PROPERTY OF AISLINN OF GREENWOOD, NORFOLKSHIRE
23rd Day of April in the Year of Our Lord 1307
Today is my 13th birthday and I have received a marvelous gift from my father, a beautiful leather bound volume of blank pages in which I am to tell my own story.
I had thought my mother would be disappointed by such a gift, as she is always encouraging me to run along and play out of doors, but instead she smiled at me, kissed my father, and glared at our nurse Morwenna when she laughed.
I shall write very small to preserve every scrap of paper.
24th Day of April
In my excitement over my beautiful book I have done a poor job of describing myself to you, reader.
I am Aislinn, named after my mother's mother. Eldest child of Lord Stephen of Lithgow, the Baron Selkirk, Lord of Smithburn, Random, and Fleece and Lady Catherine. I have two younger brothers, George and Edward, a younger sister, Rosemary, and an Aunt Eleanor who is my lady mother's sister but is only a few years older than I and mostly lives with us though she is away in Lincolnshire at present.
25th Day of April
The boys have lately learned that our grandfather was a knight. It therefore follows to them that they must also be knights and so our hall is often taken over with their "training." It is my duty as eldest sister to playact as they command, which means I am often a villain or dragon, and occasionally Edward's horse (as George is too large).
Why can I never be the damsel in distress?
26th Day of April
The tutor is here today!
Technically he is George's tutor, as George will grow up to inherit Greenwood one day and needs to be educated on its management, but I am allowed to attend lessons as well. Mother says she won't have me be "some addlebrained lady, content to spend her whole life doing needlework."
I quite like needlework, but try to keep this information to myself, though I fear Morwenna suspects.
27th Day of April
I have been banished to forage for herbs and berries. Morwenna insists that we need them for medicines, but I know full well that we have plenty of primrose. This is another ploy of Mother's to get me out into nature.
I was not to bring my journal with me but Mother caught me sneaking it into my basket. She did not scold me for it, however, but seemed pleased. I think she rather likes me doing mischief. I have a very strange mother indeed.
28th Day of April
An accident with the "knights" today. Edward has fallen and cracked his head.
Mother yelled and Morwenna fussed and Father settled everyone when he arrived back from the stables.
Edward has been ordered to spend all day in bed with a comfrey, geranium, fern, violet leaf, and nettle poultice. He is quite fussy so I'm sure he shall be fine.
29th Day of April
George is to be sent off to school. Supposedly this has nothing to do with Edward's injury (he is up and running around with his toy sword today) but is something long planned.
I have my suspicions to the contrary.
And of more concern: Does this mean no more lessons for me?
30th Day of April
Mother has shooed us all out of the house to gather wildflowers for May Day. The trees in the orchard are blooming and the grass is carpeted with flowers.
I do dearly love the spring.
1st Day of May
May Day and Church do not a good combination make. Mother has been positively aching to deliver May baskets and run around the pole, but it is not seemly.
2nd Day of May
Today we tried to pretend it was May Day, but our flowers had wilted and it rained and was a sodden mess of a day.
3rd Day of May
Sunny and lovely today. Of course.
4th Day of May
Father has caught a chill from our May Day celebrations. I have made a tincture of feverfew, ground ivy, mullein, violet, yarrow, and honey to soothe him.
5th Day of May
Eleanor has returned. I was overjoyed to spot her party in the distance and hurried down to greet her as she is my oldest and best friend, but she ran directly past me into mother's arms, nearly stepping on the baby toddling about at mother's feet as she did so.
"Catherine," she wailed, "I am to be married!"
Mother hugged her close and soothed her in a way she never does for me and escorted Eleanor into the solar and closed the door.
This left me to mind Rosemary, who is napping presently.
6th Day of May
I do not see what the problem with being married is. Eleanor was just as excited as I to learn of the prince's engagement to, and subsequent marriage of, Princess Isabella of France this winter and eagerly speculated with me about court finery and their elaborate ceremony. She even started the speculation!
But now that she is to have her very own wedding, she mopes and whines and plots to stop it.
I hope I make more sense when I am sixteen.
7th Day of May
I have taken to avoiding Eleanor. This is somewhat challenging given that we share a room. In the last day I have become unusually familiar with the barn.
The straw, though it looks like a golden bed, is itchy and, though the smell is sweet, makes me sneeze. Also I sat on an egg a chicken had laid covertly and now Morwenna is cross at me.
I think I'd rather put up with Eleanor's pacing.
8th Day of May
Father is feeling quite well.
9th Day of May
In all of the hubbub of her return, Eleanor neglected to tell anyone (even ME) that several chests were sent with her from Stonebridge in addition to the usual gifts of honey and candles her lady mother sends us.
The chests wound up in our room the other day and, as the weather is abysmal today, I went exploring.
Mostly they are old things of Eleanor's and Mother's and leftover things from Uncle Edward's abbey, but I found something wonderful.
It is a book like my own. Written by a girl not unlike myself years before I was born. I have decided to read it like a prayer book, by date, rather than from the beginning.
10th Day of May
I quite like Birdy, the girl in my book. She is clever and kind and I think we should have been good friends if we were alive at the same time. I wonder what became of her.
11th Day of May
I know she is not real anymore, but I wish Birdy were here. I would help with her needlepoint and mayhap I would like going on adventures more if I had a friend like Birdy to go on them with.
12th Day of May
Morwenna discovered about the chests from Stonebridge. She scolded Eleanor until Eleanor burst into tears and then I got punished instead.
Betrothals ruin people.
13th Day of May
The chests are too heavy to lift so Morwenna, Mother, and her ladies are in our room going through them. The boys are being knights in the hall and the solar has been given over with preparations for Eleanor's marriage.
I have no peace.
Birdy would understand.
14th Day of May
Spent yesterday afternoon sulking and reading.
Mother scolded me until she heard I was so desperate for time to myself that I went up a tree for some peace. Then she froze while Morwenna laughed at her and told her she deserved me after what she put her poor mother through.
I wonder what that means.
15th Day of May:
I miss Birdy. Everything here is very dull. I am sorely tempted to read ahead in her book.
16th Day of May
Corpus bones! MOTHER is Birdy.
17th Day of May
I should explain that last entry.
As I've read Birdy's diary I've come across familiar names, but it's not like George is exactly an uncommon name. And even if they are the people I know, Birdy might have been a visitor or fostered at Stonebridge.
But, no. My new friend is my own mother. I am utterly baffled.
18th Day of May
I sat up all night reading
Birdy's MOTHER'S book. I simply had to know all of it.
It was… illuminating.
Oh, reader, I'm all mixed up inside. I'm confused and distressed. I shall borrow a trick from Birdy and take some oil of violet.
19th Day of May
I keep watching Mother, looking for Birdy in her.
She still doesn't eat songbirds, but seems terribly fond of Father. I'm glad. I'd hate to think she ended up trapped in the loveless marriage she so feared. Mother still has a temper, but she's also quick to laugh.
She's no different than any other time, but somehow everything has changed.
20th Day of May
Still watching mother closely.
She may have noticed.
21st Day of May
Cornered in the pantry by Mother today. She asked if anything was bothering me and I felt obligated to confess about finding and reading her book.
We had a long talk, too long to copy down, about growing up and being yourself instead of other people.
I tried to return her book to her. She seemed delighted to see it, but told me I may keep it if it brings me comfort.
I may have found Birdy in my mother after all.