Simon the Coldheart

( 15 )

Overview

In the early 15th century, during the middle of the Hundred Years' War, England and France were fighting for sovereignty over France. It was a time of hand-to-hand combat, the invention of the longbow, and real knights in armor.

Simon Beauvallet was born in 1386, the illegitimate son of Geoffrey of Malvallet. After his mother's death in 1400, he and his half-brother, the legitimate son and heir of his father, became great friends of the Prince,...

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Simon the Coldheart: A tale of chivalry and adventure

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Overview

In the early 15th century, during the middle of the Hundred Years' War, England and France were fighting for sovereignty over France. It was a time of hand-to-hand combat, the invention of the longbow, and real knights in armor.

Simon Beauvallet was born in 1386, the illegitimate son of Geoffrey of Malvallet. After his mother's death in 1400, he and his half-brother, the legitimate son and heir of his father, became great friends of the Prince, fighting against France.

Known for his silence and nicknamed "the Coldheart," Simon nonetheless loved children and had a complex and deep personality. After the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, he was sent to besiege Belremy, where he met the lady, Margaret, who eventually surrendered to the English and became his bride.

"She makes the knightly days live again." -Boston Evening Transcript

"An outstanding storyteller." -The Times Literary Supplement

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Heyer really focuses on her plots and it makes for a satisfying read." - We Be Reading

"I really enjoyed every page of this read. It was full of adventure and action, great humor, and the perfect sort of romance." - My Friend Amy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402213540
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 532,340
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Georgette Heyer was a very private woman. Her historical novels have charmed and delighted millions of readers for decades, though she rarely reached out to the public to discuss her works or private life. It is known that she was born in Wimbledon in August 1902, and her first novel, The Black Moth, was published in 1921.

Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Heyer's large volume of works included Regency romances, mysteries and historical fiction. Known also as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer, and they had one son together, Richard.

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Read an Excerpt

Simon the Coldheart


By Georgette Heyer

Sourcebooks Landmark

Copyright © 1925 Georgette Heyer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4022-1354-0


Chapter One

How he came to Fulk of Montlice

He came walking from Bedford into Cambridge one May morning when the sun was still young and the dew scarce gone from the grass. His worldly possessions he carried on his back in an old knapsack; his short jerkin was stained and torn, and there were holes in his long hose. On his square head and drawn over his brow he wore a frayed cap set jauntily, with a heron's feather pointing skywards. He carried a quarter-staff, and stepped out right manfully, scanning the flat fen-land from beneath his thick brows, his young mouth dogged, his sombre eyes coldly calculating. Of years he numbered fourteen, but his shoulders had a breadth beyond his age, and his thighs a thickness of muscle that gave him the appearance of a grown man dwarfed. Nor was the face below the clubbed fair hair that of a child, for in the low brow lay strength, and about the straight mouth purpose. There was little boyishness in the eyes, but a frowning look, and at the back, lurking in the green-blue depths, a watchful gleam that was never absent.

One spoke to him on the road, a pedlar tramping south, and gave him good-day. He answered in a crisp, deep voice, and smiled, showing a row of strong white teeth.

'Whither goest thou, younker?' the pedlar asked him idly.

'To my goal, fellow,' Simon retorted, and passed on. The pedlar called after him for his haughtiness, but he paid no heed. He was never one to waste words.

So at length he came to Montlice, which was his goal, and stood for a moment before the drawbridge, surveying the rugged castle. A man-at-arms, lounging on the bridge, hailed him good-naturedly.

'What want ye, boy? This is the lion's den.'

The glimmer of a smile came to light the darkness of Simon's eyes.

'I seek the lion,' he said, and walked forward across the bridge.

The man laughed at him, barring his passage.

'Ho-ho! Ye seek the lion, eh? He would make but one mouthful of you, my fine sprig.'

Simon looked up into his face, jutting brows lowering, eyes agleam.

'I seek my Lord the Earl,' he said. 'Out of the way, sirrah!'

At that the man clapped his hands to his sides, shaken with herculean laughter. Having recovered somewhat he achieved a clumsy bow.

'My lord is from home,' he said, mocking Simon.

