The Tales of Sir Dwayne - The Lady Is Trained
"What troubles you, Dwayne?"
Dwayne, not Sir Dwayne, he noted. The whore (nee Lady Birgit) sat next to him wearing good clothes. Not the finery she was accustomed to, but not the whore's ragged dress, either. Sitting next to him on the bench, not kneeling, chained at his feet as in the past.
He took a long sip of ale.
"'Tis a task. Your father."
"What of it?"
"He wants you to receive certain, er, training."
"Training? What manner of training? Here? In Easthaven?"
He had sat with the Earl sharing a jug of wine. While, true, he was in the Earl's service, there was a friendship, a closeness. They had fought together. The Earl was there for Dwayne's dubbing, had taken him into his house, treated him as a son, charged him with the care of his daughter, Birgit, now Lady Birgit.
"'Tis different with women. We men have our way. Women have theirs."
"A woman is able to beguile a man. He will behave foolishly. He will say and do things ... things he should not."
"These things, this knowledge gives a woman a certain power. A useful commodity at Court. There 'tis the coin of the realm, so to speak."
Dwayne took a sip of wine, nodded. He did not like the path they were on.
"Tis time Birgit learned these things. Learned the ways of, of, using herself as God intended. With her mother dead all these years, living a sheltered life, she has not had the opportunity to learn the ways of a woman. Aye, 'tis time she learned."
Dwayne's mood darkened, but he kept is face calm.
"I have neither a son, nor a wife. 'Tis up to Birgit to take her place at my side. Perhaps, God willing, she will soon bear me a son, but until that time ..."
Dwayne gazed into the fire.
"You are friends with the sheriff. Close friends?"
"Then he will help you find a situation. Surely, he knows of these things. Knows that while frowned upon, such places are necessary. Men have needs. It must be a place of a certain status, though. A place visited by men of a certain position. And a safe place. Do you understand?"
Dwayne put off contacting his friend, James, the sheriff, until one day when the Earl asked as to his progress. He could tarry no longer. Dwayne took to his horse. This was something to be handled face to face, not with an exchange of letters.
Three days of hard riding did nothing for his mood.
The sheriff was in the middle of his hundred days, his hundred day tour of the shire. They shared a pitcher of ale. He explained his task.
"It troubles you."
"You have feeling for her?"
"What about the whore?"
Dwayne's cheeks flushed.
"Her as well."
They sat in silence for a while. The serving girl brought more ale.
"You are sworn to serve the Earl."
"So serve him you must and serve him well."
Dwayne sipped his ale, nodded.
"Then I know of a place. It is in Easthaven. Four days from the manor. I will be going through there in a week's time. I'll make the arrangements."
And a fortnight later Dwayne received word that the arrangements had, indeed, been made.
He waited a few more days, waited until the Earl had returned to Court. It was the way with them, Birgit and himself. They went off on their little larks when her father was away. She would suspect nothing.
Two miles from the house, Lady Birgit slipped from his horse. She retrieved her whore's dress and undergarment from the bag, ran off the road into the trees.
She emerged from the trees, her dress tattered and dirty, her hair wild about her head. She presented her wrists to be bound and Dwayne did so. He climbed onto his horse, gave it a nudge, tugged the bound girl behind him at a trot. He looked back. The sight of her, tied, her body moving beneath the thin stuff of her dress, a sight that normally delighted him, left him cold.
At midday he stopped at a stream. He left the whore bound, fed her bits of meat, cheese, dried bread.
She said, "Thank you, Sir Dwayne." with each bite.
Normally this behavior would please him, inflame him, but now it only depressed him further.
He had shared her with the sheriff and, later, with the sheriff's men. He knew she would be safe being she was his whore and he was the sheriff's friend. And had it amused him to share her thusly, give her a taste of a true whore. And it had, truth be told, excited her to be used in that way. It had increased her ardor pleasantly.
But this? To be kept and used by strangers?
Dwayne found lodgings and a place in the stable for his horse and the whore. He chained her ankles and took her to the inn. She knelt at his feet, fetched food and drink as he needed, ate from his hand. He did not use her that night, not as he had all the other nights in all those other stables.
In the morning he led her from the town. At noon they sat under a tree.
"What troubles you Sir Dwayne? Does your whore not please you?"
To answer he tore a bit of cloth from her already tattered dress, pushed it into her mouth, pulled the scarf from his neck, knotted it between her teeth.
They did not stop that night. Dwayne hauled the girl up onto the horse, held her tightly against him as he galloped east.
