I have been super busy this week between a trip to Tennessee to see one of my best friends,book reviews, nine hour shifts at work, and getting ready for a trip to California this weekend. So I thought I would try something a little different this week and the next.
The following post is the first part of a short story I wrote after a day long marathon of Disney movies. I was sick and suddenly thought I could do better, maybe maybe not. I purposely left out character descriptions and most scene descriptions so the reader could use their imagination. Let me know what you think.
Samantha watched as her brother James stood before the entire kingdom for the announcement of his coming child. It would be a grand day indeed now that their family’s succession was assured. Their father King Edward thought James’ wife Carolyn was the best woman in the world save their mother. Since the day they’d married he’d hounded the young couple to have children. It was the same for her other brother David and his wife Diana. They hadn’t even been married a year yet and father wouldn’t leave them alone.
Samantha was the eldest girl but the third born. Her mother died shortly after she was born and her father remarried three years later. She had two younger siblings by her step mother, Juliana and Jonathon. All were present today for the King’s grand announcement but Samantha was already planning her escape. These social affairs annoyed her to begin with, but this was by far the worst. The whole idea of marriage was absurd to her. Being a wife, at the beck and call of a man was repulsive no matter what her status would be. She wanted no part of it. And having children, the very though made her want to scream.
A duke strolled by with his wife and children in tow and Samantha saw her opportunity to escape. She melted into his pack of children and slipped out a side entrance into the servants halls. She was laughing as she strode towards her room until she saw her father’s aide directly in front of her.
Samantha sat in her room sulking later that evening after a stern lecture from her father. Carolyn slipped in quietly trying to smooth things over as always. She was the closest thing Samantha had to an older sister but she couldn’t get over the fact that Carolyn embodied the very thing she hated most.
Carolyn sat on the bed “What’s really bothering you Sam?”
Sam turned away “Nothing, you know I hate royal functions.”
“Yes, but I also know you’ll do just about anything to make that man smile, and he specifically asked you to be there.”
Samantha heaved a sigh “Did you and James have to have a baby?”
Carolyn moved closer and put her arm around Samantha’s shoulder “Actually we did. The kingdom needs an heir and your brother will be king one day. Besides that we wanted to have a child.”
“It’s not something I can explain, you’ll understand one day when you’re married.”
“I’m not getting married and I’m not having any children.”
“Samantha, of course you will.”
“You only say that because you’re young.” Carolyn said trying to talk some sense into her.
“I’m 14, I know what I want and what I don’t want. And I don’t want to be given to some man I barely know to play his wife and bare his children.”
“Samantha!” Carolyn huffed as she stormed out of the room. She and James had only met a few times before their marriage was arranged. Samantha hadn’t meant to be cruel, but she’d meant what she’d said. As a princess the same could happen to her.
James paced back and forth as his father read the letters from King William of their neighboring kingdom. The situation between their lands had been tense to say the least for years. As it stood now they were on the verge of war. Peace treaties in the past had failed and the latest one was running out soon, a more permanent solution was needed. King Edward looked to his son he’d tried everything and the last thing he wanted was a war. “Father you have to accept.” James implored him.
“How can I?” he asked.
“Because what he proposes is the best answer. Besides, Samantha will understand eventually.” James replied urging his father to accept the treaty.
King Edward sat down at his desk and pulled out a piece of parchment “Dear God, I hope your right.” He said as he dipped his quill in ink.
Samantha walked through the garden with Juliana when a maid summoned her to her father’s office. Samantha was afraid she was in trouble again, but couldn’t think of anything she’d done. She followed the maid obediently wondering what was going on.
Her father was waiting on her and smiled as soon as she entered the room. He dismissed all the servants and sat her down on the sofa. He retrieved a large box with a smaller one on top. “What’s this?”
“Just a small gift.” He said handing her the large box and reserving the smaller one. “You may open it.”
Samantha pulled off the lid and was surprised to see a fine gold gown. “A dress father?”
“Your 15th birthday is approaching I thought we could have a ball.” He smiled at her. Samantha smiled as well knowing it would make him happy if she wore it, not to mention it would be the first time he’d thrown a ball in her honor.
