Lady Emliet

“Your Highness…”

Legolas smiled at the handsome neighbour offering him a tray of sweetmeats, and selected a small bunch of candied cherries tied with a green ribbon. “Thank you.”

“The Queen,” said the lady, carefully replacing the dish on the table, “has told me that you and I have an interest in common.”

Legolas shot her a dazzling smile. “Do we, my lady? And what would that be? Archery? Or knife-work, perhaps?”

The woman laughed—and her genuine warmth charmed the elf (who was all too used to finding himself the target of amorous women). “No, your Highness—we both love our gardens.”

“Gardening! Of course!”

“The Queen told me that you, your Highness, are responsible for her beautiful flower beds.”

Legolas inclined his head, as if to say, You have found me out.

“May I ask,” said the lady, leaning a little closer and—unconsciously, Legolas was almost sure—placing her hand upon his arm, “where you obtained such fine specimens of rîloth? I have some in my own garden, but it does struggle in this thin soil.”

“They, and the soil they are rooted in, come from my father’s own garden, in Eryn Lasgalen, my lady,” said Legolas. “Rîloth is his particular favourite. And,” he added, “since it is clearly one of your favourites, too, I shall write to his gardener and ask him to send you a box of seedlings.”

“Oh! Your Highness!” The woman bowed her head in thanks. “You are most gracious.”

“It is my pleasure—and please, call me Legolas.”

He smiled again, and she—though a woman of mature years—blushed to the tips of her rounded ears. “That would hardly be proper, your Highness,” —she returned his smile—“especially if my husband were to hear it.”

Legolas grinned. “And which of these gentlemen must I be wary of, my lady?” He glanced around the table. “Would it be the fine-looking man in red velvet?”

The lady laughed merrily. “Your Highness! Lord Minastan is young enough to be my son.”

“Surely not!”

The woman shook her head at his flattery.

“The older gentleman, then, sitting beside him?”

“No!” She pretended to be insulted. “Lord Wistan could be my father!”

“Ah—then it must be the distinguished-looking gentleman, in blue, seated next to him.”

The lady glanced at the man in question, then said, quietly, “Fortunately not.”

She was no longer laughing, and Legolas—knowing exactly who the ‘distinguished-looking’ man was, and sensing that he might be about to obtain some valuable information—pressed a little harder. “He is perhaps too melancholic for a sanguine lady such as yourself...”

“He—” The woman shook her head; all mirth had left her.

“Has he done you wrong, my lady?” asked Legolas, gently.

She sighed. “One of his servants, your Highness,”—she leaned close and spoke very quietly—“seduced my lady’s maid and left her in the family way.”

“I see.”

“I should imagine that an elf has strong views on such things.”

“Are you saying that he abandoned her?”

“I am. He refused to acknowledge the child—claimed that he had no way of knowing that it was his—that Faeleth might have been with anybody. But my Faeleth is a good girl, your Highness, and—although she did not say so—I am convinced that he forced himself upon her. His master, of course, ignored my complaint.”

“Surely his master’s lady was sympathetic?” said Legolas.

“Lord Berodin’s wife died some years ago, your Highness, and, since then, his servants have been allowed to run wild—the men spend most of their time in the Golden Goose.”

“A tavern?”

“A bawdy house, your Highness; a place that sells women’s favours, if you will pardon my speaking so plainly.” She looked away—this time blushing with real embarrassment. “It is a terrible place; they are all terrible places, and should be closed. I have petitioned the King, on numerous occasions, but—”

“Is it not preferable, my lady,” said Legolas, gently, “that men like that servant should have a place to satisfy their lusts—?”

“Your Highness!” The woman was shocked. “You cannot be defending the husbands who betray their wives in these places?”

“Certainly not,” said Legolas, “never! But unmarried men, who—”

“Or youths, who squander their innocence on bought women!”

Legolas, remembering his own first time, with a courtesan at his father’s Court, said quietly, “It need not be a shameful thing, my lady,”—though he remembered that Eowyn’s reaction had been something similar to Lady Emliet's—“such women can be very kind and forgiv—”

“Do you think they are happy, your Highness? Some of them are little more than children. Do you think it a good life for a woman?”

Legolas was was reduced to silence. Then he admitted, “Those words put me to shame, my lady.”

To be continued…




Contents page

Contents page

Back to Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Sequel: The arrangement
Legolas keeps a promise.
SPOILER WARNING: You may prefer to read this after you have read Chapter 12.

Extra scene

Crown- or garland-flower. I had in mind something like a cyclamen.


Sanguine and melancholic
A sanguine person is characterised by the element of Air, the season of Spring, the colour yellow, and the characteristics Hot and Moist. She is cordial, even forward or bold, with strangers, and forms acquaintanceships easily. She is frank, talkative and readily expresses her emotions. She is good in details, and prefers activities that require energy.
A melancholic person is characterised by the element of Earth, the season of Autumn, the colour blue, and the characteristics Cold and Dry. He prefers to work alone, with much deliberation, may be slow in making decisions and overcautious in minor matters. He is distant with all but the closest friends, and does not make new acquaintances readily. He is secretive and reclusive, and likes to seem modest and unassuming.