Cecily and Hannah were fussing over Lettice’s bum roll, re-stitching it to add a little more oomph in all the right places. I was wandering around the room, observing the proceedings in a desultory manner. Fully dressed and ready to captivate, I was suddenly anxious to start playing my role as Lady Liz to the hilt.
My green wool outfit and period-appropriate accoutrements were making me feel pretty close to fully Tudor. That is, about seventy-five percent Elizabethan-era and the remainder just a little bit of nervy, time-traveling blogger. Mark Twain wasn’t kidding though. Clothes really do make the womyne ( Ok I’m paraphrasing just a tad, but Samuel Clemens would be the last person to mind that). As my roommates fussed over Lettice’s underpinnings, an alluring cascade of delicate tones drove me outside our door. The sweet tones of a golden table clock embellished with a rose medallion were chiming the hour.
Cecily came out on the landing looking distracted. “Oh dear, when the hour rings, we’re supposed to go down to sup.”
I moved the clock slightly, turning it so I could admire all the sides, and heard the other woman gasp. “Is this valuable?”
Ceclly nodded. I don’t think we’re supposed to touch it. Lady Margaret had it sent from Augsburg. You may have noticed, that there are many fine objects in the house. Her ladyship brought them with her on her marriage three years ago. She’s a wealthy woman in her own right, much more so than Sir Thomas, and she continues to hold the purse strings, even now.”
The little clock completed it’s delightful cadence. I studied the central medallion. “There’s something familiar about that design. Don’t you think it-“
But Cecily had already turned back towards the open door, her hand reaching for the tiny waist pocket that held her sewing kit. “Perhaps you could go on down to the hall without us, Elizabeth, and let Lady Margaret know we’ll be there momentarily.”
So, I was going to make my entrance alone. Just a few minutes before, I’d been excited about my newly garbed presence. Now I found that there were tiny frogs jumping somewhere inside me, about five inches above the level of my bony busk point.
I supposed I shouldn’t have been surprised to find William on the wide landing. He was scribbling away on a stack of papers, as fast as a man who has to stop and dip a pen at regular intervals can scrawl. I gave him a very brief nod of my head but continued walking past.
He dropped his pen as I brushed by and stared at me with a feigned look of comic disbelief. “Well me-oh-my if it isn’t the Tudor Maide herself! Hey, don’t you want to examine a real monastery table, now you’ve got the chance? For all you know, this might be the piece that’s going to inspire Stickley in another four hundred and some years. Believe me, this table is the real deal. Just wait until you hear Sir Thomas’s story, about how his father acquired this estate during the dissolution of the monasteries.
Ignoring his banter, I adjusted my heavily supported skirts, and began to make a careful descent of the staircase. I still hadn’t entirely forgiven Will Sainsbury for pulling me along with him through time. No matter how interesting, it was living amidst history in the making, it was still a chancy adventure. Unfortunately my air of disinterest was ruined slightly, as I caught my heel in the hem of my green skirts and made a wild grab for the newel post.
Come tripping down the stairs,
Throwin’ back her copper hair
And bid farewell to Sweet William-O.
He sang in a low voice.
“That song hasn’t even been composed yet, “ I hissed as I righted myself. I noticed that Sainsbury hadn’t jumped right up to make sure I didn’t plummet down the staircase. “And Pretty Peggy-O has yellow hair anyway,” I added inconsequentially.
“Well you don’t. And besides, how do you know Fennario’s not the product of an old tudor ballad composed by some pitiful estate agent, who was scorned by his lady love? It’ll probably got copped by some wandering minstrel and then get passed around until old Alan Lomax gets ahold of a version and decides it’s eighteenth or nineteenth century.”
Refusing to laugh at this foolishness (which I admit I might have found humorous in my own century), I gave him a haughty look, deciding to ignore the faulty ‘lady love’ business.
My encounter with William had left me in a fighting humor. I have an odd feeling that was what he’d intended. It was just a play, after all, and a short-running one to boot. The song buzzing around in me now (kind of like the jingle of an irritating commercial I can’t get rid of), seeming to fill up some of the space where the frogs had been jumping. I straightened my shoulders, shook back a few errant curls, and stomped down the stairs with just a shade more determination. Pulling off this out-of-time persona was going to be all about attitude, after all.
What, after all, could happen in the two weeks before the next neaps tide?
~ ~ ~