All Things Are Lights – Day 32 of 200

Roland went back to the door and slid a thick wooden bar through two iron brackets. “In the great days of Languedoc such meetings as this would take place in the secret chambers of fair chateaux,” he said with his wry smile. “Now we must hide in wine shops.”

He took her hand and started to lead her to the bed.

She felt herself panicking. This was happening too quickly. In Love the lady must be the dons, the master.

She pulled her hand out of his grasp.

“Wine shop or no, Messire, this room has its own considerable beauty. How much do you pay Guillaume to keep it ready for your use?” she asked lightly.

“There has been no woman in my life since I met you. No woman I can love as I love you.”

Odd, No woman I can love as I love you. He seemed to be correcting himself.

“I am afraid that you may not understand what Love means to me, Sire Roland. Love cannot be like a wild spring flood that destroys and is gone. It must flow like a kindly river. It must nurture what grows beside it. It is the union of soul with soul that the lady and the lover must strive to attain. Must earn.”

“Your soul enchants me,” Roland said, taking her hand and looking deep into her eyes.

She felt dizzy.

“But the philosophers,” he continued, “say the soul is the form of the body. I adore the beauty of your soul made visible in your lovely body.”

“If you would love me, you must be ruled by me.”

“I will be ruled by you, mi dons,” said Roland, his dark head bowed. “I will dedicate my art to you. I will make and sing a hundred songs to your beauty.” He knelt before her.

She wanted to bury her fingers in his thick hair, to press his head against her, but she fought the urge. She must maintain the commanding air called for by the code of Love.

“You will have a chance to make good that promise, Sire Roland. On the first of May the Queen holds a singing contest to celebrate the King’s return to good health. Every notable troubadour and trouvere in Christendom is to be summoned. You may be sure I shall see you get an invitation. You shall be my champion.”

Roland smiled, raising one dark eyebrow. “Delighted, mi dons. That is the kind of battle I like best.”

Battle. Mont Segur. She still did not know why he had gone there. He had dared to avoid answering her question; she must dare to persist in asking it.

“Since it did not occur to you to provide chairs when you had this room prepared, I will sit on the bed and you will remain where you are.” She turned from him with a swirl of her long skirt and sat primly on the edge of the great bed. The ropes cradling the down-stuffed mattress creaked faintly.

“As you wish, mi dons.” He stayed on his knees.

“You may stand if you would be more comfortable.”

Silently, he got to his feet. His mouth was solemn, but she could see a twinkle of amusement in his eyes.

“I hope you did not think to distract me by taking me to this Turkish paradise, Messire. I still must know what you were doing at Mont Segur. And what possessed you to challenge my husband to a fight with daggers.”

“Ah, your husband.” His broad smile showed that he took no offense at her haughty tone but well understood that it was part of courtly custom.

“Yes, my husband. It is a miracle that you stand whole and hale before me. Do you know how many men he has killed? What were you thinking of, Messire?”

“Not of myself, mi dons.” He shrugged, and a sadness came into his face. “The Count de Gobignon ordered that all the Cathar perfecti, old men, women, people exhausted from starvation, be dragged by brute force down the rocky mountainside to the pyre. I protested. I did not challenge him. And I never drew a weapon against him. If you had talked to anyone who saw the fight you would know that. In the end I got his dagger away from him and forced him to take back his order.”

“What you say agrees with what I have heard. But did you have to humiliate him like that?”

The troubadour spread his hands as if to show surprise at her question.

“Madame, when you are fighting for your life you do not worry about the other fellow’s pride.”

“He must hate you more than any other man on Earth. Do you not realize that?”

The troubadour shrugged. “It has been almost a year since that happened, Madame, and he has yet to try to avenge himself.”

His seeming obtuseness made her furious. He was a fool who had been lucky once. It was that simple.

“Apparently you have no idea what sort of man you have made your enemy. He owns enough land to be a king in his own right. He has to deal with a thousand matters, great and small, every day. But he is not one to forget an injury. He will get around to you.”

“I know the house of Gobignon much better than you think I do.” The troubadour gazed at her with that infuriating, calm amusement. “What would you have me do? Flee the country again?”

“What would I have you do?” She was clenching her teeth. “There is nothing you can do. It is too late. It was already too late when you protested his order. Why did you provoke him so, if you wanted to pay court to me?”

“You are right.” Roland shook his head. “It would have been wiser for me to hold my tongue. But it would not have been human.”

She drew a deep breath. “If the Cathars are so dear to you, what were you doing in the crusader army? What darkness lies here, Sire Roland, that you have thrice answered this question with evasion?”

He groaned softly.

She waited.

After a long silence he said, “I cannot tell you.”

Every muscle in her body went rigid. “You call me your dons, and yet you would keep secrets from me. You are trifling with me, Messire.” She stood up. “Let me out of here at once.”

He held up a placating hand. “Wait, please. You must try to understand.”

Rage boiled up inside her. Understand? He all but spat in her face and then asked her to understand. Did he take her for an idiot?

“I do not care to put my life in jeopardy only to hear your lies — to be told I must trust you even as you refuse to place your trust in me. “

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)