This is the second part of the story of Carthinal’s parents, Jovinda and Noni. I thought it would only be two instalments, but this is the second and it’s not finished. There will be at least one more.
Jovinda eventually stopped crying. There were no more tears left to cry. She lay on her bed looking out of the window at the clouds floating in a clear blue sky where the sun seemed to be mocking her. She did not want to live. How could she without Noni?
She rose and walked towards the casement. She opened it and looked out, drawing a deep sobbing breath. If she jumped from here she would only hurt herself. It was not high enough to kill her and so she withdrew into the room.
There was a knock on her door. She threw herself back down on the bed and ignored it. The knock came again, followed by her mother’s voice saying her name. Jovinda did not want to speak to her mother. She hated her and her father for forbidding her to see Noni.
Her mother called again, and then Jovinda heard a sigh and the footsteps retreating. The girl rose again and went to the window where she sat on the window seat and gazed out at the passers-by. She had to make a plan. She must see Noni. What if he thought she did not want to see him? Would her parents allow her to go out alone? Probably not, just in case she went to see him.
After a long while, she had her plan all sorted out. First she must go to see Salor. Her mother could accompany her if she wished. She was not going to go to try and see Noni. She must continue to act the broken-hearted girl though. If her parents thought she had recovered too quickly they would be suspicious. A few days would suffice.
For the next two days, Jovinda stayed impatiently in her room. She felt much happier now she had worked out her plan. Slowly she opened the door and walked down the stairs into the hallway, keeping her eyes lowered and her mouth downcast. She was hungry. She had eaten very little during the last two days. She had picked at the food her maid had left outside her room wanting to seem as though she were still unhappy.
When she entered the dining-room she sat down at the table where her parents were beginning their meal.
Ellire smiled at the girl. ‘Well, we’re very glad to see you, Jo. We were worried about you up there on your own, hardly eating, weren’t we Kendo?’
‘Yes, we were. You were hardly eating anything and not speaking to anyone. It’s good to have you back at the table again.’ He turned to the butler. ‘Olori, serve Miss Jolinda with some of this soup, will you please.’
The meal passed with little said, and nothing about Noni. Afterwards, Jovinda told her parents that she was going to visit Salor that afternoon. She half expected an argument, but she was ready. After all, they could not legally stop a young woman of sixteen from going out. She was of age now.
Instead of an argument, though, Ellire said, ‘Oh, what a coincidence. I have planned to go to see Bremla this afternoon.’ She named Salor’s mother. ‘I need to talk to her about the women’s meeting next week. I’ll walk with you.’
Jovinda was not surprised that her mother wanted to talk to Bremla. She knew it was just a made-up excuse, but she pretended to be surprised and agreed it would be pleasant to walk together.
Noni stood at his window for some time. He was not going to give this girl up. He loved her with all his heart and although no words of love had passed between them, he believed she felt the same.
Later that day he left the Rindissillaron embassy where the elves were staying and walked towards Jovinda’s home. He had no idea what he was going to do. He stood in the street and looked up at the house. Where was she now? Was she in her room or had she gone out? Should he knock on the door? He had always been warmly welcomed before. He decided he must see Jovinda and he crossed the street and knocked on the door.
It was answered by Olori, the butler. ‘I’m sorry, sir,’ he told Noni, ‘but Miss Jovinda is not entertaining today.’ He then politely closed the door.
This happened for the next two days and Noni decided that either Jovinda was no longer interested in him, which he did not believe, or her parents had had a similar conversation with her as his father had had with him. He must see her, but how? He had waited outside her house for two days and had not seen her. She must come out sometime, though. Her parents could not keep her inside against her will. She was, after all, an adult by the standards of the human world.
On the third day of waiting, Noni saw the front door open. His heart leaped as he saw his beloved coming down the steps, but it sank again just as quickly when he saw she was accompanied by her mother. He slipped down the street opposite and looked back to see Jovinda smile at something her mother said. She did not look unhappy. He sat down on the step of a nearby house. Perhaps it was true that she did not want to see him. His head sank into his hands and it was all he could do to prevent the tears.
He walked back to the embassy and entered. His father was just about to leave to go to a meeting.
‘Where have you been?’ he asked. ‘Hurry up and get ready. We have a meeting with the goldsmith’s guild shortly. You need to come and learn about diplomacy and negotiating contracts. I hope you’ve not been seeing that girl.’
‘No, Father, I’ve not been seeing her. I’ll be along in five minutes.’
But I will see her again, and I will ask her if she wants to continue seeing me, have no fear of that.
