Roxanne's kindness endears her to all at Court, but she herself is sometimes lonely. Her favorite companion, the Earl of Lyndon, is much older than she and quite a man of the world. Though the Earl can never be more than a friend to her, Roxanne yearns for a deeper connection. (Short story, 9,000 words)
'Twas at the Duke's ball that she first began to like him. How long ago that was! Eight years. Roxanne was fourteen and had never before danced in company. Several noble youths besieged her with their attentions, and she knew not whom to honor first. She stood bewildered, looking from one to the other, until the Earl came forward, took her hand, and led her into a stately pavane.
He had seemed old to her, then, and very large, but he was so kind and gentle that she soon came to feel at ease in his presence. 'Twas not long ere they became friends, and as the Princess gained years, knowledge, and composure, their mutual regard increased. During this past twelvemonth, the friendship had grown apace, for the Earl had been much at Court, and they had talked together more frequently than before.