Sunrise found Richard in his room preparing for the wedding, his page dressing him in clothing Eleanor chose for the wedding. He wore a rose colored samite belted tunic. His mantle of striped silk gauze, decorated with gold crescents and silver suns, lay on his bed. Next to his mantle sat his red hat. It too was embroidered, but with golden beasts and birds. On the floor, his ceremonial buskins made of golden cloth and his gilted spurs, waited.
Andrew sat in a chair looking on, chatting away hoping to distract Richard. Knowing Richard well, he could see that the king was anxious. He barely stood still long enough for his page to dress him. Richard’s arms were outstretched, and it made Andrew think that the king’s crucifixion was coming. “At least your wife is fair to look at. The wife you gave me, well, let us just say, I consumed copious amounts of wine to get through my wedding night,”Andrew quipped.
Richard turned at the waist, arms still stretched. “You are not helping.”
“Sorry, I was just trying to point out the positive.” Andrew empathized with Richard.
“Where is Baldwin?” Richard burst out. “I sent that man to find her an hour ago!”
“If anyone can convince her to come, it is Baldwin, poor fellow,” Andrew reassured him.
The page helped Richard into his buskins. “All I want to do is talk to her. She left here with things so unsettled last night. What is worse, in my conference with Guy yesterday, he seemed very interested in her. Well, I put a stop to that right away.”
“I understand, My Lord.” Andrew could wait no longer, and took a swig of wine. It was going to be a very, very long day.
The page struggled with the laces as Richard took several steps to the right, then back again. “I do not know what she is about. Here I am, I have kept her by my side all these years, and I have never gained a penny for it, only one scandalous story after another.”
Baldwin knocked and entered the room, followed by Blondel.
“Well, where is she? Is the lady not here at present?” Richard growled.
Baldwin let out a long breath. “Your Highness…”
Richard did not let him finish. “Do not tell me you could not convince her to come.”
“My Lord, she really is not here.” Baldwin shrugged.
Richard moved away from the hapless page, who still tried to lace his boots. “What do you mean she is not here?”
“Sire, what I mean is she left the palace. Her room is empty. I have been trying to discover where she went, but it would seem she aided the memory loss of many with the glint of gold.”
Richard moved again, and the poor page scooted along on his knees trying to follow and complete his task. When Richard started to pace back and forth the boy sat on the ground to wait for on opportunity to snatch up the laces again. “God’s legs! I never gave her permission to leave!” Richard shouted.
Andrew stood now to aid Baldwin. “No. No, you did not. Perhaps Anne does not think she needs your permission. In principle, she is only a guest in your household, and she is not your subject.”
“Think about how she feels,” Baldwin jumped in. “I doubt today of all days she wants to be anywhere near the palace, My Lord. I know she understands why you are marrying. That is not an issue for her. All the same, I fear this is hard for her to bear.”
Richard still paced, flinging his arms about. “This is absurd! This is childish! What sort of game it she at?” He pounded his fist on a nearby table. “Find her and send someone to fetch her here!” He pointed to the ground.
Richard stopped for a moment, and the page pounced at his laces but fell short as Richard began to move around the room again. Andrew threw his hands up in the air. “Will you please try to reason with him Blondel?”
Blondel pulled his lute around from his back and plucked at it. “Love has no reason, gentlemen.”
“Bloody poets,” Andrew snapped at him.
“With all due respect, Your Majesty, you must not worry about Lady Anne right now,” Baldwin broke in again. “You are to be married in a few hours. You have a duty to your crown—to your people. You owe them a proper queen.”
Richard stopped moving again and this time the page caught the laces. “Oh for hell’s sake,” Richard yelled down at him. “Let me alone, boy! I will do it myself!”
Numb and distant, Anne sat in a chair beside the shuttered window feeling. She knew where Marguerite wished to be and sent her away. Anne longed to be alone. She could hear crowds gathered outside in the narrow street hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal couple as the made their way to Saint George’s chapel. All at once, a cheer went up from the street below, and Anne knew the wedding procession was coming. On impulse she shrank away from the window and sat down on the hearth taking some consolation in the grey storm clouds gathering outside, a spring storm threatening the festive occasion.
