Welcome to the Lions and Lilies Advent Calendar for 2014. We hope you enjoy exploring the favourite medieval recipes of the characters who feature in ‘The Lily and the Lion’, ‘The Order of the Lily’ and ‘The Gilded Crown.’ Please look out for our special gift on December 25th.
The ladies at Lions and Lilies would like to wish our readers a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy 2015.
Please click on the Santa to receive a gift from the ladies at Lions and Lilies – ‘A Medieval Christmas’ eBook. The book is available for free on iTunes on Kobo. If you do not have a Kobo reader you can download the software from the Kobo link below. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, Amazon have listed the book for 99c so we suggest you view it via Kobo or iTunes.
Cathy A and Cathy T would like to thank you for your support during 2014 and hope you and your loved ones enjoy a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 17
Inside the noisy hall, Arnaud-Amanieu d’Albret gave a hearty guffaw and shook his finger at the pretty blonde attached to his arm. Beside him, Gillet d’Albret, dressed in a dark green doublet and black silk chausses, smiled affably. The woman at his side slid closer and possessively hooked her fingers around his elbow. Arnaud moved to whisper in his cousin’s ear, nodding at Gillet’s escort.
‘Her companion says she’s already under your spell. Another goblet of wine and she’ll gladly be under you. But I am thinking she’ll have to lure you first. What is wrong, cousin? You do not enjoy yourself?’
Gillet looked around the hall. ‘’Tis nothing, Arn. I think I have been away from court too long. All this jabbering hurts my ears and I prefer the scent of fresh grass in open fields.’
Arn laughed and slapped his cousin’s back lightly. ‘You have slept beneath the stars for too many nights, my friend. Come, put aside your peasant instincts and enjoy whilst you may. Ah, here is another introduction. Maybe this beauty can tempt you. Christ’s nails! Forget what I just said. I’m tempted myself!’
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 17
The page boy stood at the entrance and frowned at the unescorted woman. He was waiting to take her name to the Master of Ceremony. Another couple jostled past to engage the lad and Cécile took a moment to calm herself. With trembling hands she brushed away imaginary specks from the midnight-blue velvet of her low-cut gown. Her throat was adorned by a string of pearls upon which one brilliant sapphire hovered tantalisingly above her breasts, her cleavage delicately enhanced by the daring scoop of the gold embroidered neckline. The fine cut of cloth clung to her bodice and hips, accentuating her svelte figure, before flaring into an abundant skirt. Such bold attire was entirely due to her own mother, Joan, Fair maid of Kent, whose latest whim set the standards throughout the English courts. And here, in Bordeaux, this new court was eager to please as it prepared itself for the imminent arrival of the heir-apparent. Cécile brushed nervously at her head, her shorter hair cleverly entwined into false pieces that were plaited on either side in ‘rams-horns’ and contained within gold cauls. The fillet was adorned with tiny sapphires and pearls across the brow, the headdress complete with a frothy veil joined under her chin. She was a picture of beauty but she had needed no reflection in polished silver to know. Gabriel’s eyes and low whistle had spoken volumes.
Book 2 – ‘The Order of the Lily’- Chapter 3
Edward kicked at the dirty hay. ‘I give you leave to sit among the fleas. You look as though you are about to expire and I am not ready to have you do that … yet.’
Gillet collapsed onto his haunches and leaned against the wall, his movements clumsy for his ankles were fettered by leg irons. He swung his manacled hands to drape loosely over his legs and, levelling his gaze, watched with surprise as Edward lowered himself against the opposite wall so they were face-to-face.
The Prince brushed back his reddish-gold crop of hair from his brow and exhaled. The amber eyes were pensive and gloomy. ‘There was a time when you and I were friends. What happened?’
Book 2 – ‘The Order of the Lily’ – Chapter 22
Cécile nodded and Minette left for the washroom. Jean Petit, content for once, gurgled from the bed as his mother tenderly stroked his naked form. ‘You are so perfect,’ she whispered adoringly. Cupping his downy head and tiny buttocks, she lifted him to her shoulder and her senses filled with his wonderful aroma. ‘How can I deny anyone such a miracle?’ Tears welled in her eyes and flowed down her cheeks unchecked. ‘Forgive me, my love, for what I must do.’
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 10
Lady Dunbar was waiting in the solar when Catherine appeared over an hour later. ‘How did you sleep?’ the older woman asked.
‘Well, I believe. ’Tis quite an indulgence to rest upon an over-stuffed mattress,’ Catherine reflected. ‘It has taken some time for me to become accustomed to such softness. The bedding at Denny Abbey was not quite so forgiving.’
