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About the Author
Georgette HeyerThe late Georgette Heyer was a very private woman. Her historical novels have charmed and delighted millions of readers for decades, though she rarely reached out to the public to discuss her works or private life. She was born in Wimbledon in August 1902. She wrote her first novel, The Black Moth, at the age of seventeen to amuse her convalescent brother; it was published in 1921 and became an instant success. Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Heyer's large volume of works included Regency romances, mysteries and historical fiction. Known as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a barrister, and they had one son, Richard.
How he came to Fulk of Montlice
He came walking from Bedford into Cambridge one May morning when the sun was still young and the dew scarce gone from the grass. His worldly...
How he came to Fulk of Montlice
He came walking from Bedford into Cambridge one May morning when the sun was still young and the dew scarce gone from the grass. His worldly possessions he carried on his back in an old knapsack; his short jerkin was stained and torn, and there were holes in his long hose. On his square head and drawn over his brow he wore a frayed cap set jauntily, with a heron’s feather pointing skywards. He carried a quarter-staff, and stepped out right manfully, scanning the flat fen-land from beneath his thick brows, his young mouth dogged, his sombre eyes coldly calculating. Of years he numbered fourteen, but his shoulders had a breadth beyond his age, and his thighs a thickness of muscle that gave him the appearance of a grown man dwarfed. Nor was the face below the clubbed fair hair that of a child, for in the low brow lay strength, and about the straight mouth purpose. There was little boyishness in the eyes, but a frowning look, and at the back, lurking in the green-blue depths, a watchful gleam that was never absent.
One spoke to him on the road, a pedlar tramping south, and gave him good-day. He answered in a crisp, deep voice, and smiled, showing a row of strong white teeth.
‘Whither goest thou, younker?’ the pedlar asked him idly.
‘To my goal, fellow,’ Simon retorted, and passed on. The pedlar called after him for his haughtiness, but he paid no heed. He was never one to waste words.
So at length he came to Montlice, which was his goal, and stood for a moment before the drawbridge, surveying the rugged castle. A man-at-arms, lounging on the bridge, hailed him good-naturedly.
‘What want ye, boy? This is the lion’s den.’
The glimmer of a smile came to light the darkness of Simon’s eyes.
‘I seek the lion,’ he said, and walked forward across the bridge.
The man laughed at him, barring his passage.
‘Ho-ho! Ye seek the lion, eh? He would make but one mouthful of you, my fine sprig.’
Simon looked up into his face, jutting brows lowering, eyes agleam.
‘I seek my Lord the Earl,’ he said. ‘Out of the way, sirrah!’
At that the man clapped his hands to his sides, shaken with herculean laughter. Having recovered somewhat he achieved a clumsy bow.
‘My lord is from home,’ he said, mocking Simon.
‘You lie!’ Simon answered quickly. ‘My lord will know how to punish a lying servant. Let me pass!’ He awaited no permission, but slipped by, eel-like, and was gone across the bridge in a flash. Out of sight he paused, not hesitating, but seeming to debate within himself. He looked thoughtfully at the great gateway, standing wide with soldiers lounging there, and his lips tightened. He went swiftly through, light-footed and sure, and attracted but little notice. One of the men stopped his task to shout a surprised question after him, and Simon answered briefly over his shoulder: ‘On my lord’s business!’ The man laughed, thinking him some scullion’s child, and turned back to his companion. Simon went on up the winding slope to the castle door and was there met by a group of men-at-arms who denied him ingress.
‘To the scullions’ entrance, babe!’ one told him, and the muscles about his mouth stood out in anger. He kept his ground, not a whit afraid.
‘I must see my lord,’ he answered, and only that.
‘Wherefore, pup?’ the man asked him, and when he would not answer, sought to hustle him roughly away.
But Simon wriggled from under his hands, and springing to one side, brought his heavy quarter-staff down athwart the man’s shoulders with so much force that, great man though he was, the soldier staggered.
Matters then would have gone ill with Simon but for the appearance of a boy, a little younger than himself, who came strolling towards them, followed by two liver-coloured hounds. He was dark, and magnificently clad, and he carried himself with an air of languid arrogance.
