KIND EYES AND A LION’S HEART
Melvin rarely spoke to young women, for they usually either ignored or laughed at him, even serving maids. However this young woman, clad in a plain gown and soiled apron, and her veil was linen, did neither. She stood still, silently and gravely regarding him with her beautiful eyes.
“Sir?” she said, glancing from Melvin’s flushed face to Alphonse.
“I-I, that is, Alphonse here,” Melvin stammered. He took a deep, steadying breath and commanded himself to get control of himself and stop blushing like a boy. After all, she was only a servant and apart from her eyes, wasn’t even really pretty. Her mouth was a little wide and her nose a little long. “His, um, his nose is bleeding. Well, you can see that for yourself, I suppose. Messy, isn’t it? Poor lad got knocked over by my horse and his nose started bleeding and I thought he ought to be seen to, so I brought him here.”
“I see that it’s stopped,” the young woman noted, smiling a little, but her eyes held sympathy and her tone was not unkind.
“It’s all my fault,” the squire woefully explained. “I stepped in front of his horse. I should have been paying more attention. Then Sir Melvin dismounted to help me and he got knocked down, too, and his horse and arms taken.”
The serving wench turned her attention to Melvin. “Are you hurt?”
“Me? Oh, bless you, no,” he replied. Now that the first wave of bashfulness had passed, he felt on firmer ground. “Head as hard as a rock, or so my late father always claimed. Melvin, you have a head of stone, he’d say! Well, that’s not exactly the same thing, I suppose, but still, hard headed and right as rain despite the odd blow from a horse or otherwise now and then.”
Melvin realized he was rambling and shut his mouth with a snap.
“Now he’s out of the melee, thanks to me, and he’ll have to pay ransom for his horse and arms,” Alphonse noted with dismay.
Melvin hastened to assure the serving woman with the beautiful eyes that he didn’t care because, in fact, he didn’t. “No trouble there. I expected to have to lose at least my horse anyway. It’s only my second melee and I’ve never been good at this sort of thing, riding and jousting and sword fights.”
He immediately regretted announcing his incompetence and cringed.
But then lo – a miracle! The young woman smiled, a smile as beautiful as her eyes, and all the more so because she wasn’t laughing at him or mocking him. “You seem to lose with good grace, sir knight.”
“I’m Melvin. Sir Melvin de Courcellet. And you are?”
She didn’t get a chance to answer before two servants bearing a litter and a man moaning, his leg at a rather odd angle, hurried into the tent.
“If you’ll excuse me,” the young woman said, rushing to join the physician as the new patient was gently moved onto a cot.
“My nose is all right now, so we can go,” Alphonse said, clearly not eager to remain.
Melvin forced his attention away from the young woman. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. We’d only be in the way here.”
Nevertheless, and in spite of his words, he wasn’t in any rush to go. “You run along, Alphonse and change your tunic. I might be of some help here.”
“Are you sure, Sir Melvin?”
“Perfectly. Run along and change. Come fetch me in time to wash before the feast.”
As Alphonse started toward the door, he looked back at Sir Melvin, who was watching the young woman and the physician.
Until the physician set the broken bone and the wounded man screeched. Then Sir Melvin crumpled like an undermined tower.
This work is protected by copyright. See sidebar for notice.
Note: This novella is PG13. With the exception of GWYNETH ANDTHE THIEF and THE WASTREL, my books are usually steamier.