Melisande spent the next few hours reading from the Bible at her bedside. She also had a small collection of parchment that she enjoyed going through. Her favorite was a small piece about ships at sea and the voyages that man had taken in the last 200 years. She knew all about the discovery of the New World and the colonies that had been established in the area.
More than anything, Melisande wanted to see all of these wondrous places both near and far. She despaired, knowing that such adventure would never happen so long as she was trapped behind the walls of Mont Saint Michel. It was a harsh reality to know that the place she’d called home was little more than a prison to her.
After reading through a few chapters, Melisande got bored and decided to go exploring. She left her room and headed for the main courtyard. She walked out to the main gate where a pair of guards was standing. The sun was just reaching its height overhead and illuminated the beautiful gardens that Melisande had helped plant.
One guard saw her coming and waved to her, “Good morning Melisande!”
She turned her attention to him and smiled. The young guard was only a few years older than her. He had long brown hair that was tied up under his helmet and dark brown eyes. Melisande always thought that he was a decent looking man, just not her type, “Good morning, how are things out here today?”
“Quiet as usual.” The guard replied in almost a whisper.
“You sound almost resentful.” Melisande commented in an inquiring tone. “Not a fan of the peace and quiet?”
The guard’s voice went from quiet to annoyed, “If I was, I would never have joined the military. I had enough peace and quiet on my family’s farm back home.”
Melisande nodded, “I know the feeling, believe me.”
The guard lowered his eyes as a realized that her situation was even worse. While he had some freedom on his farm, she had none in the abbey, “My apologies. I probably have no right complaining.”
The two stood silently for a moment when the guard finally tried to lift her spirit, “So I saw a ship today, a fairly large one too.”
Melisande’s eyes widened, “Really, what kind?”
“Just a carrack,” he replied boastfully, “nothing particularly special, but it had about six cannons on the side that I could see.”
“Six,” Melisande said in disbelief, “was she a warship?”
The guard chuckled, “I highly doubt it. Carracks don’t handle cannon fire very well. Most likely it was just an overprotective merchant who thought that adding a few extra guns would make his ship safer.”
Melisande nodded, “It’s still quite a mystery. What would be a good warship?”
The guard shrugged, “The Spanish rely pretty heavily on caravels and galleons, but I have heard of other navies using a ship called a galleass.”
“What is a galleass,” she asked.
“I’m afraid I don’t know,” he replied, “I’ve only heard of them. They’re ships with massive oars and a ram on the front. It’s sort of a silly design in this day and age if you ask me, but then again, I never was a sailor.”
Melisande nodded, “I wish I could be.”
The guard shrugged with a smile, “Maybe someday you will be.”
She laughed and shook her head, “What, me, a simple kitchen girl? Let’s not be silly.”
“Stranger things have happened.” The guard replied. “Don’t count yourself out so quickly.”
Melisande thought about it for a few moments and smiled, “Well thank you for at least temporarily raising my spirits.”
The guard returned to standing at attention, “Any time.”
Melisande spent the rest of the day wandering the courtyard, imagining that she was a sailor out on a ship far away from the abbey. A slight breeze blew through her hair, making the illusion all the more real for her. She could almost feel the crash of the waves against the wooden hull of the ship so yearned to serve on.
After a few hours, the sound of the waves in the distance and the gulls in the air made it too much for Melisande. She decided that it was best to just return to her room and spend the rest of the evening reading. Without another word to anyone, she disappeared back inside.
The sun set and was quickly replaced with stars. Melisande watched the night sky and attempted to count as many stars she could, even though she knew it would be impossible. One oddity that she had noticed in the sky since she was a child was that there were two stars that always seemed to be in the same place no matter what. They weren’t on any chart and were even visible when the others couldn’t be seen. She could never figure it out, but she had given up trying to a long time ago. Slowly, she began to drift off to sleep under the night sky.
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