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Malvern, there was a well-trained staff; and, after my mother died, when I was
seven, women to look after us both when we were very young. All things in
order. Whereas Castle Smythe was-well, you see how Castle Smythe is nowadays.
There was really no other place for Brian to be put. Sir Edmar Claive and his
cousins, who then occupied Malencontri, were not the sort of men any young boy
could be left with; and there were no other suitable households close. So,
Brian was left with us; and, as I say, he and I grew up together.
 How young were you when all this started? Angie asked.
 The first time, Brian was seven and I was five, said Geronde,  although we
might have been brought together as babes too young to remember it also. But
the earliest I remember is, as I say, when I was five; and after that we were
together at least for a time almost each year; so much in each other s
company, like brother and sister, that you d think it would be the last thing
in the world for the two of us to fall in love.
 You did, though, said Angie.
Jim looked out one of the windows at the cloud-flecked sky and a hawk, almost
certainly wild, circling high above the trees beyond the clearing. There had
been an interested, prompting note to Angie s voice that he always dreaded.
The heat of the fire and the wine, half a cupful of which he had been foolish
enough to drink straight, was making him not so much drowsy as dull-witted;
and he was a little afraid that this would turn into one of those  Oh, was
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your great-uncle living in such-and-such a place, then? I wonder if he knew
some of my relatives who lived there? He struggled to keep his eyes open.
Geronde was nodding in answer to Angie s question.
 We did not know it at first, she said.  We only knew as children that we
missed each other when we were apart and were never happier than when we were
together. Oh, we had some terrific fights in those days; but nonetheless, as I
say, one day it turned out we were in love; and later, when I got older, I
told my father that it was Brian I intended to marry- that was during one of
the few times when my father was home and I could talk to him.
 He was around that little? said Angie.
 He was always off on some errand or other that would bring him back loaded
with gold, but he never came back so, said Geronde.  As I say, he and Brian s
father were alike in chasing moonbeams of wealth. In any case, when I told him
how I felt about Brian, he stamped and roared that I would never be allowed to
marry Brian. That I should marry a duke- a prince! It was yet another of his
grand dreams-aside from the fact that I would rather have Brian than any
prince in the world.
She turned abruptly to Jim. Jim woke up and did his best to look alert and
interested.
 This was why I was thinking of coming over to talk to you both, James. Brian
told me you were awaiting the King s gift of the wardship of Robert Falon; and
might need to present yourself in person before his Majesty-and so could not
leave England now. I understand that perfectly; as Brian did.
 Well... said Jim uncomfortably. There had been no doubt that Brian had been
deeply dismayed by Jim s refusal to help him in his search for Geronde s
father in the Holy Land, now that they had found out where Geronde s father
was. For Jim to stay home under these conditions, even at the cost of a
friendship, was the only sensible thing to do, by medieval standards. Land and
wealth were everything; and the gaining of them took precedence over
everything else.
Therefore, Brian s good judgment would agree with the common sense of what
Jim was doing; but nonetheless they were literally blood brothers, in that
they had both shed blood at the same time in more than one affray; and the
ideal of the chivalric knight, toward which Brian himself lived and reached in
everything he did, would have scorned the Falon wealth and property in favor
of aiding a comrade. Geronde could not have helped but feel somewhat as Brian
did.
 Well... said Jim again, hesitantly.
 James, do not think I mean to make any opposition to your decision, said
Geronde earnestly.  In life, we all must make hard choices. I know well how
your heart must have beaten higher, like Brian s, at the thought of a venture
into the Holy Lands; let alone your natural desire to aid a fellow
Companion-at-arms. Already, you will probably have decisions to make and
matters to concern you, as far as the administration of Robert Falon s estates
are concerned. But I thought I might come and plead with you to consider a
certain decision, in spite of all that.
 The fact is, Geronde- Jim was beginning. But Geronde interrupted him again.
 No, she said.  Hear me out, I pray you, James.
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 Of course, said Jim, more uncomfortable than ever.
 I would like to tell you something that I would not otherwise tell anyone,
except perhaps you two, said Geronde.  I can say this because Brian and I are
so alike.
She looked at Angie.
 I never had a close woman friend until you, Angela, she said.  I could
never stand them. Chattering, spineless creatures, most of them- except for
some older ones; and they so stuck in their ways and determined to be right
all the time that I would have fought with them continually. But you were
different, Angela.
 Well, Geronde... said Angie, as obviously embarrassed, Jim noticed with a
certain amount of perverse satisfaction, as he had been himself, a moment
before.
 It is a matter of being able to agree with each other on things, said
Geronde. She turned her attention back to Jim again.  It is exactly that way
with Brian where you are concerned, James. He never had any close friends of
his own spirit and rank. He must always be in contest with them-better than
any at anything, if it killed him; and indeed, he has been better than most.
As a result, he has found few men he could respect; and of those, he had full
respect only for superiors such as Sir John Chandos, who is so much older and [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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