Corinne Kingfisher... A vision of beauty. Poets called women visions of beauty and Corinne had inspired poetry in Eric. Hair a warm reddish brown colour that soothed his eyes and seemed to soften the air around it; eyes a light blue that reminded him of quiet yet energetic rushing streams; skin pale as clouds that looked as soft as rose petals. She seemed less like a physical being and more like a free spirit who could drift between her world and this as she pleased. Wild and wonderful and ethereal. What a lady.
Eric was concerned. The way in which the lady Corinne had reacted when he had mentioned Lord Dachshund appeared to indicate that there was tension in her relationship with him. And on seeing that young man now, the distance in his eyes despite the very present bemusement in his expression, he wondered what could be happening beneath the surface of the story of the beautiful girl who had been taken in by a man with a lot of authority in this town.
The lord regained his composure and smiled at Eric, though there was still a furrow in his brow.
“Good afternoon. How may I assist you, ...?”
“Eric. Eric Stag,” Eric told the man.
“Eric.” Lord Dachshund smiled, though the emotion didn’t reach his eyes.
“I was wondering if I may start a stall at the local market,” Eric said.
Lord Dachshund nodded. “Yes, that would be fine. Where are you living?”
“Just at the edge of Periville. Sylvanigh Cottage.”
Lord Dachshund nodded again.
“Have you recently moved there?” he asked conversationally.
“Yes, I have,” Eric replied, smiling. “The area is really quaint.”
Lord Dachshund’s smile twitched so that it was a little wider.
“I’m glad you like it. And what do you intend to sell on your stall? You must know that I won’t allow the sale of weapons or plants with damaging effects.”
Eric shook his head.
“I won’t be bringing anything like that to your town, my lord. I want to sell edible mushrooms, bags of lavender and roasted chestnuts.”
Lord Dachshund grinned at the last.
“I should like to try some of those. Would you be willing to deliver a bag of them on Monday?”
“Of course, my lord,” Eric replied, delighted by the lord’s desire to buy something he hadn’t even begun to sell yet though this did not stop him being suspicious of the secret activities that might take place in the manor which decent men might shudder at. Eric had always been imaginative as a boy and this characteristic had not disappeared as he had grown into a man. At this minute he was picturing Lord Dachshund holding Corinne against her will in a private area of the manor gardens where they would not be seen, forcefully kissing her. He knew it was wrong to judge a man he didn’t know but he had been so enchanted by Corinne that he wanted to protect her from every evil of the world, to preserve that delicate free spirit so she would not be tainted by the horrors of this world.
“Well, it was a pleasure to meet you, Eric,” Lord Dachshund said, drawing the dialogue to a close. “I shall look forward to your roasted chestnuts. If you ever have a problem with your life as a resident of Periville, don’t hesitate to come and discuss it with me. And, in case it is any different where you used to live, Sunday is a day of leisure here. Do not expect anyone to offer you their services in their specifications or to perform even minor tasks for you.”
“Of course, my lord,” Eric replied, bowing his head. “It was a pleasure to meet you too. Do convey the same message to the lady who brought me to the room.”
Eric thought he saw the faintest hint of a frown in Lord Dachshund’s eyes but in the next moment he was nodding and Eric had no other choice than to walk away, not even knowing if his message would be delivered. He left the manor, his mood confused by the simultaneous feeling of excitement at holding a stall on market days and anxiety that Corinne may be suffering maltreatment from the man she was living with.