The Queen's Caprice

The Queen's Caprice

by Marjorie Bowen

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The Queen's Caprice by Marjorie Bowen

The tall man stood alone under the tattered, wintry tree. A mist wrapped
the high-seated city between the palace in the east and the castle in the
west. When he moistened his lips he could taste the salted vapours which
came from the sea. On his frieze coat were drops of moisture, the linen
round his neck was limp. His thoughts tormented him, like malignant
fingers plucking at his heart. He had come to this desolate place to be
away from the thriftless chatter of the Abbey.

But his perplexities crowded about him in the barren solitude. He stood
so still that a hare limped through the circle of dim light which bounded
him, and the creature's bulging eyes fixed him for a second. He was
startled, and forgetting how long it was since he had been a priest,
raised his hand to make the Holy Sign. As his fingers dropped to his side
the hare limped away. There seemed a sigh in the thick vapours that began
to be shot with darkness. Behind the castle, the unseen sun was
declining, leaving him in gloom.

The thoughtful man moved slowly from under the tree. He was afraid of
devilry, and his strong mind chafed at his fears. He longed to be free of
all superstitions, yet he moved always warily, in terror of spells and
the diabolical enchantments of the unknown world that pressed so close
about the senses. As he went sullenly towards the Abbey, squares of
coloured light showed the windows. He was irritated with himself because
his problems were unsolved even by his intense meditation. He had
endeavoured to understand himself, his ambition, his faith, his desires,
his hopes, but he had failed, because unacknowledged lusts and
treacheries stirred and, like devils, put themselves between him and his
earnest thoughts.

One fact, splendid and hideous, stained the fabric of his fortunes. He
was a King's bastard, and one of noble birth, even by the unwed mother's
side. This irony was underlined because he knew himself possessed of
royal qualities, and very capable of government.

As he entered the gardens, the outline of the Abbey appeared vaguely dark
against the blurred light. The well-kept gardens with wattled beds,
trellis work, summer-houses and gravel paths were neat and barren as a
set-geometric design; the bare trees made a brittle tracery against the
vanishing fleeces of the mist, that curdled as the upper wind from Leith
drew them away.

The man paused; he was vexed by his own indecision. He wanted all that a
violently changed world had to offer, but, so rapid was progress, so
eager was his desire to be in the forefront of all that was new, that he
scarcely knew what this was. He took off his hat impatiently and, twisted
it in his hand, allowing the transient light to fall over his strong
face, with the eyes slightly swollen from overwork, the pale, healthy
complexion, the sullen lines round heavy jowl and mouth.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013693951
Publisher: WDS Publishing
Publication date: 01/20/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 250 KB

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