The Fires of Beltane

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Scotland: 1559

Margarete and Lise had come to Scotland in May, so the shortness of the days approaching midwinter was a somewhat disturbing marvel. Accustom to the light and mildness of the countryside around Bordeaux, They beheld the late sunrise and early sunset with wonder and dismay.

As an active person, Lise was used to tramping around fields and hillsides, ostensibly to search out useful herbs. As attendant to Margarete, her duties were somewhat poorly defined, and the intimacy they shared gave her more latitude in such things than servants usually enjoyed. Since the injuries she had sustained to body and spirit at Lamas, these tramps had been curtailed, but as the days shortened, she felt a growing need for them.

Though used to going about alone, she did not object to the presence of Owen on such rambles. Though she wouldn’t admit it to herself, it felt better to have someone with her after the violence that had befallen her at the celebration of the first harvest. Also, it gave them time away from the constraint and constant observation of daily life in the great hall.

After a long and skillful courtship during which each gave as good as they got, they had become lovers, but only for a day. The same license that had lead her to wander away into the woods with him that day, had allowed her to disregard a lifetime of hard lessons, and put herself in the path of the violation that had nearly rubbed her of her will to live. That terrible time had passed, but, confused in her mind about cause and effect, she did not know herself, nor how to return to their former intimacy.

For his part, Owen was a singer of songs and a teller of tales, and had a vast threshold for the range of human behaviour. To regain what they had shared so briefly, he was willing to wait, though perhaps not passively.

She likewise had spent a large part of her life as an entertainer. As a favoured lady’s attendant, such skills were rarely called upon, but she and Owen had often traded tales for entertainment, and other more subtle purposes. Sometimes on their walks to absorb as much daylight as they could, they would pass the time by telling each other stories. At first, these were childrens’ stories, amusing tales of fabulous animals; fairy encounters; childish exploration; the first venturings into the larger world.

One afternoon when the sun was shining and the wind still, they found themselves in a sheltered open space where the sun warmed them, and heaped dry pine needles offered rest. When they had sat down, one of the awkward silences descended between them. It was one of the times when Lise was disoriented by memories and obscure fears, and conversation was difficult. She regretted having stopped. It was easier to pass off such moments when moving.

Owen broke the silence in his easy, good-natured tones.

“Shall I tell you a story?”

She smiled and nodded with relief. Regardless of the story, the sound of his voice with its Welsh lilt was always soothing to her.

He looked slowly around the small clearing. It was bright. The warmth of the sun was a sensual delight, and it brought out the pungency of pine needles. He considered. It was the sensuous warmth of the sun that made him decide to leave childish stories behind.

“I will tell you a wholesome tale of how a young man discovered his favourite pastime.”

Lise raised her eyebrows in enquiry.

“The lesson came not from a school master or craftsman, but from a lively dairy maid with an adventurous spirit and a roving eye.”

With one mischievous glance into her eyes, he lay back on the abundant needles and his voice drifted comfortably up to her, while his eyes remained fixed on the treetops.

“This lad had been fostered far away from home, but his fosterage was a fortunate one, and he had a genuine place in the life of the castle where he lived. He had long since begun paying attention to girls and women, so he noted immediately when the younger sister of the chief dairy woman came to bide there.

“She was pretty and brown-haired, and possessed desires too strong to be constrained by convention, though she did achieve a successful show of modesty as a way to leave herself relatively free to make sport with grooms and labourers. She had a special eye for lads who she judged to be unschooled in such pursuits, and took on their education with a will. This lad was far too inexperienced to recognize her pursuit, and she executed it with no little thought and skill.

“The lad was not assigned to any particular guildsman or training, but to all. This meant that he could be ordered about at the need of whatever aspect of castle life required labour. Somehow, the crafty dairy maid managed to be there to show him how to churn butter, chop vegetables in the kitchen, or some other such task which required her to lean close in demonstration or assessment of his work. He would stand rooted, telling himself that she was oblivious of her breast pressing casino siteleri up against his arm, or her forearm brushing his. Her little advances were such that he could never convince himself that she meant what he hoped she meant.

