Saturday, December 19, 2009
The Last Christmas at Grafton: 1463
As promised, here's my entry for the 2009 Virtual Advent Tour. Naturally, it features my favorite family, the Woodvilles.
(December 1463, at the Woodville family manor at Grafton. The walls of the manor are full of holes, which have been haphazardly stuffed with old Lancastrian banners. There is a profusion of chickens inside the manor’s great hall. Standing in the great hall and dressed in various degrees of raggedness are the twelve Woodville children.)
Richard Woodville senior: Children, where’s your mother?
Anthony: At the river communing with Melusine.
Richard senior: (nodding indulgently) Your mother and her Melusine. But again? That’s the third time this week.
Lionel: Yes. She says that she and Melusine are onto something really big and that we shouldn’t disturb her.
Katherine: Pa, it’s really cold in here.
Richard senior: Oh, girl, stop whinging and bring a couple of more chickens inside. They warm the place up.
(Jacquetta enters. She is wearing a gown decorated with pentagrams and is closely trailed by thirteen black cats, who momentarily abandon their duties to take an intense interest in the chickens.)
Jacquetta: (excitedly) My dear ones, such great news! You will not believe what Melusine, the water goddess who is the ancestor of my family, has told me!
Anthony: Mother, is it really necessary that you tell us who Melusine is every time you mention her name?
John: Yes, Mother, she’s almost like a member of the family. A member of the family of whom we’re getting a little tired.
Anthony: Sort of like Queen Isabella got tired of Edward II.
Jacquetta: (forbodingly) You two will have cause to regret someday that you spoke ill of Melusine, the water goddess who is the ancestor of my family. Mark my prophecy. But never mind that for now. Melusine has spoken, and she has said that Elizabeth will be queen of England!
Katherine: Oh, yes, Mother, and I’m going to be Duchess of Buckingham. Tell us another, please.
Anthony: And I’m going to have an earldom.
Lionel: And I’m going to be Bishop of Salisbury.
John: And I’m going to marry a duchess forty years my senior. (Thinks.) You know, that doesn’t sound half bad, in a way.
Mary: Oh, John, you’re so kinky.
Richard senior: And I’m going to be a Knight of the Garter.
Katherine: Pa, you already are a Knight of the Garter.
Richard senior: Oh, that’s right. (Looks down at the garter below his knee, then around with irritation) Then why do I have to live with all of these chickens? And why is everyone calling me "Pa"?
Jacquetta: Would you shut up and listen?
Richard senior: “Father” or even “Papa” would be much more appropriate.
Jacquetta: I tell you people, Melusine has spoken, and she never lies!
Edward: What about that time she said Henry VI would once again sit upon the throne?
Richard junior: They’re right, Mother. Melusine is—how can I put this nicely—unreliable.
Jacquetta: Melusine is always right in the end. Sometimes she works in ways we mere mortals cannot understand. You just need to give her time.
Richard senior: Of course, dear. Now, shall we have our Christmas dinner that the women have worked so hard to prepare?
Anthony: Yes, let’s do. Mother, shall the girls set an extra place for Melusine?
Jacquetta: Laugh if you dare, but next year we’ll be celebrating Christmas with the king. Mark the words of the water goddess, my ancestor Melusine. Come along, Elizabeth, and help me bring in the Christmas dinner. (Walks stage right with Elizabeth.)
Jacquetta: Yes, my dear?
Elizabeth: Did—er—Melusine say that the king was good-looking?
Jacquetta: Oh, yes, indeed.
Elizabeth: And good in bed?
Jacquetta. Oh, yes, yes, yes indeed.
Elizabeth: Hmm. Well, Merry Christmas, Mother. And Merry Christmas, Melusine.
Jacquetta: And Merry Christmas to you, my dear. Men. What do they know?
And if you're in the mood for more 15th-century Christmas cheer, here's a piece I did several years ago about Christmas with everyone's favorite English king, Richard III.
I can't tell you how many great people I've met over the past few years through this blog. I may not be be posting much next week, and I know some of you will be traveling and going offline, so here's holiday greetings to you, and may everyone who reads this have a great 2010! It seems like only yesterday that we were fussing over the year 2000, doesn't it?