Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Vampire Jonathon and Jeanette Meet a Second Time.. 12/6/16

~~ a continuation of the post when Jonathon met Jeanette, from two or three nights ago~~

Jonathon ben Macabi speaks --

I went back to the place. I went back to the well. Perhaps two or three nights had passed. Sometimes ghosts hover near their former flesh, but none were there. The souls of innocent martyrs tarry not with our blighted world, but rise to a blessed plane. And the little children tortured here were in that better place.

But someone had come out to treat their remains. They threw lye onto the bodies and other things to hasten decomposition and hold down the smell. They'll do the deeds. They'll commit the crimes, but they don't like to be reminded of it. After all... they're such good people. Look, the 'baron' probably sent them out. Odds are he owed a debt to one of the Jews. That's how the system worked. According to Scripture, Christians cannot lend at interest to other Christians and Jews, since that Scripture is also theirs, cannot do the same to their brethren in the faith. But the lords denied Jews almost every other means of livelihood. Money lending, or reselling worn, used clothing and other items was it. Then, when the debt grew too high, a convenient massacre solved everything... Fun for the whole family. That's how it was. What else did the serfs have? They called them 'serfs' but slaves would have been more accurate. Jews were a handy, 'God given' release. Primitive times... What else can I say? Unappreciated 'extra' heirs were regularly bricked up into walls, or thrown down their own, more private, wells.

Excuse my editorializing, but... well, just excuse me. Look, I was there. I managed to survive it and I mean before I became a vampire. Did you ever see the old video game, FROGGER? That was it. That was life.... WHACK-A-MOLE, but we were all moles, though some got whacked much harder than others.

In a fortnight the little dead bodies in the well would be gone. Serfs would be sent out to fill in the shaft, cart away the stones and that would be it. They'd dig a new well.

But I remembered what happened and so did the young woman named Jeanette. I saw her step out of the shadows and approach the well. Her hood was up. I couldn't see her face. I didn't have to. Vampires possess a keen sense of smell. That's why we light aroma candles, to mask all the background scents, otherwise we'd never be able to relax.

She knelt in prayer. I waited for her to finish, then quietly approached... She said - You came back too?.... I nodded, then asked - How are you connected to those little ones?... She hesitated, afraid to tell me... I said - No, please, you can tell me....

That's how I learned... She was from a place in Brittany, a tiny hamlet belonging to a prosperous knight, no great lord, with a white washed oratory that served as their church. The castle was little more than a well set up country manor with a stable wing, a few out buildings and a stout, log defensive wall.

Her people were serfs, but serfs of a different sort. The men in her line assisted the armorer and toiled not in the fields. They had neat, thatched cottages with thick, whitewashed walls. And the women of the family served the chatelaine, embroidering runners and linens and whatever else the lady of the manor got it into her head to decorate. They called her mother 'goodwife.' Her father was 'goodman.' Small courtesies, but in a place like that small courtesies mean a lot. What else could they hope for?

The knight had a daughter. Dame Eloise they called her. Pretty, in an obvious way. Sometimes great magnates would stop to spend the night whilst traveling. Her mother positively festooned the place with all manner of needlework when that happened. She had goblets, just plain pot metal, but pot metal can pass for old silver if you shine it right.

If the great magnate had a son in tow they did up poor Eloise like a dog's dinner. But first sons never saw her as anything more than a diversion. Even second sons became bishops. Though this time there was a third son... a real nice lad. Who knew what prospects he might have? Families know other families. He'd still be a knight, but a knight related to real aristocrats... people with castles... people who know Paris... people with fine tapestries and polished tables from Italy... people who mattered... Even the serfs could sympathize.

Now the way the world worked, that third son was already declared for somebody else's third daughter and she had aristocratic cousins too. It all came out over dinner. Mead will do that. Jeanette heard. She served. They made her serve. How could she not hear? Eloise went numb. How many times could they trot her out like that? For her mother it was even worse. She looked at Jeanette. So fresh. So sweet. So young. It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair. Her husband, the knight, agreed. But you know how men are... more stoic... more purposeful.... He whispered to his wife. She whispered to Jeanette. Told her to spend the night in the manor so she'd be there first thing to help with breakfast.... Jeanette nodded and curtsied. She had no say.

A few hours later, when everything was quiet, the knight of the manor discretely unlocked the wench chamber, where female servants slept (it locked from the outside) and let the powerful magnate enter... not the third son, but the father. His prey pulled thin blankets tight 'round their bodies.

By sun up he'd had Jeanette twice and beaten a mute thirteen year old to death.... Eloise's father refused the traditional forty silver pennies 'fine' in cases like this. The dead girl had but an old grandmother, who'd probably cross over soon after. No use wasting an opportunity to forge an alliance....

When she returned to her family no       one said a word. The 'goodwife' and 'goodman' could lose that designation real fast. And Jeanette was unharmed. What could come of it? Later that morning the knight sent over five copper pennies. Jeanette just sat there, but her father picked them up and put them away.

The day progressed and she went about her duties in silence. At sundown, Jeanette wrapped herself in a hooded cloak and started walking.

Later that night, on a trail to the north bordering the forest, she met a man on a mule....

<more next time>

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