'You lie!' Simon answered quickly. 'My lord will know how to punish a lying servant. Let me pass!' He awaited no permission, but slipped by, eel-like, and was gone across the bridge in a flash. Out of sight he paused, not hesitating, but seeming to debate within himself. He looked thoughtfully at the great gateway, standing wide with soldiers lounging there, and his lips tightened. He went swiftly through, light-footed and sure, and attracted but little notice. One of the men stopped his task to shout a surprised question after him, and Simon answered briefly over his shoulder: 'On my lord's business!' The man laughed, thinking him some scullion's child, and turned back to his companion. Simon went on up the winding slope to the castle door and was there met by a group of men-at-arms who denied him ingress.

'To the scullions' entrance, babe!' one told him, and the muscles about his mouth stood out in anger. He kept his ground, not a whit afraid.

'I must see my lord,' he answered, and only that.

'Wherefore, pup?' the man asked him, and when he would not answer, sought to hustle him roughly away.

But Simon wriggled from under his hands, and springing to one side, brought his heavy quarter-staff down athwart the man's shoulders with so much force that, great man though he was, the soldier staggered.

Matters then would have gone ill with Simon but for the appearance of a boy, a little younger than himself, who came strolling towards them, followed by two liver-coloured hounds. He was dark, and magnificently clad, and he carried himself with an air of languid arrogance.

'Holà there!' he called, and the soldiers fell away from Simon, leaving him to stand alone, arms folded and head turned to survey the newcomer.

The boy came up gracefully, looking at Simon with a questioning lift to his brows.

'What is this?' he asked. 'Who are you who strike our men?' Simon stepped forward.

'So please you, sir, I seek my Lord the Earl.'

One of the men, he whom Simon had dealt that lusty blow, started to speak, but was hushed by an imperious gesture from the boy. He smiled at Simon with a mixture of friendliness and hauteur.

'I am Alan of Montlice,' he said. 'What want you of my father?'

Simon doffed his cap, showing his thick, straight hair clubbed across his brow and at the nape of his brown neck. He bowed awkwardly.

'I want employment, sir,' he replied. 'These men deny me entrance.'

Alan of Montlice hesitated.

'My father stands in no need –' he began, then paused, fingering his dark curls. 'There is that in you that I like,' he said frankly. 'Come within.'

Simon bowed again, but he gave no thanks, only standing aside for the young Montlice to pass through the doorway. And as Alan went by, he shot him an awkward look, keen as steel, appraising him as it were. That was a trick which in after years had the effect of disconcerting his foes most mightily. Alan did not see the glance, but swept into the castle whistling through his teeth. Across the great stone hall he led Simon to an archway over which hung a leathern curtain, nail-studded. Before he pulled it back he spoke again to Simon, in a whisper.

'Ye will speak my lord fair,' he cautioned. 'He is not so douce.'

A flickering smile touched Simon's lips.

'Fulk the Lion,' he said. 'I know.'

'He is to be feared,' Alan said, breathless.

Simon looked scorn.

'I fear no man.'

At that Alan opened wide his brown eyes and giggled a little.

'Ye do not know my lord,' he said, and pulled the curtain aside.

They entered a fair room carpeted with rushes and hung with all manner of paintings, biblical and historical. A table stood in the middle, and although it was now past eight o'clock in the forenoon, the remains of my lord's breakfast still stood upon it: a chine of salt-beef, a broken manchett, and a tankard of ale. In a great chair beside the table, leaning back at his ease, sat Fulk of Montlice, a giant of a man, deep-chested and magnificently proportioned, as fair as his son was dark, with a crisp, golden beard, whose point came forward belligerently. One of his hands was tucked in the belt of his long gown, the other lay on the table, massive and hairy. Alan ran forward and fell to his knees.

'Sir, here is a boy who would speak with thee.'

My lord's heavy, light-lashed eyelids lifted and his small blue eyes travelled slowly from his son to Simon.

'Shouldst know that I do not speak with every vagrant whelp who is presumptuous,' he said, a rumbling note of annoyance in his voice. 'Away with you, sirrah!'

Simon stepped to the table, cap in hand.

'I am no vagrant, good my lord. Nor will I be so miscalled.'

Alan stayed on his knees, affrighted at such temerity, but my Lord of Montlice laughed.

'Good lack, what then are you, springald?'

