King Ragnon stood, hands clenched behind his back, and looked out the window of his room.Evaughnlynn planned to leave in the morning for Bar Dor and he was supposed to leave for
Bar Chof. That is definitely not going to happen, honor be damned. He inhaled slowly, fighting his anger at the situation.
There was a knock on his door.
Ragnon barked, “Enter,” but didn’t turn.
“Your majesty.” Beowyn’s voice quivered. “I hate to bother you, but there’s a matter that requires your attention.”
Ragnon sighed and turned around. “What now?”
Beowyn’s face paled. “Ahhh…Uncle…it wasn’t my fault—I swear. I’d never have said anything, on my honor. But—Ahhh—Lady Morrigan tricked me into speaking plainly, and,
well…Ahhh…Rose overheard. And she…Ahhh…insisted I talk to you.”
Ragnon tipped his head to one side and rubbed his forehead. His nephew wasn’t making any sense, as usual. Apparently, Rose and Morrigan overheard something the boy
said. “All right, son, what did you say that they overheard, and how bad was it?”
“Ahhh…that I was in love with her, Uncle.” Beowyn’s hands twitched at his sides. “And she says I must marry her.”
Ragnon’s stomach dropped as his life suddenly grew more complicated. “Which girl did you say you were in love with?”
Beowyn looked ready to faint. “Rose, sir.”
Ragnon’s stomach rebounded and a smile escaped his control. His pressing problem had just vanished. “You said you’re in love with Rose, and she heard you? And now she wants
you to marry her?”
“Yes, sir.” Beowyn stared at the floor, his hands trembling at his sides. He sighed deeply.
“And was what you said true—that you love Rose?”
“Well, yes, Your Majesty.” He looked up. “But I would never have told her.”
Ragnon shook his head. “If I hadn’t been at Tower Farm and seen you fight, I’d swear you’re afraid.” The king stepped over and put his hand on Beowyn’s shoulder and looked into his
eyes. “Do you want to marry Rose?”
Beowyn’s face went flame red. “Of course—but I’m not a fool. I know I’m not good enough for her.”
Ragnon patted his nephew’s shoulder. “True. But then, we’re never good enough for the ones that really matter, my boy.” He smiled. “Well, fortunately for you, you don’t
have to ask my sister for her daughter’s hand, so relax. But you do have to ask me.”
Beowyn’s head snapped up. “You’re not angry?”
“No.” Ragnon shook his head. “I couldn’t be happier. You and Rose will make a wonderful couple.” Ragnon turned and paced back and forth. “I know you planned to go
to Anglia with Evon next year, but I never liked the idea of letting Rose go without a male protector. A woman alone in Anglia invites the wrong kind of attention.”
“I would protect her.”
The king stopped and faced Beowyn. “You’re forgetting the knight’s code. You’d be a courtier from Hawkland, not a member of the house of Anglia, which she’d be as Evon’s
companion. It would be up to King Garthen to protect her. Also, you’re not Rose’s relative, and protecting her would have led to the same problem you had helping Lady Morrigan.
But speaking of the code, let’s get the formalities out of the way.”
Beowyn straightened, then shrugged. “What do I have to do?”
Ragnon laughed deeply, then put his hand on Beowyn’s shoulder. “Funny how young knights never seem to recall that part of the code.” The king rubbed his chin for a few
seconds. “We’re not at home, so we’ll have to make do. But since you’re both from my house, that was already a problem—no way for you to go from home to home.” He nodded his
head side to side. “Although technically Roselyn Manor would have worked for the bride’s home.”
He smiled. “We’ll do what we’d have done at Hawk’s Keep—use the great hall, or in this case, the entry area.” He nodded his head. “I think that if you knock to enter and ask
for her hand, and I bring her to you, that will satisfy the code for your coming to her home.”
Ragnon bit his lip. “Her dowry is more than adequate. My sister saw to that before this trip.” He looked slightly askance at his nephew. “Baron Loegaire tells me he made
you his heir. So wealth and position aren’t a problem.” Then he grinned. “That won’t help later with your future mother-in-law, of course. No man is good enough for her
Ragnon became serious again. “Once your agreement to marry is complete, we can then have the second ceremony and the wedding dance. Afterward, your room here will serve as the trip
to your home and you’ll be properly married.”
Ragnon tilted his head. “Are you all right? You look a little pale.”
“I’m fine.” Beowyn’s shoulders went back and he straightened.
“Good.” Ragnon smiled and rubbed his hands together for several seconds. Then he called, “Cailean, get in here!”
A few seconds later, the young man dashed into the room and came to attention in front of his king. “Good lad.” Ragnon smiled at him. “I have a job for you. But first go
get Baron Loegaire.”
A little over two hours later, Ragnon, King of Hawkland, wearing his favorite dark red robe with white trim, stood next to a very nervous Roselyn, dressed in a borrowed plain white silk
gown. All the manor residents and neighbors, along with every medical guest able to stand, crowded into the large entry room along the walls, anxious to witness a most unusual event in
the freeholds, the handfasting of two nobles.
Evaughnlynn and Neima stood next to Roselyn, who reached out and gave a quick squeezed Evaughnlynn’s hand. “Thank you,” she whispered. “I know you were behind this.”
Evaughnlynn smiled back. “Not me. It was all Morrigan. All I did was tell her where you were hiding after your argument. She said it was the only way she could clear a
path to Captain Tamir.”
Roselyn glanced toward the crowd where Morrigan stood smiling next to Captain Tamir.
A loud knock sounded on the door three times.
King Ragnon looked at the crowd. “This is the first of the two ceremonies held in the marriage of our people. The two families meet to address the issue of joining together through
the marriage. Usually, as in this case, the parties know each other. Occasionally, they don’t, and the meeting also includes a rendition of each family’s history to ensure
compatibility and the absence of impediment to the union or the marriage.”
