The Archer (part 4 of 6)

“You have not annulled our marriage yet?” I ask amazed, not believing what is happening, “Nor remarried in the years gone by since? But Robin led me to believe that you were both a Lady and a widow?”

“In a way, according to law and custom, I am a widow. The Reeve has declared you, William Archer, my missing husband, to be deceased by his Bishop’s decree this Lady Day past, very much against my own wishes,” Alwen insists with feeling, her jaw juts out defiantly, “I have refused to accept his ruling while I believed rumours of your competitions proved that you still lived and therefore refuse to wear widow’s weeds or bow to acknowledge Sir Giles’ imposed engagement. Even now, the Reeve has ridden to seek leave for the annulment of the marriage by the higher authority of the Archbishop. So, it is up to you, my lord, whether you leave me to the fate of being married to a man I detest, or otherwise.”

She looks at me intently, with those big clear blue eyes, her knuckles white as she grips the edge of the bath. Those same penetrating eyes that have haunted every night of my life since I first saw them all too briefly so many years ago.

What is she saying? I can barely comprehend it. She doesn't want me to upset her happy life running her successful inn, nor does she want the old Shire Reeve to steal all her hard work and deny Robin his inheritance as her son?

What of the lord of this manor, I wonder? I saw on my way into the settlement the obvious recent improvements to the church wall, the new tenements, the enlarged inn, rebuilt mill and leet, and the new village well atop the hill by the church. The local Lord clearly has purpose, energy and considerable wealth at his disposal to invest.

Of course! That is who she wishes to be free to marry, the Lord of the Manor. A local man, that she has probably known boy and man since before Robin was even born. He is likely of a similar age to Alwen, too young to marry while she was with child.

No, she was never interested in either me or this fat Shire Reeve who is enlisting the help of the church for his own acquisitive purposes. Only yesterday I was in that shire town and saw the crumbling castle and the soldiers under the Reeve's command; they were a rabble.

It was a mistake coming here in the first place and I must be gone from here, now, and rid...

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Tony Spencer
Mar 8 2021

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