The Duke’s Cemetery
A Cautionary Tale
The lovers’ plan was simple by design. Sir Griffith Madison would wait concealed in a tangle of vines in the garden just beyond the manor light until all was completely dark and quiet within. At the opportune moment, Margaret would lower the rope she had concealed beneath her mattress down to Griffith, who would then stealthily scale the stone wall and fall into her loving, desirous embrace.
So far, all was well. Sir Griffith crouched uncomfortably in the dry bramble jokingly known by villagers as the “Dukes Cemetery”—a garden lovingly attended that yielded nothing but weeds and thistles year after year. The deserved fruits of a bitter old man who felt his daughter too precious for the likes of me, mused Sir Griffith. He took comfort at knowing that the temporary pokes and bites he endured now would be driven into the dark recesses of his memory when his lips met his beloved’s eager, yearning mouth. His loins ached for the passionate touch of his porcelain-skinned lover. Soon he was adjusting his tights, hoping he would not have to endure the strain of separation much longer. His wish was answered shortly as candles in the manor were snuffed, one by one. After a few pounding heartbeats that he thought were surely loud enough to wake the entire village, darkness and quiet filled the centuries-old stone mansion.
Sir Griffith’s eyes rose to the black cavity on the third level which was the bedroom window of his cherished lady, longing to see her outline in the moonlight as she beckoned him from his hiding place. He stayed focused, fending off biting flies and other demonic insects, watching intently for any sign of movement in the darkened window. Then his heart leapt, for he could make out his dear mistress at the window’s ledge, her bountiful white breasts precariously close to escaping the confines of her bodice as she anxiously leaned forward to search for her hidden suitor. For Sir Griffith, it was enjoyable just gazing on his beautiful lover as she strained to find him in the darkness of the garden. Margaret did not posses great intelligence, for which he was thankful, but her beauty was renowned. She whispered his name tenderly.
When it was no longer possible to remain apart from her, Sir Griffith made his way none too quietly through dying stalks and stems of the garden, until finally he found himself in a strategic position just below his lover’s open window.
“My love. Margaret. I am down here.” He whispered.
“Oh, my dearest knight,” he heard her sweet voice answering. “My lover, my life.”
“Be resourceful My Dear, and throw down a rope that I might touch you again before I go mad with desire.”
“Shhh,” she cautioned. “Do not wake father. He was in a foul mood this eve.”
“I apologize, My Truest, but I must be with you, holding you, kissing you, fulfilling your deepest desires.”
“And I you. Here. The rope.” And with that, she lowered the rope for Sir Griffith. His heart aching for his beloved, he began to climb.
“My Dear,” whispered Margaret from her perch. “I heard the vilest rumor today.”
Struggling up the wall, Sir Griffith huffed. “What…was it, My Love?”
“Gwyneth, you know, the Miller’s ambitious daughter, told me that her sister, Fanny, the pretty one, is with child.”
Sir Griffith wheezed with effort. “Quite interesting, My Dear.”
“No, My Sweetest, the interesting part, the most curious part, regards the father.”
“The father?” He was now only several feet below the edge of Margaret’s window.
“Yes. She said the father was a Sir Griffith Madison.”
His hands instantly became wet and slippery. “My Most Cherished, this is nothing more than ugly town gossip.” He continued to climb.
“Gwyneth is an honest, purposeful woman. I never take her word lightly.”
Reaching up, Sir Griffith was able to get one hand on the stone window sill. “But surely, My Rose, you do not believe such evil slander. Give me a hand, would you?” He looked up only to see his lover holding a dark object. “What, pray tell, is that?” he panted.
“This? It is a man’s glove, My Treasured One, with initials on it. Gwyneth retrieved it from her sister’s room during her cleaning duties. Look here. ‘GM.’ How coincidental.”
Sir Griffith felt the blood freeze in his veins. “Oh Sylvan Princess, let me come up to explain…”
“You have already explained yourself.” And with one hand, she dropped the glove out the window. With the other, she brought a dagger from behind her back.
“Our connectedness is severed. You may retrieve your glove now.” And, as Sir Griffith shrieked in horror, she sawed the rope which lay taut on the sill until Margaret and the Knight parted ways forever.
The Duke’s garden, however, was the most productive it had ever been the following year, making Margaret, and her father, very pleased.