Salor took Jovinda to her room. As soon as the door closed, Jovinda began to talk rapidly. She told Salor how her parents were objecting to her relationship with Noni and how she was going to defy them and see him.
‘I’m an adult, Salor,’ she told her friend. ‘I can do as I wish and they can’t stop me. I want to see Noni. I will see Noni. I love him, Salor.’
‘This is so romantic. A forbidden love. Will the lovers overcome the obstacles and win through?’
‘Look, Salor, I want you to do me a favour. Have you got a pen and paper? I want to write a letter to Noni and I’m asking you if you can somehow get it to him.’
Salor stood and walked over to a desk in front of the window. She picked up a pen and paper and Jovinda wrote a brief note to Noni.
‘How are we going to get it to him?’ Salor asked.
‘I’ve thought of that,’ Jovinda replied. ‘Your maid can take it and give it to Noni’s manservant. He’s called Kifferissimos or something that sounds like that anyway.’
The two girls plotted how Salor’s maid, Muren, could find out which of the elves was Kifferissimos and how she could get the note to him. It would not be easy, and Muren would need to be sworn to secrecy too.
They called the girl in and told her what they wanted her to do. She was as excited as Salor to be involved as a go-between in an illicit affair. She suggested that if he were agreeable, she and Kifferissimos could pretend to be lovers. That would be a good excuse to be seen together.
They agreed the plan and Jovinda gave the note to Muren. Just then, Ellire called and Jovinda left Salor and ran down the stairs smiling at her mother.
‘It’s good to see you smiling again,’ said Ellire, smiling back. She turned to Bremla. ‘I think she’s seeing the sense of what we told her about human and elf relationships. I feel so relieved.’
The two girls exchanged guilty looks, but neither of the older women noticed.
Three anxious days passed. Jovinda could hardly contain herself. She could not rush round to see Salor every day, as that had not been their usual habit. There was sewing to be done and helping her mother with the household accounts. She took left over food to some of the poor families. Those who did not live too far away, though, It would not do for a well-bred young lady to venture into the poor district.
She visited the temple of Sylissa to help the clerics with preparation of bandages and then each day went to pray at the temple of Bramara, the goddess of the Family and Marriage to pray that things would work out well for her and Noni.
Eventually her patience paid off. Salor came to visit her one afternoon and when they were alone, passed a note written in an elegant style. Jovinda could hardly contain herself.
‘Read it, Jo,’ Salor said. ‘You can write a reply and I can take it with me when I go.’
Jovinda broke the seal.
My darling, Jo, it said.
I hope you don’t mind me calling you my darling, for you are indeed most dear to me. I received and read your note with excitement. Does this mean that you feel the same about me as I do about you? This I can hardly dare to hope for.
You tell me that your parents have forbidden you from seeing me. The same has happened here. My father has been quite adamant that we do not see each other. I am sure they think that it is in our best interests, but I do not accept that.
Jo, my darling, I now admit that I love you with all my heart. I cannot live without you. I WILL not live without you. It matters not one jot to me that you will grow old before me. I will love you just the same, young or old.
Please tell me how we can meet. I must see you again as soon as possible.
Tears filled Jovinda’s eyes as she read the letter. Salor was worried.
‘What does he say? You are crying. Is he finishing it?’
‘No, Salor. It’s such a beautiful letter. He says he loves me and how can we meet.’
The girls began to plot again. This time how Jovinda and Noni could meet. They eventually decided that the girls would plan a picnic. Noni would ‘accidentally’ be walking past, and Salor would have to go somewhere, so they could be left alone.
The day of the picnic arrived. Salor arrived at Jovinda’s home with a picnic basket and Jovinda picked up her own basket.
‘Where are you going to have your picnic?’ Ellire asked. ‘It’s a beautiful day. I think the meadows down by the mouth of the Brundella would be nice.’
‘We thought up on the hill out of town,’ Jovinda replied. ‘There’s a bit of a breeze up there as well as the woods if we need some shade. It might be a bit hot down by the river.’
The two girls climbed the hill to the top and sat down, spreading their picnic out in front of them. Jovinda was on tenterhooks.
‘What if he doesn’t come? What if he’s changed his mind about me? What if his father’s found out and has somehow prevented him from coming?’
Salor smiled. ‘He’ll come, Jo. Don’t you worry.’
Then a figure strode out from the woods. The girls gave out a little scream, then Jovinda recognised her lover and leaped up. she ran towards him and he held out his arms to receive her.
Salor quietly slipped away.
What will happen when Noni and Jovinda’s parents find out they have been seeing one another?
Find out on the third Tuesday of March.
I would be very pleased to receive any comments about this story.
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