Lady Madeleine's arrival later that week threw Jasper's customary brooding into disarray.
Lord Miacha entertained his newest guests with jousting, an aquatic ballet, and a stag hunt, which Jasper declined to attend. But Lady Madeleine seemed not to mind, laughing with him at dinner and even accompanying him on his rambles through the woods. His favorite waterfall she declared a place of divine splendor, and he resolved to prove himself a worthy and not terribly anti-social husband.
Lady Madeleine's brothers were expected in the next few days, and a tournament of skill and daring was planned to welcome them.
"What do you mean you're entering the tourney?" Jade stared at him, the thread she was trying to pick out of her sampler momentarily forgotten.
Jasper paced the library, hands behind his back. "There's a trial of skill tomorrow, and I thought -- "
"You need skills to enter a trial of skills."
"I can shoot," he replied, indignant.
"Badly." Jade returned to her thread, freeing with the point of her needle.
"There's no sense in trying to talk me out of it," he said. "I've already added my name to the lists. It would be shameful to recant."
"You will put the other contenders in an awkward position," she said, sewing again. "They cannot risk harming the king's favorite, but you are not skilled enough to hold your own. Your presence shall ruin the games."
"Am I really such an imposition on everyone?"
Jade sighed and put down her needle to pick out another thread. "Yes."