He opened the smaller box “And this was your mother’s she said it had been in her family for years.” He gently lifted a pearl pendant on a delicate gold chain out of the box. “She said her mother gave it to her on her wedding day but I thought a few years early in your case would not hurt.” He said placing the chain around her neck.
She lifted her hair out of the way for him with one hand and delicately fingered the pearl with the other. “Oh father its lovely I… a few years early?” she looked up at him. “What do you mean?”
Her father knelt down before her and took both her hands “Samantha you know we are on the verge of war, this marriage could stop it forever. King William’s son is only a few years older. It is a fine match and you will be a queen. I thought we could invite him to the ball so you could meet the boy.”
“But father I must protest,”
“I know Samantha, but this our last resort. He will make a fine husband.”
“How could you? I won’t do it, you can not force me.”
“Samantha be reasonable.”
“I am. I told Carolyn the same thing last month. James married someone he cared for. David was engaged before even you met Diana, but me? I am engaged before I even give consent.”
“Samantha it is for the good of both our countries, surely you must see that?”
“There must be some other way.”
“There is none.”
“Well I do not care. I will not marry him.”
“Samantha you will.”
“I will not and if you say I must then you will lose a daughter.” Samantha said as she stormed out of the room.
Prince Richard knocked on his father’s door and Sarah let him in. The king was still at breakfast but he had said it was important. His mother was mad at him again, but that would pass quickly, it always did. The two never really could stay mad at one another. King William saw him and waved him forward.
“Have a seat Richard please.”
“Your Chamberlain said you wanted to see me.”
“Sarah fix him a plate please.” King William asked the maid avoiding Richard’s remark.
“Just bacon and eggs Sarah.” Richard said politely. Sarah curtsied and fixed him a plate before scurrying away. Richard thought it odd that she would leave before the meal was over, but he figured she had other duties to attend to.
“I received word from King Edward yesterday, it seems his son Prince James is expecting a child.”
“This is what you asked me to breakfast to tell me?”
“Well there was that and matters of the peace negotiations.” Richard stopped pouring a glass of orange juice. “I put a proposal to him a short while ago and am happy to say that he has accepted. It means a lasting peace between our peoples.”
“That’s wonderful news.” Richard congratulated him helping himself to a biscuit.
“I’m glad you feel that way. Then I have your word that you’ll do your part in this?”
“I’ll do what I can of course.” Richard said jovially.
King William put his elbows on the table and folded his hands. “King Edward has a daughter a few years younger than you.” Richard sat back in his chair his good mood lost. “It’s already been arranged. When she’s old enough you will be married.”
“That’s it, I don’t get a say in this?”
“Do I at least get to meet her?”
“She’s turning 15 in two months and her father is throwing a ball in her honor.”
“15, are you joking?”
“Now Richard I’m sure this isn’t any easier on her.”
“She’s a girl all they ever want is to marry, what difference does the groom make to her? Besides I don’t want her to know it’s me when we meet. If she does they’ll have her dressed up like a doll and she’ll be on her best behavior. No if I have to meet this girl I want to do so on my own terms.”
“Richard please, you are a prince there are certain matters of decorum you must follow.”
“Father really, you’ve already arranged my bride can I at least see what I’m getting into?”
“Fine, but Richard I beg you behave yourself.”
Count Vincent arrived at the castle the day before Princess Samantha’s birthday ball. He was escorted to the throne room to be presented to King Edward as soon as he arrived. None of the castle servants noticed him what was one more courtier. Walking past an open door he noticed a servant boy in seemingly new clothes and cap speaking with a maid. Normally the scene wouldn’t have caught his attention, but the boy’s clothes were new, it was odd for a servant to have new clothes. The maid noticed his attention and closed the door. Count Vincent moved on.
The king received him warmly, but seemed anxious over the impending arrival of Prince Richard. Count Vincent was sure it was only natural since the prince would marry his daughter. He excused himself from the king and retired to the rooms provided for him.
Later that afternoon Count Vincent went to the market to buy the princess a small trinket. It was after all her birthday. As he wandered through the stalls he caught a glimpse of the same boy he’d seen at the castle. The boy was headed into a darker section that didn’t look to be a reputable area. The count followed curious what he was up to. From a spot across the way the count watched the boy produce a silver comb. A man took it form him and offered a copper coin. The boy was being cheated.
