It was a beautiful cold autumn day in the year 483. Melkin greeted the people on the Tisbury grounds with nods and smiles. He knew them all very well, and even though he had his own manor now, as he stepped into the long house, he felt like returning home.
His step mother met him in the doorway with a basket full of eggs. Melkin felt a little guilty seeing her and took the basket for her like he had done as a child many a day before. Helping her helped hide his own embarrassment.
“I was a bit worried myself,” said Melkin avoiding her gaze, “but while I fought I wasn’t worried at all. Isn’t that strange?”
“I remember,” she said with a tenderness to her voice that made him look up, “when you had to fetch a stool to put those eggs up. You were always such a kind child. Now, my little bird has grown up.”
Melkin became a little flushed. She didn’t know how right she was.
They talked some more before Melkin went out to find Cadry. He didn’t want his mother to listen in on what he was about to tell his older brother, and so Melkin was thankful to find Cadry out in the forest, alone, without any curious ears close by.
“So what did you want to talk about?” asked Cadry as they walked together through the forest. Melkin was showing him the path that he had made Deian mark out in case of any raids in Hindon or Sutton.
Melkin didn’t know how to proceed this conversation, but Cadry was the only person that he would trust with this so he tried to start telling his story.
“Well, you know how I’ve not been very great around women …” he began hesitantly making Cadry laugh.
“It’s never too late to learn and improve,” replied Cadry smiling at the younger man’s statement. “I know one of the girls over in Stump made eyes at you during the last beltaine celebration. I can point her out to you,” he offered helpfully. “Now that you have a manor of your own I think you will find a lot more women showing their interest.”
Stringing his bow, Cadry started looking around the grounds to see if any animals had passed by recently and if any of them would make a good meal. Noticing that Melkin had stopped, frozen midstep, Cadry made an impatient gesture for him to catch up. When Melkin had gotten closer, Cadry looked closer at his slightly flushed face and asked:
“What is going on little brother?”
“To tell the truth,” Melkin said growing slightly pink around the ears as well. “There are quite a few women who are willing to… eh…” Melkin stopped himself from continuing the sentence. “I don’t know exactly why they’ve started to look at me differently… Though, I did find out that someone has gone around telling them that I still hadn’t been with a woman, which sure led to a lot of giggles and glances, especially after the duel this summer.”
Cadry seemed to momentarily have forgotten about the hunt, which was uncommon since almost nothing was more important to him. Picking up on the important part of the reply Cadry had to ask:
“Women who are willing to do what exactly?”
He suspected what his brother wanted to say but he wanted to see if he could make the embarrassed knight tell the story himself. Cadry went over to a fallen tree and sat down on a trunk an gestured to his brother to have a seat with him. Melkin sighed, but smiled despite himself.
“I’ll take it from the beginning then,” he said as he sat himself next to Cadry. “One evening this summer I was walking alone through Wick when I came upon three young women by the well. They… made me an offer to widen my experiences. I was completely baffled by their frankness and didn’t know what to say. As they surrounded me one of them stepped in so close that I could feel her breath on my lips. They said that they wouldn’t tell anyone, and so I found myself following where they led me.”
Melkin paused briefly feeling his cheeks burn despite the chill, avoiding to look at Cadry.
“I was pushed onto my back in a meadow by the three of them and well, I suspect you can figure out the rest,” he didn’t mean to but he grinned.
Giving of an amused chuckle and smiling with his whole face in genuine enjoyment, Cadry put his arm around Melkin’s shoulders:
“Well I knew you would come around once you got to taste some female pleasure, but I didn’t expect you to dive headfirst into it. Three girls you say? Did they take turns or was it just one of them who bedded you?”
Before Melkin had time to answer Cadry lit up even more as some thought passed through his head:
“Does this mean that you have finally realised that there is nothing to be ashamed about lying with women?
Melkin cleared his throat and made a face.
“Ah… well about that.” He didn’t know which question to answer. “You see… it did happen more than once and so there have been times when eh…” shaking his head embarrassed he went back to the story. “Anyway, what I’m getting at is that there’s been talk in the village about new children,” he concluded with some effort. “And even though I’m not certain that any of them are mine,” a slightly defensive tone had entered his voice, “one of the expecting women is without husband which kind of… makes it more likely.”
Turning a bit more serious but still smiling slightly Cadry listen to his brother’s concerns.
“As for you bedding those girls more than once, that way you are probably doing your future wife a favor since you’ll know how to handle her and keep her happy in bed, which makes it more likely that she will want to let you have a go more often or so I have been told.”
Trying to remember all the wisdom he had learned from older family members and older married men he kept on.
“When it comes to children I guess it becomes a little more complicated. Two of the women apparently have husbands from what you tell me and thus it’s most likely that those women’s children are fathered by their husbands and are therefore none of your concern. The one who is without husband, what’s her reputation like? Is she sleeping around with others?”
“I don’t know,” he said bluntly. “I don’t particularly know her. I’m not sure what to do, but I know that I can’t ask Doged about it. What do you think? Should I just pretend like nothing?” The last question was a bit hopeful. “I mean she did say she wouldn’t tell.”
Cadry scratched his lengthening beard whilst staring out among the trees.
“I’d say that if you like the girl in your bed, then keep her there. That way you will know that an eventual child is yours. Yes, it will be a bastard but if the girl keeps you happy, which judging from your grins she is, I don’t see why you shouldn’t keep her around. At least until you are married, then you can always throw some money on a decent enough commoner for him to wed her.”
Seeming to consider another more unpalatable option Cadry’s disposition turned a bit more sour. “If you really don’t want that child some of the priestesses knows ways to brew potions that will take care of an unwanted child, but it could be bad for the girl’s health as far as I understand it.”
“Well,” said Melkin thinking, “if you think I should keep the girl in my bed, I’m not the one to complain. I’m not sure how to handle the fact that she’s with child but, as you said I could pay someone to marry her later on to ensure her a decent future. I couldn’t be doing it too openly though. I mean, Doged wouldn’t approve for one, and if I started handing her money I’d figure that every single woman with child from here to Sarum would start claiming me to be the father.” Melkin looked out into the forest for I while thinking. “If you think I should keep her I will,” he said finally and looked back at Cadry.
“Doged is not the one handling your woman or your bed for that matter”. Cadry seemed to have become a bit annoyed when the chaplain’s name was mentioned. “This isn’t about what he thinks or for that matter what I think. I will always be glad to advice you my brother, but you are the one who has to make the decisions and live with them. If you want to keep her around, make sure to hire her on as a washerwoman or someone to clean your hall. That way you can always have a reason to keep her around and it won’t be obvious to anyone outside the household as long as you are discrete.”
Looking at Melkin with a bit of worry in his eyes he said: “As for the other women, it’s not like you are forcing yourself on them. If they make the choice to spread their legs they also have to be prepared to live with the consequences. I am just saying that if you want to keep a mistress around you make sure to treat her right and make sure that she is provided for when you decide to get rid of her.”
“Why not then,” he said satisfied with Cadry’s advice. “I will hire her to my household, and make sure that she will have someone to marry later on, if she doesn’t find someone on her own that is to say.”