Princess Nest: Chapter 10
Nest ferch Rhys was born around 1085 – the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr (Rhys ap Tudor Maw), King of the Deheubarth, and Gwladys ferch Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn of Powys. At only 13 Nest became the mistress of Henry I before he became king. During her life she bore nine children to five different men, was at one time abducted and generally led an eventful life for a woman of her time. Despite this, there is not a lot of information about her. This series is based on some essential historical research and our own imagination.
Lady Barbet was in bed with a chill but when her maid told her I had something that belonged to her in my possession; she agreed to see me.
Sitting up in bed, red-nosed and with streaming eyes, she was clearly not at her best, but my memory of her anyway was not of some great beauty. Rather plain and dumpy I had thought her but with a winning laugh and a kindly disposition. In happier times that laugh had clearly given someone pleasure, though it revealed too many bad teeth for my liking.
“ I found this, my lady,” I told her briskly, setting myself upon the end of her bed and holding out the treasure. “I recall having seen it on your cloak in church. I thought you might be missing it.”
She took it gingerly from my hand as though it might burn her and nodded her small thanks.
“Where did you find it?”
“ In my lady’s chamber. It must have fallen. Perhaps when you were moving here,” I gestured around the room. It wasn’t a bad room. A thick tapestry depicting some ancient legend covered one wall. The window small but allowing late-afternoon light to fall at our feet was well made and the fire that danced in the grate was no poor offering. However, it was not the room of the favourite and I could see that this stung.
“Your lady? The Welsh princess?”
The lady sniffed unhappily, turning the brooch over and over in her hand, then she lifted her face and looked me full in the eye.
“I mean her no ill will,” she said quietly, “if that is your purpose in coming here.”
“Of course not, lady,’ I shook my head vigorously. “I wished only to return to you what is rightfully yours. We women must take care of one another.” I looked about the room. “Do you have a child?”
Ungraciously she wiped her nose upon the linen sheet and shrugged. “Would I be here if I had?” she asked.
We watched each other for a moment, while her nose and eyes streamed. “I tell you now I have no need of revenge. They will marry me to someone loyal or he will come back to me. Either way, it will be as it will be. There are others, though, that will have their claws sharpened.”
I nodded. I had hoped to hear who we needed to be wary of and before long I had my list of mistresses, past and present. While I boiled hot water and made tea to soothe the lady’s chill, I learned a great deal more about the prince, information that could be used when my Nest should one day be supplanted in his affections.
By the time I left I was happy that I had gleaned all that I could and, with the promise of more of my remedy for the cold, I left the Barbet to her sneezes.
To be continued…