Sweet Lady Fair – Medeltidens Musik.
“Why do they do it mother?”
Liliana’s eyebrows arched and she raised her gaze from the tapestry which she was pricking beside the casement.
“Why do they do what, child?”
“Why do men always sing of how we torment them with our beauty, but neglect them and repel their advances? Did you not yield to Lord Brenner?”
The older woman’s eyes crinkled into a smile as she remembered fondly.
“Aye, I did. In the fulness of time. I would not make myself too easy a prize for your father. Nor should you when young men seek you. Does Ethelgyth not tell you the sweetest fruit is always on the highest branches?”
A gentle blush colored the cheeks of the young lady Orla. “Mother! I no longer climb trees in the orchard. I study needlework, and good housebondry, and are you not pleased with me?”
“I am, daughter. I am. Ethelgyth, help me explain!”
The nurse, old enough to have tended the young Liliana once, and now charged with the governance of her daughter Orla, sets aside the distaff with which she has been spinning.
“There is a sacred gift young lady, which a woman can give only once. And it is meet in the eyes of God and holy church that we give it only to our housebondman. Custom dictates that we give it on the night we are wed.”
Orla’s eyes widened momentarily, and a deep crimson blush overtook the gentler color of her cheeks that had not yet settled.
“I think I understand now.” she mused softly. “And we must guard our gift as valiantly as the squire who would be a knight upholds the code of honor.”