He glanced at Roselyn then back at the crowd. “Once compatibility is reached, the establishment of the couple as independent individuals is discussed, sometimes referred to as the bride’s
service and dower, or dowry.” He nodded at his valet near the main door.
Cailean, dressed in his livery, called loudly, “Who bids entry to the King’s court?”
Baron Loegaire’s clear, deep voice echoed through the wooden panels. “The noble family of Baron Loegaire of the Wildermarch, seeking formal alliance with the House of Ragnon.”
Ragnon replied, “We know the fame and honor of the House of Loegaire. Let him enter.”
Cailean opened the large double doors then stepped back and bowed. Baron Loegaire and Sir Beowyn, dressed in pantaloons and jackets, but with felt hats in the freeman style, marched in
side by side. Sir Faolan followed, similarly dressed.
Baron Loegaire stopped in front of King Ragnon, bowed and swept off his hat in the process. Sir Beowyn stopped several paces behind. His eyes locked on Lady Roselyn. He leaned
slightly forward. Sir Faolan stopped next to Beowyn.
Roselyn looked at Beowyn with misty eyes and a slight, glowing smile. Her hands at her sides trembled. Her breathing was slow and very deep.
“I propose, Your Majesty,” Baron Loegaire said in a soft voice, “an alliance between our two houses, bonded by the marriage of your niece and my nephew. They are a perfect match, as are
the people of our two houses.”
Suddenly, Beowyn snatched his hat from his head and shifted it from hand to hand for a moment before gripping it tightly in his left.
King Ragnon nodded and smiled. “And what bride service would this marriage bring to my niece?”
“One thousand silver sovereigns, furniture for her comfort, and the love and protection of a noted warrior.” Baron Loegaire placed his hands on his hips and smiled. “If this is
sufficient, what dowry would Lady Roselyn bring to this marriage?”
Ragnon grinned back. “It is sufficient and shows appropriate enthusiasm for the marriage. As dower and dowry, the house of Ragnon pledges one thousand gold ounces and the lands and
hold of Roselyn Manor. In addition, she brings her love and noted beauty, and her talents as a dru and chatelain.”
“That is a most generous dower and dowry and more than acceptable to my house. In our turn, my house pledges eternal fealty to this bond and to the people of Hawkland.” Baron
“As does the house of Ragnon to the house of Loegaire.” The king bowed in turn.
King Ragnon stepped back and folded his hands at his waist as he turned to the guests. “This ends the first of our two traditional ceremonies held in the marriage of our people. We
would normally hold the second ceremony in the spring some months hence. At the time appointed, Lady Roselyn of Hawkland would leave her family home and travel to the home of Sir Beowyn,
where this second ceremony would be held. There she would remain as his wife for the remainder of her days. But first we must hold the second half of the ceremony, the binding of
hands.” Then he reached over to take Lady Roselyn’s right hand and brought her forward.
Baron Loegaire did the same with Sir Beowyn, so that the couple’s right palms were placed against each other. Roselyn spread her fingers, as was traditional. Then Beowyn tightened
his fingers between hers until his fist closed around her hand. Once his grip was tight, Roselyn closed her fingers around his.
Ragnon then took a blue silk ribbon and wrapped it around the couple’s intertwined hands. “This symbolic binding of your hands is a sign of your commitment to one another. As your hands
are now bound, so shall your lives be bound to each other for good or ill from this point on.” He smiled as he looked down at Lady Roselyn. “You’ve been handfasted to Sir Beowyn of
your own decision and free will. So say you, Lady Roselyn?”
Lady Roselyn looked up at her uncle and smiled. “So say I.”
The king turned to his nephew. “You have been handfasted to Lady Roselyn of your own decision and free will. So say you, Sir Beowyn?”
Beowyn looked up at the king and then at the hat in his hand. He held the hat out to Baron Loegaire, who too it. He stuffed his hand quickly into his pocket and his eyes went
wide. “Ahhh—so say I.”
Faolan tapped the baron on the shoulder and pointed at Beowyn’s right jacket pocket. The baron smiled and leaned over to his nephew to whisper, “It’s in your other pocket.”
Beowyn looked down quickly and sighed. Then he grabbed the golden chain sticking out of his right-side pocket with his left hand and pulled out a long, golden chain with a large pendent
attached, a golden shield inset with a black stone on which a solid gold badger was displayed in the defense pose. He sighed deeply and looked at Roselyn, the chain swinging in his
grip. “I gift you this pendent as sign of my pledge to you.”
Roselyn grinned as she looked into his eyes. “Oh, Beowyn, it’s beautiful.” But instead of reaching for the chain, her free hand came up to touch his face. “I love you.”
Beowyn’s hand clutching the chain came up to press her hand against his face. “I love you so much, Rose.”
King Ragnon raised his hands, palm down over their heads. “May God grant you a lifetime of love and peace, happiness and prosperity.” Then he turned to the crowded room again.
“In Hawkland we hold a feast lasting late into the night. Our kind host has allowed me the honor of holding a feast here.” He smiled, raising his hands out to his sides in welcome
and added, more loudly, “Food is being readied in the dining room and more will also be set out in the courtyard for the local people. Forget all care and worry. Come and join with
us in celebration of this union of two houses and the marriage to this young couple!”
While he was speaking with his back turned to the pledged couple, Roselyn moved closer and kissed Beowyn. He, in turn, wrapped his free arm around her tightly and returned the kiss.
Baron Loegaire tapped Beowyn on the shoulder. “You two have to at least show up for the feast and do the traditional dance of the bride and groom.” A little softer he added, “It’s
only after the dance the marriage is normally consummated.”