub...my oh my  but this story keeps getting better and better.  :D
poor grub, never having had toys before now, I'm glad she's been given some of her very own.
Oh, methinks that "tumble" on the stairs was well planned.  ::)

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2011, 11:21:52 pm »
I don't think she did it on purpose, but I do think she's one to take advantage of an emergent occasion.

Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2011, 01:58:38 am »
Another vote for the trip was deliberate.  Maybe not "planned" as in planned in advance, but certainly not accidental.  So the women all think it was no accident...hmmm. :)

Offline Alkari

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2011, 02:05:45 am »
Well, if it was accidental, I don't think she tried terribly hard to save herself.   After all, she knew there were nice strong arms to catch her - a trained courtier going down first, ready to protect the lady of the house ... ;)

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2011, 05:55:00 am »
And she didn't trip until nearly at the bottom .... I vote for planned!
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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2011, 09:27:19 am »
ROFL at all the discussion re: was it an accidental trip or a planned one!  Elkhound is right; I never envisioned Avisa's slip down the stairs to be a deliberate one, though Avisa turned an accident to her advantage.  (Though even then, that wasn't calculated planning so much as deep yearning taking over and overruling her brains for a few seconds.  ;) )   What I was picturing was a very well-worn (and therefore fairly slippery) flight of stone stairs, the sort often built into thick castle walls.  There probably wouldn't have been a guard-rail to grab for, and because they'd be spiral stairs, there'd be uneven tread width.  There were practical reasons back in the day for the rules of courtesy that dictated that men should descend a staircase before a woman (or follow behind her during the ascent); a woman, with her long trailing skirts, was slightly more at risk to have an accident with both.  Men in chausses have a clear view of where they're stepping.  Women had to either pull skirts quite high up to have a clear view (and it's somewhat necessary to do so to ascend a staircase in long skirts anyway...trust me, I've 'walked up' several skirt fronts in my day by trying to rush upstairs in medieval gowns without stopping to think of getting my own hem out of the way first!), or negotiate a staircase by 'feel' even if they're on the way down.  In the case of an accident, the man was expected to help break the woman's fall, even if he wasn't quick enough to catch her.  But a woman wouldn't try to deliberately tumble down stone stairs, no matter how much she wanted to end up in a man's arms, because even if he was 'to die for,' that didn't mean she'd want that means of death to be a broken neck if he were to fumble the catch!   :D

As for why she didn't trip until Sextus had reached the lower floor and she was only a few steps above it, that was due to me envisioning that the best way for her to actually end up in his arms rather than crashing straight into his back would be if he had already reached the bottom, where he naturally would have started to turn toward her in order to assist her the rest of the way down the staircase.  I didn't want to end up with two characters flailing and diving headlong for the floor, as would have been more likely if Avisa had slipped at the top of the stairs or only midway down them!  Though (assuming a non-tragic ending) that could have resulted in high comedy as they both windmilled their way down the rest of the flight of stairs....   ;D

Also, take a close look at Avisa's reactions right after her slip.  She lands against Sextus (rather than catching herself against him...it's an important distinction since it implies she wasn't expecting the fall), her heartbeat is elevated, her breathing quickens, she's flushed and flustered.  If her fall had been a calculated move, she could fake some of the symptoms of that adrenaline rush (acting more flustered than she really was), but it's much harder to fake responses that are normally involuntary, like the quickened pulse.  Now, granted, suddenly ending up in the arms of a man she's wanted for years would also cause an adrenaline rush, but the effect is more likely to be accentuated coming on the heels of an accident.  If the "accident" had been pre-planned, I doubt she'd have had as strong a physical reaction.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2011, 10:00:54 am by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2011, 10:50:00 am »
Managing skirts on stairs was something that men had to deal with, too, wasn't it?  A houpplande was quite as full and bulky as a dress: http://www.winterstarlight.com/garb/images/houppelande2.gif

(Although, that was more something that older, more dignified gentlemen wore, not dashing young bloods like Sextus, wasn't it?)

