The Lord of The Manner

By Presca

May 2, 1607

On route to Jamestown, Virginia aboard the Godspeed

As she sat in a huddled up against the wall of one of the largest oak supports for the ship, the splinters nearly brushed the back of her simple cotton dress – a style she had grown accustomed to as her fine silk gowns were bundled away in a large oak chest in one corner of the cabin she shared with her husband – nearly a crawl space but enough for their voyage. She touched a few stray, golden curls of her hair that had slipped out from underneath her head scarf and circled her ear. Picking up her journal, she wrote a note at the bottom of her most recent entry for that day.

'What sort of bewitching spell had been cast on his mind to seek westward towards the promise of a new land? This foolish decision that now set us adrift upon our thirty-second day at sea…'

Viola tried hard to steady her hand as the rolling sea made it feel as if her delicate stomach were lurching with every wave when she heard her husband knocking loudly on the wall near where she sat on an empty barrel in the corner.

"Good wife, it will be morrow if you do not join us for your dinner up on the main deck – I have been sitting alone at the table for the past half of the hour. Please, join us this instance, you are putting my reputation to shame that I can not have the will to keep my own woman beside me for more than a short passing time!" Robert barked as he looked at her, his handsome face scowling into a deep furrow. Such beauty wasted on such a personage, she would never understand God's will.

Will. The name that hesitated on her dear mind made her stop for a moment and close her eyes. She shook off the sensation and rose to her feet Lord Wessex' beckon. She had to show her place amongst members of the crew, it was an edict – not so much for decorum but because food was what had since sustained her to keep going on. Also, she had to appear grateful that at least they had not been banished to eat with the lesser crew and passengers, though she for one wouldn't have minded as much as her husband for the slight.

She was surprised then as she felt his hand reach out to take her's gently in his own. It was times like this that it was with relief to know that though he'd brought her to this point that they were suffering this together.

He, too, had his own regrets on his decision. He'd been errant in thinking this trip would be one of comfort and of leisure. It was anything but.

It had been a bald-faced lie that he'd told to Viola and her dear family about his plantations in Virginia – the truth was he'd never even stepped foot in the country beyond England – this new world yet unseen and promised. He had been a man of means when his family willed everything to him after his father's death, he'd been made a lord but nothing to show for it except title and a deed to land that was yet to be completely bequeathed to him. Money had been incredibly tight and he knew that had he not made an effort on his own, his fortunes would have ended up being squandered as they very nearly had.

As soon as he saw Viola de Lesseps, the woman he stood with under the dark lantern light at this instance – he knew that his emotions had overstepped the bounds of his propriety. Normally able to push aside any sense of the trivial wiles of the opposite sex, he had however found himself speechless in her presence – something he had to admit he still felt even to this day as he looked over at her, tentatively touching his hand, wrapping her little fingers around his for support. She was tall for a woman of her age, but willowy and lovely to behold. Her soft, flaxen hair was hidden behind a white scarf to hold the bun in place upon her head. She looked up at him and he tried to say something – but again words were lost to him. Her eyes were sage grey, filled with sadness and distrust. Her lips moved as well, quivering a bit – something rare for her, as if she were searching for the words. The color to her peach skin had lost it's luster somewhat in the dismal surroundings, he hoped that it wasn't illness, perhaps she was just tired.

Her skin felt somewhat cold against his – without thought – he lifted her tiny fingertips up to his lips and blew into the palms of her hands to warm them.

Viola's eyes grew wide as she felt the heat of his breath against her skin, her lips parting in surprise. She could feel the color returning to her cheeks as he looked up, suddenly realizing the effect he was having on her and equally embarrassed.

As she gazed up at him, admiring up close possibly for the first time since she'd met him just how vulnerable he looked when his guard was down, how the glimmer of green in amidst the forever dark of his chestnut eyes struck her and how much his dimpled chin trembled…this was dangerous she thought to herself, he was uncharted territory.

Robert sensed her uneasiness as he could feel her hands shake as much as his own, immediately he dropped them and moved away from her.

She seemed – almost disappointed, but he had to remain strong in the face of it.

"I do apologize, I know how cold you can be sometimes," he growled, his expression returning to one of disdain almost as if she disgusted him suddenly.

Viola seemed angered by his tone. He hadn't meant it that way, but leave it to his wife to take things the wrong way.

When he tried to respond to it, she held up her hand.

"I understand, Lord Wessex, say no more – you have made your point. I thank you."

With that she turned resolutely on her heel and marched from the room without another word.

He rolled his eyes in aggravation and followed her.

May 10, 1607

The clouds moved across the sky, somewhat in ominous color to shade the sun trying to break through and brighten the day. It fascinated Viola who stood on the deck, watching the crew around her fastening down the mast and attending to other duties.

They ignored her as she walked amongst them to the edge of the deck – they seemed to be hurried in their activity so she didn't bother them as they went about their work.

Reaching out to steady herself as a sweep of waves underneath the ship threatened to disrupt her balance. She smiled as she felt the wind blowing in her face. The clean, salt air felt wonderful after days cooped up in the hold of the ship.

Briefly her thoughts fled across the sea to her love Will, no doubt thinking about her this instance as she was him. A tear fled to her eye.

"Will…" she whispered. "One day, I will return to you."

Suddenly, she felt someone arrest her arm from the railing. Startled by the disruption, she turned to face Robert, his eyes brimming with anger.

"What on earth do you think you're doing?" He yelled at her over the wind.

"I am neither harming nor bothering you, sir – take your hands off me at once!" She snarled and shook him loose. Facing him briefly, she gave him a hearty shove backwards.

He growled and came for her again as he grabbed her arm more roughly than before.

"Get inside! This instant!"

She began to fight him off. "Have you lost your mind, Lord Wessex? Let me go!"

They created quite the scene on board the ship, with Viola trying to push him one way and Lord Wessex doing his best to drag his wife along the other. No one thought to interrupt them, stranger things had happened on board and given they were betrothed to one another – they did not see it fit to intervene in marital affairs of others.

It was only when Viola's nurse came rushing out on the deck to grab one of her arms to assist her husband that she realized the full reality of the necessity for her to move.

For as soon as she made it down in the hold and the hatch was pulled did she feel the gust pick up and the sea swell underneath the ship, sending her tumbling into her husband who caught her before she could hit the floor. She buried her face in his chest as the water splashed in between the wood of the hatch. People gasped and jumped aside.

She gazed up at Robert who gave her a look of disdain.

"Perhaps from this point on you will heed my word!" He hissed as he took his jacket from his shoulders and wrapped them around her instead. "Nursie, take her inside at once before she catches her death of cold!"

She nodded dumbly as her nurse brought her over to her side and Robert walked off in a huff, shivering a little bit as the chill got to him.

"Why must you always fight, my dear? You shouldn't challenge him so much. He is your husband!" Her nurse chastised her, shaking her head as she shuffled her along in front of her.

"Good nurse, if he were not such a brute in his words and gestures but simply asked me to follow him and his reasoning in doing so – I would not find the necessity to argue."

"He cared for your safety as he should, grant him a little respect for that – I hate to admit it myself, but perhaps a heart beats beneath that beast."

Viola smiled at her words and kissed her plum cheek. "I will try. I'll do that for you and you alone – I will try to be civil."

"Good girl. Now off you go and warm yourself, I can't have you getting sick on me."