‘Holà there!’ he called, and the soldiers fell away from Simon, leaving him to stand alone, arms folded and head turned to survey the newcomer.
The boy came up gracefully, looking at Simon with a questioning lift to his brows.
‘What is this?’ he asked. ‘Who are you who strike our men?’
Simon stepped forward.
‘So please you, sir, I seek my Lord the Earl.’
One of the men, he whom Simon had dealt that lusty blow, started to speak, but was hushed by an imperious gesture from the boy. He smiled at Simon with a mixture of friendliness and hauteur.
‘I am Alan of Montlice,’ he said. ‘What want you of my father?’
Simon doffed his cap, showing his thick, straight hair clubbed across his brow and at the nape of his brown neck. He bowed awkwardly.
‘I want employment, sir,’ he replied. ‘These men deny me entrance.’
Alan of Montlice hesitated.
‘My father stands in no need –’ he began, then paused, fingering his dark curls. ‘There is that in you that I like,’ he said frankly. ‘Come within.’
Simon bowed again, but he gave no thanks, only standing aside for the young Montlice to pass through the doorway. And as Alan went by, he shot him an awkward look, keen as steel, appraising him as it were. That was a trick which in after years had the effect of disconcerting his foes most mightily. Alan did not see the glance, but swept into the castle whistling through his teeth. Across the great stone hall he led Simon to an archway over which hung a leathern curtain, nail-studded. Before he pulled it back he spoke again to Simon, in a whisper.
‘Ye will speak my lord fair,’ he cautioned. ‘He is not so douce.’
A flickering smile touched Simon’s lips.
‘Fulk the Lion,’ he said. ‘I know.’
‘He is to be feared,’ Alan said, breathless.
Simon looked scorn.
‘I fear no man.’
At that Alan opened wide his brown eyes and giggled a little.
‘Ye do not know my lord,’ he said, and pulled the curtain aside.
They entered a fair room carpeted with rushes and hung with all manner of paintings, biblical and historical. A table stood in the middle, and although it was now past eight o’clock in the forenoon, the remains of my lord’s breakfast still stood upon it: a chine of salt-beef, a broken manchett, and a tankard of ale. In a great chair beside the table, leaning back at his ease, sat Fulk of Montlice, a giant of a man, deep-chested and magnificently proportioned, as fair as his son was dark, with a crisp, golden beard, whose point came forward belligerently. One of his hands was tucked in the belt of his long gown, the other lay on the table, massive and hairy. Alan ran forward and fell to his knees.
‘Sir, here is a boy who would speak with thee.’
My lord’s heavy, light-lashed eyelids lifted and his small blue eyes travelled slowly from his son to Simon.
‘Shouldst know that I do not speak with every vagrant whelp who is presumptuous,’ he said, a rumbling note of annoyance in his voice. ‘Away with you, sirrah!’
Simon stepped to the table, cap in hand.
‘I am no vagrant, good my lord. Nor will I be so miscalled.’
Alan stayed on his knees, affrighted at such temerity, but my Lord of Montlice laughed.
‘Good lack, what then are you, springald?’
‘I hope one day to be a man, my lord, even as you,’ Simon answered. ‘That is my ambition, sir, and so I come to seek employment with you.’
Montlice flung back his head and laughed again.
‘For that you beard the lion in his den, eh? I will eat you for my dinner, cockerel.’
‘So said they at the gate, my lord, but you will find me of more use alive than eaten.’
‘Shall I so? And what canst do? Wind silks for women-folk?’
‘That and other things, my lord,’ Simon answered coolly.
‘Soso! What then? Tend my hounds, or are they too strong for your management?’
At that Simon curled his lip in disdain.
‘There does not live the beast I will not tame, my lord.’
My lord’s eyes were now a-twinkle. He clapped the table jovially.
‘By the Rood, I like thy spirit, my young spring-chicken! Canst take a buffet?’
‘Ay, and give one.’
My lord cast him a quizzical look.
‘As thou didst to my man without?’
If he expected Simon to show discomfiture he was disappointed, for Simon only nodded. My lord laughed.
‘Impudence! Why camest thou to the great door? Know ye not the scullions’ entrance at the back?’
‘I have never approached my goal through the back door, my lord, nor ever will. I march straight.’