‘I have nay the opportunity to know Lady Pembroke. I am told she is most … revered.’
‘She expects a great deal from the novices and even more from those who have taken their vows.’ Catherine accepted Lady Dunbar’s hand and took the seat beside her, close by the fire. She had taken extra care with her appearance this morning and allowed English Mary to fuss over her hair. Catherine had been feeling the loss of female companionship and now that she had been provided the pleasure of Lady Dunbar’s company, she was determined to prove her worth. ‘I wish to thank you for your offer to assist me during my visit to Edinburgh. Your advice will be most gratefully received.’
‘I believe we will both enjoy the experience.’ Agnes smiled. ‘It does my heart good to spend time wit’ the young. Now, I am told your husband has just ridden oot wit his brother?’
‘He often leaves me to sleep on,’ Catherine grimaced. ‘He believes I am in need of additional rest!’
‘And that bothers you?’
‘A little, for I am not ill. In fact, I feel very well indeed.’
‘Men are strange creatures. They think nothing of our safety when they take up arms in the name of their king, leaving us to defend their castles, yet when we undertake the duty we were born to, that of motherhood, we are suddenly seen as frail and delicate.’
‘Perhaps their future sons are worth more to them than mere property?’
‘Not to all, Catherine.’ Lady Dunbar smiled, her eyes glinting with mischief. ‘I have known men, and some women, who would sacrifice their entire family to protect their inherited rights.’
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 6
‘Your son requires a strong hand.’ Simon’s eyebrows rose as he watched his nephew’s departure. ‘How old is he now?’
‘Nay sufficient for what you suggest. I want him home, here, wit’ me,’ Beatrix retorted angrily.
‘A boy does not become a man by clinging to his mother’s skirts.’
‘Walter will decide Robert’s future.’
‘Your husband holds out for a position above your son’s worth,’ Simon replied. ‘Robert should be in service. It would certainly help curb the viper that is his tongue!’
‘I dinna care what you think. He is the Bruce’s grandson! He’ll no be someone’s lowly page. We’ll wait ’til he’s offered a place to squire for a knight of the highest standing.’
‘And in the meantime, he becomes a bored, little swine who bullies his siblings and menaces his mother.’
Beatrix sat down at the table, filled an empty goblet and drank the entire contents. ‘That’s no concern o’ yours, dear brother.’
‘I am simply offering advice, dear sister,’ Simon replied sarcastically. ‘The solution to a problem is often clearer to those who are some distance away.’
‘Perhaps you should take care o’er the hens in your own coop than roost o’er mine!’ Beatrix smirked at Catherine as she re-filled her goblet. ‘Eh, sister dear?’
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 4
‘I’m English Mary. They call me that ’cause I’m English, ya see. Married a Scot, I did. Poor buggar! Didn’t know what hit ’im,’ she rambled. ‘As you can see I like me pottage and he, well, he was just a wee twig of a thing. Nearly crushed ’im, I did! But he enjoyed his bath.’
Catherine squeezed her lids closed as Mary scratched at her scalp, strong fingertips dislodging the weeks of grime accumulated on her travels from France and England.
‘You’ve got beautiful hair, but it’s all dry and knotted. I’ll fix it for ya,’ Mary prattled on. ‘I’ll rub some rosehip oil into the ends and comb it through.’
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 14
The following morning Simon discovered Walter at the door of the passage leading to the servant’s building, his doublet open and his chausses untied.
‘Wexford,’ Walter sneered in greeting.
‘Finished fornicating?’ Simon asked sarcastically.
‘For now, though I may return later as one young maid is a juicy as a lemon and just as bitter and I do so appreciate a struggle.’
Simon wrinkled his nose in disgust.
‘Don’t look at me like that! You’ve had your share of women and I have to wet my cock somewhere. Your sister won’t even …’
‘Shut your filthy mouth.’
‘The high and mighty Simon, the second son made good. Go ahead and defend your sister’s honour. No one else will. She is a drunken hag who gives me naught but screeching bairns, most of whom should have been drowned at birth.’
Simon slammed his fist into Walter’s chin, sending the small man tumbling into several empty wine barrels, splintering one through the middle.
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 13
Fearful of the whole town centre catching alight, guards began scooping water from nearby barrels and throwing it haphazardly over the burning villagers. Taking advantage of the disarray, Armand threw his own bucketfuls onto the bonfire, enough to staunch the flames and raise a smoke cloud which allowed him to climb up unnoticed. He raised his dagger to slit the ropes when his arms were suddenly slammed by a spade and two guards nabbed him. It was over before he could sing out.
