“So what do you make of all this?” Sir Bendett asked, when the two men where finally left alone after dinner.
Valdermar sighed, settling down on the sofa next to the knight. What could he make of it? His wife was seeking her replacement and while he understood the logic he could not in all good conscious tell the knight his daughter would be well taken care of. It wasn’t that he planned to do wrong by the girl, more simply that he could not bear the thought of another wife. “Holly isn’t easy to dissuade once she gets something into her head”
“She always was a wilful one” the older man agreed. “I have to admit I was expecting you to ask for an arrangement between Lorcan and Tara, it never entered my head that perhaps Tara would be considered for yourself”
“It’s Holly’s consideration, not mine”
“You don’t sound convinced”
Pausing he considered his words, Holly would be upset with him if he sabotaged the proceedings and likewise he felt like he owed it to his wife to make plans so at least she would not worry for him in her final weeks. “It’s hard” he admitted, “To consider a new wife when my current one is not gone yet”
“I can understand that, to be honest five years ago I would not have imagined myself standing here having this conversation” the knight admitted, “The truth is Valdermar im not sure I want to marry my daughter into this house”
“I can understand that” Valdermar nodded, “but the estate is doing much better, Gabriel might be a bastard but he’s a good businessman and I’ve recently come into some money that has made the estate far more stable”
“It’s not the financial situation I’m worried about” Sir Bendett replied sternly “Some may forget… but you have to understand, I was the man who fished poor Lucy out of the well”
Valdermar’s stomach fell, he tried so often to forget about what he’d done and most of the time he was able but sometimes like now he found it was part of his past he would never shake. “I can’t change the past” he agreed “but I have promised Holly to be a better man in the future”
“Hmm… not many would have given you a second chance? You know that don’t you?”
“I do” he agreed “I consider myself very blessed”
“We were all quite surprised when she married you”
“None where as surprised as me” he nodded, “I understand she didn’t do it for love, but I think… at least I believe she has learned to love me”
“Holly is a good soul, she always has been” the knight agreed, “And a good judge of character, I suppose she must have seen something in you the rest of us didn’t”
“Honestly I think she saw Eadric more than me…. He filled a hole she had. I was incidental to the arrangement at least in the beginning”
“Well whatever the reasons she seems to love you now” Sir Bendett reasoned, “She wants to see you happy and taken care of”
“She does” he nodded.
“The thing is I would rather like to get Tara out of Hamdun Castle, she’s unhappy there … This would solve that problem without creating a political mess for me. However likewise I’m not convinced that Tara would be very happy here either. A grief stricken man and two young children is a lot to ask a fourteen year old girl to take on”
“I know it is and I understand I can’t promise her or you very much in terms of the future but she’ll be looked after”
“As Marrisa was looked after?” the Knight dared.
The words stung but Valdermar could not be angry for them. Like Lucy it was a subject that was bound to come up. He had been young and angry at the time. Never quite able to forgive Marrisa’s treachery he’d continued to take the anger out on her long after punishment should have been served. “No she will be taken care of as Holly has been” he decided, “I won’t lift my hand to her I promise that”
The knight nodded, he paused for a moment seeming to consider the proposal before speaking again. “I’m sorry Valdermar… I truly hope you have learned from your past mistakes but I don’t think we should continue this conversation. I can’t in all good faith consider this arrangement. You are clearly a man capable of great evil and while I applaud you for turning your life around I can’t risk putting my daughter in your way, should you slip down the wrong path again”
“I understand” he nodded, feeling like he had been punched in the stomach. He wasn’t disappointed that an arrangement could not been agreed, but he was disappointed that he seemed unable to erase the past. It was too much to ask perhaps for others to forgive him as Holly had.