Eleanor wishes all a very happy Christmas (as they say in England). Clasping her hands together in wishful thinking, she admits to herself that her Christmas would be complete with a special visit from (you guessed it!) that handsome Lord Hugh. Will he arrive with all his knights to toast the Christmas Eve in the Great Hall? She gazes out the window at her forests, hoping against hope she will see his entourage making its way through the trees. Do you think he can put aside his quarrel with her for just one day and feel the Christmas spirit? Ah, truth be told, he does have feelings for her, as well, but chooses to try and ignore them. We never know what the magic of Christmas can bring, dear readers!
Ah, yes, he doesn’t resemble the rotund fellow garbed in red with whom we are familiar, but Eleanor knows this San Nicola, the original Santa Claus. She has a few wishes for gifts under the tree, and one of them has intense blue eyes, a haughty manner, and–she is sure–a heart she wants to try to win. Will she receive her wish, dear reader?
Eleanor, of course, has no idea about any holiday called Thanksgiving, she who lives in England in 1272. America, and the dream of another continent, are only gleams in an explorer’s eye, but Eleanor does have much for which to be thankful, her friends, her servants, and most important, of course, that handsome, arrogant Lord Hugh. Well, ’tis true, she is not so thankful for his arrogance, but, using her wits and intelligence, she hopes to change that. Her heart does beat apace when she thinks of sitting down to a feast with him, looking into those intense blue eyes. ‘Tis all she can do to keep her eyes on her plate and focus on her capon and pheasant. Ah, dear readers, for what are you thankful? Do you have a handsome gentleman with an intense gaze for whom you languish and pine? With any luck, he is not as arrogant as Lord Hugh, but you are up to the task of taming him, no? Happy Thanksgiving!
Yes, gentle readers, above is Pontefract Castle, West Yorkshire, England, whose turbulent history is memorialized in some of Shakespeare’s plays as “Pomfret Castle.” Indeed, this could very well be where Lady Eleanor meets Lord Hugh, only to fall head-over-heels for his blue-eyed gaze that stares right through her to the depths of her very being . His castle is not far, a few hours’ ride. Marcie’s ancient ancestor, Lord Thomas Darcy, Baron of Templehurst, held that castle for King Henry VIII — until Lord Thomas led the Pontefract Rebellion against the king — an action which did not endear him to Henry. Alas, thus, Lord Thomas’s life was ended at the Tower of London, in King Henry’s usual fashion. Lady Eleanor does not know this, because of course, she lives in 1272, almost three hundred years before this sad event. To her, Pontefract is home…and, much as she hates to admit it to herself, how she dreams of sharing it with Lord Hugh. Her rebellious nature (genetic, no doubt!) leads her to confront Lord Hugh angrily time after time during their meetings about the forest poachers and demand that he treat her with respect. Lord Hugh, however, is quite sure no woman is neither to be trusted or respected. Eleanor has her work cut out for her, and so she paces the floors in the castle, planning and plotting how to vanquish Hugh, once and for all. Oh, but would not Lord Hugh grace the Great Hall with his handsome, arrogant face?
Naturally, living in 1272, Eleanor has no idea the United States will ever exist, nor does she know about the continent of America, seeing that most everyone thinks the world is flat. But, if she did, she would laud those brave and courageous souls who defend this nation. Eleanor is all for independence, but, sometimes, she guiltily admits to herself, she’d be happy to give up a little of her independence for Lord Hugh, he of the blue-eyed gaze that sets her heart a-flutter. Talk about fireworks!
Yes, he united all the islands, the first ruler to do so. Eleanor has no idea, of course. The only uniting she cares about is seeing Lord Hugh again — and under kinder circumstances than the last time, when he condescended to her, as always. Why is he always so arrogant? Why does he not trust her intelligence? Eleanor sighs. She will vanquish him; just give her time! Then, he’ll see what ruling really means.
Yes, even in 1272, Eleanor is quite aware of April Fool’s Day, ‘t being a longstanding tradition. When in the village on this date, she will often see one peasant send another on a “fool’s errand,” much to the merriment of all. Sadly, Eleanor often feels like a fool herself, even ‘pon days that are not April 1, thanks to that arrogant Lord Hugh, he of the intense, blue-eyed gaze, who attempts to stare her down when they discuss the poaching crimes in their adjoining forests. She will not stand for that sort of treatment, and thus he thinks her insolent and a ninny, when she makes her case. The other reason she feels a fool is that her heart flutters a bit when Lord Hugh crosses the drawbridge to her castle, ready to meet again about catching the poachers. How could she have so many conflicting feelings at once? Is she a fool, indeed?
Ah, the luck of the Irish, Eleanor thinks wistfully. Perhaps someday, with any luck, that handsome, blue-eyed Lord Hugh will realize that she, and not her sister Mary, is the one for him. Such distress she endures! Not only is Lord Hugh determined to marry her younger sister, but, he continues to treat Eleanor with arrogance and condescension, so sure is he that she is a ninny –especially about the poaching in the forest and managing her lands — and not to be trusted. Little does he know! Luck — when will it arrive at the gates of her castle? Will it arrive in the person of Lord Hugh, whose intense gaze rakes her soul and drives all coherent thought out of her head? Is that the luck she should wish for? Such a dilemma….