Perle, plesaunte to prynces paye
To clanly clos in golde so clere;
Oute of oryent, I hardyly saye.
Ne proved I never her precios pere.
So rounde, so reken in uche araye,
So smal, so smoþe her syde3 were,
Quere-so-ever I jugged gemme3 gaye,
I sette hyr sengely in synglere.
Allas! I leste hyr in on erbere;
Þur3 gresse to ground hit fro me yot,
I dewyne, fordolked of luf-daungere
Of þat pryvy perle wythouten spot.

Another day, another chat with my favourite patrolman. We chatted about language, history, religion, magic and such like. I told her about the queens that used to be here and the queens that still were here. This also, unfortunately, since I had mentioned Vedis, meant I had to try and explain lust. That was a little embarrassing. I now wonder how much she knows about such things and whether or not somebody is going to have the birds and the bees talk with her. I have a horrible feeling that might have to be me. Gwyn might be better, but until we can resolve her conflict of interest regarding Isabella, she might not be able to. I am not sure how much Aoibheann knows of such things, and her views might be coloured by her experiences. Dorina is a dhampyr, so her perspective might be skewed, and Helene’s experiences include a devil with two…

I had grown bored with paperwork, so was taking a break in the main hall with a pot of tea and the Pearl poem. Wren came in with Wicket on her shoulder and sat down, asking what I was reading, since I had been reading it out loud, to try to get a sense of the rhythm and the alliteration. Obviously, to Wren, it sounded almost like gibberish.

I told her about the Pearl poem, what it was about, the religious imagery etc, and how it was in Middle English, which was very different to modern English. We chatted for a while about the religious aspects, in particular, the revelation that the Pearl narrator has about the gift of redemption being given equally, which accords well with my somewhat egalitarian views on life in general. I told Wren that I wasn’t particularly religious, although I had been a regular church goer, a member of the choir and so on. I was like my mother; I went for the social aspects rather than the religion. I did tell her about the very enjoyable debates that the Rev. Elverson and I used to have over dinner. She asked if I believed in gods. I had to answer yes to that, since I have met a couple of gods. It was religion – or rather, what Man had made of religion that I had a problem with. Wren had also met a god, but said that she had been just like everybody else, but with a lot more magic.

She wanted to know about Middle English, so I told her a little about the development of language. She thought it was strange that language changed so much, so I pointed out the differences even over a relatively short period. I used the difference between the way I spoke, or at least, how I used to speak when I first arrived in Jasper Cove and how Gwyn spoke, and how we were separated by only a hundred years or so. I didn’t mention the effect of the class difference, but did point out how I tended to use more complicated sentences and longer words and much less slang. I said that she probably thought that I was somewhat stuffy and formal when we first met, which she agreed was true. I pointed out that we had both changed. My language had grown more casual, probably as a result of knowing her and Gwyn, and how Gwyn had become more formal since she became queen. Wren said she had noticed this, but hadn’t really had that much opportunity because she felt she had to hide from Gwyn.

I asked why this was and she told me that it was something Aoibheann had said about Gwyn’s oath to Isabella. She was afraid that if Gwyn saw her too much, she would be obliged to tell Isabella, or worse, take her back. She didn’t want to go back, and she didn’t want Gwyn to have to break any oaths. I could understand her fears, as I could understand Gwyn’s position. The whole business with Hadley and Ardan had put her in a terrible situation. I explained some of the background, about Gwyn’s past, about her accelerated maturity and the events that led to Gwyn’s ties to Isabella. For some reason though, my memory failed me and I completely forgot about the whole Boatman business. I also didn’t mention my own complicated relationship with Alec and how he had freed me from the Boatman’s anchors. I did point out that Gwyn must have seen Wren at the Lughnasadh party, and she didn’t appear to have done anything about that. I promised I would talk with Gwyn when I got the opportunity.

That cleared up some things that Wren had been wondering about, especially Gwyn’s change of appearance and what the oath Aoibheann had mentioned was about. She was happy for me to talk to Gwyn. In the meantime, I said that maybe she should stay within the bounds of Mysthaven, where the fae had no jurisdiction, which would reduce the chance of any problems. Besides, I said, the situation was different with her. She had come here of her own free will, and was not hurt in any way, plus, she was older, and therefore better equipped to make her own decisions.

She said that she would try, but sometimes, she worried about Aoibheann going off to places. I had to roll my eyes at that. I said that Aoibheann was a special case, and was always wandering off. Wren said she was as bad as Hadley had been when she was younger, always transporting herself places by magic. I pointed out that while Aoibheann kept ending up in places with the Huntsman or Gwrgi, both of those beings did not appear to want to harm her. I suggested that if she saw Aoibheann going off in future, she should come and tell me, or at least one of the guards, who would follow and keep an eye on her.

I jokingly suggested that we could change her name, so that we could legitimately say that there was nobody called Wren here. I suggested Patricia or Pat for short and changing her surname to Rolman. She thought Pat was an old-fashioned name, before realising what I had done. Even so, she said she preferred something like Joan of Arc, or some other warrior woman. I pointed out that Jeanne d’Arc had come to a fiery end, a fate which I was sure she would prefer to avoid, and suggested that maybe Boudicca, or Maeve were better examples, though I had to explain who Maeve was.

That led to us talking about queens, and she wondered how many of them there were here. I told her how it had been before – with Saone and Llwyd, Faermorn and Gwythyr, and how they had gone into the west and we now had Janus and Gwyn, I also told her about Cypress of the Sluagh and Valene of the Cait Sidhe. I called Royce and made introductions, because I thought it was a good idea to let him know that Wren was under my protection. Lacking a better word, I introduced her as my ward. She wondered about that, so I explained that since I was taking responsibility for her while she was here, being in loco parentis as it were, ward seemed the best way of putting it, if she was ok with that. She said she was.

I then made the mistake of mentioning Vedis’ title as Queen of Lust. That confused Wren somewhat, but then, I suppose, at her age, she has no idea of the power that lust can have over people. I tried to explain as best I could, without getting into anything explicit. I think she got the general gist of it. I am sure she had read plenty of books and seen these movie things to know the lengths people would go to for love and desire. I did wonder, however, about what she did and didn’t know about matters of the heart and matters of the flesh. Without Alec and Isabella around, and I was not entirely sure they were the right people to be telling her about such things anyway, it was going to fall to one of us here in Ashmourne to pick up that part of her education. I have no idea who. With luck, it won’t be an issue for the moment, but given the way things go around these parts, I guess I should be prepared.

Fortunately, we managed to get off the subject, talking about other things, including whether or not we should make a little home for Wicket for him to live in when he wasn’t with her. That kept us occupied until we went to dinner.




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