It's Not Fair! What About Hopes?
"It's not fair!" Oufelle flung her shoe against the door, then
another, tears rolling down red cheeks as she looked around the small
shared room for something else to throw. "I hate them! How could
they?!" The plump young woman finally found something, a small vase
that was on Asaile's side of their room.
As she reached for it, Asaile gasped and snatched it up, holding it
close to her chest. It had been a gift from Lord Bryvin, and she
cherished it. Horrified by Oufelle's behavior, all she could do was
stare and tuck the precious give behind her.
Oufelle sobbed a complaint, picking up the fine
paper letter that had been crinkled up on her bed and threw that as
well. "He's sixty! They're giving me to an old man!" Oufelle finally
collapsed on her bed, sobbing wildly. "I hate them!"
A firm tapping on the door broke through the young woman's noisy tears,
and the voice of the Lord Holder's sister could be heard from outside.
"Ladies? What in the world is going on in there?" After a brief pause,
the door opened and Brina stepped inside, closing it on the eager and
curious faces of several other young ladies. She lowered her voice.
"Lady Oufelle? What's the matter?"
There was a heartfelt sob. "AN OLD MAN!" Oufelle buried her face in
her pillow as she screamed into it before pounding it with her fist.
"It's not fair! It's not fair!"
Asaile, moving carefully to pick up the crinkled piece of paper. "Lady
Brina...I think she's been betrothed to...someone..." Her voice was
hesitant as she handed it to the Lady, keeping as far from Oufelle as
Oufelle lifted her head to glower at Asaile. "And I hate you too! I
could have been a LADY, but you stole the Lord Holder! He likes you
more than anyone else! You're not even pretty!"
Brina looked up sharply from the letter. "That is _quite_ enough, Lady
Oufelle. If you insist on behaving like a spoiled toddler, I shall have
no option but to treat you like one. Sit up, stop wailing and apologize
to Lady Asaile at once."
Wounded at the hurtful words, Asaile looked down at her hands. While
it was true that Lord Bryvin had given her gifts, he'd never promised
her anything, or even asked her to remain. Maybe she wasn't pretty
enough. She bit her lower lip and stood, winding her hands together
with nerves. She hadn't been excused, so remained even as Oufelle
sniffled out an unenthusiastic apology.
"I'm sorry..." Wiping her eyes, Oufelle looked up at Lady Brina. "He's
sixty. He has three sons older than me and a daughter my age! He's
awful and old and ugly!" She buried her hands in her face. "And they
promised me to him! I'm supposed to go home on the next ship! How
could they do this to me?!"
With a sigh, Brina sat down on the bed beside Oufelle and put an arm
around her shoulders. After the incident with little Yavin, she'd
written to the girl's mother to politely suggest that they find a
husband for her elsewhere. Though she still thought she'd done right,
she felt responsible. She remembered how miserable she'd felt when she'd
been told who she was to marry - though she'd kept her tears private.
"I know it seems hard now," she said. "But your parents would never have
chosen anyone unsuitable to be your husband. He may be a kind man, and
wise with his age. And you'll have a large, prosperous hold to run.
There's happiness to be found in knowing that your hard work has made a
home for so many people..."
"But he's so ugly!" She buried her hands in her face and leaned into
Brina's embrace, now giving hiccuping sobs. "Can't...can't you talk to
Lord Bryvin? Tell him I'll do anything to stay? I don't want to marry
him! I can't!"
"Lord Bryvin cannot interfere with your parents' decision. Certainly not
if a promise has been made." Her voice was sympathetic, but firm. She
looked up, to include Asaile. "We were born to rank, and with that
privilege comes our duty to family and Hold. Even when it's not what we
might have chosen for ourselves. In time, you'll understand that it was
all for the best."
"Only the best for them." She whined softly. "They don't care if I'm
happy at all. I just wanted a handsome husband who loves me and will
take care of me with nice clothes and dances and..." She gave a little
hiccup, "An old man can't dance..."
