For the Honor of the Lady – Chapter Two – August and I
August and I… Women hid their envious faces behind the ornate fans, and secretly sighed for him. His talent dictated his movements and his heart commanded me to give in, it was easy to flow in his element, to follow. Every single day I hoped and he was generous in attention. I started dreaming. People started talking…
August and I…
To sum things up, this is how I started to gather and gain “comments” from my immediate environment – that I was an indulgent woman, an easy one. People waited for me to pass by, and then they leant their heads to each other and started whispering. Even Louis the King who with time had forgiven me for being female told me that I am discussed behind my back in the court, for he was very much into gossiping and intrigues.
With time it started to happen every other day – my brothers had to fight for my honor. My girlfriends advised me to back off from August abruptly for my attitude to him was compromising. Other men made shameless advances, encouraged by my reputation. Louis the King said: “If this unfortunate situation continues, my dear, I shall have to marry you to some high-born prince, to save your honor.” “You must be joking” – I pleaded, and the young monarch smiled, very pleased by my frankness. Even though he loved to know fresh news from the court, he took no delight to intervene in the affairs of his subjects. He was always sitting in his alabaster throne, somewhere beyond all the drama.
Duels were born many years after the Birth of Christ when the wrath of the Normans defeated the dying Roman Empire: the aggressors brought in the warrior code of laws. Men started to resolve everything with fighting – the fights became known as trials, and they were based on the absolute belief in the power of the Lord. When you fought for your honor, it was universally accepted that if you are innocent, the Lord will look after you and keep you safe. Then came into being the Knights who fought for the Church, their Master and their Lady, and later on men of the court continued to fight for their stained honor, but the most epidemic of all were the fights for the honor of the woman they trusted in.
While my brother Ashton was savvy in the martial arts of those times and enjoyed a good fight, my brother Black usually paid and convinced servants and peasants to insult his offenders and duel instead of him. That behavior he called: “I hate violence.”
August Alexander was the ultimate rapier fencer. He had become most famous for his speeches, while he dueled – he verbally crammed the opponent in a mouse-hole, so to speak. Even with his affectionate nature and quiet tone of voice, he was still a compelling orator – and he spoke truths, which hurt. He usually fought not for vengeance, but to make a statement. His movements were adroit and beautiful to watch.
While my honor and reputation were sinking, he found ways to make me feel good about being into him. He often invited me to dance and melted everything in me… Unlike all the other men, he was the real deal – mature spiritually and he received my attitude as if it was delightful to his soul.
At the ball events, his girlfriends approached me and started a “casual” discussion about him…I think they were envious of the way we touched and felt each other with our bodies. Women were free to talk and offend me – no one ever challenged a lady to a duel. “Look at him! He is pressing his partner so close to him…they look almost as if they are not moving! You should invite him to dance, go for it – by all means you should!”
When he came to me and offered his hand I rose from the chair and we slightly bowed to each other – it was a moment between rapture and naive disbelief. Then he started the dance always by pressing me body against body, and the ecstasy began…the indescribable feeling of ripe fantasies coming to life.
While I rested my hands on his shoulders and trusted his movements, and I followed his feet with my tiny feet on the dance floor, I meditated and I imagined things. Oh, the fun we could have! How we could spend all the time together, riding his black stallion in the forest, sipping high tea with fresh biscuits…and he would gently catch my elbow and slowly take me to a bench in the royal garden…where I would lean my head on his shoulder and talk for hours…and we will kiss under the moonlight by a fountain engraved with angels…
I was a lady from the court with indecent dreams. The craving after a man, was in those times bordering offense. On top of it, the court was full of snakes and vampires amidst which I got into different adventures. Usually, courts smell of lie and fake respect. Since I couldn’t lie to save my life, I always got people irritated with my very existence.
I didn’t greet the lords who came back from hunting with a dead animal on their shoulder. I didn’t smile at ladies of the court and observe how well they look in their lavish crinolines and powdered wigs and I was at all times guilty of not taking part in their gossips. But when the Grand Duke of Savoy came to visit the King, I became pretty famous.