‘It seems so indeed,’ said my lord. ‘Well, what dost thou want of me?’
‘I would carry your lance and squire you, sir.’
Montlice snapped his fingers, jeering.
‘Thou sit a horse! A flea on a camel!’
The thick brows drew closer together and a little colour stole into Simon’s cheeks.
‘I shall grow, my lord.’
‘Nay, nay. Art too small. What are thy years?’
‘A babe, forsooth! Get thee gone, babe; I’ve no need of squires.’
Simon stood still.
‘Your page, then, till I am grown to your liking.’
‘God’s my life, methinks thou art over-bold, babe, I do not take peasants for my pages.’
‘I am no peasant.’
‘Ho-ho! What then?’
‘As gentle as yourself, my lord.’
‘By Our Lady! What art called?’
‘Simon, my lord.’
‘Well, it’s a name. What else?’
Simon lifted his shoulders, half-impatiently.
‘I call myself Beauvallet, sir.’
My lord pursed his full lips.
‘It hath a ring,’ he nodded. ‘What is thy real name, sirrah?’
‘I have none.’
‘Tush! Your father’s name!’
Simon did not answer for a moment, but at last he shrugged again, and looked up.
‘Geoffrey of Malvallet,’ he answered.
‘Holy Virgin! I should have known that face! Art Malvallet’s bastard then?’
‘So my mother told me, my lord.’
‘Who is she? Does she live?’
‘She is dead these four years, sir. She was one Jehanne, of Malvallet’s household. That is nothing.’
Montlice sank back again.
‘Ay, ay. But what proof have you?’
‘A ring, my lord. Little enough.’
Simon put his hands up to his neck and drew a riband from his breast from which hung a golden ring. Montlice looked at it long and curiously.
‘How came she by this?’
‘I never asked, my lord. It matters not to me whether I am Malvallet’s son or another’s. I am what I choose to be.’
‘Here’s a philosophy!’ Montlice became aware of his son, still kneeling, and waved him to his feet. ‘What thinkest thou, Alan? Here is one of the Malvallet brood.’
Alan leaned carelessly against the table.
‘Malvallet is no friend of ours, sir, but I like this boy.’
‘He hath courage. Tell me, babe, where hast been since thy mother died?’
‘I had a home with her brother, sir, a wood-cutter.’
‘Well, and then?’
‘I wearied of it, my lord, and I came here.’
‘Why not to thy father, bantam?’
Simon jerked his shoulder again.
‘Him I have seen, my lord.’
Montlice rumbled forth a laugh.
‘And liked not his looks?’
‘Well enough, sir, but you also had I seen, and of both have I heard.’
‘God’s Body, do I so take thy fancy?’
‘Men call you the Lion, my lord, and think it harder to enter your service than that of Malvallet.’
My lord puffed out his cheeks.
‘Ay, so is it. Ye like the harder task, babe?’
‘It is more worth the doing, my lord,’ he replied.
My lord looked him over.
‘Art a strange lad. Having forced thy way into my stronghold, thou’lt not leave it?’
‘I will not.’
‘I am no easy master,’ Montlice warned him.
‘I would not serve any such.’
‘Ye think to earn knighthood with me?’
Simon glanced up.
‘What I become will be of mine own making, sir. I ask no favours.’
‘Then I like thee the better for it. Shalt be page to my son till I find thee fitter occupation. And that to spite Malvallet, look you. Art satisfied?’
‘Ay, my lord. And I will serve you faithfully and well, that there shall be no gratitude to weigh me down.’
Montlice smote him on the shoulder, delighted.
‘Spoken like a sage, my little fish! Well, get thee gone. Alan, take him, and see to it that he is clothed and fed.’
And thus it was that Simon came to Fulk of Montlice.
“I simply did not want to put it down.” - Ex Libris
“Heyer really focuses on her plots and it makes for a satisfying read.” - ...
“I simply did not want to put it down.” - Ex Libris
“Heyer really focuses on her plots and it makes for a satisfying read.” - We Be Reading
“I really enjoyed every page of this read. It was full of adventure and action, great humor, and the perfect sort of romance.” - My Friend Amy
Length: 8 in
Width: 5.25 in
Weight: 14.64 oz
Page Count: 352 pages