Manual The Falcon and the Flower (Medieval Plantagenet Trilogy)

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Some of them were his cousins from Provence and Lusignan, who thought themselves above curbs and restraints. Though King Henry had forbidden them to joust, Lord Edward and his companions had ridden over to Ware to take part in a tournament. That was the fateful day that Giles Marshal had lost his life in a jousting accident. Because Rosamond was only twelve at the time, the gory details had been kept from her, but she had heard whispers of the half-wild charger that had trampled his body. At first the nightmares had come every night, but with time, they had become less frequent, and she had been free of them for almost two years.

Rosamond remembered the months following the accident, how everyone had been kind to her. Giles's companions, led by Lord Edward, had been soberly contrite and extremely solicitous.

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Because she was all alone in the world, several had sought her hand in marriage, and at Lord Edward's insistence she had been betrothed to his dearest friend, Rodger de Leyburn, who held the coveted post of royal steward in the prince's household. Yet Rosamond could not help feeling a secret resentment toward Edward and his high-spirited companions.

Rosamond sighed. It had happened five years ago, yet still she thought of the prince and his friends as arrogant, lawless, spoiled young devils!

And it was true. They had all been wild and courted trouble with a vengeance. She thought of the Demoiselle's older brothers, Henry and Simon de Montfort, who had been Lord Edward's first companions. They were no different. All they thought of were weapons and horses and tumbling the maidservants.

Her thoughts inevitably drifted to a more worthy knight, Sir Rickard de Burgh. He was the son of the wealthy and noble Falcon de Burgh, Lord of Connaught. Sir Rickard was a twin, and reputed to possess the mystic gift of seeing into the future. He was a mature man of middle years, not a dissolute youth, but maturity only enhanced his rugged good looks. His thick black hair had a distinguished touch of gray at the temples, and his brilliant green eyes had attractive laugh-lines at their corners.

His voice, so low and melodious with its Irish lilt, had insinuated itself into Rosamond's heart the first time she heard it, and it made her sigh whenever he spoke. To Rosamond, Sir Rickard de Burgh was everything that was honorable and chivalrous, for he had pledged himself to serve and guard Princess Eleanor Plantagenet when she was tragically widowed by William Marshal's untimely death.

It was rumored that he remained unwed because no lady had yet touched his heart. Rosamond secretly daydreamed that perhaps she would be the one he would honor with his favor. Her pulse fluttered at the mere thought of Lady de Montfort's knight-errant. Her maiden's heart overflowed with awe and admiration for the handsome Irish warrior. In the morning, Rosamond forgot about the dream as she and Demi dressed and learned from their tiring-women that Earl Simon had returned from Wales with a large group of knights.

As she saw the joy transform her friend's face, banishing the worry Demi experienced whenever her father went on campaign, Rosamond was thankful she no longer had to live with such paralyzing fear. To love someone and lose them was the worst thing that could happen in this world. The Demoiselle was eager to see her father, and Rosamond blushed, hoping that Sir Rickard de Burgh also had returned and not tarried in Wales at one of his castles.

The girls spurned the head veils held out by their tiring-women, and like two hoydens, picked up their skirts and raced from the ladies' quarters of the castle down to the Great Hall.

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Kenilworth was like a royal court in its size and importance. The household was a hive of activity, with Eleanor de Montfort, Countess of Leicester, presiding over it like a queen bee. She was the sister of King Henry of England, but she took as much pride in the title her husband had given her as she did in the title of princess. Though Eleanor now had grown children, she was still a beautiful woman. She was vividly dark, and far too vain to allow her hair to turn gray.

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These days, however, she wore her hair up, fastening the curls with jeweled pins or braiding it into a regal coronet to enhance her small, five-foot stature. She wore cosmetics, painting her mouth with lip rouge, and using kohl to outline her startling amethyst-colored eyes and to darken her lashes. Eleanor prided herself on her slim figure. Her waist was almost as tiny as it had been before she had given birth to her children, and the necklines of her gowns were always cut to show off her beautiful breasts.

Pride of blood showed in her every gesture. Eleanor was a vibrant woman who loved to laugh almost as much as she loved clothes and jewels. She was both a princess and a countess down to her fingertips.

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Her husband not only adored her, but also trusted her implicitly. When Simon spied his daughter, he swooped her up in his massive arms and swung her about. Demoiselle, you have grown into a woman in the months I've been gone. You rival your mother in beauty; I just hope and pray you are neither as willful nor as wicked as she. Though he was in his fifties, Simon was still an extremely virile man, with a commanding presence. He had a soldier's body; the muscles on his six-foot, four-inch frame were well honed from the rigors of the Welsh campaign.

Simon de Montfort also had a supreme air of confidence that drew younger men like a lodestone. His daughter dimpled with delight and gave him an affectionate kiss of greeting. No doubt it will burst at the seams when your cousin Edward arrives. Her brother King Henry and Simon de Montfort were almost enemies. Just because his father and I disagree on every conceivable matter doesn't mean that Edward and I cannot be friends.

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      Falcon And The Flower

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