Thursday, 7 August 2008

The eyelids of a dragon

"... and she has the eyelids of a dragon!"

John Grey had been ignoring the monotonous prattle of his dining companion, Lady Matilda Rose, but this curious description arrested his attention. How could he find out who she was talking about without betraying the fact that he hadn't listened to a word she had said for the last ten minutes? He didn't need to concern himself because Matilda had been desperate to engage him, and continued eagerly.

"Nouveau riche, as Queen Margaret would say. Her father is only the First Baron Rivers, and how do you think he obtained that? By defeating Pedro de Vasquez of Spain at a jousting tournament. A common sporting champion! Not like my family, a long distinguished line that won its honours in real battles like Crecy and Agincourt. As for her mother, she is from Luxembourg. I don't know where that is, but they say it is pagan and full of witchcraft, and definitely foreign. I suppose that is why our queen from Anjou has favoured dragon-eyes as a Maid of Honour over us English girls."

John Grey looked across to the section of the Royal Banquet where the Maids of Honour were seated. As he scanned their faces, he saw none that had the monstrous features described, but then his gaze alighted on one so lovely as to be unmistakeably responsible for provoking such intense jealousy in Lady Matilda Rose. He stared, transfixed. After a short while, Elizabeth Woodville looked up at him, as people who are stared at always do (no one knows why) and John looked away.

A decent interval later, John tried to sneak another look at Elizabeth, only to discover that she had chosen the same moment to sneak a look at him, so they both quickly averted their eyes. This happened several times. John felt embarrassed, and resolved not to look again. Within him, though, an emotion was welling up that overwhelmed mere embarrassment. He could not help himself, he must look again. This time, instead of looking away when their eyes met, he smiled. Elizabeth smiled back, irresistibly.

Lady Matilda Rose worked on the principle that what she lacked in charm she made up for with persistency. "I hear that your estate at Grow-by is very beautiful. I should so like to see it".

"Actually, we pronounce it Groo-by" was the only reply.

Next Chapter

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