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?
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?
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.
Eleanor greets Valentine’s Day with a mixture of dread and longing….After all, that handsome Lord Hugh is never far from her thoughts, but oh, so far from her embrace! But, how can she wish to be with him, be held by him, when, at the same time, she dreads his presence? ‘Tis a constant frustration, to be sure, because when she sees him and his intense, blue-eyed gaze, her heart races, and yet, once he speaks in that condescending tone, chiding her for allowing poachers to ravage their forests, fury bubbles up in her, and she has to stifle the sarcastic words she would be so happy to say, but knows she should not. After all, he threatens to arrange to have her forests remanded to her liege lord, the disgusting Lord Litchfield, so to anger him further would not be politic. Ah, but Valentine’s Day….if only the forest problem could be resolved, then, then, perhaps she could receive her Valentine’s Day hope. What think you, dear reader?
Eleanor does think this small creature quite adorable, even thought ’tis not the hedgehog she is familiar with here in medieval England, but she does know the legend and custom behind it and this day, which is to celebrate Candlemas Day. “If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter, and come not again.” So, she is attentive to the weather outside the castle today. She will light candles and wait for the day to unfold. Of course, if Lord Hugh were to arrive, the weather would be fair and bright — but, no, she remonstrates herself–he would bring clouds and rain. Frowning, she remembers his condescending manner as he chided her for allowing poachers into her forest. As if she would do so! Heavens forfend! His arrogant manner would indeed bring clouds and rain and thunderstorms. But….those blue eyes of his….perhaps a little bit of sun….dare she even imagine?
Ah, yes, Eleanor is no Cinderella, she who owns her lands and chase and castle as a fief from the wretched Lord of Litchfield, but, she has the wherewithal and spunk to defeat most anyone. Most of all, she would like to defeat Lord Hugh, who, at the moment is aggravating her to the umpteenth degree by being his usual arrogant self, disparaging her ability to manage her lands and forest, and, heavens forfend, impugning her honor by accusing her of being so inept that the poachers have almost overridden both their chases. But, all that said, Lady Eleanor would love to write something that would sting Lord Hugh into recognition of her abilities and her honor and her integrity. But, for that, she may need to be published….and even then, if he were to read it, would he be able to infer her longing for him, despite her rancor? So many mixed emotions, dear reader. What think you?
Though being quite well-traveled and well-read for 1272, Lady Eleanor has no idea that far-off Hawaii even exists, and if she did, oh, my, gentle readers, she would daydream about being in that tropical paradise with Lord Hugh, dreaming that he’s holding her gently in his arms as the trade winds caress them….But (cold hard reality!), that’s not likely to happen, since Lord Hugh has made his antipathy toward her very obvious, not to mention his condescending treatment of her, and it’s all over the poaching conspiracy in their adjoining forests and his conviction that women are all brainless ninnies. Little does Lord Hugh know that he is about to get to know the real Lady Eleanor, whose intelligence and wit will vanquish him, leaving him bereft until he can make her his. Oh, so perhaps Eleanor can dream of those tropical sunsets after all, and, the music, oh, the music! ‘Tis not like that music the jongleurs and musicians play in her Great Hall. Nay, not at all. Should you like to sample some, click on the last link below!
If you enjoy real, traditional, lyrical Hawaiian music, and if you’re ever on Oahu, don’t miss Sunday and Tuesday evenings at the O’Lelo Bar (families and kids welcome — outdoor venue w/great pupus, etc.) at the Aulani with island treasure Jerry Santos: http://www.olomanamusic.com/index.html and here’s a favorite song known all over the islands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgraeK4M9a0
Of course, Eleanor has no idea that Daniel Boone (his national day is June 7) ever existed, because he lived in the 19th century, and she lives in the 13th, but, were she to see this painting and to read about him, she would mark a resemblance between him and *sighs* Lord Hugh. They are both brave, intrepid, scornful of risks, and enjoy pursuit of game. Eleanor wishes Hugh would pursue her, naturally, but, so far, he treats her with condescension–when he’s not lambasting her about the management of her forests. Ah, well, Eleanor must needs be patient, just as Daniel Boone was, and she may win her quarry. Perhaps, just perhaps, Lord Hugh will decide he cannot resist her charms any longer. What do you think, dear readers? Will Lord Hugh change the venue for his hunting from his forest chase to Lady Eleanor’s castle?
Ah, doesn’t this make you wonder what Eleanor is writing with her quill pen on the parchment in front of her? She loathes the despicable William, thus his treatment as a cur on the pages of TORCH IN THE FOREST. On the other hand, she holds tightly the secret of her powerful attraction to that arrogant Lord Hugh, and she holds it so tightly she can hardly bear to admit to herself. How shall Lord Hugh be portrayed on those pages…? Those intense blue eyes, that chiseled chin, the arrogant tone…? What think you, dear readers? Many thanks to Eleanor’s writing companion, Meradeth Houston, for this gem of a graphic!