Here's a puzzle for you.. why is Elerde speaking French, a language that would not develop for about 150-200 years?
Elerde looked at her measuring. "Be off with thee," he commanded. The bawd laughed and turned away.
The Breton knight drew on his black leather gloves and went to the ostler to claim his horse. He drew the horse along to a small church he had seen near the harbor. It was late late at night, but he did not think twice about rapping on the low rectory door. A yawning priest came to it and looked at the visitor. He stifled his complaint when he saw Elerde.
"Father, I need some place to leave my horse while I travel the sea. Someplace I can trust not to sell it." Elerde gave the old man who was ushering him into an inner room a frankly threatening look. "I am prepared to pay well.. well enough to make selling it not worth the price." The priest was interested.
"Seigneur, we can care for your animal," he said eagerly. "Of course we need to have some food and other provisions for its care brought in..." The tone was leading.
Elerde drew a small clinking pouch from his belt and held it just out of the man's reach. "Show me the stable."
Once happy that his mount would be safe and well cared for and one pouch the lighter, Sir Elerde turned his eyes to the boats that were moored just off the jetty. He strolled along the beach casting measuring eyes at the craft and the men who, he could see on or near them.
A disreputable man came up to him in the dark. Elerde had a dagger ready as he turned and acknowledged the man's approach.
The man croaked out, "Seigneur, good seigneur, do ye need transport to Britain?"
Elerde considered the man. "Aye. To the north. Do you know of a craft that might take me?"
The man wet his lips and smiled. His crooked teeth were broken and stained. "Oui, seigneur. I do. If thou can pay the fare."
"Tell me," Elerde commanded.
The raggedy man indicated a long low dark boat a short piece down the harbor. "That be the Lost Lady, and for some silver ye can travel to Norwich aboard her." He looked greedily at Elerde's clothing.
The Lost Lady. Perfect. Elerde said, "Is it a good ship? I am in need of haste and secrecy."
The man looked more greedily at the knight, if that was possible., "Then it might take some gold instead. But the Lost Lady is swift.. and she knows how to slip the grasp of those that might wish to lay their hands on her."
Elerde thought to himself,. "I hope that is not so with my lady." He nodded to the man and gestured for him to take the knight to the captain of the boat. But as the man started off Elerde took his arm and turned him around. Elerde had pulled open his cloak to show the man a slight glint of leather and metal. He wanted the man to know he could defend himself if provoked. The man nodded back soberly and they went to where a small boat was moored.
"Non, merçi. I will wade." Elerde did not want to place himself at the service of any man, especially one such as this one and his confreres. He strode out into the water without so much as lifting his cloak. It was not far.. and he ably pulled himself up and put his leg over the side of the skiff. He demanded the captain.
The man was summoned from his bed, while Elerde took in his surroundings. "Pirates. Or smugglers. I thought so. Well, bien."
The captain came up without dawdling. A knight wished to sail with him.. what a delicious prospect. The man would pay well and might need their services further in whatever intrigue he planned.
Elerde addressed him without formality. "I need swift, secret passage to Norwich or farther north. I can pay...." Seeing the captain luck his lips with anticipation, Elerde added, "And I can slit your or any other man's throat before he knows it. Prênez-garde, mon ami."
The captain took a long look at the knight. "Norwich? Or farther? Lawrencium perhaps? Be ye that knight who might seek a queen?" He grinned.
He grinned, that is, until he found himself spun around and a dagger at his throat. Elerde breathed into his ear, "No questions. Is that clear?" As best he could the man nodded. Elerde pressed the knife to the man's throat then released him. "Then it is agreed, n'est-ce pas?"
The voyage took place during the nights, with the small boat casting anchor in the daylight. It was outfitted to look like a fishing boat to anyone without a soldier's eye. Elerde was bunked in the captain's none too savory cabin. The captain thought it best to keep out of his way as much as possible. He had warned his small crew to stay away as well.
The knight came on deck and approached the captain as the shores of Norwichshire came into sight on the horizon. The captain made sure he knew where his own dagger was just inc case the dark knight meant to do him harm. But Elerde instead said to the man, "I may have a little job for you. An easy one that will profit you."
The captain nodded and the knight went on. "Le premier, I expect you to keep my journey secret. If I find you have told anyone you saw me, I will find you and cut out your tongue and feed it to you."
The captain protested. "But seigneur I have no idea who you are! How could I betray you?"
Elerde looked hard into his eyes. "Le deuxiême, there may be those who will be looking for me.. or looking for a certain lady."
The captain nodded. "What do you want me to do with these people?"
Elerde leaned forward menacingly. "You will not see the lady herself. If she travels to France it will not be with the likes of you. Not by herself anyway. But if other men come looking, I want you to kill them. Especially if one is a tall slender Irish minstrel."
The captain laughed. Aye, I can do that. The sea welcomes the dead and the dead are never more seen." He watched with satisfaction as the knight lifted another purse from his belt.
"There will be another for ye like this one," Elerde breathed, "on my return. The lady will be with me. See to it you make your cabin suitable for a woman of high birth." At the man's obvious understanding Elerde shot him a sharp glance. "Remember.." Elerde showed the man his dagger again.
On shore Elerde set aside the disguise he had worn. He found a stables where he could get a new mount, nothing like the fine steed he had left at Calais, but a stout one that could make the journey. He needed to skirt the borders of Christenlande and make his way to the various points he knew could be sources of information about Josephine.
He would find her. It was almost an instinct with him. He would find her or die in the effort.
He turned his mount's nose to the northwest.
Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com