11921213 The Dangers of Gallant Men
|The Dangers of Gallant Men|
A chilly breeze stirs the heavy cloak of grey clouds veiling the sky at this evening. For a little while the heavy rains have stopped and left nothing but tired rivulets on the outside of the murky windows in Beatrice's chambers. The young countess sits quietly in a cushioned seat while her sun-tanned chaperone braids her thick, dark hair to a style more suitable for the quiet hours of the night, than for a greater company at court. They are not alone, though, for an other young girl keeps them company, Ophelia d'Avesnes.
"So you said you met him. That minstrel. Raimon.", Beatrice speaks without any hidden curiousity.
Indeed, there is the girl, but she did not come without her chaperone. Although Maryse sits on another seat, a little closer to the wall than to her charge, looking very relaxed, no, tired would be the more appropriate word for it. Suppressing a yawn, the chaperone leans into the comfortable chair, her eyes closing for a short moment. For a little rest; certainly not for a nap.
Ophelia meanwhile leans a little forward to reply to Beatrice's remark, her cheeks slightly flushed at the topic. "Aye... Just yesterday, in the gardens. He performed a song or two." A glance is shot in Maryse's direction, and noticing her relaxed posture, Ophelia turns to the Courtenay again. The smile she offers Beatrice as she raises her gaze is a little awkward though. "He asked me to request a song..." Leaving the sentence hanging in the air, unfinished, at least devoid of an explanation why this particular fact seems important to her, the Avesnes lady rolls her eyes and coughs.
"In the gardens, yes, he seems to like the chortling fountains and the admiring gazes. So - what did you ask him to sing?" Beatrice attempts to turn her head to catch a glimpse of the girl's facial expression, the decisive hands in her hair prevent her from succeeding, though. "M'lady hold still. You don't want your hair to look like Berno's beard, do you?", the chaperone comments. The countess answers with nothing but a little sigh before broaching the subject again with another inquiry adressed at Ophelia. "Did he know the verses of your choice? "
"My lady the Countess, it was not that I requested a particular song, more what it should be about..." Ophelia explains, her cheeks colouring again just a touch. "A knight and his maiden. He picked a song then which he had translated from Spanish into the Langue d'oc. It was very gripping and beautifully performed..." Slightly embarrassed, she lowers her gaze and bites her lip.
Again that stubborn head tries to turn to the other girl again. "Ouch. For heaven's sake!" Beatrice mutters as the older woman holds the wisps firmly. "A maiden and her knight. A pleasant choice indeed. I often tend to loose myself in listening to such songs, if performed skillfully enough. For a moment you might even believe those gentle lies, if you listen closely." the girl says in a slightly distant voice. More lively she adds "But I'm sure he is talented enough to draw the most luminous pictures of maidens and knights with his chords. He did flatter you, didn't he?"
"Yes, he possesses a very charming disposition, and even if I suspect part of it may have derived from the need to please his audience... it seems he has a natural gift." Ophelia replies a bit cautiously before she adds: "Did he flatter me? I think he did... He said he wanted to magick a smile onto my lovely face..." The memory makes her smile, as if speaking the words would make that magic finally work with a belated success, she looks almost flattered as her grey-green eyes wander towards the windows. "It was... nice of him to say such a thing, I surely did not expect it."
A weary smile flutters over Beatrice's face. "Those gallant men. One of the greatest delight, but also the greatest danger for a young girl, a wise woman once used to say. If you can't stay away from them, you have to learn to play with the fire. You have to be careful not to burn your hands and heart, when you try to learn to handle them, but at least you won't freeze to death. In Acre, however, you scarcely freeze, most of those who have travelled far, told me. Ah, well. Maybe that's all nothing but fatuous, flowery speech as well."
A little moment of silence, before she chuckles her own words away and continues in a more lively and impatient manner to her servant: "Aren't you done already? We're going to get old and wrinkled here on our seats if you don't hurry." More gently she addresses Ophelia "But after all you seem to be entwined by both silvery words and admiring looks often enough at court. Oh, they all adore you and somehow you seem to be filled with concerns and humbleness. That's when my own admiring gaze would meet you, if the reins of my hair would allow me."
Even though Ophelia lowers her gaze in a nod of consent to Beatrice's remark about gallant men, an intent observer might notice her eyes seem to cloud a little at the topic. "If that is the case, I will rather stay away from them, my lady the Countess." the young lady-in-waiting replies with a shy smile. "I surely would not want to burn my hands."
When Beatrice continues on Ophelia's character and the impression she leaves on the people of the court, the Avesnes lady lowers her head even a touch more, with her pale cheeks reddening a little. "You praise me too much I fear. Neither am I deserving of those perfect colours you wish to paint me with. Nor has there been any particular attention to my person, I assure you." Except perhaps the intent stare of a Fleming she has visited some time ago. Eyeing her own hands for a moment at the memory, a little smile appears on Ophelia's face, that seems to grow in warmth and intensity.
Finally the countess' hair is released with a bonhomous comment of the older woman "M'lady, you're chains are released."
"Thank you!", Beatrice responds, immediately slipping into a more relaxed posture, until she catches the sight of Ophelia's face: "Saint Mary! I did not notice I made you blush that way, mylady. My apologies - I hope I did not say something inappropriate... again. Forgive me.", she says with an undertone of mild concern.
"No, you did not.", Ophelia is quick to reply, raising her gaze with apologetically arched eyebrows. "I... am not used to be the object of praise, that is all. Your words were very kind, my lady, and I thank you for bestowing them on me." Maybe a bit too intent to change the topic, she eyes the finished braid with admiration before she remarks: "Your maid has done a wonderful job with your hair. Such a fine colour, too." A sigh of envy, perhaps, underlines that compliment and precedes Ophelia's next remark: "You must get a lot of admiring gazes as well, my lady the Countess. I mean,... a young lady with your looks, and your titles..."
"Thank you, dear. And even if praise may be new to you, you will certainly have to get used to it, if you ask me. But for the gazes, well... if I had a sword for every gaze I'm granted, my lands would not have to suffer under the hands of infidels. If I had a coin for every sweet word that is thrown at me, I'd at least be able to buy enough swords to protect me and my sister. Or to add an appropriate dowry to those looks and titles. Or to afford one of those silken gowns, that have come from the east these days. " Beatrice numerates with a voice that seems to turn younger and softer with every point of the list.
Ophelia's eyes widen in empathy as she listens to Beatrice's words of lament. "You find me surprised, my lady. I would have thought you were already promised to someone.", she admits, biting her lip. "Now it is I that must apologize, for persuing a topic that is not agreeable to you...?" And as if her hands were eager for some distraction she reaches out for that little bag that contains her latest project of needlework.
"Apologies over apologies. No need for that when we are in private. But well, that certain subject is indeed a difficult matter. For a long time I lived in the belief my path was already settled. My father and the Lusignans..." Beatrice begins, but before she can repeat the sorrowful story again, a candid laughter is to be heard outside the door. Immediately the girl jumps up from her seat, the lively buoyancy of youth speaking of all her limps and chasing away the veil of gloom. "That's Agnes. Finally you got to meet her, Ophelia! She's lovely! Come in, my little fawn, we have a visitor..."