The Jester's Daughter
Peter D Wilson
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John Randall brings his friend Anne to visit his parents’ home, the small castle of Ernscar in northern England. Anne is fascinated by a mediaeval portrait in her room, believed to represent Alison Miller, daughter of the castle Fool in the fifteenth century, and on subsequent visits sees in it signs of anxiety reflecting Anne’s own concerns about the direction of her relationship with John.
In the 1430s Alison forms an attachment to Nicholas, page to the then Lord Robert Ernscar’s friend Bishop Justin, who visits occasionally for conferences about their response to political problems under Henry VI. Justin and Robert are kindly disposed towards the couple, but like Alison’s own family recognise that the difference in social status seems to preclude their union. However, a scheme to resolve a particular problem of Justin’s requires that Nicholas be quickly married, and the difficulties are overcome by formal adoption of the youngsters into their respective patrons’ families.
During a sleepless night Anne, worrying about the lack of the progress with John that she had been reluctant to urge on him for fear of rejection, resolves to force the issue one way or the other the next day. He then admits having been in exactly the same quandary which is thus resolved. After purchasing an engagement ring they visit an early church of architectural interest where they find records suggesting a happy outcome for the marriage of Alison and Nicholas.