Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Episode V

Horatius came into the lady’s presence with discreet alacrity, though he had deliberately left his dark blue jerkin undone, revealing a crimson waistcoat. Matched with the loose drape of breeches, his costume more than hinted of the Moorish garb. The odd smile about his lips suggested this intention, as he first glanced at his anxious valet, then the lady.

Sitting in magnificent possession of one of his cunningly wrought, birch chairs, she rose slowly on seeing him, her willowy form revealing the tallest woman Horatius had ever beheld. A veil of embroidered fuchsia obscured the face in a cloudy haze, while ebon plaited hair hung freely against her sea green gown. Only two eyes of cacao, settled under black eyebrows on olive skin, showed any glimmer of the woman herself.

Horatius, a man so rarely bewitched until he had come to Fiona Saoirsesophie, never sought to hide the fact from himself when he was enchanted. He bowed to his guest, and already he determined to imprison her as he was imprisoned. The unprincipled voluptuary begged leave to seat himself, as breakfast was laid before the two.

‘I have come this early for no idle reason,’ the lady said lowly in the fluid, accent of Arabia, as she resumed her seat. A flick of her wrist and an elegant African brought a marble coffer before them. The lady opened it, and drew out a white melon, then a yellow, and last a green.

‘There are no such delicacies grown here as yet, but I propose to do such wonders on the estate which thou hast procured for me,’ she continued, cutting the luscious fruit into fine cubes.

‘A most handsome proposal,’ Horatius smiled, ‘wine has been perfected here by the castle estate, but perhaps fruit is still lacking.’ He cocked his head. ‘Wilt thou eat with the veil obscuring thy mouth? In this pious country, it is a shield only fitting in the presence of base men, and our ladies are too well guarded and virtuous to admit its necessity.’

The dark eyes met his again, and very slowly, she drew the gauze from her face, which smiled in an ironic pout. ‘I am no longer Muslim, thou shouldst know, and as the Archbishop may witness at the time I choose. My name is Breehna Lucia, and I have come to this land as a renegade from my own for abandoning the creed I once professed.’

Horatius chuckled as he sampled the fruit, ‘Such intelligence would have eased thine entrance into our province.’

‘Undoubtedly,’ she replied laconically.

Breakfast being concluded, Horatio rose and offered Breehna his hand. ‘Wouldst thou care to join me for coffee on the dais?’

She arched her brows, placing her hand on his more lightly than the kiss of an eyelash on a lover’s cheek. ‘I was not aware that coffee was so regularly served in this northern province.’

‘It is not. I was given the sapling of a Java tree during my sojourn in Arabian lands.’

Breehna took in the golden darkness of his countenance from the periphery of her ebon orbs. Yes, he could have been in Arabia. Her eyelids fluttered as they came out on the dais into the flushed rising sun. As if to guide her, her host tilted her hand to the left while pressing his rough palm against her wrist. She felt her cheeks warm as he led her towards the table, where a mandolin lay propped against one of its legs.

‘I see thou admirest the instrument. It is made from the wood of a rose bush and was embellished by the wife of the bard who played upon it. Be seated and I shall play for thee.’

The lady seated herself with an unsettling feeling of gratitude, and brought the black brew to her lips. Its soothing familiarity comforted her, until Horatius began to sing. It was a Spanish melody that had the ring of kinship with her own culture, and its yearning rendered her breathless. Not knowing to fear, Breehna turned her dark eyes towards those of the enchanter.


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Warsaw, Poland
Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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