“Our Lord High King,” John de Redvers said bowing slightly. The pain in his shoulder prevented him from exerting his body too strenuously.
“Prithee, come and sit with us, Earl of Devon,” King Edward III invited, opening his palm to the ornately carved chair by the desk he was using. “Thy wound still pains thee?”
“Yea,” John acknowledged rubbing his shoulder.
“King Edward sat back against his chair, “Thee art getting to old for battle we fear.”
“Yea,” John agreed and cast the king a wry smile. “At least some battles.”
“We refer to war with France,” King Edward chortled. “Thee be a fine and noble knight, Sir John.”
“Thank you my Lord King,” John replied graciously.
“Whither be thy petition?” King Edward questioned. “We trow thee need to be off to thy bailey to recover instead of tarrying so and seeking an audience with us. Whither be so grave our Goodman?”
John de Redvers hesitated a moment. He cast his eyes upon the large tapestry draped over the king’s chair. The king was dressed informally for this audience wearing his chausses, velvet red slippers, and red brocade ermine lined mantle covering a simple red woolen tunic. A simple gold crown with only a few precious stones circled his head. John knew King Edward was trying to make him feel comfortable since he had never requested an audience until now.
“Come our Goodman and noble knight,” King Edward pursued. “We wouldst grant thee favor if it is within our power and capability.”
Quietly John began, “Thus be regarding our daughter. Our only surviving child.”
“Yea, our Goodman. We at court mourned with thee when we heard of the deaths of thy two sons. They died bravely in battle,” King Edward replied bending over and touching John’s hand.
John’s heart saddened again. His sons had died in the battle of Neville’s Cross. His sons had joined their father serving England’s throne, under Queen Phillippa’s co the Scots king. He had survived but lost his heirs. John watch were buried on the battlefield. He would find it difficult to face other of his boys. John wished he would battle once more ins home without Robert and John. It was fortunate for him that King Edward returned first to Westminster Palace instead of Surrey Castle. John de Redvers was in London to collect his seventeen-year- old daughter from her fostering care. He had rested a few days to watch the tournaments with King Edward in celebration of the King’s son obtaining his spurs. Prince Edward’s consecration of knighthood would soon follow. These festivities had also given him more reason to rest and recover from his wound before riding to the Convent of St. Giles to collect his daughter, Leticia. John broached the subject on his mind, “Thus be regarding our daughter. She is ten and seven and hitherto unbetrothed.”
“We understand,” King Edward responded thoughtfully. “Thee have lost thy heirs and Okehampton Castle would be subject for conjecture upon thy demise. Thee be looking for a political alliance mayhap?”
“My Lord King, We look for strength and political alliance to protect our lands. Thus man to wed our daughter must be powerful knight to protect Okehampton from attack by the French and others most jealous of our lands,” John said firmly sharing his most inner thoughts with his king. “Thus man must also be young enough to provide heirs.”
King Edward leaned back against his chair once more and laughed, “We believe thee have some knight in mind?”
John de Redvers nodded sheepishly.
“Well considering the winner of the jousting tournaments and thus eligible knights be currently in London,” King Edward leaned forward and whispered jokingly. “Our guess would be Sir Vincent de Courtenay since our son be only other choice and hath just won his spurs. He will be knighted thus next holy day.”
“Prince Edward be young for our daughter,” John agreed feeling more comfortable with his request of the king. Well, a little more comfortable.
“Verily! We trow so well! We married Queen Phillippa whence we were only ten and six,” King Edward laughed loudly remembering his own youthful marriage. “Sweet Jesu! We trow naught whither happen with a maiden in bed. Thus took us many Easters of practice to finally create a child.”
“Do thee warrant thus would be a good union, our Lord King?” John queried hoping for approval. He was still a bit nervous and the palms of his hands were beginning to sweat profusely.
“We warrant tis an excellent union,” King Edward concurred. “We wouldst write proclamation fore with, but we wouldst first speak with Sir Vincent.”
“Bless thee our Lord King,” John breathed with relief. He was certain of his choice. The King’s choice might be completely different. It was the King that must decree the betrothal. “We wouldst leave and await thy word.”
“Nay, nay!” King Edward declared. “Rest and be comfortable. We wouldst have thee present when we speak with Sir Vincent.” The King called for Hanley, his clerk who stood nearby. “Hanley, fetch Sir Vincent for us. We saw him last in Great Hall enjoying attentions of our many ladies of court. Make haste.”
“We noticed he be favorite of the ladies,” John chuckled.
“We believe we can be assured that unlike us, he wouldst naught need guidance in the fine art of procreation,” King Edward snickered. “Thee wouldst have thy heir quickly.”
“Thee do trow de Courtenay wouldst be faithful?” John asked suddenly wondering just how his daughter would adjust to a wandering husband.
“Our de Courtenay be most noble knight,” King Edward assured. “Cause be Sir Vincent remains unfettered. Our knight be allowed to sample sweetmeats. Once united before our Lord, Sir Vincent wouldst remain faithful.”
Vincent instinctively knew Hanley was coming for him and it was a great relief. For several hours the many ladies of court had besieged him. Vincent sighed with relief when Hanley approached him and whispered in his ear. He had only come into the Great Hall to eat his meal. Bowing politely he said to the ladies surrounding him, “Please forgive our departure fair ladies, the Lord King hath summoned us.”
“Oh how impossible,” Lady Celeste pouted. “We hoped thee wouldst choose to walk in the gardens with us.”
“Our dear Lady Celeste, we fear thee must ask thy husband to accompany thee,” Vincent grinned deviously. “We hear thy husband be but a league away.”
“Lord Miles is certain to occupy thee for sometime upon his return,” Lady Elizabeth cooed. “Even thy son hath been fostered for some time. We be certain thy husband will be looking for thee to warm thus bed and create new child.”
The women placed their hands upon their lips to stifle the giggles at Lady Celeste’s expense. The women in the hall were all wed or betrothed, but with their husbands gone they played wherever they could and the powerful handsome knight Sir Vincent de Courtenay was fair game.
Lady Juliet placed her body in front of the retreating knight. Her hands pressed firmly upon the blue woolen tunic and played delicately with the brass buttons. “Evade us naught and be gone too long, Sir Vincent. We hath a book of poems to show thee.”
Vincent cocked a brow, “A book of poems?”