'I hope one day to be a man, my lord, even as you,' Simon answered. 'That is my ambition, sir, and so I come to seek employment with you.'

Montlice flung back his head and laughed again.

'For that you beard the lion in his den, eh? I will eat you for my dinner, cockerel.'

'So said they at the gate, my lord, but you will find me of more use alive than eaten.'

'Shall I so? And what canst do? Wind silks for women-folk?'

'That and other things, my lord,' Simon answered coolly.

'Soso! What then? Tend my hounds, or are they too strong for your management?'

At that Simon curled his lip in disdain.

'There does not live the beast I will not tame, my lord.'

My lord's eyes were now a-twinkle. He clapped the table jovially.

'By the Rood, I like thy spirit, my young spring-chicken! Canst take a buffet?'

'Ay, and give one.'

My lord cast him a quizzical look.

'As thou didst to my man without?'

If he expected Simon to show discomfiture he was disappointed, for Simon only nodded. My lord laughed.

'Impudence! Why camest thou to the great door? Know ye not the scullions' entrance at the back?'

'I have never approached my goal through the back door, my lord, nor ever will. I march straight.'

'It seems so indeed,' said my lord. 'Well, what dost thou want of me?'

'I would carry your lance and squire you, sir.'

Montlice snapped his fingers, jeering.

'Thou sit a horse! A flea on a camel!'

The thick brows drew closer together and a little colour stole into Simon's cheeks.

'I shall grow, my lord.'

'Nay, nay. Art too small. What are thy years?'

'Fourteen, sir.'

'A babe, forsooth! Get thee gone, babe; I've no need of squires.' Simon stood still.

'Your page, then, till I am grown to your liking.'

'God's my life, methinks thou art over-bold, babe, I do not take peasants for my pages.'

'I am no peasant.'

'Ho-ho! What then?'

'As gentle as yourself, my lord.'

'By Our Lady! What art called?'

'Simon, my lord.'

'Well, it's a name. What else?'

Simon lifted his shoulders, half-impatiently.

'I call myself Beauvallet, sir.'

My lord pursed his full lips.

'It hath a ring,' he nodded. 'What is thy real name, sirrah?'

'I have none.'

'Tush! Your father's name!'

Simon did not answer for a moment, but at last he shrugged again, and looked up.

'Geoffrey of Malvallet,' he answered.

'Holy Virgin! I should have known that face! Art Malvallet's bastard then?'

'So my mother told me, my lord.'

'Who is she? Does she live?'

'She is dead these four years, sir. She was one Jehanne, of Malvallet's household. That is nothing.'

Montlice sank back again.

'Ay, ay. But what proof have you?'

'A ring, my lord. Little enough.'

'Show me.'

Simon put his hands up to his neck and drew a riband from his breast from which hung a golden ring. Montlice looked at it long and curiously.

'How came she by this?'

'I never asked, my lord. It matters not to me whether I am Malvallet's son or another's. I am what I choose to be.'

'Here's a philosophy!' Montlice became aware of his son, still kneeling, and waved him to his feet. 'What thinkest thou, Alan? Here is one of the Malvallet brood.'

Alan leaned carelessly against the table.

'Malvallet is no friend of ours, sir, but I like this boy.'

'He hath courage. Tell me, babe, where hast been since thy mother died?'

'I had a home with her brother, sir, a wood-cutter.'

'Well, and then?'

'I wearied of it, my lord, and I came here.'

'Why not to thy father, bantam?'

Simon jerked his shoulder again.

'Him I have seen, my lord.'

Montlice rumbled forth a laugh.

'And liked not his looks?'

'Well enough, sir, but you also had I seen, and of both have I heard.'

'God's Body, do I so take thy fancy?'

'Men call you the Lion, my lord, and think it harder to enter your service than that of Malvallet.'

My lord puffed out his cheeks.

'Ay, so is it. Ye like the harder task, babe?'

Simon considered.

'It is more worth the doing, my lord,' he replied.

My lord looked him over.

'Art a strange lad. Having forced thy way into my stronghold, thou'lt not leave it?'

'I will not.'

'I am no easy master,' Montlice warned him.

'I would not serve any such.'

'Ye think to earn knighthood with me?'

Simon glanced up.

