From the Quill of Chaplain Larsen, Sleeping Mathilde, excerpt from the novel by Leila Samarrai


From the Quill of Chaplain Larsen, Sleeping Mathilde, excerpt from the novel by Leila Samarrai

***

Mathilde confided in me often (which I hid from Amerongen like a Jew hides his gold) while alone or while we walked together along the garden tile path

‘Why are you so unhappy, mistress Mathilde? The master is trying…’, I coughed, ‘He seems to indulge you in everything, and yet…’
‘And yet…’
‘Confide in me, oh Mistress.’
‘There is no need for formalities, Larsen.’
‘Okay’, I nodded. ‘Do you suffer too much?’
‘It upsets me, it gets on my nerves.’
‘Break the silence and open your heart to me’, I said, fatherly.
‘This morning I recollected the life in Denmark… And my mother. Make a note, Larsen, and let the world see it! If the prison door ever open up for me and Hässe burns to the ground, I swear that…for something like that, I will rise from my grave!’
‘I will make a note, but I do not know what happened… Tell me the tale> is it the truth that Johana the Monster, as the locals called your mother…’
‘And the noblemen,’ the Mathilde declared fiercely.
‘…Yes…patience for the old man, young lady.’
Mathilde shot a smile back to him.
‘…she lived, as they say, in utter poverty?’
‘No,’ she stated simply.
‘Amerongen…’, I turned around and saw him fumbling around the stables – he was etching something into the ground with his knife and chanted… The guards were lazing around in front of the castle. A portion of the army, being bored on the roof of the castle and leaning onto the towers, under the Hässe sun, was taking a nap.
‘You could run away right now. I am reading your mind.’
‘And where would I go?’ I felt rage engulf her, a cold, suppressed rage, thus I fell silent in discomfort and decided to return to the topic at hand.
‘You know I always treated you like you were my own daughter.’
‘You are my solace in this home of the mad’, she responded gently, moving to caress me on the cheek but stopping midway through.
We entered the great Hall and sat on a bench one next to the other, tracked by the vile gaze of Orian von Amerongen.
‘Dearest Mathilde, the introduction is the most problematic to me. I can never seem to pin it down…Your words are sung with a lion’s strength, but I cannot discern whether you’ve written a novel of your mother and your real father,’ I started while looking at the scroll, ‘a made up story, or are these facts?’
She smiled somewhat tensely.
‘Tell me how you married Amerongen’, I prepped my quill and a parchment under my cassock.
Mathilde tensed up her body. Her countenance became brutally firm.
‘It was in Denmark. On that day, and what a dim day it was, Father, the Regenstein door opened with a bang. Seeing Amerongen, I thought the entire castle shivered and squealed, as if dying from a horrible disease.
‘The castle was founded in the second half of the ninth century on a steep cliff, from which I felt like ending my life in the endless abyss numerous times. It was a dark, aristocratic dwelling. Since I was a tyke I likened it to a monster. Toothy towers reminiscent of fangs, and dark windowpanes reminding of the eyes of Erebus.[1] Regenstein had spread venom around itself since those days.
‘Amerongen got his eye on me, tall and threatening. I stood in the middle of the hallway frozen by his gaze. I pressed the parchments I was carrying to the library against my chest. He looked at me like a bloodthirsty animal. He looked like a rustler.
‘ ‘Is this ever a beauty!’, he shouted and touched Johanna’s heart to tears, while joy glistened in Otto’s wrinkly eyes.
He suddenly averted his eyes, and his face calmed, as if the monstrous strength waned in him.
‘ ‘In the name of Yambe-Akka’, he yelled. ‘Did someone die in here? Give ale to horses first, then the serfs!’
‘ ‘Mathilde, you should be honored that this charming nobleman chose you for his bride’, the moment she said this the parchments dropped from my hands, and Amerongen looked at me curiously. I replied with a smile which surprised him and he told me: ‘Do you perchance like me? Truly it cannot be so!’, he pouted like a child and winked at me, which made me feel sick to my stomach. I assume he just wanted to make me feel better.’
[1] Greek god of eternal darkness.

***

prinzessin

 

 

 

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