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Subject: Honor on the Field 6/26

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Date Posted: Sunday, November 06, 06:10:38pm
In reply to: Nell 's message, "Honor on the Field" on Tuesday, November 01, 08:53:54pm

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Chapter Six ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“What have you learned?”

Walter nearly dropped the chain mail he was mending. “Dammit, m’lord, do you have to walk so sodding silently?

Rouen raised his brows. “Some lords would take offense at that style of address, Walter.”

“Some lords have more respect for their help.”

Rouen grunted, half acknowledging, half dismissing Walter’s complaint. “So?”

Walter carefully laid the mantle and the tools he was using down on the bench in front of him. Sitting back he dropped his hands on his knees and looked carefully up at his master. He had known Rouen since he was a small boy, when the old duke hired him on as chief armorer, and he hadn’t seen his normally calm and collected Lord this wound up in years, maybe since even before the old duke died.

“Well. As it happens, I struck up a conversation with the lady’s nurse. Belinda, a handsome woman, m’lord.” Walter paused to bring an image of Belinda forward in his mind’s eye, and, to judge, if he could, just how impatient Rouen was, by whistling in appreciation for what he saw. Walter was rewarded by Rouen leaning forward to lower his eyes level with Walter’s, and bringing the full force of his glare into play.

Walter hastily cleared his throat, and began. “Nikita has lived here since she was a very small child, ever since her ma died, even came before the late Lady Wirth married Phillip. Seems Phillip never made any secret of her being his get, owned her from the first. For the first few years, treated her sort of like a pet – spoiled her rotten when he remembered her, ignored her when he didn’t, assumed that the servants would do their duty by her. Apparently the Lady Wirth was tolerant of this, even kind to Nikita once she arrived. She didn’t exactly treat Nikita like a step daughter – maybe more like a fosterling, set her to training with the housekeepers and such, didn’t let her own mingle much with Nikita, poor kid; but then her own were sickly, the boys all died early, only Michelle survived. Some thought the Lady resented that Phillip continued to treat Nikita as a favorite – taking Nikita, but not Lady Wirth, to London to the Championships each year and such, but otherwise, since he was away the whole of the season then, Phillip left Nikita and the manor to her, so she didn’t complain to anyone.”

Walter paused to asses how Rouen was taking the story, but saw only the familiar, closed expression Rouen habitually adopted when he was taking in new information. “Belinda thinks the Lady was angling to ship Nikita off to a convent, seems she was a beauty from the first and, well, neither the Lady nor her daughter could measure up, but she up and died the winter Nikita was twelve. To everyone’s surprise, Phillip turned the household over to Nikita – said she knew just as well as anyone else what needed to be done, which was true, and went on his merry way. The people here thought he planned to keep her with him, to manage his house, for the rest of her life; cheaper than re-marrying and she can’t cut up rough about his annual party.”

“And now?”

“Now they don’t know what to think. They’re worried. They all like her, really like her, because they’ve watched her grow up, think of her as their own in some way, especially because Lady Wirth turned her over to them so much when she was a chit. Now they like her because she treats them with respect, but doesn’t take any guff, she works as hard as anyone here and she’s kind, and has a sense of humor. They fear what would happen if Michelle had to fill her shoes. They also don’t like the disrespect of Phillip offering her up like she was a filly at auction.”

“Nor do I.”


“I can’t very well challenge the man, Walter. Not only do I have no rights here, the Prince told me that though Phillip was a third rate jouster, he was London champion four years running with the broad axe.”


“Besides it would only draw more attention to the lady’s embarrassment, as you pointed out to me this morning.”

“Yes, m’lord.”

Rouen sighed a quiet “Thank you,” then turned and left the room.

Watching him go, Walter clicked in frustration to himself. Everything he had said was true, but he had left out a lot. Like how much the folk around the manor wanted Nikita to find a husband, hoped, romantically, and perhaps naively, that Phillip’s parties, by thrusting her into society, would introduce her to a wider world, how excited they had been by Rouen’s interest, and how disappointed and angry they were to learn he had a wife, and could only seek something dishonorable from their mistress.


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lol....TNSunday, November 06, 09:40:04pm

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