The Butcher and the Lamb: Part One
Whenever Baron Walter guides a guest—whether they be a plump man with a beard, or a swan from a lake—it's terribly stressed to have the manor in grand condition. So when Miss Caterina took up his offer to fiddle around the place, it was at this time that I loathed her just the slightest bit. There were no cues, no gestures that came from Baron Walter—it was pure improvisation when it came to hiding whatever futile things were left loitered around. Because of this, I and the fellow merry men of the manor followed the two like hounds, in secrecy and silence. If Baron Walter decided to show her the studies, he would stand by the closed doors making small chit-chat while we utilized other entrances of the dark to rid of the mess in the study—all rather in an expected, inhumane speed. Because we were expected to.
If you have ever served a lord or high blood, no matter how quaint and light-hearted they are, you know exactly what I speak of; they just expect you to do it, unmindful of the restraints of human bodies. Could I hate a man for this very reason? I'll be very considerate in my answer: yes. Now if that response isn't considerate enough, you should prepare yourself for a few more extra… words.
But, I am a lenient jest. When Baron Walter and Miss Caterina first touched, there was certainly that surge of power that runs through every pair of lovers. With the delicate little arm of the dove round the Baron's, no one dared stopped the two from leaving the ballroom; the guests who were dying to meet such a grand host held their breaths, and poor Dario could do nothing but watch the flower whom he had become so fond of wisp away with another.
At the time of Baron Walter's guidance, I was expected to keep an eye upon every one still. So how did I go about this? Why, mirrors of course. Any type of mirror I can spot, whether it be a tea spoon or an over-polished furniture. Everything can be seen if you wish it. Of course, part of my scope was still maimed; I could not be in every room for every second. But that was why there were others who resided in the manor, jest or cook. The only difference, well—you will soon come to see.
The chandeliers were far too bright for Miss Caterina, she believed. Like any (and every) woman, she thought madly about how her appearance must look underneath the iridescent lights. Flushed, washed, putrid, and green. But no. As Baron Walter led her by the arm through the gold corridors and scarlet carpet, her skin seemed to glow like the diamonds of the skies. The man could not keep his eyes off the blush of her cheeks, or the pink lips that seemed to sometimes clench in worry. He did not make this obvious—he was a haughty figure after all; instead, he would sometimes turn his head to her, as they walked, and smile. This was something he seemed to love doing to her. He enjoyed the way she shivered in embarrassment, and how her breath quickened as she darted her eyes elsewhere, grinning sweetly to herself. Children's play.
At occasion, he would make small chit-chat as they walked—might I say, the manor was large enough to keep even an old shrewd fit like greek gods. Miss Caterina could answer questions and give sweet little responses, sometimes, and could not answer at all, sometimes. One of these questions had to do with her family's occupation and residence; and the darling knew very well that her chance at having the Baron as her true love—something cloud-filled heads often think—could end the minute she spoke the truth of her background. Rather admirable, I'd like to think.
But ah, how Baron Walter was so taken by her. When she reddened at every unanswerable question, a fountain spurted inside him, and he locked their arms even tighter and brought her ever so much closer to his shoulder. This simply made me grimace. But what a perfect pair, a Cinderella and a lord, some may say.
"You look splendid in your gown." Baron Walter smiled down at the dove. "Where did you get it tailored?" It was at this moment where he stopped near one of the many doors of the manor, and also was readying to compliment the girl in the most flattering way a man can fathom to think.
And it was at this moment where Miss Caterina gave another start, freezing and fluttering her eyes for a quick, acceptable answer. "Ah-," she touched the burgundy trusses of her gown. "It was passed through my family."
Not the smartest response, but she was innocent, not a cunning fellow like myself. Baron Walter touched her arm that had been locked with his. "A lady of tradition," he beamed at her. "Gracious and lovely."
The young girl reddened to the tip of her earlobes. She had almost forgotten her manners. "Thank you," she replied, with the faint trace of quiver.
Less than three minutes—perhaps two—did it take for me and my folk to finish prepping the room which Baron Walter wished to show the girl. And indeed, he expected it so; his gloved hand reached for the knob, and the second I heard the almost-silent unwinding of screws, I glowered at my men and they straight away dashed through one of the concaved wall drapes. I slipped behind and latched each wall to a close, so that none shall ever know of the entry's existence.
The door swayed opened slowly, with Baron Walter eyeing the room freshly, ticking his eyes towards every corner possible in secrecy, and then let in Miss Caterina who stepped so lightly upon the royal dark carpet after him. Fantastically.
Baron Walter closed the door behind her. "This is my embroidery gallery," he said, slipping past the girl and making way towards the wooden desk clattered with things.
Miss Caterina blinked her lashes around the room—quite small, but intricately touched by extravagant drapes of silks and linen, of silver threads and ruby, perhaps gold in others and royal sapphires across. The chandelier within the room was dully light—for reason. It was to boast on how the embroideries glittered like the stars, even without the assistance of illumination.
"It's beautiful," she smiled delicately, bringing her eyes up to the ceiling where the wooden carvings blared at her. "Did you make all of these?"
A silly slip up—one that would have any high blooded fellow crinkle his brow in suspicion. But Baron Walter's attention was directed elsewhere. From the small crack of the wall, I could spot the grimace upon his lips; he had spotted something out of the ordinary on the desk—something that would indicate a flaw in one of my men. I turned round and glared at those who stood in silence; not even the silver mask upon my face can deteriorate my infuriation. Though I am a jest, I still am a man. My pride in perfection is what I boast most.
"It is not my hobby." Baron Walter picked up the crimson object and slung it into the pocket of his coat. "I've collected these from all over the world." He turned around, and smiled at the girl who gasped and awed herself over the drapes. Walking over to her, he placed a hand upon her shoulder and pointed with the other. "This one here is from the East. It's made from finest silk available and jeweled with minerals far more rare than the diamonds along your neckline…"
Shrewd. Miss Caterina's fingers jolted to her neck, and she flushed madly. Baron Walter smiled dazzlingly at her. "I find the importance of the drapes far more fascinating, however. This one tells a story about a mother and daughter." Baron Walter brushed his fingers towards the curve of her neck, and then wound his arm round her waist. He brought the rigid dove to another drape. "This one," he conjured in a rich, low voice. "is about two lovers…Would you like to her about it?"
The young girl was no match for the Baron. She simpered shyly and nodded with her love-stricken, red-streaked cheeks. But alas, that was not fit for I, or the rest of my men. From the crack, I spotted the clock that turned and turned. With a flick of my fingers, my men scurried away in silence; if any of them had tripped at the time, I would have had him as a poultry nest.
Baron Walter was just as witted; and when he spotted the time, he smiled at darling Caterina. "I have a book in the library based on the tapestry; if you'd like, we shall read it now if you wish it."
He swerved the young girl within his arms like a dandelion swaying in the wind; he was certainly relentless with holding her now, and she was showing no opposition. Foolish lovers, if I might say. But once the door was clasped shut with the two long ways gone, preparation had begun.