Asaile spoke softly. "Your parents are making sure that you're taken
care of. You have to represent your family and be respectable now that
you're old enough. I'm sure that your husband will be better than you
think." She looked at Brina helplessly as Oufelle snorted. "If I don't
find a match here, my parents will do the same. I'm only here for a
turn at most. And then, it'll be up to my father. We're all in the
same position, Oufelle."
Oufelle glared at Asaile, then pulled away from Brina, with a pointed
sulk to her mouth. "I better start packing."
"Yes, perhaps you should." Brina glanced around at the clothes, scarves,
hair ornaments and other trinkets that lay scattered around the room.
"I'll send your maid in to help in a while, once you've had time to calm
yourself." She stood and placed Oufelle's letter back on the bed. "Lady
Asaile, why don't we go for a short walk together? It's a lovely day and
we can give Oufelle the space to pack."
Asaile nodded, glad for the suggestion. If she'd stayed, Oufelle would
have continued her rant and the other girl's voice could begin grating
on the ears after a while. "Yes, thank you, Lady Brina. I'm sure that
I'd just be in the way." Thankful for any excuse, she stepped out of
Brina waited until they were outdoors, far from the ears of the other
young ladies, before she spoke again. It was a warm day and the sunlight
glittered on the waves far below them in the bay as they strolled along
the path around the Hold.
"I hope you didn't take Lady Oufelle's words too much to heart," she
said. "Some people lash out without thinking when they're hurt and say
all kinds of nonsense. Your behavior while you've been here has been
entirely proper, as befits a lady of your station."
"I've tried not to. Thank you, Lady Brina." Asaile, walked quietly
beside Lady Brina, hands clasped lightly at her middle. She sighed
softly. "I know she's upset. She's..." She paused before speaking
carefully. "Oufelle is very self assured and certain of herself. She's
confident in her appearance and mannerisms." Her delicate brows knit
as she turned to peer over the water, then relaxed as the sight
soothed her. "And I know I haven't stolen anyone. Lord Bryvin isn't
property, and I have no real claim to him. She knows that."
"Lord Bryvin certainly has a mind of his own, which I would never dare
to predict," Brina said. She hid a smile at the girl's diplomatic
description of her roommate. "I know that he enjoyed your company very
much when he came to dinner with us. Confidence is a fine quality but
sometimes it's just as important to know how to listen. Especially for
someone in my brother's position. He has people talking at him all day
long, wanting this or that, and I think it was a relief to him to be
able to relax."
Asaile flushed a bit, her smile becoming openly wistful. "I don't mind
listening. He has a very nice voice. It's soothing." She glanced at
the Lady Brina and turned a deeper red, but spoke softly, embarrassed.
"Forgive me, Lady, but I like Lord Bryvin very much. He's been very kind
to me. " She felt her heart flutter again at the thought of the darkly
handsome man. She wanted desperately to ask if he'd spoken of her to his
sister, but held back for propiety's sake. It wouldn't do at all to be
so forward. Almost every girl here had hopes of catching his eye, of
course, but she quietly thought it would break her heart to be sent
back home and away from him. She repeated softly, "I like him very much,
"So do I," Brina replied, thoughtfully. She knew that many of the
fostered ladies were ambitious to hold the rank of Lady Holder, or
fluttered over her brother's good looks, his power and charm. But
perhaps there were some who cared for him, genuinely, as a man. "He's
not had an easy time, these last few Turns. I do hope he'll find the
happiness he deserves soon." Her voice lightened. "And I also hope
you'll be here with us at Sunstone for a long time yet, Lady Asaile."
The voice that answered was wistful. "I hope so as well, Lady Brina,
on both accounts. I love it here. I love the smell of the sea and the
sound of the water in the morning." She paused, looking out towards
the water. "My father agreed for me to foster here for a single turn,
no more. " They both knew why her father had sent her, why many
families had sent their daughters of marriageable age. And while many
of the fostered ladies had eyes for different men around the hold as
well as the Lord Holder, she'd only had eyes for him from the moment
of their first dinner together. "It'll be up to my father. But I do
hope that whoever Lord Bryvin chooses, if he chooses any, makes him
very happy. That would sincerely warm my heart for him. " But was it
so bad to wish that person was herself?