Dragged over the stones, Armand d’Albret was an offering to the disgruntled mob and they kicked, clawed, and spat. He landed heavily at the foot of the dais, sprawling next to Reynaud, similarly caught, bruised and torn. Both men found their hands and neck snapped into a stock.
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 12
‘Good! Then it is settled!’ Lady Dunbar clapped her hands together. ‘For the duration of your visit, Lady Wexford, I shall loan you Tiphanie as a companion. You two are almost the same age and I believe,’ Lady Dunbar turned to Tiphanie, ‘the Lady Catherine has a sister in France. You will have much to discuss. Run along, dear, and pack your belongings.’
The girl inclined her head and ran off, her face jubilant.
‘She is very striking,’ commented Catherine.
‘Her colouring is that of Douglas clan. They are known for their glossy, red locks and startling green eyes.’
Book 2 – ‘The Order of the Lily’ – Chapter 12
Cécile stood in her room a short time later and distractedly straightened the folds of a deep green gown of musterdevillers as Minette tussled with the laces.
‘He is staying.’
‘Milady?’ Her maid held out the dark, wine coloured surcotte and Cécile wriggled into it, settling the lozenge pattern symmetrically over her stomach.
‘Griffith has chosen to stay on as milord’s squire.’
Minette brushed a non-existent speck from the expensive Normandy wool, her cheeks colouring to a rosy glow.
Cécile reached out and cradled Minette’s chin in her palm. ‘He will be in need of a friend,’ she added softly.
Minette’s eyelashes fluttered and she lowered her gaze. ‘Yes, milady.’
‘And since you deign to speak with him, there are times when I would have you honour me the same way.’
Her face lit with a shy smile. ‘Yes, milady.’
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 13
As though they had been heard, a buxom wench fetched Griffith’s empty tankard and slid onto his lap with feline grace. Her fingers worked to smooth his tangled crop. ‘Big, strong man like you needs plenty of refreshment.’ Griffith’s cheeks glowed saffron as he was afforded a generous view of her cleavage. ‘There’s more where that came from,’ the girl whispered, kissing his temple. ‘Let me know what you decide, honey.’ She left with a chuckle.
Book 1 – ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Chapter 6
‘Gillet will soon be returning?’ I asked, watching her face intently.
‘I suppose so,’ she replied without looking up from her mug of mead.
‘Did he not tell you when?’
‘Not really. He speaks more to you than to me.’
‘But I thought as you are close he would tell you more.’
‘You assume incorrectly.’ Anaïs stared long and hard at me then drained her goblet. ‘Some say Gillet is very handsome. Some say he sits fine on a horse. I say he sits better on a woman, but like all men he often needs encouragement.’ Her sneer was unmistakable. She knew that I knew! And I was mortified!
‘My dear, devoted Sister Mary Catherine,’ she continued, ‘so innocent and so naïve. You think us all free from sin and accept all that you have is honestly obtained. You will learn and you will do so quickly. When you want something from a man you must pay a price.’
‘I am sure I do not know your meaning.’ I fought against the feeling of dread slowly seeping through my chest and fumbled for my concealed rosary as Anaïs sauntered from the room.
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 24
Simon swung his weapon towards Robiérre, the blade striking the top of a high-backed chair that the Frenchman ducked behind. Simon kicked out at the leg, toppling the seat, but Robiérre was nimble and recovered quickly. He drew a dagger and snatched the baby from the cradle by the fire, pressing the tip of the weapon into the little boy’s cheek.
‘One more step and I will drive this right through his skull.’
Simon stood motionless, his weapon raised. ‘Only a coward uses a child as a shield.’
‘You think you can dissuade my actions with insults, Wexford,’ Robiérre laughed. ‘It is Lord Wexford, is it not?’
Simon nodded. A small bead of sweat ran from his brow down his cheek. He had made a very stupid mistake.
Book 1 – ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Chapter 20
He stood at the doorway, his dagger’s point thrust to the throat of Matilda, his other hand reefing her hair.
‘Greetings, John.’ Simon’s condescension was clear as he surreptitiously stepped in front of me.
‘Move away from her, Wexford.’ Moleyns sneered at me, a nervous tic causing the scar on his face to jump erratically.
I was still kneeling, my hands in the straw where I had been about to pick up the last fallen item.
‘Give me the girl and I’ll give you Matilda.’
I could see his weapon digging into her neck and although there was no blood, her skin was pinched and tight. Anaïs wriggled to her feet, her eyes alight with glee as though desperate to assist our foe.
‘I should reconsider if I were you, John. Looks to me like you’re alone.’
