My Lady Aunt and I have been enjoying our third season at court. I have the opportunity to serve Her Grace and often share Her sitting room with other gracious and accomplished women of the court. This also gives me the opportunity to meet the noble Gentlemen of the court, and make alliances that might perhaps lead to an advantageous marriage alliance someday.
I have enjoyed the game of courtly love immensely. A smile and a quick conversation, a stolen moment in the doorway, a token for the field, and, oh, the poetry and song! There is not a tourney where some fine Knight does not ride for my honor, and my aunt is kept busy making sleeves for just that occasion.
And honor is the subject of my missive! Perhaps I have enjoyed the game of love more than I should, as I am ashamed to admit that I find myself in the family way. I have tragically discovered that the faithless Son of Spain who trifled with my love is unable to honor me, as he already has a neglected lady wife and children installed at his country estate.
I would that I could find myself a suitor and a quick match forthwith, however, the Knights at court who were previously so admiring seem to have disappeared.
Milady, I beg for your sound advice. How may I salvage my family’s good name and my fortune?
What is it that the good book says? I believe that our priest has often read to us from the book of Corinthians, the First, and has reminded us that we, as women, are wicked and wanton creatures. We are not to be trusted to our own devices, and, indeed, we are so lustful in our hearts that we should be married as soon as possible. The priest has said of our sex that if women “do not have self–control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.”
Would that you had taken that good advice, child. Instead, you have followed that deviant French fashion of courtly love, dallying with the affections of young men and expecting naught to come of it. I question also the character of your Aunt. Is this your mother’s sister? How could she possibly have kept such loose keep of you?? How entirely you were deceived by these “gentlemen” you speak of. I am certain that I know not what this “Son of Spain” you mention was doing in Her Majesty’s court, but I should advise you not to be surprised at his faithlessness. For all know that Spaniards are given only to piracy and treachery, and even the “ambassadors” sent by His Majesty of Spain are here only so that they might spy upon Her Royal Person and report to their master of her every move.
There is only one thing that you can do. You must remove yourself to a nunnery at once, there to stay during the remainder of your condition and your lying in, and then give the child to the church. The prioress will give you proper tasks to complete for your absolution, and the good Lord might even forgive you for your trespasses. Your mother and father must make pecuniary recompense to the church–the larger the donations the better off your family’s reputation will be. Then and only then will you be able to show your face in public again.
Although your reputation at court will indeed be in shambles, you must refrain from contacting rogues such as that Sir Philip the Traitorous for assistance. He would no doubt steer you toward even greater danger, perhaps even counseling you to “be your own woman” and “take matters into your own hands.” I shudder to think that any well bred lady would fall victim to such suggestions, but as you have found yourself is such a compromising situation I fear that you would be open to avenues of which I cannot even bear to think. I caution you to have a care with whom you have commerce, dear child. You may yet be able to gather a position as a governess–protect what assets still remain in tact.
If all else fails, you can always sail to the Americas. I hear tell that women of “sturdy character” are in demand in those wild lands…