“One day, when he had gone down to the lakeside to bathe, he found a woman’s garments on the shore. Looking out, he saw that the dairy maid was before him in the water, not knowing that she had hurried down on hearing that he was headed that way himself soon.

“She made a mild show of surprise and concern upon seeing him, but she did not shriek or warn him away. On the contrary, she lingered, her shoulders chastely below the water’s surface, but her body not entirely invisible. He tried and failed not to stair.

“Far from reproving him, she said coolly, ‘I fear I have placed my garments too near the water’s edge. Will you move them further back for me lest they get wet?’

“She stayed where she was while he did so, shifting languidly in the water.

“‘Did you come here to bathe?’ she asked.

“‘Y… Yes,’ he got out, but panicked at the very idea. He longed for her to climb out of the water for he had never seen a woman naked before. At the same time, he was so nervous that he found himself stammering an apology and stumbling off back to the castle, so he didn’t see her smug smile.

“One day in late summer, many folk were occupied with the first harvest, and in the morning, she asked him quietly to meet her in the stable after the noon meal so that he could see something she had found in the hay loft. At last, he began to hope that his weeks of trailing after her like a dog with its tongue hanging out might finally avail him.

“He was there before her, and fidgeted horribly with nerves until she came. Putting a finger to her lips, she went before him up the ladder to the loft, offering him a tantalizing glimpse into the mysteries of feminine undergarments, and no small portion of her well-turned leg. He was up after her in a trice.

“She put her finger to her lips once more, and all that then passed, passed in silence.

“She pressed herself against him and kissed him. At first he didn’t trust her not to be teasing him for her amusement, but the genuine flavour of her own enjoyment was so apparent that he no longer doubted.

“She guided him silently in undressing her, but when he would have moved with more initiative, she gently but firmly placed his hands away from her, making it clear that he was to do her bidding, which suited him better than he would have liked to admit, since he had almost no idea what to do.

“When they had both undressed, she pushed him on to his back and introduced him to pleasures more subtle than he had dreamed. She kissed him in a place and manner that left him powerless. A woman of experience, she liked to please men in this way first for several reasons. Primarily, she wished to prolong matters later on, and knew that this caress, while endearing herself to any young man’s fancy, would also ensure that she got as much of what she wanted most as possible. She was aroused by the power gained by rousing another. In this young man, she had found one who expressed his appreciation of her attentions in just the right way to inflame her desire further.

“She engulfed him fully in her mouth. He watched this with awe, and felt it with a dizzying pleasure that made him want to do many things at once, but most of all to stay as still as possible lest he break the spell of her tongue. When her skilled movements caused the explosion of pleasure he had only ever experienced at his own hands, he lay dazed, motionless and silent for a time. One hand gripped her shoulder lest she dissolve into fantasy.

“She smiled up at him knowingly, then moved to lie beside him. He turned toward her, touching her wonderingly. Her touch on him was less ethereal. She kissed him, overcoming his initial discomfort considering what had just happened. She pressed herself against him and drew his hand between her legs to show him the effects of him on her. He explored, fascinated.

“It wasn’t long before he was ready for her. Eventually she would introduce him to many positions from which they enjoyed feeling his strong thrusts inside her, but that first time she straddled his hips and thought mostly of pleasing herself. Accomplished from wide and eager experience, she used his hard penis and enthusiasm to satisfy weeks of accumulated lust. He learned, to his amazement, that women too could reach a peak of pleasure, but when he looked covertly for the result, he found only the pervasive slippery moisture that made it so much more pleasurable than he could have imagined to thrust in and out of her.

“She was a kind lass, as well as a lusty one, and she made it clear that she’d welcome his attentions whenever discretion and opportunity offered. Of course he fancied himself in love with her, but this illusion did not survive his discovery of freespin bonus her in the hay loft with the senior groom some months later. She was gentle to him, but firm in her assertion that there was no understanding between them, and that he was as free as she to seek other companionship.