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2011, 11:05:05 am »
Yes, depending on the period in question, men had longer robes as well, but generally not cut quite as long as women's gowns, which (for noblewomen at least) were apt to sweep the floor rather than stopping several inches above it.  And even wearing ankle length skirts as I sometimes do in winter, if the skirt has any fullness to it, I have to be careful to remember to hitch them up in front before going up my front steps, or I end up doing a comical 'walking up the inside' stunt, like a hamster climbing the inside of a spinning wheel, which makes me feel right stupid when I nearly crash onto my face.   :D  I don't think men's garments, even at mid-calf length, would be long enough to cause that problem unless they were cut fuller than was customary.  Longer men's garments tended to be cut straighter rather than with widely flared skirts, although you do see more flaring of the lower part of tunics that are cut shorter.  The houppelande style that you linked to didn't come around for another two centuries or so after the time depicted in the novels, and while KK does tend to jump around a bit in time when it comes to her descriptions of technology and clothing, I don't recall her describing male clothing as being that bulky and flowing.  My guess is that, even when the floor-sweeping men's robes were fashionable, they were more court costume than active-wear.  I can't imagine a man as active as Sextus getting around as comfortably in that houppelande!   Maybe when he's 90 and his legs aren't worth showing off anymore, and he's retired to a life of loitering in Kelson's Great Hall talking about the good ol' days when he was a saucy youth out wining and wenching....  ;D

Going by the men in KK's original novels, most seem to be depicted in tunics (though I seem to recall an occasional surcoat or two being mentioned as well?), which would usually indicate shorter length, anywhere from mid-thigh to mid-calf, but certainly not as long as a noblewoman's skirts would be, which would at least cover her ankles if not actually trail on the ground.  I usually describe Sextus wearing tunic and chausses, and I usually picture his tunics as being about mid-thigh length to maybe just slightly above the knee.  In other words, long enough to keep his braies covered most of the time, yet short enough to show off his nice athletically-fit legs clad in those bias-cut, nicely tailored chausses.  :D  If he ever wears a surcoat, it probably comes down to mid-calf at the lowest, though I'd need to double-check clothing pictures of the period to be sure.  

« Last Edit: May 24, 2011, 11:18:26 am by Evie »
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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2011, 08:22:52 pm »
Yes, depending on the period in question, men had longer robes as well, but generally not cut quite as long as women's gowns, which (for noblewomen at least) were apt to sweep the floor rather than stopping several inches above it. 

That was a sign that a noblewoman didn't NEED to be physically active.  Much like the insanely long fingernails that Chinese aristocrats sported.

As for Sextus wearing the long, full gowns when he's 90---are we sure he's going to live that long?  Wouldn't some jealous husband/lover or overprotective father/uncle/elder brother catch up to him first?

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Re: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered--Chapter Five
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2011, 09:12:14 pm »
LOL!  Well, a jealous husband is right out, unless the woman was still unmarried when Sextus came along or lied about her marital status.  His personal code of honor won't allow adultery.  Similarly, noblewomen in general or virgins of any social class are off limits; his honor won't allow him to 'ruin' a lady or a maiden.  That limits him to commoners who have had at least one previous lover, and even then, as Sir Ethan noted, his tastes run towards the more wholesome ones.  (He'd have enough smarts to be wary of the pox, after all!)   Sure, sometimes he's desperate enough for stress relief to turn to a bathhouse attendant or someone like Grub's mother, but that's rare.

Suffice it to say, if he's at risk from an angry father or brother, he'd not be the only man they'd be after, and since he's a knight, a peasant father would probably settle for going after whatever peasant or village lout had her favors first.  Not much of a future in a peasant killing one of the King's men.

In short, Sextus may not be the saint Denis would like him to be, but he's also not as much of a libertine as he makes out to be.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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