A Reluctant Queen; Part 4




(4)


As the music started, Wentelen stood and moved to meet her Father still seated at the head table, still enjoying the guests, the dancing, and the meal.


Bending over to him; "Father,". She whispered to him after kissing his cheek with a smirk disguised as a smile to not be obvious


"How can anyone so mistreat his servants as this?"

She was looking at and referring to Sir Alfred as she watched the scene in front of them.


A young boy no more than ten winters, hunched over at the shoulders with his head down. A cup-bearer in rags for clothes and of no weight and form for a child of his proper age. Showing marks from the abuse given him. She shuddered as she spoke to her father.


The child was a mosaic of abuse and neglect; "See how he treats the child?", she whispered to her father. "and, yet you ask me to marry him Father?"


"How would he treat me, Father?..."How?"

"It is chosen, Wentelen, the word was given", her father whispered


"Not by me Father", she told him. "I am of age and I do not agree!"

"I shall suffer the life with and burden of a Husband of my choice, and nothing more!"


The Duke a bit angered at her and her speech. "This choice Wentelen, is not given to you alone as my Daughter",

"It unites two lands, brings peace and harmony to us by agreement". "You are to become the next Queen of Saxony, you were chosen by "God", and King". Her father continued...


.."The choice was pre-destined for you at your birth. It was foretold, that You will marry and unite the lands. And that your sons will rule in the north. King Cwichelm, has already decreed this!".

"You will full-fill your "God" given right as Queen and marry the Son, the heir to the Anglo-Saxon King of the Gewisse, and live in the kingdom of Wessex"...without hesitancy my child"

"It is decided my Daughter, Rejoice in the life you have been given my child.", "it is your destiny in "God"....The Duke smiling at her.


"Now go and dance for me like you enjoy to, and make merry my daughter, this night is for you as well as I", he told her.

"God", "Has Blessed us both"...


Wentelen righted herself, turning away to enter the center floor with Frances. Joining the dance procession and began to promenade to the music in steps. She offered no resistance to her Fathers talk but would speak to her Uncle at first chance.


"Are you ok?", Frances asked her. "Quite", was her answer

As Alfred joined them in opposition to her position in the line to promenade.


Alfred, walking towards her, joining her in the dance. Reaching gently for her hand after the Duke signaled him to approach her.


"You honor me in this dance my Lady", he told her.


Wentelen holding a polite smile as she accepted his hand as they moved in line with the others in time to the music.


"I much prefer this dance with you to watching the servants", he told her. "I prefer that they stay away from the table"


"Perhaps", she answered him. "It would serve you better to feed them then starve them, they may respect you more!", Wentelen told him in softer voice to keep the conversation private and civil between them


'That is not your mind nor consideration!" he told her.

"They are my servants"

"Why do you allow yours to eat with you?"


"As you!", "That is my choice to make!", She told him as they turned and crossed hands to re-position and continue the promenade in the opposite direction, keeping step to the music.


"In time my Lady, you will come to know me and understand my way" He was explaining to her in a softer voice.


"I understand you now my Lord", "But I will not cower in fear nor place", " If I am to be a Queen I will not hold contempt for any husband unless it is made for me to be this", she said softly to him and without hesitation. "Our ways are but both ours to be known if this is to be true"


As the promenade opened crossing the floor. The women moving to the inside side- men to the outside, as the women touched palms and circled then returning to their partners once again in time to the music...


"At least you are talking!" Fracases told her

"Aye", "For this moment!", Wentelen told her in whisper. Fracases with a slight shake of the head towards her and a quick smirk of a smile between them...


Wentelen had seen Alfred several times before. At a younger age, in Dormangen in Wessex in the North. She knew him from their youth and had spend times together in chaperone.


She had not seen him in a couple of winters do to the Campaigns against the Norsemen. He was a striking man, always young in attitude and quite unfinished as any warrior in circumstance; Muscular with broad shoulders. Well formed in the legs with a face chiseled out of marble. Well matched to wearing the King's armor. With Curled long blond hair and blue eyes. Now a bit more weathered from battles and with a bit more age in his eyes than she remembered of him.

As she stepped to rejoin him, hand to hand, she was looking over at the young boy with the cup near Alfred's table trying to take a bit of food for himself...

"The poor child" she whispered...


Alfred immediately broke their hand hold moving quickly towards the Lad and away from the dance, with Wentelen following right behind him. He raised his arm to strike the child and she caught it stopping his hand.


"No!", she told him

"He is just a boy"..."He is only hungry"


"You have no right", Alfred snapped at her. :That is my Property not yours", "I can not bear to see them eat like beasts"

"This is not your concern", He snapped at her again in anger.


Wentelen, seeing his anger turn towards her immediately, she loosened a hidden fold in her gown bring forward a fine pointed sterling dagger as he lowered his hand to her, looking at her holding the dagger in hand.


"This is my servant", he shouted. His breath smelling hot of too much wine.

"You have no right to defy me", speaking in anger as he reached for her arm


"Release me!", she screamed at him.


The dagger looking lethal in her free hand, immediately ready to let fly and strike him. As both Gawain and his second stepped in to side with Wentelen against  Alfred, and stop any further trouble that was happening between them. While two of the servants immediately grabbed the boy ushering him away to the kitchen and out of sight of the trouble.


Alfred gathering himself looking at both her protectors, taking the measure of them both and the meaning of what just happened


"Discipline! My Lady", he told her. Smiling as he released his grip.


"No!" she told him. "You were about to strike me for feeding an innocent, a starving child", "I hate you!" she screamed at him.


"God gives a man the right to discipline a wife", he told her;

as she shoved him back and away from her.


Gawain, looking fiercely at Alfred, "you have no right to it, no claim to her" he told him.


"You have no say to it!" Alfred told him, "she is mine, my property!", As Gawain tightened his grip on the Clay-more still held in his sheath, not drawing it but waiting...


"I am not your wife", ", She told Alfred

" And He is the answer to my Prayer", Wentelen screaming it out loud for all in the hall to hear her.

" God", "Has not joined us Alfred", "and he never will"...


Wentelen, strong, defiant of Alfred as her Mother and Father moved up to be between them. The grand hall a buzz in whispers and some talk as to all that was happening...


"This viper has stuck himself in the middle of a matter of discipline between Wentelen and Myself" Alfred told the Duke.


"Stand down!" the Duke told Alfred

'She is not yours yet!" looking over at Wentelen.

"Take her away", he told the Duchess...


The Duchess looking at Frances. "Take her back to her chambers" she told Frances, she must rest of this matter".


Wentelen, looking back at her Gawain as both woman exited the grand Hall. The three men in conversation away from the other Guests near the hearth as the music resumed...



~Byrn BrynhilRus

 

@Daniella Nikolayeva; Short Story; Posted 1/21/2020

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