THE VALIANT LADY
It's of a brisk, young lively lad
Came out of Gloucestershire,
And all his full intention was
To court a lady fair.
A young man, perhaps no older than eighteen judging by his lean, youthful frame and puerile gait, wandered instinctively down a congested street, his eyes darting occasionally from side to side, up and down, and left to right as he attempted, to the best of his ability, to avoid running into someone. He appeared neither irritated nor increasingly repulsed by the overwhelming presence of the city life. It could very well be true, if one observed the lad from a distance, that he was not displeased at all about having to commute in the company of a rancid, rude, and rowdy many; for although he weaved his way through with a visible amount of discomfort, a smile persisted to stay on his tightly pressed lips. Though he carried himself awkwardly, it was quite clear that underneath his external mask of inarguable naïveté, he was, without a doubt, perhaps the most excited he had ever been in his life; so excited in fact, that his boyish steps were kept in sync with the wild beats of his heart.
His whimsical stride only came to a halt when he was abruptly hailed by another person standing on the opposing side of the road, and in accordance with his ceased promenade, his smile unfastened itself and his face dropped into a serious gaze as he searched among the stationary faces positioned across the street. As he strained his eyes and fought the relentless flood of boisterous interruptions that flew past him in the forms of horse-drawn carriages, wobbly wagons and muttering townsfolk, he managed to catch a glimpse of a blond youth, no older than him, waving in his direction frenetically and shouting his name with exaggerated enthusiasm.
After hearing his name, the young man transferred the focus of his attention not on the other who had summoned him, but on a way to cross the street without being trampled over by a carriage or mauled by a moving mob. His commitment to his safety consequently delayed his meeting with the aforementioned acquaintance who was a man of very little patience and very excessive recklessness. Instead of waiting for his companion to find a large enough gap to sprint through in order to get to him, he simply took the matter into his own hands and shuffled across the road, narrowly missing getting knocked down by a Clydesdale and receiving a good deal of shoves and punches as he broke through a cluster of a moody mother and her seven little ones.
"Dennell," he called again, at last meeting the evidently green youth with a happy handshake. "What the hell were you waiting for, mate? A bloody barouche?"
"I s'pose I don't know how to act here yet, Muller," said the lad. "I just arrived this mornin'."
His friend replied with a certain cheerfulness that convinced young Dennell that he had not come all the way from rustic outskirts of Gloucestershire for absolutely no positive and sincere enjoyment whatsoever.
"Mark me words, Liam Dennell," voiced Donny Muller as he hung his arm over Dennell's gradually slouching shoulders. "Ye'll get used t'livin' in wondrous Portsmouth. I swear it."
At such a reassuring comment, young Dennell was eager to resurface his grateful smile and the duo paraded down the side of the road until they had hit a local inn where Dennell was supposedly going to get his lodgings for the next few days until his future employment as a carpenter's mate was settled. However, as the youth waited outside the public house while his accomplice made the necessary arrangements, he resolved to pass the time by continuing his awed observations of the architecture of the compressed buildings and general activity of the people. His curiosity in what appeared to him to be such a peculiar place was perhaps not too much of a trouble to him at that time. Indeed, as he stood innocently by the roadside, his sack of belongings slung over his shoulder, a carriage passed him at no particularly hurried pace, and as he, by chance, looked through the drifting coach windows, his emerald eyes saw (with indisputable conviction) what he regarded as the most beautiful and celestial feminine being he had ever beheld in his lifetime. Coming from such a delicately heaven-like moment, he arduously struggled to recall if the goddess of a woman he had seen had privileged him with a guiltless glance, and so bewitched was he that he was asking himself such a question (aloud) as Muller stepped out of the inn, announcing that all arrangements had been made.
After Dennell did not answer his companion after at least seven reiterations of the same inquisition, Muller was moved to flick his friend's skull with his forefinger and was relieved to find that such an action brought Liam back to piteous reality.