“I didn’t steal it it’s my mom’s” they boy said harshly.
“A copper coin’s all you’ll get.”
“Give it back then.” The boy reached for the comb, but the man pushed him away. “I said give it back.”
“Take the coin.” The man growled.
“Give him back the comb and we won’t have a problem.” The count said from behind the boy.
“Ah my lord the boy and I had a deal.” The man smiled revealing black teeth.
“No we didn’t.” the man pushed the boy and he fell down. His hat fell off letting loose a mane of light brown hair.
“A girl,” the man gasped.
“There now do you really want to cheat a young girl?” The count offered the man an out. The man handed over the comb and disappeared into the crowd. The count helped the girl up and she quickly tucked her hair away. He handed her the comb.
“Thanks,” she huffed turning away.
“Wait please, I saw you at the castle may I ask what your doing here?”
She shrugged “The maid is a friend, I needed money so I came here to sell this I thought it obvious.”
“I’m a count. I’m assuming you are a peasant so you should address me as my lord or by title.” The girl started to walk away and the count caught up to her. “Sorry what I was hinting at was that I could help with your financial situation. As it turns out I am in the process of acquiring a summer home for my father and it could use a lady’s touch in its decorating. That is if you were interested in a job.”
“And what of your mother? My lord,” She added hastily.
“She’s much too busy at home.” He smiled at her. “A small sum and room and board sound all right?” She nodded. “Two conditions.” She looked to him worried. “First you must wear suitable attire.”
“I shall need to know your name.”
“Count Vincent,” she corrected and he smiled at her.
“Ah Henry, would you take this young lady to the summer home and have a dress sent for her. Let her pick out something small for the princess and have it sent to me at the castle as well.”
“Yes my lord.” An older gentleman said taking Meredith by the arm.
Meredith walked through the empty halls of the large summer home. Suddenly she was lost as to how to furnish a home and was hoping the count would at least allow her to find other employment before throwing her out. She heard footsteps behind her and thought it was Henry. “Henry I’m fine really you’re not my servant you’re the…” she turned “Count Vincent, you’re back early. How was the ball?”
“Cancelled, I’m afraid. The princess was feeling ill.”
“More like making a statement about her coming marriage… my lord… I’m sorry I should not speak ill of the princess. It’s just the servants say she wishes to marry no one.”
Count Vincent smiled easily “I can only imagine having the groom picked for her made the matter harder. But I thought all women wanted to marry?”
“Hardly, it’s the last thing I want my lord.”
He thought a moment before changing subjects, “So what do you think of my father’s new home?”
“My lord it’s very nice but I’m sorry to say I have no idea where to begin. When you said it needed a woman’s touch I thought you meant a few paintings some tapestries or mirrors not rooms of furniture.”
“Not all the rooms are empty.”
“My lord I’m sorry I misled you but I can not do this. I will begin looking for other employment immediately.”
“Nonsense the furniture maker arrives tomorrow you merely have to pick a style. We’ll learn together all right. Then on Friday we’ll go to the market and start on the rugs and linens. You can sew?”
“I can but that’s a lot of sewing my lord.”
“Then you’ll need help.” He took her arm and walked with her back towards an empty room.
“My lord I don’t think you’re supposed to do that.” Meredith commented as she glanced at his arm.
“Pish posh, your still a young lady besides no ones around.”
“What about Henry? He’s always around my lord.”
“Then we’ll have to fix that,” he smiled. He stopped in front of a pair of double doors and threw them open. The room was large and spacious with plenty of light and made of tan stone. “This is to be my mother’s room. Do with it whatever you like. I want it to be special though so take as long as you like.”
“What does she like?”
“Imagine it’s your room and do what you will.”
Meredith stepped into the room and looked around “Are you sure you want me to do this?”
“Of course,” he eyed over her plain brown dress. “I thought I asked Henry to get you suitable attire?”
“My lord? But this dress is fine.”
“You may be a servant and on any other girl that dress would do but on you it looks like a rag. Besides you and I will be spending a considerable amount of time together and you should have something suiting.”
“Thank you my lord.” She replied trying to hide her embarrassment at his remark.