First, everyone tried to stop breathing while he was passing by. The heavy smell of bourbon liquor combined with the heavy smell of perspiring, filthy, unwashed body, and it was topped with the heavy smell of really expensive perfume – well it was magical. Add to that foul breath, a bony nose, and some well-arranged golden curls to imagine how he stroke all my senses when he invited me to dance. “You have to press your body really close to mine.” – he declared intoxicated by the alcohol, and I am certain – by my physical proximity. When his vampire nails stroke my back with an unnatural, foreign tenderness, when he poked with his fingers the erogenous zone on my back and started scratching it till he reached the bottom – this was the moment when I had enough. I pulled back from the lecherous monster and by inertia, I slapped him hard in the face. His wig took flight and alighted softly on the baked pig with an apple in his mouth in front of the King. “Well the pig really looks better than him,” I thought amused and at the sight of the terrified ball hall, I presumed I had given vents of my thoughts…Next day Ashton had to fight for my honor, while Louis, the King, decided I needed lessons in etiquette.
Needless to say, I was not very much into etiquette. Etiquette – wasn’t that when my duenna taught me to walk with a heavy book upon my head and the concept that you have to smile or at least show your teeth at all times when you are in high society? I was stirred up and resentful at the royal attempt to modify my character…Louis had really disappointed me this time. I decided to discourage my tutor in etiquette with my very appearance in the study. I was going to show them what their etiquette looks like to me. Even though the maid had prepared my clothes for the etiquette class from the evening, I started thinking if I should appear underdressed or overdressed for the occasion. Unfortunately, my entire wardrobe was up to the requirements of those times, heavily luxurious but while I was looking through the window, I saw the cowgirl in her simple calico dress resting on the lawn among the animals, and I thought she would love to have my pearls, and my fancy crinoline. Dolled up like a cowgirl, I entered the palace, where everybody knew me, and turned around after me, and headed directly to the study room.
I entered the room and saw a man’s silhouette standing in front of the fireplace, gazing at the flames. So, my etiquette teacher wasn’t some spinster from the royal entourage, but a man…probably some lustrous idiot from the court. He was looking at the fire so intensely, he didn’t even turn to bow and greet me. That was a master of etiquette!
“Good day to you, Lily!” – he said and I recognized August’s soft, intelligent voice and sighed in a surprise. Then he turned around and made a face. But he regained his composure fast and pulled a chair for me.
“Have a seat” – he proposed in the gentlest of manners like he would say to a hungry child “have a biscuit.”
I was ready to be scolded. When that didn’t happen, I felt uneasy.
As he sat on the chair against me he responded to my thoughts: “I know you must think etiquette is all about how people dress and behave, but it is nothing like this.” – he smiled at me sincerely and I felt even more uneasy.
“Etiquette has got the impossible purpose of never making people around you feel uneasy, without good reason.” – he explained, and I sank in the warmth of his eyes. “It’s not entirely about how you dress, groom and handle yourself. It has got to do with sincerity and moral imperatives such as to always respond when you have been addressed. I address you with a smile, Lilly, will you respond to me?” – said he with a sparkle in his eyes. I was devastated.
“Behave!” my mind addressed me and I tried a courtesy smile since I was still torn by mixed feelings of shame and, obviously, happiness.
“So far” – he thought aloud – “I am failing at all attempts to make you feel at ease…and that makes me feel bad about my manners.”
I blossomed in a sincere smile.
He gazed at me. I loved the boisterous sound of his laughter. He probably thought I was pretty amusing, dressing like a cowgirl, to show pretense, but not managing to drop a sensible word in the conversation. Little did he know all my senses had betrayed me, I was looking into his eyes and with those butterflies in my belly, all I could think of was exulting from happiness into his arms.
That was to me a moment blissful, a moment candid, and a moment fearful. Spending time with him made me feel better than chocolate and éclairs put together.
“Um”- I thought to myself. “I guess I have got some manners. If it wasn’t for them, I would be sitting on your lap, gazing at your eyes, and kissing your lips.” By the look on his face, I realized I had been giving vent to my thoughts…
Now, our friend August needs a good reason not to claim her on the spot when he heard she wanted to sit on his lap.
However, August needs to conform with the King – not to be afraid by him, because that doesn’t suit our character’s nature, but he needs to take the King into consideration, and he also needs to conform with etiquette…But August is such a man, that he will find a way to conform with Lily as well, despite everything. What will that way be?
I will let readers ponder on this for a while.