Sunday, 24 July 2011
One Dog Rose
Many years ago, during what was called the Wars of the Roses in the fair Isle of Britain there was a knight called Sir Hugo Sauvage, for his ancestors had been great and chivalrous knights. Now it happened that Sir Hugo was very fond, as many were in those days, of hunting stag and boar. Sauvage by name and it seemed, sauvage by nature.
While out hunting one day he paused with his companions at the Castle Beauvoir which indeed was beautiful to see being set in a great park of glorious aspect. It was the home of Sir Carom Viridian a most honest gentleman and excellent knight himself. It happened that as well as a wife whom he loved passing fair, he had also a beautiful daughter, Lady Rosa. Her hair was black as the raven's wing, her skin as delicately tinged as a pink rose and her eyes blue as an evening sky at summer. Gentle was her voice it seemed to Sir Hugo and pleasing in every aspect so that he fell quite in love with her. For Cupid was and is often a greater hunter than ever Sir Hugo was.
There was but one problem it seemed; Sir Hugo was perfectly happy to talk a great deal about horses, weaponry and indeed hunting. But he was quite hopeless at talking of love and in the presence of the Lady Rosa he was quite the stumbling nincompoop rather than the dashing knight he appeared. Worse, he knew it. His face would redden, he would harrumph like a walrus with a headcold and stammer in the most fearful way. At this rate he was unlikely to ever get up the courage to tell the beauteous Lady Rosa that he adored and respected and more than all, loved her. Sir Carom was a perceptive man and saw that his neighbour loved his daughter, but he was also a gentleman who loved his daughter's happiness more than all. So that when Sir Hugo had 'gorn orf' home as was said in those days, Sir Carom asked Lady Rosa what she thought of Sir Hugo.
"By Heaven he seems quite strange father. All that stammering and blushing like a schoolboy who's forgotten his homework and is in trouble with his teacher. I suspect his Latin is terrible and his French quite mundane. It is difficult to know how good his English is as he charged through it as if it were a thicket to be reckoned with," she said quite exasperated.
Sir Carom smiled and told her of the terrible suffering of Love which Cupid for all his cleverness had not considered. 'Must try harder' was no doubt on Cupid's school report though he might be exceptional at archery. Lady Rosa chuckled sympathetically when she realised that Sir Hugo was in love with her.
"Now I am quite sure he is mad, for I am nothing special to look at I am sure," she said with a smile that could have melted ice at several paces.
Sir Carom shook his head in disbelief and said that he would invite Sir Hugo to dinner one evening. That way he and Lady Rosa might get to know each other.
"He might reassure himself that you are less dragon and more human than you think you are," he said to his daughter with a smile.
She laughed and told her mother who kissed her daughter and said wisely,
"You are quite beautiful and for that reason alone you must be careful of men's avowal's of love."
Lady's Rosa blushed prettily and embraced her mother. She pished and pshawed considerably at the thought that anyone might find her in the least attractive.
Now Sir Hugo, having arrived home considered how he might show the elegant and beautiful Lady Rosa whom he considered more Belle Voir than her Beauvoir home. For she is the most beautiful to see than any old castle he told himself wistfully. Being a man who was unused to the company of women he struggled to come up with anything. Even he could see that a dead stag would not be quite romantic from a young woman's view. Horses her father had plenty of and she did not seem the kind who was all that fascinated by weapons or hunting. When he entered the great hall of his castle, a hound the size of a small horse leapt up and ran to greet his master. Sir Hugo embraced the large soft-headed animal and was amazed that such an animal would love him. The thought that the soppy hound might love him, but that Lady Rosa might not threw him into a despair of sighs and groans. The hound sat at his feet and placed its head upon his knees in sympathy and Sir Hugo caressed the large animal's head with his own soppy affection.
"Good dog, loyal friend," he sighed.
It happened, I perhaps should have mentioned it earlier, that Sir Hugo's castle was surrounded by several large thorny dog rose plants. Every winter they showed their thorns as much as Jack Frost showed his and every spring they showed the most charming flowers. Now it happened that when Sir Hugo fell for Lady Rosa, it was the end of winter and spring, so to speak, sprang. To the astonishment of all at Sir Hugo's castle, the dog roses produced only one rose. How apt, thought Sir Hugo, for there was only one rose that he loved too. It occurred to him that girls liked flowers and in his own rustic way he went out one morning and gathered a charming if naive bouquet. To finish it off with something rare and beautiful he thought he would pick the one dog rose. But it was too high up and he was much pricked by thorns for his attempts. There was a great deal of huffing, puffing and some very uncouth language from the otherwise very couth Sir Hugo. In the end he decided to leave it and went back indoors to prepare himself for a visit to Sir Carom.
He was quite a dandy, dressed in elegant and richly appointed clothes. He even had a bath which quite shocked the staff in the castle. When he came to ride his horse Joshua, he looked quite the dashing knight he was. Now if he could remember not to lose his composure in the company of Lady Rosa he might win her hand after all.
Sir Carom was quite delighted to see Sir Hugo again and asked if his daughter might join them. Sir Hugo felt his heart plummet with fear and his face redden, but of course he could not refuse. Sir Carom therefore called Lady Rosa to join them. She came and curtsied before the bewildered Sir Hugo and seeing the bouquet in his large paw exclaimed her delight.
"Harrumph! Er, there was a rather pretty dog rose but I couldn't get at it. Or I would have brought it for you m'lady," Sir Hugo explained nervously.
He was sure there was a thunderstorm outside, for he could hear it, but it was the thundering of his heart. He wrestled with his panic and the rather urgent desire to be elsewhere before he humiliated himself before the breath-takingly beautiful Lady Rosa. She however sat with him and gently held his hand. He was like to have fainted at that point, but for Sir Carom handing him a glass of brandy.
"Ha-hum, most kind my lord, most kind!" he said and drank it off.
"My lord has many dog roses?" Lady Rosa asked him.
He frowned and explained that this year the entire dog roses had managed only the one rose.
"Very pretty mark you, very charming, but only one! Quite remarkable! Still, one pretty rose is all one needs," he mused.
Suddenly realising what he said, he was about to harrumph again, but Lady Rosa, quite touched by that kissed him and said that it was the nicest thing to say. Especially given that she was not quite as beautiful as a real rose. At this Sir Hugo fell into a fit of harrumphing and protesting.
"No, no really I must say! I must say that is quite... you are the most beautiful young lady. A very beautiful rose, I must protest that anyone should... er, hum!" he said.
At which point Lady Rosa kissed him again and thanked him for being quite the sweetest man. He smiled and thanked her, by George, most kind, most kind indeed. And there at that point he quite forgot himself and asked her if she wouldn't mind marryin' him, be deuced kind if she would mind. He admitted that he wasn't quite the catch, but still, he was loyal and kind.
"As a single dog rose?" she said very sweetly, trying not to laugh, for she thought him really quite sweet.
"Hum, loyal perhaps, but not very kind what! Not with all those thorns scratchin' and stabbin' a man!" he explained.
It mattered little, Lady Rosa did marry him and changed his coat of arms to a dog rose upon a field vert - that is to say a dog rose on a viridian background. And while he could be a little prickly of a morning, he was loyal and gentle and kind - like the flower of a dog rose.