'What I become will be of mine own making, sir. I ask no favours.'

'Then I like thee the better for it. Shalt be page to my son till I find thee fitter occupation. And that to spite Malvallet, look you. Art satisfied?'

Simon knelt.

'Ay, my lord. And I will serve you faithfully and well, that there shall be no gratitude to weigh me down.'

Montlice smote him on the shoulder, delighted.

'Spoken like a sage, my little fish! Well, get thee gone. Alan, take him, and see to it that he is clothed and fed.'

And thus it was that Simon came to Fulk of Montlice.

Chapter Two

How he grew to manhood

From page to Alan, he became page to my lord himself, and was decked out in Montlice red and gold. Very brave he looked in the short red tunic worked with gold and caught in at the waist by a leathern belt. His hose were gold, his shoon red, and red was the cap that sat a thought rakishly on his fair head. His duties were many and arduous, nor did my lord spare him any fatigue or exertion. He slept on a hard pallet across Fulk's threshold, rose early and went late to bed. It was part of his duty to wait upon my lord and his lady at dinner, and every morning at ten Simon took his stand on the dais beside my lord's chair, attending to his wants or standing immobile the while my lord and his guests ate and drank their fill. He was at three people's beck and call: my lord, his lady, and young Alan, and he spent his time running from one to the other.

He grew apace in height and breadth and strength until there were few who could throw him in a wrestling match; few who could shoot an arrow farther or more precisely, be it at butt, prick or rover; and few who could stand beneath his mighty buffet. Yet for the most part he was gentle enough, if stern, and it was only when his cold anger was aroused that the caged lion within him sprang to life and swept all before it. And when that happened there came that light to his eyes which could make the hardiest evil-doer cringe and the most arrogant squire cry mercy, even before Simon's iron hands had touched him.

Blows he received a-many, whenever my lord chanced to be in an ill-humour, which was often, but they never disturbed his cold composure, nor awakened any feeling of resentment in his breast. From Fulk he bore blows in an acquiescent mood that yet held no meekness nor humility, but woebetide the squire or serf who crossed his path belligerently inclined! When he still was page, my lord's squire, Lancelot of the Black Isle, commanded him loftily, and when Simon paid no heed to his orders, dealt him a buffet that should have felled him to the ground. Simon staggered under it, but recovered, and gave back blow for blow with so much force behind his steel wrist that Lancelot, full five years his senior, went tumbling head over heels and was sore and bruised for days after. When Fulk heard the tale he made Simon squire in Lancelot's place, and swore that there was more of himself in Simon than in his own son.

But it was seldom that Simon fell foul of his peers. His very calmness of temper compelled respect, and for that he was every inch a man, men liked him and were eager to call him friend. Friendship he never courted, caring nothing for man's opinion of himself, nor seemed he to have an ounce of affection in him, save it were for Fulk of Montlice, or Alan, whom he regarded with a mixture of contempt and liking. His father he saw a-many times, but it is doubtful whether Geoffrey of Malvallet noticed him. Once indeed at Bedford in the court of law, whither Simon had gone in Fulk's wake to settle a dispute over some land between Montlice and Malvallet, Geoffrey, glancing idly around, surprised an intent stare from his enemy's page, who sat with his chin in his hand, calmly and keenly scrutinising him. Geoffrey looked him over haughtily, but when his eyes met Simon's and encountered that strangely disconcerting gleam he turned his head away quickly, a tinge of colour in his cheeks. Simon continued to survey him, not from any wish to annoy, but simply because he was interested, and wished to see what manner of man was his sire. He was not ill-pleased with what he saw, but neither was he enthusiastic. Geoffrey was a tall man, and slim, fastidious in his dress and appointments, soft-spoken, and proud – so said Montlice – as Lucifer himself. His close-cropped hair was grizzled now, but his eyes were like Simon's in colour, and as deep set. His eyebrows were too thick and straight, but his mouth was gentle and full-lipped, which Simon's was not, and his brow was not so rugged. He had one son, Geoffrey, who was just two years older than Simon, and whom Simon had never seen.

