The House of Elyot

Would You Adam And Eve It?

Posted on: December 24, 2010

In medieval times, Christmas Eve was known as Adam and Eve Day. An evergreen would be decorated with apples and communion wafers for the purposes of the Paradise Play – a re-enactment of the events in the Garden of Eden. The tree was known as the Paradise Tree.

As a little Christmas gift to everyone who has made 2010 gentler and smoother, here is a story on that theme.

Adam and Eve Day

Once Will had placed the dainty evergreen in its bucket and watered its soil, he doffed his cap to me and ambled off, ready for the tavern and the jovial warmth within.
I could scarcely blame him, for the winter air was bitter indeed, and a tankard of spiced ale seemed a more tempting prospect by far than my day’s work.
But the day’s work had to be done, so I flexed my fingers in their knitted gauntlets and bent over the pail of apples.
Working as swiftly as my frozen hands would permit, I affixed the fruits to the bushy branches of the tree with lengths of bright red ribbon. The red signified sin, temptation, the blood spilt by the descendants of Adam and Eve, for this was Adam and Eve Day, and my task was the decoration of the Paradise Tree.
When the pail was empty, I turned to my little wooden box of communion wafers, pricking a hole in each to thread through the white ribbon before hanging them amid the bobbing apples.
I stepped back to admire my handiwork, clapping my woollen palms together and trying to warm them with my breath. The sky threatened snow. Perhaps the paradise play would not even take place tonight if the blizzards came. How disappointed the village would be.
“You have adorned it well.”
The voice came from behind my shoulder, barely ten paces away. I stiffened at its familiar note, forbidding myself to turn my neck.
“Thank you, my Lord.”
The crunch of his boots on the frost-hardened grass, the jingle of his sword belts and the steam cloud of his breath, portending his proximity.
Beside me now, he extended an arm, cupping one of my apples in his leather-gloved hand.
“These are fine apples. Should I take a bite, do you think?”
I blushed beneath his teasing scrutiny, avoiding the grey gimlet eyes.
“Best not, my Lord. They represent the fruit of the tree of knowledge.”
“Oh? I thought they came from Skippet’s orchard.” Sir John laughed, his thumb stroking the shiny peel. “So if I am tempted to sink my teeth into this fine flesh, I fall prey to the devil?”
“This is not the Garden of Eden,” I said, feeling thick-headed and unable to reason.
“Truly?” He folded his arms and faced me four-square, his lip curled up in a rare half-smile. “Then you are not Eve and I am not Adam?”
“Of course not.” I was hot and flushed now, angry with him for twitting me, angry with myself for letting him.
“This is indeed so,” he murmured, stepping closer. “For we would both be naked and unashamed.”
“My Lord, I have told you before—”
“You are betrothed to the miller’s son? Yes, yes, Beatrice. But we are not talking about your gormless swain. We are talking about the origins of man.”
“I had not taken you for a theologian, my Lord.”
“There is much art in your impertinence,” he said dangerously, lowering his head to capture my eyes. “You think it too subtle for me to note. But I do note it, Beatrice. I note it well.”
I chose not to answer, using the silence to fix his glorious image in my mind. The handsomest man for many miles, Sir John stood six foot two barefoot and remained unbeaten at the joust. His eyes could snap from icy chill to ardent heat in the time it took to notice me and his noble brow was crowned by jet black hair. Yet I had spurned him at the Michaelmas Feast, since when his pursuit of me had become all the more relentless.
He unstrung the apple from its bough and held it out to me, its mingling of red and green bright against his black leathern hand.
“Eat.”
“You are the serpent now, not Adam.”
“Eat it, my little village Eve. I want to see your teeth. I want to watch you taste and take pleasure.”
I tried to step back, but he caught my chin in his other hand, wrenched down my jaw and put the fruit close up to my lips.
It’s only an apple, I thought, though it seemed much more than that. I let my top teeth sink into the flesh, biting off a morsel which I then chewed, my jaw working against the tight grip of his hand until its taste of mellow late sunshine was gone and I swallowed the pulpy remains.
“You have eaten from the tree,” said Sir John, trailing a shiny black finger along my lower lip, harvesting the traces of juice. “Your innocence is lost. All the sins have taken its place.”
“You should take part in the play tonight,” I muttered nervously, trying to release my face from his unyielding hold. “You could have written it.”
He let me go, only to trace one fingertip down my neck and between my collarbone, following the path of the apple. He wrapped the hand around my neck and drew in close to me, leaning down to speak into my ear.
“The first man and the first woman knew no shame, no restrictions of propriety or religion or station. They knew only their desire for one another.”
“But they were innocents, my Lord,” I stammered, fearing the loss of my resolve more keenly than ever. “And God prescribed their union.”
His forehead abutted mine, his nose pressed into my cheek. His mouth was so close to mine I could smell the mulled wine from his last meal.
“If desire is innocent, then what wrong is there in yielding to it? Come, Beatrice, you are cold. Let me warm you. I can pay off the miller. I shall keep you so well, you will want for nothing.”
His cloak enfolded me and I was lost for that moment in its luxurious heat, dizzy with conflicting emotions. Had that apple truly been magical? Was it bewitched?
The questions dissolved into shivering mist, induced by the sudden pressure of his lips on mine. That bold foray behind my defensive line undid me; in the advance of pure sensation, my reason was defeated.
In our kiss, we were Adam and Eve and the serpent, all three, fighting against and submitting to our true natures in eternal sequence.
“Come to the manor, Beatrice. There is such a fine fire. You need never be cold again.”
Wrapped in his great cloak, pressed to his side, I let him lead me from the tree, its red apples and white wafers twisting in the snow-laden wind.

I’m thinking I might post a Part Two of this on New Year’s Eve – so watch out for that.

And Happy Christmas!

 

5 Responses to "Would You Adam And Eve It?"

Oh yes! More more more!

Happy Christmas Justine!

Thank you! I hope you had a cool yule yourself :).

Wow! Will be waiting for part 2!

Happy Christmess*! (I’m scared to ask about the brandy butter!)

*Danielle’s idea

Haha, yes, Danielle is on the money with his x-mess neologism.

There was no brandy butter. There was not even Christmas pudding! We did apple & mincemeat crumble with custard in the end. And very nice it was too!

Ugh, you are such a good writer. I’m eagerly awaiting the second part!

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