"I'm glad to hear you say that." Brina knew that the competition between
the girls for her brother's hand could get heated. She didn't envy them
their situation. "Well, he will come to a decision in due course." Their
path was starting to take them back towards the Hold, and she looked up
at the windows. Behind one of them, Oufelle would be packing, and no
doubt weeping as she did. "For now, I'll make sure you have that room to
yourself for a while." Her eyes glinted with mirth. "You deserve some
That brought a twinkle to Asaile's eyes. "Thank you. That would be
nice. " She lowered her voice. "She kind of snores. " There was a quick
giggle that was quickly covered up by her hand. Clearing her throat and
a smile still on her face, she followed Lady Brina's gaze. Her brow
furrowed just a little as a question came to her. "Lady Brina, did
you have to foster to somewhere else? My mother didn't, so she couldn't
tell me much. She was betrothed to my father early. My brothers are
starting at home as well. "
"No, I didn't. I was like your mother, I didn't leave home until my
marriage," Brina replied, her voice wistful. "My daughter was fostered
for a Turn, though, at Garnet Valley. I do think it's good to spend some
time away from home, to meet other young people and see a little of the
world, before taking on all the responsibilities of being a wife."
Asaile nodded. "I think you're right. As much as I miss my family, I
wouldn't trade this for anything. I've already learned so much and
I've really liked meeting other girls my age that aren't related to
me. I didn't realize that things could be done differently than how we
do it back home, especially taking care of the home and learning new
skills. I've really liked it. " She paused and smiled. "I think that
if I ever have any daughters, I'll speak to whomever I marry about
sending them to foster when they're old enough too."
"I hope you will," Brina said, warmly. "And I hope that you'll have
daughters, too. It's a joy that you can't imagine, until it happens." A
distant look came into her eyes, as if she was remembering times long
past. "Though it is hard to let them go, when the time comes... But
that's a long way off, for you. Now is the time to enjoy your youth."
She looked at Asaile, thoughtfully, as they approached the Hold.
"Somehow, I think you'll be very happy."
Were her words a sign that perhaps Lord Bryvin favored her? Asaile felt
a flare of hope at the thought, but didn't dare assume or ask. "I hope
so, Lady Brina. I truly do." How she wanted to tell her the her
deepest desire was to make him happy, to be his Lady and bear him
children. To see that kindness and gentleness every day for the rest of
their lives and to utter the words she longed to tell him. She was
certain that her heart was his already. Maybe she'd bear a dark haired
daughter with his eyes or a strapping son that was his father's image.
Her heart warmed at the thought.
As they came back to the main hold, she looked over at Lady Brina, her
face glowing at the thought of imagined children. It brought a lightness
to her steps and a peaceful flow to her movements. "Thank you, Lady
Brina, for your time and the conversation. You're very kind. "
"Not at all. I'm glad we had this chance to talk." Sometimes the more
lively of the young ladies could take up more of her time and attention,
Brina thought. She smiled. "I should go and find Oufelle's maid, if she
hasn't summoned her already. Perhaps you'd better go and sit with Lady
Noriya and Lady Tarani for an hour or two, until it's safe to go back."
"That's a very good idea. Thank you. " She thought that the pair of her
friends would welcome the news of Oufelle's departure. There would
certainly be less dramatics around the ladies quarters. She gave a deep
curtsey and smiled before hurrying up the stairs, visions of dark
haired babies flickering around in her mind.
Brina watched Asaile go, her light steps reminding her of the days when
she'd been young and filled with so many dreams. And perhaps, if her own
had never come to pass, this girl's could... Then she sighed and steeled
herself for the far less pleasant task of placating Lady Oufelle's maid.
It might not be worthy of her to think so, but she did hope the next
ship left soon.
Last updated on the October 19th 2020