Between Alan and Simon positions were very soon reversed. It was Alan who gave devoted love and obedience; Simon received, and could return naught but a tolerant protection. They played together often, but in every sport Simon was an easy victor save when the game was of a gentle kind. At bowls and closh Alan could beat him, but when they played at balloon ball, Alan ruefully declared that he was no match for Simon, who played with his naked hand and struck the great leather ball with such deadly accuracy and strength that Alan was fain to dodge it instead of returning it. At archery he was even less skilled, and Simon watched his efforts to bend the bow with a contemptuous, rather amused air, which incensed young Alan so that he shot his arrow still more wide of the mark than ever. Simon tried to teach him the sport of the quarter-staff, and wielded his own staff moderately enough, in deference to Alan's tender years. But Alan, although he was not lacking in courage, disliked such rude and rough play, and would not engage with Simon. He liked to go out chasing or hawking, and he showed an aptitude for pretty and quick sword-play. Tourneys were not so much to his taste, and rather than enter into any of these pastimes would he sit at home, strumming upon his harp and weaving fanciful songs to his many lady-loves. He would paint, too, and make poesies, for all the world like some troubadour of a century ago. With the ladies he was ever a favourite, and by the time he was fifteen he was for ever paying court to some dame or another, greatly to Simon's disgust.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Simon the Coldheart by Georgette Heyer Copyright © 1925 by Georgette Heyer. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks Landmark. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

1. How he came to Fulk of Montlice....................3
2. How he grew to manhood....................11
3. How he went with Fulk to Shrewsbury....................23
4. How he was knighted, and how he had speech with his father....................45
5. How he rescued a fair damsel, and discovered a plot....................59
6. How he rode hot-foot to London....................73
7. How King Henry thanked him....................87
8. How he returned to Montlice....................95
9. How he took possession of his estates....................103
10. How he brought order into his lands....................119
11. How he won his gilded armour....................131
1. How he came to Normandy....................141
2. How he encamped before Belrémy....................151
3. How he took Belrémy....................157
4. How he saw the Lady Margaret....................175
5. How he brought the Lady Margaret to the justice-house....................189
6. How the Lady Margaret could not stab him....................195
7. How he found Geoffrey and Jeanne on the terrace....................205
8. How the Lady Margaret plotted....................213
9. How the Lady Margaret escaped....................223
10. How the Lady Margaret came to Turincel....................235
11. How the Lady Margaret fell into the hands of Raoul the Terrible....................243
12. How Simon set forth in pursuit....................253
13. How he found the Lady Margaret....................267
14. How he received the Lady Margaret's submission....................279
15. How he came upon the Lady Margaret in the gallery....................287
16. How he walked alone in the garden....................297
17. How he left Belrémy, and how the Lady Margaret dealt with her cousin....................303
18. How he came to Bayeux, to the King....................311
19. How they fared at Belrémy during his absence....................319
20. How he was sent for by the King....................323
21. How he came to his own....................331
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 15 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    I liked this very much

    This was the first historical novel written by G.H. that I had ever read. Found it a bit plodding at first but once it picked up, her signature style came through and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Although it is a work of fiction, it is set against a backdrop of historical reality.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2012

    Worth the trip!

    I've read all of Georgette Heyer's books. Her characterization is excellent, and whether it's historical fiction or romance, you can't help but get involved. This has plenty of information about the time in the 1400's and an interesting story line.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    Ridiculous and predictable

    This is a cheap harlequin romance disguised as historical fiction. The hero, Simon, is a super man with an ice cold personality. He fights his way up the royal ladder by being the perfect warrior, tactician drawing the attention of the king and making best friends with the prince. He then meets the ice princess and the inevitable taming of the shrew ensues. I was so disappointed as I love historical fiction. It was also a complete waste of time as you learned little or nothing of the actual historical events surrounding this lame romance tale. The cover was pretty!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2009

    No surprises

    Anyone who's ever read a Georgette Heyer historical (not to be confused with her Regency romances) will know just what to expect: a comicbook superhero, almost no plot, impeccable research. A fun, painless way to learn about the 15th Century, but I'd only recommend it to someone whose taste I knew.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2009

    Great Story and Characters

    This is considered one of Georgette Heyer's Historical novels. It is less factual and more light-hearted than her later historical works.<BR/><BR/>I think this book is great! Simon is my favourite Georgette Heyer hero. It's full of adventure, friendship and romance.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 3, 2009

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