Friday 20 December 2013

Udda and Edith - from The King's Chalice historical novel

Content that his daughter was in good hands, Edith’s father prepared to leave for his own estates.  Udda gladly agreed that he would care for her since he too was reluctant to leave Udric who was still too weak to defend himself.
“The Queen has left court. My father has returned with Lord Aethelstan to lead his council. He will arrange for an escort to bring you home. I have heard that the Earl of Chester has returned to his manor. He was heard to suggest that your young man might have been involved in the attack on the King. No, daughter, do not interrupt me, for you should know what is being rumoured at court.”
“Udric was almost killed father. He would never have threatened Aethelstan. The two have been friends since Udric was only a child. How could he have been involved?”
“Chester’s son is not a friend of Udric. He wanted to have you for his wife. Jealousy does strange things to a man’s judgement and that is probably a kind description. You turned him down and I refused him on your behalf. Stay with my father for they may look to question your virtue. That family has tongues like vipers and spread poison without a thought for anyone’s good name. If you have found happiness with Udric and are content then my father and I will protect you as best we can. Bless you daughter! If Udric survives, it will be God’s will and the marriage should go ahead. Udda will not leave his son and it would be a hard father who would deny his daughter the right to nurse her intended.” Lord Brihtric stroked his daughter’s face and kissed her lightly. He bowed quickly to Udda and left the King’s chamber, pulling the heavy curtain across the doorway.
Udda put his arm around Edith’s shoulders. Her cloak lay discarded on the bed.
“I agree with much of what your father said. Lord Chester is forgetting that when the King and Udric went into the mews, I was on the other side of the courtyard. I heard him cry out and the screaming of the birds. There is no truth at all in the lord’s accusations. Many a time Udric has protected Aethelstan from harm. Now that he is King he will have skilled and learned men to advise him. Udric can return to Didlington, finish his house and get married as you planned.
Having been a witness to the attempt on the king’s life he could still be in danger from Edwin’s supporters should the matter come to trial. The assailants themselves can harm no one. The King tells me that they are being kept as chained slaves until they die of exhaustion or old age.”

from The King's Chalice historical novel

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