The small chapel of Saint George brimmed with dignitaries from the city and the king’s men. Richard and Berengaria knelt at the altar before her personal priest. Berengaria wore a mantilla of delicate white lace over her deep blue dress.
Overcome with joy, Berengaria shed tears. Richard, however, remained solemn throughout the entire wedding mass. At one point he noticed rain running down the stained glass window. As the sky outside darkened, the light from the candles and flambeaux on the wall made shadows dance about. Berengaria gave him a slight poke in the ribs, which brought him back to focus on the ceremony.
While John Fitzluke, the Bishop of Evreux, crowned Berengaria Queen of England. Richard pretended to pay attention, but his thoughts were not on the ceremony. They were somewhere else in the city with someone else.
When the sounds of the cheering crowd died away, Anne returned to the window. She sat in the chair and listened to the rain patting the rooftops and the cobblestone street below. After what seemed like an eternity, she heard it. The abrupt sound came and lingered, the peal of the church bells happily tolling the completed nuptials. To Anne their sound was no more welcome than the sound of funeral bells. For a moment, she wished they were funeral bells. Each strike of the bells of Saint George overwhelmed Anne all the more. Her head hung low until she could bear it no longer and dropped to her knees, her body shaking with sobs. She did not expect him to back out, but at that moment she knew Richard no longer belonged to her.
The extravagant royal wedding feast commenced with much food and entertainment. The airy great hall decked in bridal garlands and fresh rushes, gave off a pleasant aroma. Richard saw that his guests enjoyed themselves, but, for his part, he had no appetite. Nothing appealed to him. He could still smile and laugh, but inside he felt empty and hollow, as if some part of him had been plucked out and taken elsewhere.
Glancing at Berengaria, he saw her beaming. He could not deny that she was a beautiful woman, but she was not the woman he wanted. As he looked out over the assembled guests, he thought to himself that there were many men present who would give their souls to trade palaces with him. Tonight, he wished he could trade places with them, or even with a peasant, for a peasant could marry for love.
Blondel strolled by playing a tune on his lute, stopping close to the royal couple. It took a moment, then Richard recognized the tune. It was the song that Anne sung that first night he met her at Poitiers. He had heard the song many times since, but never heard Blondel play it.
His first reaction was to be angry with Blondel for having such audacity, but he watched as Blondel gave a bow to the royal couple and sauntered off still playing the song. The troubadour wandered out of the great hall. Richard took this as a signal.
“Excuse me. I just saw a messenger from Philip at Acre wander into the hall and back out again. I must see to the man.” Richard lied to Berengaria.
“It is our wedding night.” Her blue eyes widened.
“And I am still a king, and we are still on Crusade. I will be but a moment.” Richard did not give her a chance to protest further, leaving the great hall to the corridor beyond.
Blondel waited for him. “Andrew spoke with Marguerite. She is staying at the house of a nobleman named Petane.”
“I know the man,” Richard whispered back.
“Your Majesty, I believe it would be safe to assume Anne is there as well,” Blondel continued.
“Is there any message?”
“Andrew reported that Lady Anne admonishes you to remember your duty above all else.” Blondel finished and strolled off again, sending gentle strains of music from his instrument as he went.
Richard opened his eyes. He could hear Berengaria breathing next to him in the bed, and he knew she had fallen asleep. The sound made him feel sick. With caution, he sat up so as not to wake her, and as he did, he found that he shook. He got out of bed, and she stirred a little. He froze and watched her roll over, holding his breath, until certain she had gone back to sleep. He could hear rain pouring down like a waterfall against the castle walls as he dressed and left the room.
Outside a drowsy sergeant-at-arms snapped to attention. Richard shushed him with a signal. He waited until he was further down the hall to start speaking. He could hear strains of laughter coming from the great hall as the feastivities continued. Andrew and Baldwin were in the hallway not far from his room. “Andrew, is she at Petane’s or no?”
“Your Highness, do you really think this is wise? Your guests are still here. What of your wife?” Andrew admonished him.
“To hell with the feast, and to hell with my wife!” Saying those last words made his temper flare.
Andrew threw up his hands. “My Lord, she is preparing to leave the city, but she is at this moment lodging at the house of Petane.”
“Bring me my horse!” He shouted.