‘Ah, that’s where you’re mistaken. My men are right outside the stable.’ Moleyns’ eyes flicked left then right as he stepped further through the door. ‘Hand over the girl, Wexford, and I will be on my way.’
‘No!’ shrieked Lady Matilda, desperately wriggling within Moleyns’ grasp.
‘I will not hand over Lady Holland,’ Simon declared, taking the final pace between Moleyns and me.
‘Pity,’ said Moleyns. ‘I was under the impression that she would enjoy a reunion with her sister.’
Book 1 – ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Chapter 23
‘And bring me a flagon of your best wine,’ bawled Salisbury. ‘You, set a guard around this inn, and you, lock these two in here.’
Anaïs broke free of Roderick and snared Salisbury’s arm. ‘You promised me,’ she hissed. ‘You promised me Gillet.’
Salisbury sneered and brushed her off as though she were a bothersome insect. ‘So I did. But it is out of my hands now. You should have brought them directly to me as agreed.’ At his nod, the guards shoved Roderick into the first room.
‘No, don’t! I can help you, I swear,’ begged Anaïs as she struggled against the soldier’s hold.
Salisbury grinned. ‘Throw her in with the traitors.
Book 1 – ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Chapter 11
That left me ensconced in Madame Duvall’s company. Huffing impatience, I flung my loathed needlework lesson onto the chair and walked to the window of the inn’s salon. She would do better trying to teach a snake to fly! I stared morosely at the bleak mist beyond as my chaperon continued to work her tapestry. The silence hung between us more ominous than the thunderclouds outside.
‘’Twill do you no good to brood,’ she eventually commented. ‘They will return when they return and not a moment before. No doubt bearing more gifts to pamper your every whim.’
She was referring to the new set of vair tippets that graced the sleeves of my pink bliaut, and the beaded, cordon leather belt.
‘They spoil you needlessly, those two. Now, were you my ward, I would not put up with such nonsense. Nothing wrong with good homespun.’
Book 1 – ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Chapter 17
She gaped as if he had just stated that the Pope had taken a wife. ‘Of course, my boy. Can you think of a better way for your cousin to spend her time with us?’
I buried my hands in my lap and frowned at Armand as Violetta sighed wistfully. ‘I was once presented to the Duchesse de Valois, during the reign of our dear King Philippe. I will show you how to curtsey before royalty, my dear, with such elegance that you will catch the eye of everyone at court. I know. I did it!’ Her eyes took on a faraway glaze as Madame Rosetta placed four cups of perry on the table.
‘She did,’ declared the more robust sister, earnestly nodding her corroboration, ‘and would be delighted to teach you, child, if you so wish.’
‘Thank you,’ I replied. ‘But I have no need to know. Court is the last place I desire to be.’
Violetta’s head flew up, startled like a tiny bird who had just landed in the wrong nest. ‘No wish to go to court? Oh, non, non, non. That will never do! You must attend, for where else will you meet a handsome young man to wed? Oh, non, non, non. We shall make you such a lady that knights will be drawing swords for the honour of your company.’
Book 1 – ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Chapter 15
‘Put him on a field with twenty other knights,’ guffawed Gabriel, ‘and he is a hungry lion. But show him a tiny grey creature and the man wobbles like jelly.’
‘I’ll show Cécile who wobbles!’ Mouse grabbed Gabriel’s hand and, holding it fast upon the board, spread the fingers. A look of absolute horror swept his companion’s face, both of them yelling at once. ‘Quick,’ bawled Mouse, ‘give me a blade.’ Gillet slid his dagger across the table and Mouse was temporarily distracted as he studied the bejewelled haft. ‘A fine piece you have there, Bellegarde.’
‘Yes, I know.’
Armand jumped up and bodily braced the still protesting Gabriel, holding his wrist firm.
‘Watch this,’ whispered Gillet.
Interested spectators had begun to gather, encouraging both men. Mouse clamped his great paw onto Gabriel’s wrist and began striking downward with the dagger, stabbing the table between each of the exposed fingers, slowly at first, then steadily gaining speed. Gabriel was screaming now, the excited horde joining his yells, raising their voices higher as Mouse moved faster and faster, until I could not distinguish the blade from the haft. As the caterwauling reached a crescendo, Mouse tossed the weapon into the air, and caught it with his teeth. The mob went wild, Gillet, Armand and I amongst them. Poor Gabriel collapsed onto the table.
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 15
A shaft of sunlight beamed into the widening aperture as someone drew back the cellar trapdoor. Gabriel de Beaumont de l’Ouis blinked several times, the light piercing his eyes and setting his brain to banging around his skull again. The bump under his hair had risen to egg-size.
