As the pirates figuratively and literally limped into Calais harbor, Elerde was in a foul mood. The first night on the vessel in the captain's cleaner than heretofore bed he had turned to Josephine to spend the high spirits of the battle he had developed in passion. He longed for the intensity of her sexual response, but it was like she was going through the motions.. or it would have if she had moved much at all. He hoped she was just tired, upset, afraid of being on a pirate ship. You never could tell what would put some women off sex.
Then the second night she had claimed seasickness. He never actually saw her throw up but he could hardly insist under the circumstances. The next night was the same. He was starting to be very glad he had paid attention their last night in an inn. And after he had saved her from the rapacious pirates from the Black Dragon (conveniently forgetting he had had some help) he thought he could at least get some "My Hero!" sex in the captain's cabin afterwards, but no way. She was too shaken to relax.
The port of Calais was much as he had left it weeks before, except this time is was daylight. It smelled and sounded pretty much the same, but it looked even more rundown and disreputable. He took Josephine to the same inn where he had listened for information about her when he had sat and acted drunk and overheard the confirmation that Lawrence had taken a mistress and rather than having her nose rubbed in it, Josephine had taken a hike.
As he ushered his runaway bride through the door of the tavern, a bawd, either up early or never having put the "Sorry We're Closed" sign up last night noticed him and hooted, "Well if it isn't Sir Lancelot! Looks like you found Guinevere." He scowled back at the woman after getting a rather sharp look from the Queen.
In the rooms they took until they could retrieve Elerde's horse and find a suitable mount for Josephine, Elerde sought to take advantage of nice, stable land to do a little mounting of his own. But Josephine put him off, this time becuase she was "worried about that nice man Bo!" He was still forced to stay with the pirates, she said, and he had saved her life.. with Elerde's assistance of course.. and couldn't he do something for the poor man who had confided in him he didn't so much want to be a pirate really? Elerde thought to himself that maybe if he sprung the big guy she would calm down and get with the eloping program. He agreed, grumbling, and took off to find the ship and do some bargaining for old Bo.
After he left, Josephine congratulated herself on avoiding sex once again. She had been dispirited and exhausted the first night of their romantic sea cruise and had had no energy to refuse him, but any move he had made that began to stir interest in her body was met with an image of Rory being slugged, kicked, and abandoned on the road. By the next night she wouldn't have slept with the man even if he really had been Ioane Gruffudd and not just looked like him. Besides the hurt to her precious adorable Rory he had lied to her, a whole bunch in fact, and she now realized that if Rory had come after her, maybe she had somewhere other than Brittany to go after all. In a word, the bloom was off the Breton rose. She complained of seasickness to put him off while they were on board, and now she would find whatever excuse she could to avoid sleeping with him. Let's see, what could she do. Tell him she had her period? She actually was starting to wish she would, just to make sure the time in Malcolm's stronghold they hadn't been making any little Bretons.
Josephine watched Elerde as he walked awkwardly down the street and turned a corner to go to the waterfront. She went to the door of their rooms and tried it.. and surprisingly Elerde had not locked her in! He must have figured she would be too fastidious to go out into the streets. Her plan, actually, was just to go down to the kitchen and recruit a volunteer to find out some things for her. She wanted to be back in her room if the knight came back whether with good news or bad.
In the kitchen she found a young girl with terrible skin cleaning pots in a scullery. She called to her "Pssst!" and the girl looked around with wide, frightened eyes. She asked, "Oui, madame?" Josephine groped for what French she knew, schoolgirl French like "Où est la plume de ma tante?"
"S'il vous plait, mademoiselle," she hesitatingly began. "Où peux je trouvere quelques nouveaux ?"
The girl looked at her puzzled. "Excusez moi, madame. Yous voulez un trouvere? La musique? Les chansons?" One never knew what great ladies would ask for . Why not a troubadour?
What the Queen wanted was to find out what the news from Lawrencium was. She tried again, "Non, he veux les histories nouvelles de Bretagne."
The girl's face brightened. "Oui, la Bretagne. Le chevalier que vous êtes venu avec est de Bretagne. Il peut vous dire que les contes à son sujet, égalisent peut-être des neufs."
The Queen peered at her, trying to catch up with what words she thought she recognized . "Chevalier? That's Elerde. Why would I want news about Elerde. Comptes? Maybe she wants Elerde to pay for our rooms up front. And what was that last? Oeufs?" She shook her head. "Non, je n'ai pas femme. Pas de oeufs." She had just told the girl, who had thought she wanted stories about Brittany, which she surely could get from her very own Breton knight, that she had no woman, no eggs. The girl stood timidly and ran out of the scullery.
Josephine was standing in the scullery still when the cook came in with the scullery maid and shooed her out, with all due respect of course. She wandered back down the hall and into the tavern itself. The noise in the bustling room died abruptly as singing drunkards, gaming brigands, swearing sailors, some cackling whores, male and female but all in soiled dresses, broke off what they were doing to turn and stare at her. She stood looking back like a refugee from Camelot Barbie and raised one hand in a greeting. "Oh. Hi. Nice to meet you. I'm Josephine. Say, while I have your ears, does anyone know any news of Christenlande? The King? All that stuff?"
The crowd all kept staring . Someone belched from somewhere on the floor. A groggy voice said, "Did somebody say something about Christenlande?"
Josephine clapped her hands in delight and, best she could, made her way through the motley crowd to the voice. She had to endure obscene slobbering sounds in her ear, an occasional pinch on her bottom, and someone was tossing peanuts down the front of her gown. She found the man at last lying under one of the long tables. She crouched and peered under the bench a portly bawd was sitting on and said, "I was looking for someone who could tell me what the latest news is from Lawrencium? Did the courtesan have her baby?"
As the whore listened, understanding absolutely nothing of the conversation, the Queen and the drunk carried on a conversation with Josephine kneeling on all fours to look at the man. The whore leaned to Josephine and whispered in her ear, "Madame, vous ne pourriez pas vouloir rester là en positioned chiien, suggesting caution about adopting a doggy position in this environment.
The man recounted what would've sounded perfectly normal in "Soap Opera Digest". It was like "Ye Light That Guideth", "As the World Doth Sit there and Stay Flat" and "The Young and the Ruthless” all wrapped into one. He told her how the King had put aside the courtesan, tried to marry her off, then found out she was carrying his child. Her sham pregnancy was found out, but not before saving some lady and her baby's life, and then her Irish pop star lover had discovered she planned to poison the Queen, who by the way had run off with some French guy, and turned her in. There was a big trial and the lady was found guilty, but everyone in town came to testify on her behalf so the King sent her to a nunnery instead but she disappeared from her cell and was probably wandering around the countryside with amnesia.
The Queen waited until the end of the story and then asked, "So she didn't have her baby?"
Note: Any astute reader will notice that I was less guarded here than I was in the novel about my bague and general antipathy towrds the queen. If you want to understand this, go back and read the letters and stories from the 1960s. As Rufus says at the end of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure", she "gets better."