Agnes de Courtney arrived the next day. She was now thirtysix years old and had never been a beauty. Her value lay in the fact that she was the daughter of the Comte d’Edessa, and although the County of Edessa had been lost in 1144 and her brother held the title only nominally, the family was still well connected and powerful. She had waited out the rain, and arrived escorted by a dozen men-at-arms.
Balian dutifully went to meet her as she emerged from the barbican gate into the ward. “Balian,” she greeted him; “always such a good boy. Hugh’s darling.” Her smile was fake. “Is your older brother here yet?”
“Barry and Hilde arrived last night,” Balian answered.
“In the rain? Foolish of them.”
Balian didn’t answer; he just helped Agnes out of the litter. Unlike Richildis, who had been dressed in mourning, Hugh’s widow was wearing a bright-blue cloak over a red gown with elaborate gold embroidery. Her white veils were likewise trimmed with red and gold ribbons. She caught Balian’s look of disapproval and snapped at him, “What did you expect? A grieving widow? Hugh was never anything but a nuisance to me! Now at last I’m free of him.”
“Why bother to come to the funeral, then?” Balian asked back.
“To gloat, dear boy. To have the triumph of living longer. One day, when you grow up, maybe you’ll understand.”
“I hope not.”
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