“But, My Lord, the weather is dangerous outside,” Baldwin interjected.
Richard’s face turned red. He marched down the stairs towards the courtyard, strapping on his sword as he went. “Richard!” Andrew tried to make him stop.
Richard turned on them. “I said bring me my horse! God’s legs! We are not even in battle and everyone is second-guessing my orders! Am I not the king?” His eyes were on fire now. “I said bring me my horse, and bring me my horse you shall, or you will suffer the consequences!”
Two nearby pageboys sprang into action and sprinted for the stables, while a third stood scared motionless. “Good God!” Richard screamed as he resumed his flight down the stairs, Andrew, and Baldwin trailing him. Blondel caught sight of the ruckus and followed.
Richard sprang forth from the building into the rain. Blondel shouted at him, “Your Highness, we can send someone to fetch her. Please do not go out in this rain.”
“Where is my damned horse?”
One of the pageboys led Richard’s horse into the courtyard. Both were drenched from the rain, and the poor boy could hardly see through the water that ran from his hair to his face. The horse was still unsaddled as the second boy trudged behind through the mud with the saddle. Richard did not seem to care. He bounded down the steps and onto his horse. The restless animal did not wish to be out in the rain, and struggled against the bit. Still, Richard spurred him on and galloped out of the courtyard. Just as he cleared the gate, the second pageboy made it around with the saddle. His shoulders slumped when he saw Richard go, and like a dejected dog, he slunk back to the stables.
Andrew, Baldwin, and Blondel watched Richard go. Without saying a word, Andrew and Baldwin returned to the interior of the castle. Blondel descended the steps and headed to the stables for his own horse.
Anne experienced a miserable day. Petane treated her with generousity, and even returned after the ceremony, offering to escort her to the feast. He could not be to blame. He did not know. When Petane learned that his guest would not be attending the feast, he offered to stay with her, but Anne insisted that he go. She told him she was just tired and needed some sleep. Petane regarded her with his large brown eyes. His round head on his squat neck tipped to one side as he studied her. Then he bid her a reluctant good day and left for the palace.
That was hours ago. Day became evening, and evening turned to night. When night came, Anne would not let even Marguerite enter the room. She gave strict instructions not to disturb her, claiming that she only wanted to sleep uninterrupted.
Now she sat in a little chair next to the window and watched the raindrops plummet down the panes of glass. Her kerchief long since soaked through, she resorted to using her hem or sleeve to wipe away the tears. On the street below, she heard the sound of horse hooves and thought to herself that Petane was returning. Sighing, she wondered if she would have to speak with him. She knew her face looked puffy and red from crying, but there was nothing she could do about it. Still, she did not wish to give Petane cause to worry. She poured a small amount of water into a basin and washed her face.
It took Richard little time to remember where Petane lived. Petane was, after all, perhaps the wealthiest merchant in the Limassol and aided Richard in capturing the city. When Richard came to the tall manor house, he brought his horse to a halt. The animal slid on the wet cobblestones and very nearly fell as it struggled to do its master’s bidding.
Inside, Petane’s servants were startled by a visit in the night from the strange man. They could tell it was not their master. Marguerite, who sat by the hearth, knew who it was, and rushed to the gate. She opened it just in time for Richard to erupt into the enclosed courtyard. “Where is she, Marguerite? I know she is here.”
“Please.” Marguerite curtsied so low that she was almost kneeling. “I beg you, Sire, have mercy on my mistress. She does not wish to see you.”
In response, Richard unsheathed his sword, which sent Petane’s servants scattering. Determined to find Anne, he marched into the house and rooms on the bottom floor. When he did not see her, he climbed the stairs leaving a trail of water behind him. Marguerite followed.
From inside the room, Anne heard a ruckus in the hallway. Instinct to her to lock the door, but just as she started across the room, the door burst open. Before she had time to think, Richard stood in front of her, his hair and clothes soaked through from the rain. He cared no more for his sword, and with a loud clang it struck the floor.
Without warning, Richard fell to his knees before her. “Anne, I have done my duty,” he choked out.
She opened her mouth to say something, but there were no words. She looked down into his grey eyes. Grabbing her close, he pressed his face into her stomach, all the while mumbling, “I have done my duty! Oh, God in heaven, I have done my duty!”