Lady Joslyn insisted. Had Giles father survived, he’d certainly have seen his son wed by now. It was high time Giles take a wife and since Giles was now the sole survivor of his family, Lady Joslyn acted as his parent to negotiate his betrothal. Giles was in a bit of a daze; he somehow thought he could amble into bachelorhood, at least for the foreseeable future. He didn’t relish the idea of responsibility, however, at heart, he respected authority and preferred to go along with what was expected of him.
Lady Joslyn asked Giles if there were any young ladies in Ayre he had considered. Lora Forester instantly came to mind. Although Giles had never kissed a girl, he definitely noticed her, remembering clearly the first time she graced the Hefty Hedgehog. In the spring, they passed some pleasant time once in flirtation at the village green, and he even daydreamed about her, at times.
Lora’s parents were peasants on the edges of the formal classes, and a little lower on Ayre’s social scale than in-town peasants such as the Gothards and the Wises. They didn’t have any royal favor to speak of, and had a mildly scandalous public reputation. So Giles would not say Lora’s name to Lady Joslyn, because he knew she would be forced to point out the barriers of station, good breeding, and public reputation, and he preferred to continue to enjoy his own thoughts about Lora without them being sullied by Lady Joslyn’s stricture. While Giles delighted in thoughts of Lora’s many unappreciated qualities, it dawned on him that Lady Joslyn awaited his response.
“Well, boy, what do you think of her?”
Giles stammered. He had no idea of whom Lady Joslyn was speaking.
“Gertrude Wise is the logical choice,” Lady Joslyn began to instruct. Your class and station…”
At this point Giles once again escaped to his own imagination, only to be chastised again by her ladyship, who became impatient with his lack of attention and told Giles they would meet with Gertrude’s mother the very next week. If all went well, the wedding could take place by mid-summer. “There’s no reason to drag your feet,” she admonished him as she took her leave.
A week later, as promised, Lady Joslyn returned, and this time, with Gertrude’s mother, Mildred. Gertrude’s father, like Giles’, had died a valiant death in battle. Lady Joslyn thanked Mildred for coming, and Mildred inquired about Lady Joslyn’s sister, Elizabeth, who she had recently nursed after she was burned badly in a fire at the Manor Keep. Lady Joslyn, with strong relationships with both Giles and Mildred, was truly the bridge to a satisfactory betrothal agreement.
Lady Joslyn outlined the conditions that must be met, the first of which, was class and station. “Since you are lower bourgeois, you may marry a peasant. I dare say that the Wise family who are learned and reputable, are the most suitable peasant family in Ayre, to marry Yeoman such as yourself. Which is fortunate, since there are no Yeoman girls of marriageable age. Secondly, your financial assets are firm and in good proportion to hers.”
She turned to Mildred, who added that her daughter had a suitable dowry of 375 coin, to which Lady Joslyn nodded appreciatively, since the minimum requirement would have been 300.
Almost as if they didn’t require to be said aloud, Lady Joslyn quickly wrapped up the third, fourth, and fifth conditions.
“Thirdly, the Wise family has suffered no humiliation. Fourthly, you both have similar levels of education. and finally, you both have similar, quite positive public reputations. “
Mildred and Lady Joslyn seemed quite pleased and then Lady Joslyn jumped a bit in her seat. “But where will the ceremony be held?”
To that, Mildred looked puzzled. Her household were devout followers of the Goddess, and Giles was a nominal follower of the Goddess, however, Mildred wanted her daughter’s union, and any children born, to be acknowledged by the law of the land. “The village church is in ruins,” she started to say, thinking perhaps that would allow a marriage at the Glen to be recognized by the church of the Allfather, and the gentry.
Giles spoke up. “What about holding the wedding and feast at the Almshouse grounds?” he asked.
Lady Joslyn’s face lit up. She oversaw the work of Millicent, Mildred’s sister, at the Almshouse, and thought it to be a perfect compromise to honor the tradition of the followers of the Goddess, with a ceremony in the open air, and yet, be recognized by the Stirwuard, and ultimately, the crown, by being married within church grounds, and by a monk officiating.
The negotiation was a success, and all that remained was for Lady Joslyn to chaperone an opportunity for courting. If courting was acceptable, they would be betrothed, and prepare the feast for the mid-summer wedding.
The next Sunday, Giles met Lady Joslyn and Gertrude at the door. Giles had met Gertrude several times. She had given him some helpful business advice in the spring, and he had bought herbs from her. It had never crossed his mind that she might be a romantic interest, and he had certainly not considered her, or anyone as a possible wife, before all this betrothal talk began.
The young couple followed Lady Joslyn into the house, where she promptly sat on the bench in the living room. The first thing Giles noticed about Gertrude was her energy. She was so animated and cheerful.
He couldn’t help being pulled in as she asked if the new market, and the faire, had brought more business to the Hefty Hedgehog. Giles was laughing and enjoying the conversation before he knew it, and soon, he noticed that her face and form were quite nice to behold. Suddenly, he felt a little flushed, and found himself looking to see if Lady Joslyn was watching. Gertrude seemed to be thinking the same thing, and Giles asked if she would like to see the view from the yard.
There, they continued their conversation, with the summer sun warm upon their backs. Giles thought that Gertrude really liked him, which was a heady feeling. Then he wondered how it would feel to live with Gertrude. Marriage was such a daunting commitment, and he couldn’t even begin to think about having a family.
Giles took a chance and said to Gertrude, that he had not thought to marry yet. Gertrude gave him a warm, kind look, and agreed that she did not feel ready to be a wife. “Once we are wed, we can be ourselves, within our own house, as we please,” she pointed out, “without Lady Joslyn.” They both laughed, nervously. “And my expectation is to honor, and to help each other,” she said. “Who can say anything more?”
Giles, who did not like to think of ever going through betrothal negotiations again, began to think that he might get used to the idea of being married to Gertrude. He realized that, if not for the war, and the plague, he would no doubt already be married, and that his prior daydreams of escaping responsibility had not been realistic. He had the benefit of both an easy-going personality and of youth, which provided him a lack of foresight, for he was blissfully unaware of much of the suffering that can come from an unhappy family life. Since the courtship with Gertrude had begun, he’d not thought of Lora again. The thought that Gertrude found him attractive was a little intoxicating, and he was attracted to her too.
And so, it was the night before the wedding, and Giles was feeling quite dapper. He and Gertrude had agreed, that they would take their time getting to know each other further, after the wedding, which left Giles starting to look forward to being alone with her, as his wife.
Thank you to Heloise’s Warwickshire challenge for all the negotiations rules for betrothal. Giles had only an acquaintance relationship with Mildred, so all the five negotiations had to be successful for the betrothal to be agreed. I won’t always detail the whole betrothal negotiation, but since this was Ayre’s first match, and some of my readers are not familiar with the Warwickshire challenge and playstyle, I thought it might interest them.
Giles had 2 bolts with Lora, and one bolt with Gertrude.
Thanks for reading!