Another bit of history illustrated by Sue’s photograph.
The December lake is still, and the woods are bleak and leafless. Deer drift among the black trunks, and Evienne watches their shadows dappling the pale pebbles in the shallows. No one will come here until the spring, Richard not even then. But he will send her news of Chimâne’s young man and how he has acquitted himself. Aline, she will send across the sea to be married, to take up her role as chatelaine on the lands her betrothed has won. She will sail with Henry who is besotted enough with his Rosamund to make a safe escort.
William le Maréchal will whisper in Henry’s ear, as a favour, that Richard de Clare’s bastard daughter requires a passage to Ireland. As a favour, he will do it. There is something repugnant in William’s humourless manner, his utter rigidity. So much younger than Richard, but with the mien of an old man. He will never be seduced beneath the willows; he is not Richard. But he has the king’s ear.
Evienne listens. There is only silence, but she hears the sound of the hunt, the horses stamping, bits jingling, and the tinkling laughter of ladies and their gallants as they gather at the castle beyond the bend in the river. She calls, a fluting owl whistle, and a white mare shakes the water from her mane as she steps through the shallows. Evienne wraps a warm mantle about her and mounts. She will join the hunting party and ride with le Maréchal. He will not be seduced beneath the willows, but there are warm beds at Striguil. Aline will get her passage and her marriage.
Then only Chimâne will be left.