Once again the king of Goodlands called his lords, who owed him allegiance, to join him in war. The unruly hordes living in Badlands to the South threatened to invade his borders. The lords passed on the call to arms to the barons, the barons to the humble knights, the knights rounded up their yeomen, all were expected to drop whatever they were doing, gather their body servants, and muster beneath the standards. Bugles sounded in towns, villages, hamlets, finding their way to hovels on island reed beds in the river and poor farmsteads, high up on the moor. Every able-bodied man, young and old, was obliged to follow the call. Only the old and sick and feeble-minded were excused from service.
Baron Edwin, who had been on many such forays, always returning home to his beloved Matilda unharmed and in good working order, spoke to her while they were at breakfast the morning he was due to leave:-
“My dearest wife, all is in readiness, my armour is rust proofed and polished, the smith has sharpened my sword, my harness has been mended. The men are awaiting my command. There is only one thing left to do”.
Edwin held up the chastity belt which his wife had worn during each of his absences at war.
“It is not that I don’t trust you,” he said, “but rules are rules. I would ask you to please be so kind and wear this belt yet again, as a sign of obedience to my wishes and to secure your good name once more”.
She sighed. Really, they were both far too old to bother with such silliness, but if he wanted her to, then she would do him the favour.
“Thank you, my dear”, he said, attaching the lock to the belt and carefully putting the key into the pouch hanging from his own. “I am sure I will not be away for long, and you shall soon be free”.
Matilda kissed him dutifully, fondly, patting his back, and sent him off with her good wishes for a speedy and healthy return.
The horses’ hooves clattered out of the castle courtyard; for a while she remained where she was and gave a last wave to the disappearing cavalcade with her white kerchief.
Servants shut the gate and she went back inside. Now, where had she put that second key she had had cut many years earlier? Silly man, did he really expect her to wear this irksome contraption for months at a time? There hadn’t been any need for it for years; besides, with only the old, sick and feeble-minded men left behind, Matilda felt herself totally safe from any temptation.
She sighed again.
Another of Willow's fun prompts