“After some time, and some ruthless ribbing by more experienced lads, he came to see that she spoke wisely, and he became somewhat widely known among the maidens, and even some of the matrons of the castle.”

Owen sat up slowly to find Lise gazing peacefully at the surrounding trees, her lips curved in a small smile, her body no longer speaking of constraint. Slowly she turned her eyes to him.

“A fine tale,” she said calmly, but the spark in her dark eyes told him that she knew who the young lad might have been.

On inclement days, Lise and Owen would sometimes find one another in the great hall of an afternoon. Lise’s nominal domestic duties discharged, and his grueling work of helping in cottage building halted by the weather, they would sit companionably, she doing needle work, he cleaning and maintaining the musical instruments of the castle or polishing blades.

On one such afternoon, he said into an easy silence, “Tell me a story.”

Nothing loathed, she cast about for something to amuse him.

“Your tale of the young lad and the dairy maid put me in mind of a story about two travelling entertainers and an in-keeper.”

She glanced around, perceiving that, though episodic activity was going on around them, none were close enough to overhear.

“I must warn you it is quite a scandalous tale…. Perhaps you would rather hear about the boy and the three geese?”

He knew that she herself had made her living as an entertainer before entering Margarete’s service, and he raised his eyebrows in enquiry, as she had done that day in the sunny clearing.

“There are no others to hear; pray tell me your scandalous tale.”

“There was a very young woman who habitually travelled with a group of tumblers and musicians. She had made her way very much alone in the world, and was therefore perhaps even more prone to girlish idolatry than most of her age. She had conceived a consuming longing for an accomplished tumbler in her company. He was not unkind, but he was self-serving, and quite discriminating in his pleasures.

“Midsummer happened to take them to Marseilles. There was an inn there which they had often frequented. It was run by Natalie, an able and attractive woman whose husband spent months at a time at sea, leaving her womanly needs unsatisfied. She and the tumbler had long been lovers whenever the opportunity offered itself. The very young woman did not know this.

“The younger woman was drawn to Natalie because of the woman’s kindness and competence, but also by something nameless and exciting that arose in her body when Natalie gave her long affectionate hugs. With the freedom of women together, they would sit, arms about each other on the settle during the inn keeper’s brief spates of inactivity, and the younger woman would experience a heightened awareness of Natalie’s body, an intense enjoyment of the closeness. She never really thought about how these feelings shared a quality with her longing for the tumbler, never really thought about why Natalie seemed to enjoy softly caressing the back of her neck, or brushing her with a feathery touch just above the collarbone on rising to resume her work.

“As I have hinted, the tumbler was crafty in the procurement of his pleasures: a quality he shared in good measure with the inn keeper. On an evening when the long days and warm temperatures afforded chances less common in winter, these two laid a cunning plan for the young lady, trusting in her ignorance and eagerness. Their trust was not misplaced.

“The tumbler had been aware for some time of the young lady’s feelings toward him. Likewise, Natalie perceived that her subtle importunities toward the young lady were not rebuffed, were in fact met with the glassy-eyed expression of almost unconscious arousal.

“At twilight one evening, the tumbler asked the young woman to come to his inn room that he might show her some costuming items he had purchased that day, and which he thought she might like to make use of. He was standing very close to her, laying a necklace of beads around her neck and secretly enjoying the sight of her dilated pupils and flushed cheeks, when there was a knock. Natalie’s musical tones were audible through the closed door.

“‘I have brought your washing water.’

“The tumbler allowed an expression of alarm to show on his face.

“‘Quickly’ he whispered, ‘It would be improper for you to be found here. Hide behind this curtain until she is gone.’

“Uncertain of what such an impropriety might mean, the biddable and naive young woman did as he commanded.

“When Natalie entered, she set the pale özel bonuslar of water down on the wash stand and turned eagerly to the tumbler. After a silence which the young woman found puzzling, she chanced a peek from behind her concealing curtain. What she saw made her dilated eyes widen even further.

