KIND EYES AND A LION’S HEART
When Viola entered Melvin’s chamber, she found him sitting on the floor, cradling his cousin’s head in his lap. Lord Barengar’s eyes were closed, his face pale and bloody, and his chest rising and falling slowly. She saw at once that his nose had been broken.
It was also obvious there’d been a struggle in that room. A wooden dummy lay on the ground with a broken shield beside it. Melvin’s dented helmet had rolled toward the bed, and there was a dagger near the wall. Melvin’s clothes were disheveled, as well as his hair, but mercifully he didn’t appear to be injured, too.
“Alphonse, go and fetch Royden, the physician,” she said to the squire. “Tell him Lord Barengar has fallen, hit his head and broken his nose.”
Alphonse nodded and quickly left the room.
“Barengar didn’t fall,” Melvin mournfully admitted. “I knocked him down with the dummy. And I suppose I should have sent Alphonse for the doctor, but I don’t imagine Barengar will want it to get about that I hurt him.”
“Whatever happened between you, I’m sure you were perfectly justified,” Viola said briskly as she went to the washstand, more relieved that Melvin was unhurt than sorry for Barengar. She poured some cold, clean water into the basin, soaked one of the linen squares, then knelt beside Lord Barengar and began to wash the blood from his face. “What happened?”
“We quarreled and he drew his dagger so I threw the dummy at him.”
Viola sat back on her heels and regarded him with amazement. “You threw it at him?”
The wooden figure alone weighed more than fifty pounds and with the chainmail, likely two times that.
“Yes, well, I was angry. He said things I didn’t like.”
That didn’t seem like much of an explanation for the rage he must have been feeling, especially considering what she’d heard his cousin say to him at other times.
Before she could ask any more questions, her uncle marched into the chamber. “What’s going on here?” he demanded.
Melvin laid his cousin’s head gently on the floor and got to his feet. “My lord, I apologize for disturbing the peace of your castle. My poor cousin, that is, Barengar here --”
Barengar groaned and opened his eyes. He looked around, dazed, then struggled to stand up.
“Barengar, what the devil happened here?” her uncle asked.
Lord Barengar looked from Lord Percival to Viola and lastly at Melvin, who couldn’t look more guilty if he’d killed his cousin and buried the body in the yard.
“My lord,” Barengar began. He paused, looked at Melvin again and spoke more firmly. “My lord, what happened here was my fault. To my shame, I confess I insulted your niece and Sir Melvin rightfully defended her.”
As Viola regarded Melvin with even more appreciation, Melvin stared at his cousin with amazement as well as relief.
Lord Percival didn’t appear to be convinced. “Is that so, Sir Melvin?”
Melvin nodded. “Yes, although I should have given Barengar a chance to apologize. We’re nobles, after all, and shouldn’t be brawling like drunks at a tavern, but I just saw red. I’ve never understood that expression before. I do now. Utterly lost my head, my lord, and next thing I know, I’m heaving the dummy at him. And then when he fell under it! Nearly fainted myself when I saw what I’d done. Thank God he’s all right, except for the nose. I hope the physician can --”
“I see,” Lord Percival interrupted just as the physician came into the chamber.
The doctor took one look at Lord Barengar and ordered him to sit down.
He did, on the bed, and before anyone could say a word, the doctor put his hands on either side of Lord Barengar’s nose and pushed. Lord Barengar yelped, Viola winced, her uncle cursed and Melvin swooned.
This work is protected by copyright. See sidebar for notice.
Note: This novella is PG13. With the exception of GWYNETH AND THE THIEF and THE WASTREL, my books are usually steamier.