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Stephen of Lithgow

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1st day of January, in this the year of our Lord 1289

I, Stephen of Lithgow, son of the Baron Selkirk, Lord of Smithburn, Random, and Fleece, have decided to account for my days. I hope to record everything I do, and to reflect properly on my comings and goings, and to learn from my mistakes and improve my soul. It will be the daily notations that will help me, that I might improve myself though the discipline of writing constantly, and that the rereading of what I have written and the reflection on that should cure me of any bad behavior I possess.


19th day of December, in this the year of our Lord 1289

Have not kept up with my writing.


3rd day of January, in this the year of our Lord

When I was a child, birthdays were a celebration; I could forgo my tutor and my household duties, but as I get older, all that happens is extra pie.


8th day of January, in this the year of our Lord 1290

My father cornered me today in the barn.

“How old are you?” he asked me, as though he’d forgotten.

“One and twenty,” I said.

“And your balls have dropped, have they?”

I was too surprised to answer.

“How many maids have you tupped?”

I nearly blushed like a maid at the question. “Who can count that high?”

He laughed. “You lie, but at least you have some humor in you.”

It’s not that I don’t want to fondle the serving girl with the hair the color of straw or dairy maid with her generous bosom, and I have exchanged kisses and a little more with Ameline, but I cannot have bastards littering the countryside. I have seen what this does to the mothers and the children, and while there’s little to be done to alleviate the poverty of the world, surely I can make a sacrifice.

The poor will always be with us, or so says the priests, but those of us with feathers to sleep on needn’t make things worse.


12th day of February, in this the year of our Lord 1290

“What would you think of having another mother?” my father asked me today.

“I would hope your wife and I will get on well,” I told him. “But I’m surely past the point of mothering.”

I know he has ached for another son. One daughter, married off a dozen years ago, and one surviving son who will inherit everything is not enough for a man such as my father. As a child, I dreamed of the military, of commanding an army into battle against those who would take everything from us. I wanted to lead a crusade. Or, if life with a sword was not for me, I wanted to join the priesthood, and dedicate my life to reading and prayer. To be able to study for the rest of my days. Alas, the only son has few freedoms, and I will live and die on the same lands as my father, my grandfather, and all those who came before.

That he could legitimize some of those bastards.


14th of March, in this the year of our Lord 1290

Lent always makes me think on my mother, who has been gone most of my life. The few remberences I have of her are all stored in my trunk at the foot of my bed, and I pulled them out tonight. There’s a small poppet she made me, much loved from my childhood. I had a nurse who worried it was for terrible magicks, so this poppet lived hidden away for many years, but the nurse is gone and the poppet remains.

There’s also a string of prayer beads, black with bits of green oval beads mixed in. It was said to have been blessed by a visiting bishop. My mother taught me how to pray, or so says my father, who softens only when talking about her.

And, at the bottom of my trunk, there’s a handkerchief, embroidered by her with a little gray turtledove.


23rd day of April, in this the year of our Lord 1290

My father is engaged, to the Lady Catherine of Stonebridge. She’s a maid of fourteen, which is all my father said of her, that and some approximate measurements.

I asked my father’s steward to talk more of the maid. She’s small, with richly colored hair and gray eyes. She keeps to herself, he said, but her father praises her as a jewel, and her mother claims she can embroider beautiful designs into any type of cloth.

“And she sings,” he told me. “She keeps her own birds, well-cared for birds that belong to her alone, and when she thinks there is no one about, she sings with them.”

It is unclear to me why the steward was observing her when she thought she was alone, but the story is charming.


2nd day of July, in this the year of our Lord 1290

My father decided to teach me the art of wooing a lady with gifts. Something to wear is important because it will be a constant reminder of you. Some silver, as a promise. And something for the household, as a reminder that soon, she will have a domain.

He did not explain the silver toothpick.


12th day of July, in this the year of our Lord 1290

I have sent my father’s fiancée a knife, engraved with the silver birch leaves of our coat-of-arms. It seems only proper to do so.

My father, upon seeing the knife, remarked, “she’ll be your mother soon enough, no need to woo her.”

I felt my neck go hot at the thought. Imagine, a mother younger than me! If he means for her to be at all a parent to me, he’s sorely mistaken. She could never take the place of my own lady mother, and I would not want her to try.


15th day of September, in this the year of our Lord 1290

Today my father told me he was off to fetch Catherine, his soon-to-be bride. As he was preparing to mount his horse, I suddenly felt a chill despite the warm weather. Surely it means nothing, and yet I felt the strangest urge to tug on his cloak like a small child and call him back indoors.

I prayed in the solar room, but the chill remains.


17th day of September, in this the year of our Lord 1290

He’s dead--


19th day of September, in this the year of our Lord 1290

My father has passed on, and it has taken me two days to write about it. He died in a tavern brawl, fighting over a woman. When I was a child, he would put me on his shoulders and march me around, and I would hold a wooden sword and feel I could take on armies.

He lived forty-five years, fought for our king and cherished my mother.


20th day of September, in this the year of our Lord 1290

When a man is buried, there’s little left to do but handle his financial affairs. In talking with my father-- or rather, my steward-- I see that my father left me well-off. He provided for my sister as well, and I want to be the one to visit her with the news and her inheritance. I leave in three days to see her.

Then, he told me, there’s the matter of the young maid. Catherine.

I felt my stomach flutter.

He said this freed her, that she would be married to someone else, this young woman with her gray eyes who sings to birds.

I could marry her, I realized. I could honor my father’s contract and marry her myself.

And I will.