“Natalie stood within the circle of the man’s arms, her face upturned, her lips pressed to his. As the young woman watched, the man and woman began running their hands eagerly over one another and divesting one another of every stitch of clothing. It being a warm day of midsummer, the two lay down together on the bed, having no need of a blanket. From where she stood, the young woman had a clear view of them as they continued to kiss and caress one another.

“She watched in fascination as Natalie turned onto her back while the tumbler took each of her nipples in turn into his mouth. As Natalie made soft sounds of sensual delight and writhed sinuously against her lover, the young lady found her own body moving in gentle sympathy with Natalie’s. Natalie rolled over to face the man and cupped his muscular behind so suggestively that the watcher behind the curtain seemed to feel his flesh beneath her own hands. Natalie flung her leg across the man’s hip and rocked her pelvice against him with a rhythm that made the young lady long to feel that graceful leg thrown over her own hip, to move her own body against it.

“Natalie turned onto her back once more, and this time the man followed. His body seemed to cover Natalie’s, but from where she stood, the young lady could see how his erect penis slid against Natalie’s body, then disappeared between her legs.

“As Natalie let out a soft cry of pleasure and satisfaction, the young lady was barely aware that her hand had strayed between her own thighs and was moving slowly there. The sheer force and physicality of what was happening on the bed might have been frightening had it not been patently obvious that Natalie relished his attentions. Indeed, while the young lady’s conscious longings had been for the tumbler, it was the sight and sounds of Natalie’s pleasure that caused her breath to quicken and the pressure of her hand against her own body to increase.

“This went on for a time that went unmeasured by all, until first Natalie then the tumbler convulsed in what was clearly a peak of pleasure. The man still lay atop the woman, but the woman’s eyes opened and slowly, seemingly at random, moved about the room. They came to the curtain. So absorbed had the young lady become, that she failed to remember concealment. Natalie’s eyes opened wide, and her mouth made an o of astonishment so well done that the young lady didn’t suspect that in keepers can also be players.

“Natalie gave a muted cry of surprise, and made to leap up. Dislodged, the tumbler went up on his knees and turned to follow Natalie’s gaze. Natalie gave an excellent performance of outraged and dismay.

“‘You bad girl! What do you mean by sneaking around and peeking at us so? Why are you hiding there behind the curtain? Why ever did you come to this man’s room alone? How could you intrude so?’

“Dazed by unfamiliar arousal, intimidated by the two adults, uncertain of exactly which proprieties she had violated, the young lady was completely taken in, and utterly failed to discern the outrageous contradictions and inconsistencies in Natalie’s outburst. On the contrary, her distress left her inarticulate, and so distraught that she felt tears prick her eyelids. She had been drawn to both these people, and now they were viewing her with apparent disdain and disapproval. The unscrupulous plan of these two lechers was proceeding exactly as they had hoped.

“At the young lady’s obvious distress, Natalie abandoned her outrage and began to show signs of sympathy for the young woman’s fear. She sat back on the bed and sighed.

“‘Oh my dear, do not look so. I am not angry, just shocked to find you here and… Well you have seen something very private. You know you must speak of this to no one!’

“Her tone sharpened markedly, and the frightened expression on the young woman’s face became even more pronounced. Natalie made a convincing show of remorse, and a sincere show of compassion.

“‘Come here little one. You need not be frightened. You will be discreet won’t you. Come and sit here with me.’

“The young woman sat tentatively on the bed beside Natalie, reassured by her gentle expression. Natalie put an arm around her and drew close. She ran a comforting hand down the young woman’s back and toyed fondly with her hair.

“‘I am not angry with you, do not fear. You surprised me greatly. Never mind, I will not ask why you were here, and you do not need to ask why I am here do you? What lovely glossy black hair you have. I have often wished to see it unbound. May I?’

“With practiced fingers she loosened the young woman’s hair and fanned it out across her shoulders.

“‘Lovely: are you less frightened now?’

“‘The young woman nodded, unable to speak. She didn’t know what was happening, but she knew she wanted it to keep on happening.

“‘We have all had a shock,’ Natalie said in her sweetly modulated tones. ‘I think we could all enjoy some refreshment.’

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