"What's the matter with you this time?" grouched Muller as he rubbed his stubble-strewn jaw.
"Nothing," Liam muttered hastily. Quizzical silence followed soon after, and Muller remained unconvinced that his mannerly comrade underwent no experience of notable climax as he had professed. His only remark in reply to Liam's vague and worthless utterance was an incredulous huff that (however meant to inform Liam of his disbelief) only provoked the giddy youth to grin in all his veiled embarrassment.
"You're a loon, Dennell," was Muller's hesitant observation as they entered the inn. Liam merely shrugged and stretched his smirk farther across his face, and Muller was compelled to expound on the reasons why the young man was losing touch with his bearings. "You're an impractical, deranged—" He paused as his words ran short. "A…a…" He watched with a curled eyebrow as Liam walked ahead of him without even expressing the slightest hint that he was paying attention. "Bloody rube, you are, Liam. A…" He came to one last break in his speech as he came to realize why his friend was acting in such a curious manner. "You nonchalant romantic!" he burst, laughing afterwards. "Ye met a dame, didn't you?"
"Meet?" Liam echoed, stopping in his tracks and turning his head. "I didn't meet any lass, Donny." Muller happened to be very skeptical of Liam's second argument as well and after making some mildly degrading (although intended to be flattering) comments about Dennell being a dastardly dog, crossed his arms over his chest and asked:
"So who is it?"
""Twarn't no one, ye clod," insisted Liam, his lips running thin as he grew unnerved by Muller's inquisitiveness. "I never said I met anyone. I don't even know her name."
"Aha! Ye did meet a lass! I knew it! You bastard!"
"No!" And after making such a stout exclamation, he swiftly came to terms with himself and said, softly, that he had seen the most beautiful woman on earth; and as simple as that, he grew jolly again at the memory and any frustration he bore towards his friend was practically nonexistent.
"A Helen of Troy, she is, Donny," sighed Liam. "Though, Portsmouth ain't exactly Greece." With his interest piqued in discovering the woman in question, Muller was prompted to request a description of her, and Liam, with pleasure, spoke of the young lady with such grandeur and romantic disposition that any poet would be ashamed of his scribbled love letters. His panegyric, although taken greatly out of proportion, was enough information to let Muller narrow down on a few select women who resided in the seaside port and appeared to be of such appearance and demeanor, and after putting forth a few necessary, more specific questions, he finally had the name down. Of course, having lived and wandered Portsmouth for years, he knew the women quite well. The woman he attributed to Liam's lunacy was one he had little interaction with, but he was undoubtedly aware of her existence. He just had more preference towards the young lady's acquaintances rather than herself.
"Miss Fairburn," he stated bluntly, revealing Liam's supposed angel's identity with less of an interest than he had started with. "Miss Lourdes Fairburn if I recall correctly." Liam sucked in a deep breath and exhaled noisily as he reiterated the name.
"Ye won't be havin' much luck with her, ye quixotic bumpkin," Donny teased, nudging him with his elbow. "Well, there's without a doubt ye'll meet her," he added, aspiring to keep his friends spirits high. "She just won't talk to you."
"Why not?" asked Liam defensively.
"Her father'd shoot you 'afore ye had the chance." Liam instinctively gulped at the jest, and the expanding dollop of fear he soon developed was only accompanied by Donny's raucous laughter; and laugh he did until the aforementioned lady passed by the inn, and Liam, magnetically drawn to the beauteous nymph, unintentionally pushed Muller smack into a window as he burst out of the building to follow the maiden, leaving the witty Muller leaning against the window pane grimacing from a sore shoulder and with a clear view of affectionate Liam pursuing his Lady Fair.
A/N: As mentioned in the story's summary, this piece of work is based off the folk song "The Valiant Lady." The story itself is going to be relatively short, but I hope its brevity doesn't disappoint anyone. Anyways, your comments and feedback are always welcome. I do appreciate them very much.
Cheers, and I hope you all enjoyed this chapter!