AMIDST of all his other business Earl Geoffrey bethought him in a while of the dead King’s daughter, and he gave her in charge to a gentlewoman, somewhat stricken in years, a widow of high lineage, but not over wealthy. She dwelt in her own house in a fair valley some twenty miles from Meadhamstead: thereabode Goldilind till a year and a half was worn, and had due observance, but little love, and not much kindness from the said gentlewoman, who hight Dame Elinor Leashowe. Howbeit, time and again came knights and ladies and lords to see the little lady, and kissed her hand and did obeisance to her; yet more came to her in the first three months of her sojourn at Leashowe than the second, and more in the second than the third.
At last, on a day when the said year and a half was fully worn, thither came Earl Geoffrey with a company of knights and men-at-arms, and he did obeisance, as due was, to his master’s daughter, and then spake awhile privily with Dame Elinor; and thereafter they went into the hall, he, and she, and Goldilind, and there before all men he spake aloud and said:
“My Lady Goldilind, meseemeth ye dwell here all too straitly; for neither is this house of Leashowe great enough for thy state, and the entertainment of the knights and lords who shall have will to seek to thee hither; nor is the wealth of thy liege dame and governante as great as it should be, and as thou, meseemeth, wouldst have it. Wherefore I have been considering thy desires herein, and if thou deem it meet to give a gift to Dame Elinor, and live queenlier thyself than now thou dost, then mayst thou give unto her the Castle of Greenharbour, and the six manors appertaining thereto, and withal the rights of wild-wood and fen and fell that lie thereabout. Also, if thou wilt, thou mayst honour the said castle with abiding there awhile at thy pleasure; and I shall see to it that thou have due meney to go with thee thither. How sayest thou, my lady?”
Amongst that company there were two or three who looked at each other and half smiled; and two or three looked on the maiden, who was goodly as of her years, as if with compassion; but the more part kept countenance in full courtly wise.
Then spake Goldilind in a quavering voice (for she was afraid and wise), and she said: “Cousin and Earl, we will that all this be done; and it likes me well to eke the wealth of this lady and my good friend Dame Elinor.”
Quoth Earl Geoffrey: “Kneel before thy lady, Dame, and put thine hands between hers and thank her for the gift.” So Dame Elinor knelt down, and did homage and obeisance for her new land; and Goldilind raised her up and kissed her, and bade her sit down beside her, and spake to her kindly; and all men praised the maiden for her gentle and courteous ways; and Dame Elinor smiled upon her and them, what she could.
She was small of body and sleek; but her cheeks somewhat flagging; brown eyes she had, long, half opened; thin lips, and chin somewhat falling away from her mouth; hard on fifty winters had she seen; yet there have been those who were older and goodlier both.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:53