Read Part 3 here…

”The truth is I miss you less now that I know myself more, yet again I have to have you. I am a Ladlow; I always have what I desire.” Ladlow confirmed in an abiding tone. He reached for the glass and filled it with wine.  Red Bordeaux from his cousin Olivier in France. He was a twelfth generation wine producer who had a refreshing amount of enthusiasm for his profession. And his clients’ money.

He nodded to Secilia to come closer to him and took a sip, absent-mindedly sloshing the liquid around in his glass, thanking himself silently for always being thoughtful enough to have alcohol in his establishments. Secilia registering the nod, regained her mind abruptly. While Ladlow was talking, she was gazing off into the far horizon. She was still expecting to see Tristan on his horse, coming for her. She thought inuitively to take a step back from him and then another one towards the gate and start running. But her biggest step could be her last. Thus, she took a deep breath and tried to reach him.

She never felt fear when she was near him. Only revulsion and sorrow. She had sincere emotions of sympathy for him. She always considered him a lost soul in a charade that the abyss of wealth, power and broken family has turned into his life. However, Ladlow did not regard Secilia’s effort to approach him. His ears had caught the sound of a horse pulling a cart and the man who gave orders to the horse howling in the air: “The sea is burning, the sea is burning, hurry” .

Ladlow dropped his glass and smashed on the floor. He started running towards his stable.  Secilia followed him. She knew that this phrase was a signal warning for potential foreigner intruders in the meadow. Secilia mounted her horse and in a heartbeat moved quietly behing Ladlow. Although he was still utterly confused of what had just happened, he wanted to believe that Secilia coming after him was a sign of affection from her side. His grey hair was lifted from the horse’s movements and he touched it roughly, tried to caress this thought in his head.

Secilia was certain that since it was so urgent, only Tristan and his men could have invaded Ladlow’s land. Ladlow’s man, running with the cart behing them and out of breath, was trying to come in close proximity with Ladlow to prepare him. But Ladlow stopped his horse jerkily in front of the sight in front of him, making his eyes sore. The cavalry regiments have always been splendidly dressed, with the light horse being the most dashing.

In front of them standing with his feet on the ground was Marhessi. He introduced himself, before the startled Ladlow, his men and Secilia hiding in the back of the hut, watching. He had fought alongside the duke in the naval battles off Lowestoft in 1665 and at Sole Bay in 1672 and, though a Catholic, was made colonel of a regiment, receiving medals of valor and recognition through the country.

Everybody knew his deeds but the theories about his appearance varied according to the place he would conquer each time.  Some wanted him at the size of a giant with no hair and big brown eyes. Others claimed that he had shoulder-long fair hair blue eyes and white teeth looking like an angel. And others said that he was just a regular man of medium height with dark brown hair and eyes but he was always moving a sylph, a ghost with a sword with a long metal sharp blade and his own code of justice. Marhessi looking different from all the descriptions let his myth follow him beacuse he had more important truths to restore.

Ladlow started rubbing his eyes and clearing his throat to find his voice. Secilia was lurking behing him, after walking without being noticed by anyone from the back of the hut in front of the men. The lower part of her mouth was trembling, curving inward like the interior of a sphere. Her hand was wrinkling a small piece of her dress rubbing it harder and harder inside her palm. Her beating heart, bursting, had drown out all other sounds and Secilia touched with her other palm, trying to soothe an ache that was trespassing her. Marhessi was staring at her as she approached him with doubtful steps. Before she even realized it, she was touching his chest over his formal uniform. On the left side. She raised her head and stared at him too, mumbling barely and indistinctly uttering:

“Tristan, is that you?”

Author: Pepi Naki

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