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?
Verona, Italia, the home of those star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet!
Ah, Valentine’s Day….Eleanor’s heart flutters a bit. If only, if only, that devilishly-handsome Lord Hugh would cast his misogynistic prejudices aside and see that she is indeed extremely intelligent, entirely capable of managing her estate and the forests, loyal almost to a fault (oh that disgusting Edgar, her late–thankfully–husband!), and witty into the bargain. Who else could trounce that cur, her overlord William of Litchfield, in brilliant conversation, and leave him clueless as to what had just happened? Eleanor smiles to herself. Then, she looks at the picture of the heart, with an arrow piercing through it, and she is reminded of how Lord Hugh’s intense blue gaze pierces her through and through, not to mention the pangs of longing she feels as she watches his broad shoulders disappear through the doors of the Great Hall. What shall she do? Should she risk penning a note anonymously and having a peasant deliver it to Wykeham, Lord Hugh’s castle? She frowns. Nay, ‘twould not do, for hardly any women in her day, 1272, know how to read and write, and Lord Hugh would guess in a heartbeat who had written it. A heartbeat….Eleanor blushes at the thought….
Eleanor blushes as she recalls that today is indeed Valentine’s Day. Yes, she has received a secret love note from someone, but she does not know who it is. Most definitely, she hopes ’tis not from that churlish Lord William, he of the spittle-flecked lips. She shudders delicately. One thing she does know — ’tis not from Lord Hugh, that dashing, arrogant neighboring lord, who is bound and determined to bring her down. Ah, but what a turn of phrase — she has misspoken! She blushes even more hotly. How she wishes he would send her a valentine — but, he cannnot know or guess the feelings that rage inside her. How could he, she being the model of decorum and deportment, and he being so sure of her naivete and malleability? Besides, if he were to send anyone a valentine, ‘twould be her younger sister Mary, whose hand he has asked for in marriage! Eleanor gazes out the castle window at the chase lying beyond. Would that she and Lord Hugh could hunt together there…on Valentine’s Day or any day. What can she do to resolve this dilemma?
*Valentine courtesy of Lady Cassia DeWarren — my thanks, Milady! 🙂
Valentine’s Day! Romance! Love! Flowers! Candy! Our Lady Eleanor knows nothing of Valentine’s Day, it being only 1272, and it took Chaucer to popularize the “oh-be-still-my-heart” holiday in the following century. Indeed, she could not even begin to imagine little Cupid with his bow and arrows, flying about, targeting innocent ladies and not-so-innocent lords. Eleanor knows that bows and arrows are for hunting game, not beginning a game. Ignorance of this holiday is bliss, however, and she is quite relieved there is no special day for love, since she’s having a hard enough time fighting her tumultuous feelings about Lord Hugh without exposing them to the light of day, Valentine’s Day or any other. The thought of sending Hugh a declaration of love by messenger would make her blush and fiercely protest that she has nothing but antipathy for her sworn enemy Hugh, (methinks the lady doth protest too much), and she would swiftly send chubby little Cupid packing, bow, arrows, and all.