27 March, 2018 by katelaity
On the refreshments side of the bustle, the news was very encouraging. Thinking we only had vintage cheeses of the sort that had been employed as cannon-fodder, I was delighted to see a delegation arrive in the hall with a rich array of victuals. Apparently the king must have sent for them before he had become occupied in the negotiations, for they clearly had come from afar bearing their goods. The company was not made up of the king’s soldiers but the usual sort of courtiers and servants bearing boxes, trays and bowls of rich fruits and tasty cakes and pies.
My mouth watered. I was so very hungry from all our trials and efforts. How long had it been since we had eaten? Not since we came to these lands, that I was certain. As they spread the banquet upon the tables my belly rumbled with anticipation. The food had an almost medieval appearance—at least so it seemed to my eye. I rather fancied that some of the bigger pies might indeed prove to be filled with four and twenty blackbirds. Would they fly out when it was cut open?
The cakes though! Glazed wonders of fruit and sugars. I saw several tarts as well, many of them apple and it took me back to my Aunt Cecily’s orchard tarts. How she loved to see me stuff my greedy little mouth with them! I was eager for the cinnamon and spice flavours. I think that is why autumn remains a favourite time of the year for me as the tang of crisp apples seems to float on the very breezes.
Now I don’t want you to see me as some kind of glutton who lives only for pleasure. I can be abstemious as the next man—indeed I had been! It was the wonder of this place that we had been far too preoccupied with gazing upon beauty and running from danger to stop and have proper meal. At last! Here was a feast fit for a king and a queen—it would be quite suitable enough for my needs.
‘Of course we cannot eat anything,’ Chambers scolded me, obviously taking in my avaricious glances at the tables.
‘What?’ My eyes could not immediately be torn from the delicacies before me, but at last I stared at him. ‘Surely not all food here can be forbidden!’ Tansy looked at us both, frowning a little in thought. There was an air of speculation in his clouded face.
Chambers gave me a severe look that brooked no nonsense. ‘Do you want to end up like that poor lady?’
Poor lady? I swivelled my head to see who he meant and saw the lovely lady Judith Ælfscinu. Poor lady? She was radiant! And quite in the queen’s favour now, so I am certain that her star was definitely in the ascendant. True, there was a touch of the melancholy in her expression. ‘What do you mean, poor lady? She seems to be in the peak of her delights and well in favour with our monarch now.’
Chambers sighed. ‘Have you not regarded her feet?’
I am not one in general inclined to gaze at women’s feet nor notice the torture instruments that they call shoes. Why women can’t wear sensible shoes, I don’t know. Though I suppose seeing them clomp around in some handsome leather shoes like the ones my club chums favour would look less than appealing. Women should be dainty. Tansy gave me a look as if he knew what I was thinking and once more I felt the discomfort of his indefinite and changeable status. A demme nuisance at times! ‘I suppose her shoes may be somewhat out of fashion. I do not keep up with these matters.’
‘I don’t mean the fashion! Have you not noticed?’
I blinked and cast a glance over at our friend who at that moment bent her ear to the queen. My gaze drifted down to her neat little boots of satin.
They did not touch the ground.