Ah, Eleanor gazes out her window at the forest, hoping to catch a glimpse of Lord Hugh riding through the forest, but, nay, ’tis not to be. ‘Twould be so wonderful to share St. Valentine’s Day with him, even though he doth treat her like a ninny sometimes, which is completely unacceptable. She promises herself to vanquish him eventually, however, and perhaps their hearts will be united as one, but not before she has taught him a serious lesson about the poaching in the forest and her supposed mismanagement of her lands. Then he will discover what he refuses to acknowledge: her intelligence and courage — and heart….
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Ah, there he is, the little rascal! Eleanor can easily find the elusive groundhog, but she struggles to find the heart of that elusive, handsome Lord Hugh! Where is Lord Hugh? Hunting in the chase? And for what is he hunting? Surely not love — nay, not that cold-hearted, untrusting Lord Hugh, who condescends to her and to all women. Eleanor is quite sure, being the intelligent young woman she is, that Lord Hugh has a soft, vulnerable spot in his heart. But, alas, to find it will take all her intelligence and courage. Easier to find a groundhog, no?
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.