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“Everything constrains me!” Guinevere fumed, “The stays of this dress most of all. As you’ve sent my ladies in waiting away you’ll have to help me loosen them yourself.”
Arthur smiled at his Queen’s petulance “An easy enough task, shouldn’t be much more difficult than unbridling a horse. Let me see your back.”
“You would appear to be unfamiliar with both horse’s bridles and lady’s stays – you’re fumbling.”
“I suppose I may be less familiar with horse’s bridles than some. That’s what the stable boys are for, isn’t it? As for the constraints of your dress, well… perhaps I fear what may happen if I let my lady out.” Then with a sudden wrench of a lower string, Guinevere’s smock loosened.
“Oh, my lord, my many thanks. I thought for a moment I would suffocate.”
“Such evidence of your stately femininity – when you exaggerate with such charming aplomb I often think you should be happy I haven’t bribed your chamber maid to place a dried pea beneath your mattress.”
“Don’t you mock my sensitivities, sir. You have no idea what it is like to be bridled.”
“I have my own experiences with restraint. The weight of a crown does tend to make it difficult to run and play as a carefree page might.”
“Run and play! You know quite well that neither of us has ever done any such thing.”
“Yet I’ve heard stories of your not-so distant youth. Didn’t you have some fancy for trees as a girl?”
“Now you exaggerate. You know, as I do, that I climbed a tree just once, trying to imitate the cook’s son. Poor lad, they couldn’t punish me so of course they whipped him bloody. My father showed me his wounds as a lesson. I’ve often thought that the mean exposure of his naked back, stripped raw, was a far worse punishment than the whipping and for both of us. Poor thing, he was standing so near to the hearth and yet he trembled as though there were no heat in the room at all.”
“Perhaps what he trembled at was your coolness.”
“Do you find me cold, sir?”
“Only restrained, in a manner which befits your station. I do not think I would like to see a fire burning in your eyes at all times. The fever of passion does not dignify royal blood.”
“What of the passion of war, of conquest? Certainly we royals have some need for fire running through the veins.”
“The raw vulgarity of war must be tempered by some cool wit, some benevolent grace, otherwise we’d quickly become as degenerate as the Northern hordes we are forever fending off. Most of all it is due to the example of feminine discretion that some measure of grace is kept within this bubble of kingdom. They say it is the moon which brings forth the morning dew. In this same manner it is the gentle and alluring light of a dignified lady which brings forth the temperance of lordly brashness.”
“Must I drift like the moon, then, alone and silent through a vaulted sky, in order to maintain your tides within peaceful reason?”
“You are more significant than the moon is to the sea in the continuing equilibrium of my humors.”
“I am not the moon to you. I am a mere seed pearl in your ring. Your pleasant humor has always been your own. You had this temperance about you on the day we first met.”
“You mistake the source, my lady. Even your simple visage pulls forth my equanimity. I felt at peace from the moment I first laid my eyes upon your countenance.”
“But do I make you happy?”
“What a question! From your lips it is like the crack of a whip. Of course you do. How could you not?”
“And yet it seems we are as distant as moon and sea.”
“We are royal.”
“And that is that?”
“Would you rather have us tilling the land? Where are your thoughts my Queen?”
“I think it is these lamps. They burn up the air so that I can scarcely breathe. I have some dark throbbing here just beneath my brow.”
“Then let us put them out.”
“Please don’t. I have so little light in my days as it is. I am always walled in. My eyes starve for even just a bit more brightness.”
“Then I will bring you brightness.”
“Can you do that? Can you wave your hand and bring me a morning star for my heart to wish upon?”
“Whatever my lady desires. I’ve noticed you’ve taken up an interest in knight’s sport, particularly when Lancelot presents himself. Does he please you, then?”
“He seems to please everyone, does he not?”
“I think he pleases too much. He puts on such a show, our people seem to forget that a kingdom is not forged by the press of the sword, alone. Yet in the way he strives to honor you… I think I like that contradiction between the garishness of mock-battle and the delicacy with which he pays you homage.”
“Don’t you worry that his gestures might turn heads? I was almost wary in giving him the token of my scarf as a good luck charm.”
“It is because of the constant diligence of your prudence that I have no fear. After all, the games are but a play and so then, too, is his mock-wooing of you.”
“Yet the Christmas Passion Play is a show, yet the people place such a store of faith in it. Don’t you think there is some blasphemy, then, in allowing your favorite knight to entreat me?”
“And yet more exaggeration, becoming you. Don’t fret so, at lamps or stays or tokens, my Queen. They are nothing more than earthly allotments, not ikons. I think it is you who places too great a store of mind in mere symbols and mere annoyances.”
“Would you treat your crown or your great seal in such a way as you would deign to treat me?”
“Do I treat you poorly, then? Do you starve for care as well light?”
“I do not starve, but I hunger… for something more. Is it so wrong to want you to touch me?”
“If I am cool to you, if I am distant, I only seek to elevate the depths of my love and my esteem for you in proof that this great tide of emotion I hold within myself consists of more than lust debauched. Would you have me treat you as basely as a common harlot? Would you be used by these hands?”
“Even Mary had some desire, surely. She had other children after the birth of our Christ. Look at me, then, Arthur -- I have none. Can there be so much debauchery in an act which provides such a not only necessary but surely blessed end?”
“So now you are Mary. As frivolously as your thoughts fly this evening I think I should withhold the next tournament, for fear of your re-christening yourself as Nero, declaring a fire where none burns and sending the whole of this kingdom into the far-off sea from wanton fear.”
“I think you should.”
“No, I will not. I think you should learn some temperance of your fears and this end can only be achieved by means of experience. No, our gaming shall proceed as planned. Lancelot merely seeks to elevate you as I do. We will enlighten our people, then, with a show of charm as well as strength. I see no great harm in a cultivation of hungering after grace.”
“Yet I see harm.”
“I pity you, then, for the moon must bring you lunacy even as it brings me calm. With pity then I leave you to thoughts for which I have no accounting.”
“You would leave me like this?”
“I leave you with a perfect kiss, perfectly chaste in perfect love.”
“And I will take what you give me.”
“As a good Queen should. I hope your dreams are as pleasant as my dreams of you. Adieu.” Then Arthur placed a cool brush of lips on her brow. As he pulled away Guinenevere felt heartless in her own surmisal that his dreamy eyes seemed to show such patheticly little evidence of his knowing what he had actually done. Yet she would take what he had given even if it struck her as the most foolish transaction since the loss of Eden for one tart little apple.


------
"All the darkness in the world
cannot put out the light
of one candle"


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Comments

The following comments are for "Guinevere's Chambers: A Scene of Restraint"
by hazelfaern

Hazelfern/Guinevere
Is there scheming going on or an innocent setting of scenes for later? Is King Arthur nuts!! I am coming back for another read. Not much gets me out of poetry. But Lucie said you are good so when the title got my attention I came. Love things knightly. You are very good, I think so, anyway. huni

( Posted by: Huni [Member] On: September 8, 2004 )





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