12 September, 2017 by katelaity
I must say I was entirely struck dumb by this development. Not that I was unequal to the admiration of a beautiful woman, I hasten to add. I may not be the charmer that Tansy could be with people of all manner, whether he was he or she, but I could certainly hold my own and was not in any way timid with the gentler sex.
However, I must convey to you the astonishing beauty of this woman. I have seen beauties a plenty in town; there are some rather nice young ladies who are the daughters of my father’s partner who I have been much thrown together with over the years and have found to be quite delightful. The eldest, Maryann, even proffered the first proper kiss I can be said to have received. Though much surprised at the time I do feel I am adequately instructed in the art since.
But there are pretty girls and then there are lovely women. The latter stood before us with a curious smile and a pleasant air that rendered her extraordinary beauty a little less intimidating than it had been at first glance. If she had been haughty and proud, I suspect we would have all stood there gaping for ages. As it was we stared far too long to be polite and, elbowed by Tansy, I was reminded to make a bow to her as was only right. She curtseyed back and asked again, ‘Who might you be?’
It seemed wholly impolite not to respond, but I remembered well the warning about being lost in the fairylands forever. I had no desire to be trapped even if all the women were as lovely as this creature. We all exchanged looks and shrugged to try to convey that we could not speak.
The lovely woman looked at each of us in turn, an eyebrow raised in surprise. Then she burst into laughter. ‘I see, the book under your arm, sir. You fear to speak as if it would imperil you. Fear not, fear not. Speech is not forbidden here and you will face no curse—unless of course you decide to insult someone. I do not think my race is any more inclined to wrath than your own, but it has been suggested.’
I was not eager to be the one to break the silence. Of course Tansy was the first to do so. ‘I beg your pardon, madame, but we were warned by True Thomas’ example to keep silent.’
The woman laughed again. ‘We can be rather naughty I suppose. It is likely that Thomas simply talked too much and the lady intended only that she would be able to hold her own in the conversation.’
‘I have noticed that men often talk over women,’ Tansy said with quiet authority. He would know, I reckon, but it seemed a little unfair.
The lovely woman, who I must assume to be a fairy given her words about her folk being different from us, raised a quizzing glass to examine Tansy more closely. I could not recall seeing such a quaint old thing since I was very small and my grandmother favoured one for giving us looks askance.
‘Well, cousin,’ she said at last with an air of some satisfaction, ‘I hope you will take the time to enjoy some of our local beauty. I mean of course our gardens.’
‘Are you a queen?’ Chambers blurted out with rather too much frankness I fear.
She laughed. ‘There are many of our race who claim to be kings and queens when they are nothing of the kind. It is a humour with us, I suppose you would say. My name is Judith Alfscinu.’ After her words she offered another curtsey, which we returned with bows, introducing ourselves one after the other.
‘Now we are all friends, I will take you to see my garden, which I’m sure you will find extraordinary. But one legend is true. Eat nothing from the trees or you may find it impossible to eat when you return to your own land.’