The Draughtsman Damsel
By Emily Klein
Annabelle's father, Lord Latimer, is the closest counsellor and architect to the Duke at Calais. But when the King of England calls him back to court, he is forced to go, tearing his ten-year-old daughter, Annabelle, from her home and from her best friend, the Duke's youngest son, Thomas. At the English court, Annabelle grows up to be a sensitive, precocious damsel. She has a penchant for mathematics and drawing, but bears an aversion to the “female arts” required of a well-bred nobleman's daughter. So much so, the she contrives a ruse to avoid them; a ruse that risks her eligibility as a bride, as well as her governess and tutor's livelihoods. The Duke, her family's former benefactor, now estranged, wants Lord Latimer to return to Calais and help finish his grand castle, a massive monument to chivalry. So, when a courtship party turns to a fiasco, her parents make use of returning to Calais to further educate their wayward daughter, who is now left with no tutor or governess. When they arrive, however, nothing goes as planned. Pride, politics, madness, and falling unwittingly and unwillingly in love complicate matters to the point of disaster. A story of love and friendship, politics and science, castles and knights, maidens and romance, set in medieval England and France.
He had been riding all morning, in quest of solitude, and solace for his aching soul and buzzing mind, but he too could not achieve it . Annabelle’s image kept appearing before his eyes, causing a dull, sweet ache in his chest. He loved her, and he knew it now. But it was to no avail, as he knew that they would not be permitted to wed, and what worse, she loved him not, he was almost certain. When he saw a feminine form, sitting at the tree, resembling his true love, he thought his mind was deceiving him. That in his desperation he was seeing a mirage of her, but decided to approach and find out. He was alarmed and delighted at the same time to learn that it was, in fact, she, of whom he had been thinking. It was as if he had conjured her into being, just by his deep, desperate contemplation of her, and that, as well as the prospect of being in close encounter with her, alone, frightened him, for he knew not the amount of self-control he would be able to muster around her, withholding from her his feelings for her, withholding his touch.
“My lady” he said, removing his cap. “Is it you, my lady Annabelle?”
“Yes, my lord,... of course... I...” She answered, not sure what this odd question could mean
“I am sorry if I seem odd to you, my lady. It is a strange thing to encounter in real form, in flesh and blood, that which one has been conjuring in one’s mind’s eye, all morning.”
Annabelle did not know what this meant, or what to reply to this, for she was not quite sure how such a statement made her feel. What was more, she was still apprehensive about being alone with him. He approached closer, and without asking her leave, sat himself down next to her. Annabelle’s heart was leaping in its ribcage, though were it only for apprehension or for something else, quite different, she was not sure. “It is not like me to be so unsure of my own mind and heart” she thought “but it seems to be ever my wont whenever Thomas is in my presence. This is a dangerous thing, to be out of her faculties, for any lady who finds herself alone with a gentleman.”
Thomas could sense her apprehension and knew that he must give her reassurance “my lady, you should know by now, that you need never fear me. Do you not know that?”
“I do, my lord, and I am not afraid. It is only that I am not accustomed to being in the presence of a man, un- chaperoned and away from any source of help. “though she knew that she was very efficient in escaping such situations. “
“Very well, my lady... Annabelle...” and he looked directly at her. “I felt like you were angry with me after our conversation, I felt as if we were a breath away from resuming our friendship, and that it was no longer within our reach. My lady, Annabelle...”
He took a deep breath and swallowed, for he wished very much to tell her that he loved her, to embrace her, caress her head and smooth her curls, and kiss her lips, but her cold demeanour and apprehension stopped him from doing so, and he resumed
“May we not be friends once more, sweet Belle?”
On hearing him address her with her childhood name, the shortened version of her Christian name, she was instantly hit with the image of him kissing Cecily, of him calling her “Cice” for short, and for endearment, and felt a tidal wave of rage and sorrow wash over her, and she answered, enunciating each word with great intention
“No, we may not, my lord, for your falseness deters me from it.” she rose from her seat, went to her Little Grey, and rode away from him.
Emily Klein is an author of historical romance novels, set in medieval times. She is a staunch anglophile, with a keen interest in anything and everything British, and a fierce love for the English language, and all its dialects. She also has an interest in history, including, but not limited, to medieval history. Emily also enjoys antiques and vintage clothing. In short, if it's part of history, Emily Klein will find it interesting.
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