When we arrived at Gavin’s manor house, he showed me to the wing he was planning on giving to me. His manservant and steward, whom he had left in charge while he was staying with Devin’s family, followed us closely, extremely nervous about my reaction to the wing. He had prepared it according to Gavin’s orders via letter over two weeks.
“I do hope that they are to your liking, my lady,” he said, wringing his hands as I pushed the door that seperated the wing from the rest of the house open. A corridor lay before me, with eight closed doors, four on each side.
I made my way to the first door, and I pulled it open. Inside was a lovely plush sitting room, though it wasn’t very ornate.
A large fireplace took up the entire wall on the right side of the door. Couches and chairs formed a cozy semicircle facing the fireplace, and a relatively nice rug covered the floor. I turned and hugged Gavin.
“It’s lovely,” I assured Bartholomew, his steward. He smiled slightly and motioned for me to move on to the next door.
“I arranged for this room on my masters,” Bartholomew said as I pulled the door open.
I gasped as I saw the interior of the room, dropping Mordred’s hand. A table sat in the middle of the room, with several chairs situated around it and games piled on top of it. Three of the four walls held bookshelves from wall to ceiling. The fourth wall had a window, with glass in it, and a chair beside it. A small table sat in the center of the room.
“It is alright, isn’t it, my lady?” Bartholomew said hesitantly, watching me as I entered the room. The bookshelves were only partially filled, but they contained books on the sciences, theology, philosiphy, mathematics, historical records, plays and dramas and poetry.
“It’s wonderful,” I breathed, running my fingertips over the books.
“Would you like a desk, Morgan?” Gavin asked, watching me. I turned and beamed at him.
“There’s no need for a desk,” I said. “I’m sure that the table will do just as well as a desk. However, would it be possible for me to obtain some writing supplies?”
“Not a problem,” Gavin said, returning my smile.
“This is amazing,” I said, forcing myself to leave the room. I’ll be back later, I promised the books silently as I pulled the door closed behind me.
“The next room is empty,” Bartholomew told me. “We weren’t sure what else you migh wish for, so we left the room empty. The door just beyond that is to the privy.”
“Very well,” I said. “Then there’s hardly any need for you to show me down at that end of the hall. What is on the other side of it, though?”
“The door oposite the lavatory is the stairway to the servant’s quarters,” Gavin explained. “The one beside it will be your chambers, if you like them.”
“I’m sure I will,” I said as I pulled the door open.
The chamber was relatively small and dark, but it was rick. The bed was plush and there was a fireplace on the one side of the room. A folding screem sat in the far corner, offering me a private place to change, and a small dressing table was placed against the wall. My trunk had already been placed on the floor of the room, and was awaiting the unpacking.
“It’s not too much, is it?” the steward asked worriedly. “When Sir Gavin wrote that he’d hoped to bring back a lady and a child, and that I was to prepare the east wing accordingly, I was uncertain as to how I ought to do so.”
“You did well,” I told him, smiling as I pulled the door closed. “Thank you very much.”
“This next room was prepared for your son, my lady,” the steward said, opening the door for me. “His sleeping chambers.”
I glanced inside the room. A small bed sat against the one wall, and a fireplace was in the opposite wall, roughly mirroring where mine was. A screen had been possitioned in front of the fire, supposedly to help protect Mordred from burning himself. The other trunk I had packed sat pushed against the wall, leaving a lot of empty space for him to play. I nodded my approval and pulled the door closed.
“What’s behind the last door?” I asked. I couldn’t imagine what else Gavin could have prepared for Mordred and I, but it seemed unlikely that there would be an empty chamber on that end of the hall.
“A play room, my lady,” Bartholomew said. “For your son.”
“Oh, Gavin, you really have outdone yourself,” I said as the door was pulled open.
A small chest of toys sat by the far wall, and a fireplace was to the right of the door. There were no windows in that room either, and I made a mental note to find out why as I returned my attention to the room.
There was a rocking chair, and another screen sheilded the fire. A rocking horse sat on the floor, and I could see several more odds and ends scattered across the floor.
“I’m sorry there’s not much,” Gavin apologized, as Mordred broke free of my grasp. “But my youngest, Samuel, hasn’t played with toys since he began his training two years ago. The kind-hearted boy that he is he gave away about half of his old playthings to some of the servants’ children.”
“It’s more than enough,” I told Gavin warmly. “You’re too kind to us.”
“This was the least I could do,” he said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to take care of some business before supper. Bartholomew will come and fetch you for the meal.”
“Alright,” I said, turning to look into the playroom. Mordred was already happily playing in the chilly room and Bartholomew followed my gaze.
“I’ll send a maid in to light that fire,” he said quietly. “Will you require anything more, my lady?”
“No,” I said. “I think I can manage getting organized on my own, thank you.”
“Very well,” he said, bowing to me before following Gavin out of the wing.
“Play nicely, and stay out of trouble,” I warned Mordred, who didn’t even look up as he answered.
“Yes, Morgan,” he said.
“I’ll be in your chamber, just next door,” I continued, watching him. He looked so happy there, sitting on the floor and playing with the toys. He nodded mutely, and I made my way to the room.
There honestly wasn’t much that I could do to unpack, with the exception of taking out the bed sheets and blankets that I had made for Mordred. When I had finished there, I made my way to the room that was to be mine.
A fire crackled merrily in the hearth and I paused to look around the room. It was small and cramped admittedly, but comfortable. Warmth filled me as I was touched by Gavin’s kindness. With it, though, came the guilt.
You’re afraid to marry this man, who so obviously loves you. You’re despicable, Morgan. Possatively repulsive, I thought, taking a seat on the foot of my bed. I looked around, noting how plain the decoration was in comparison to my cousin’s home. It was plain but homelike, and I felt that I had made a mistake in coming to Gavin’s home.
That night passed quickly, and then a wek passed, and then a month. We became part of Gavin’s household during those cold winter months, and I took the opprotunity to get to know the other members of the household.
He had a relatively small staff, only a dozen people (excluding Bartholomew). There were no knights under Gavin’s command, and only two small villages were in his lands. As far as I could see, he was fair to those underneath him, which only made me respect him more.
A brief tour of the land enclosed by the defensive wall most manors had showed that he had two gardens- one for beauty and one for practical purposes, a mill, a well, and a small barn. The servants lived in the manor house and their rooms, although modest and smaller than mine, were decent.
Gavin owned three horses- a relatively small amount, but enough for his purposes; two oxen; a single cow; several chickens; several hogs; several goats; a donkey; and a small flock of sheep. His lands all seemed very self-sufficient, and nothing went to waste.
“It’s amazing,” I said to Bartholomew one day, as I skimmed through the previous records of the harvests. Everything was perfectly balanced, and Bartholomew’s hand was very neat. “Most feudal lords would take their citizens harshly to make themselves richer, but Sir Gavin doesn’t do that.”
“No, my lady,” he said, writing something in his ledger book. “The thing that Sir Gavin treasures the most is loyalty. He understands that if he is fair to the people they will be loyal to him and him alone.”
“He’s a very wise man,” I murmured. “Very wise indeed.”