A third day's travel brought them to the edge of Easthaven, a large town, more like a small city. He removed the gag, untied her wrists, sent her to bathe in a nearby stream. He pulled a dress from his bag. Not a fine dress, but not the whore's rags. They rode into town, secured a room at the inn, had a proper bath, both he and the girl. He took her to the shops where he bought her new clothes.
The girl sat next to him, not looking the lady, but not the whore either. He drained his mug. The girl refilled it from the jug.
"So I am to be a whore? Truly?"
"My father wishes this?"
"Aye. But for a month, only a month, no more."
"And then what? I will be a whore in Court?"
"Nay, not a whore. A whore trades her favors for money."
"And I will trade them for knowledge. 'Tis the same thing. He said it was the coin of the real, did he not?"
Dwayne drank his ale and nodded.
"Why did he not tell me himself?"
"'Tis not something a father shares with his daughter."
"But 'tis fine for you?"
"'Tis a task, nothing more."
"That is a lie."
She reached for his hand. He tried to pull away, but she held it.
"Tell me. Look me in the eyes and tell me 'tis merely a task. I may not know all the ways of a woman, but I know enough ... and I know you."
"'Twas different with James, his men, that was a lark. This ..."
"We could marry. You are dubbed. You have a title. My father cares deeply for you. He would not object."
Dwayne lowered his eyes.
"And then I would be your whore, yours and yours alone."
Dwayne spent a restless night in the stable. The girl slept in the room. In the morning they walked to the edge of town, found the inn, it was empty, but presently a plump man came into the room.
"Aye, Sir, we were told by the sheriff to expect you."
"What is the situation?"
"I manage the inn, my wife the girls. The girls serve our guests as they would at any other inn. But if a guest wants something, er, not on the menu, there are rooms upstairs. 'Tis quiet most days. Men of business come in after noon, before going home to their families for supper. Others, men of better means, come later. So, in the morning and through most of the day, the girls clean, cook, generally see to the upkeep. And in the evening ..."
A woman came out, wiping her hands on her apron. The inn keeper introduced her as "Mary." Mary gave the girl an appraising look, nodded.
Birgit shot a glance back at Dwayne, then followed the women through the door.
"Will you break fast, Sir?"
Dwayne had no hunger, but he was loathe to depart just yet.
The innkeeper stuck his head through the door. A girl appeared, or more a woman. It was hard to judge her age. Birgit followed.
"May as well get started," the innkeeper said with a wink.
Dwayne resented the gesture, resisted the urge to strike him, but his attention was on Birgit.
The month passed slowly, and yet quickly. The days dragged, but they piled up. Dwayne spent his days with the sheriff's men. After breaking fast, they would practice with sword and shield. He very nearly killed a man one day early on. Distracted by his dark mood, he hadn't checked his swing in time. Luckily the man was stout and his shield thick. He was merely stunned. This forced Dwayne to focus and it gave him a respite from his brooding.
In the evening he shared the hospitality of men of wealth and power, men who would put ideas into his head, ideas they hoped would find their way to the Earl's ear.
There were girls. Girls who made it clear that they would not mind sharing a private moment with the knight. Dwayne wanted no private moments and he courteously demurred.
And so the month passed.
"You are well?"
Dwayne forced a smile.
"Aye. Well enough."
Birgit blew a hair form her face.
"'Tis been a month. Truly it has," she said laughing.
She held up a small sack. The sight of it was like a dagger in his heart.
"I shall buy you a meal. A fine meal."
And she did. They spoke of many things, trivial things, ignoring what was clearly on both their minds.
After the meal he reached her up onto the horse, wrapped his arm around her, and trotted out of town. There was another town, a smaller town, a half day's ride away. They would spend the night there.
The girl slipped from the horse, fished through the bag, pulled out the whore's dress and the rope. She didn't go into the trees, merely removed her fine cloths, pulled on the other. She held up her wrists.
Dwayne hesitated a moment, looked down at the girl, offering herself to him. He tied her wrists.
He grabbed her bound wrists and hauled her back up onto the horse.
She snuggled against him.
"I am your whore - truly. Yours and yours alone. I will go to Court if it is my father's wish, but I am and always will be yours. And if you will have this whore as a wife, I will be your wife."
She took his hand, kissed it.
"I have learned many things, Sir Dwayne, many pleasant things. Things a wife would never know. I will show you these things."
For the first time in a month Dwayne smiled.
Copyright© 2012 by Jo. All rights reserved.