‘Get up, woman-slayer! Time to meet your maker.’ The harsh laugh ended in an abrupt fit of coughing.
Gabriel shifted from the dirt floor, the elevation spinning his head so hard, he almost toppled. He felt as though he was tumbling from his horse at a joust, unsure which way the ground lay but expecting to meet it at any moment.
‘I said get up here!’
Gabriel shuffled to the ladder which had been dropped through the hole. Even in his current state of mind, he had enough nous to know separating his tightly-bound feet and rope-cocooned arms the distance required to conquer the staves, would be a challenge.
He dragged himself up, slug-like, and emerged, dazzled as a new butterfly, into a semi-circle world of unwelcoming faces.
Book 1 – ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Chapter 20
Matilda was quickly by my side, clasping my hand as we stood watching Lady Salisbury trudge back to the house. ‘’Tis sad, is it not? I feel for Elizabeth,’ she said. ‘Just remember, Catherine, there must never be a time in your life when you should feel ashamed of the love that grows between a man and a woman. Unfortunately, any love that Salisbury felt was for his mother, and for her alone, a great sickness indeed.’
Book 1 – ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Chapter 16
His room was unbearably hot. Pushing open the window, Simon drank in the cool night air, but it was not enough to douse his own fire of guilt. Had he done the right thing? Deceit was a wicked man’s armour and each lie uttered only sharpened the sword.
A movement in the bushes below caught his eye and he instantly withdrew behind the curtain. His eyebrows arched as a hooded figure slipped into the stable. It was not long before a horse galloped off. The woman quickly retraced her steps, creeping behind the neatly clipped hedge. Perplexed, he watched her until she slipped out of view, presumably through the kitchen door.
Kicking off his boots, Simon threw himself across the bed and frowned, realisation dawning. Once again he had underestimated Catherine. Without doubt a courier had just been dispatched to France. Would the sisters be able to forgive him?
Book 3 – ‘The Gilded Crown’ – Chapter 2
‘Come on then, dear sister, let me show you Simon’s little keep.’ Roderick grasped her elbow and encouraged her forward, his playfulness soothing her fears.
‘Wait! Where’s Gabby?’ Catherine exclaimed. The baby had travelled from Denny Abbey tucked in the cart, fast asleep in a basket.
‘Allow me.’ Roderick climbed up onto the running boards and gently passed the baby to Catherine. ‘He certainly is a compliant young man. My daughters all squawked like plucked chickens when removed from their cozy beds!’
‘I did not know you had children.’
‘Three,’ Roderick smiled. ‘All precious and thoroughly spoilt!’
‘Do you not miss them?’ Catherine asked.
‘Yes,’ he hesitated, ‘but not their incessant bickering. It pains my ears and destroys my appetite. Absence though, softens the effect, however I am not yet gone long enough!’
Book 1 – ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Chapter 6
I picked at the bread, soaking each piece within the hot fluid before placing them in my mouth.
‘Do you have rotten teeth?’ he asked.
‘I do not think so, M’lord.’
‘Then why do you soften the dough?’
Studying the remainder of the loaf beside me, I considered my answer, unaccustomed to such conversations. ‘I sat beside Sister Bridget and she ate thus.’
‘Is she old?’
‘I suppose she is, M’lord.’
‘Did you not think to ask her?’
The idea was ridiculous. ‘I am not permitted to inquire, M’lord, only to accept.’
‘Not any more, and stop calling me M’lord. I am Simon.’
‘Yes, M… yes.’
He smirked as I stumbled over his name. ‘So there is nothing wrong with you beside the fact that you weigh less than a sparrow.’
‘I do not know. I mean, I do not think so.’
He was watching me intently. ‘How old are you?’
‘Lady d’Armagnac, my sister, tells me that we are nineteen summers.’
‘I don’t suppose you ever thought to ask Mary St Pol yourself? No?’ I shook my head. ‘Why not?’
‘I was not permitted to speak unless spoken to.’
He huffed, as though he did not approve. ‘Smile.’ I stared at him, unable to decide exactly what he meant. ‘I want you to smile at me,’ he clarified. I raised the corners of my mouth. ‘Good Lord, that wasn’t much of an effort.’ I tried again, this time revealing my teeth. ‘They look fine to me, so, no excuses. From now on you will eat like a young woman and not an old crone.’
I nodded as he passed me the crusty end of the loaf. The taste was exceptional. ‘Why do you blaspheme?’ I inquired cautiously.
‘That is your first question to me? Why do I blaspheme?’ He burst into laughter, slapping his hand to his thigh. ‘God knows, my dear. God knows!’