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Sir Eberhart's Age of Apogee

Rumours were flying about the parlous state of the Lady Evangeline's manor. It seemed that her late husband had gambled away their resources before his departure to the Holy Land and his stewards had been robbing Peter to pay Paul as they kept this distressing news from their Lady. With the death of the Lord of Colbury in Antioch the matter had become acute but the fiction of continuing wealth had been sustained for several years. Finally, however, the manor was running out of options and Eberhart discussed with his inner household just how they might assist Evangeline without damaging her late husband's reputation. Could some of Rath's wealth be surreptitiously be introduced into the coffers of Colbury?

As Eberhart pondered this thorny problem, Old Mary interrupted his thoughts. Would he be willing to entertain thoughts of a life with someone other than Evangeline were his suit hopeless? He would have none of this although he sympathised with the nameless maiden who had prompted Mary's enquiry. Eberhart knew too well the pain of unrequited love. He repaired to the home of his friend Marguerite to discuss what he could of such matters without breaching confidence. She was pleased to see him. She believed that it was time for him to propose an alliance with Evangeline based solely on friendship and hope that love would blossom between them later. Even his harsh sister Katherine supported this plan. He resolved to make such a proposal as soon as he could. Or as soon as the matter of a tourney melee was settled.

The melee was over all too soon for Eberhart as fully half the other men jumped him as the favour fell. Pendaris and he were evenly matched but his attention was divided among his opponents and he could find no advantage. Within just moments Eberhart was eliminated. How fortunate that there should be so few spectators. As he watched the sport he fell into conversation with a knight lately returned from the crusades. Sir Theodore had been in Antioch where the Lord of Colbury had been known to him. There were no reliable witnesses to the warrior's death but hearsay and tattles all spoke the same. When came Eberhart to Colbury he found fair Evangeline sorely troubled for she had learned of her husband's dissoluteness and had interpreted the uncertainty as to his death as a possibility that he might be living but afraid to face the consequence of his wastefulness. Eberhart offered her his friendship and when she confided her economic woes to him, he donated a chest of gold to her household. She was deeply touched by his graciousness but in some ways his desired end was now even further from his grasp; the Lady believed that she may not be widowed. This was brought home to him most forcefully by his sister when he acquainted her with the news.

On a happier note, however, Eberhart found that Jack and Rosaline were resolving the misunderstanding between them. The young lady was no longer so sad and surely this might lend Jack to courage to come forward to confess and accept the consequences of his crime of passion. Wishing the couple well, Eberhart met a peasant girl with a remarkable goose with metallic golden plumage. Behind her were a tight pressed crowd among which seemed to be a blue dragon. The girl assured him that this bird laid eggs of gold and he was sorely tempted to acquire it. But it was not for sale. She would give the bird to the most virtuous person that she met. She enquired which virtue was most appropriate for such a judgement and Eberhart had no hesitation in identifying the wisdom to use this miraculous wealth well as being above all other virtues in this matter. She seemed only mildly interested in this contribution however and Eberhart noticed that the people behind her were actually stuck together and to her. A baleful knight had the tongue of the blue dragon stuck to his forehead and a man-at-arms was fastened to its tail. It seemed that greed had drawn them too close to the bird and that now they could not let go. "Name a virtue" barked the baleful knight. "Not that one" he yelled. Eberhart suggested that Evangeline was the most virtuous person of his acquaintance. He watched the motley assembly stagger off the way that he had come, bickering as they went.

Comments

Lady Evangeline is extremely curious to see Sir Eberhart's account of the final age!
grin

September 2015

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