|Unmasking the Prince
Author: Sophie Anne Fields PM
Eight boys and eight girls arrive at the palace in Halshire; among the eight boys is supposedly the Prince and among the girls is his future bride. One of the girls is none other than the Duke's daughter who is less concerned with a future husband and more concerned with the childhood friend she left behind. How can Gwendolyn avoid the Prince if she has no idea who he is?Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Romance - Chapters: 2 - Words: 3,854 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 07-29-12 - Published: 06-24-12 - id: 3035491
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Much to the Duchess's dislike, Gwendolyn grew up as she predicted. She was not the placid child that they had hoped and prayed for, but rather the same wild, willful child her brothers had been. As soon as Gwendolyn had learned to walk she was trailing after her brothers, begging to be involved in whatever mischief they were up to. It was a dramatic affair to get her to sit still for dinner, let alone lessons.
By the age of eight, the governess had managed to tame her for the most part. She would still whine and fuss as her brothers left for fencing lessons and she was stuck inside practicing stitches on a piece of cloth. Although this habit was irritating, it was expected and the Duchess didn't blame her.
It was a warm autumn day the day Gwendolyn made her first real friend outside her family and staff. It all started out when she was stuck in the drawing room seated at a piano. "Why can't I go outside?" She whined hitting the keys rather violently. The note the action produced made the tutor cringe.
"Your brothers are practicing, just like you need to be doing," the tutor informed her quite sternly. He had taught her three brothers and was tired of teaching over privileged brats. At times the tutor wished he was teaching peasants; at least their parents made them mind. He hated the fact that the Duchess seemed to coddle her children, especially Gwendolyn. In his mind all children should be raised with structure and discipline.
Gwendolyn frowned and placed her hands on the keys going through the same scale yet again. "You missed a flat on the fifth note," he commented and her frown deepened. "Again," her ordered as Gwendolyn gritted her teeth before she repeated the scale countless times. "I think we're done with that for today."
"Can I go outside now?" She begged; the tutor narrowed his eyes in annoyance.
"No, your lessons aren't finished. You still have to copy down the passage to practice your penmanship." Gwendolyn groaned as she walked over to the desk where he had set up an open book, parchment and an inkpot with a quill. "I have to leave, stay right here and don't move a muscle."
"Writing requires movement and so does breathing," he bit his lip and stormed out of the room. Gwendolyn focused on her writing then replaced the quill inside the inkpot, if he was stupid enough to leave her unattended, he should pay the price.
Gwendolyn kicked off her shoes and peeled off her stockings, before running out of the room. She kept an eye out for the maids and butlers, before sneaking out the front door. She just had to make it behind the stables and she was free for hours. Gwendolyn increased her pace to a sprint before she heard the cry: "Gwendolyn Grace Drake!" That sound was common enough to hear, so most of the help ignored it.
"Looks like the noble terror got loose again," she heard a gruff voice say and panicked. Quick enough she dashed behind a bush.
"Don't tell the Duke or Duchess I said this, but they're soft with their youngsters. Just pop 'em once or twice and then they'll listen. Locking 'em in their rooms or makin' 'em copy down sentences does nothin'; just look at my boy. He's well-behaved and it took one or two pops on his behind, didn't even hurt him too awful bad," another gruff voice said. Gwendolyn gulped and wrapped her arms around her knees. She felt her heart beating against her rib cage. Finally the loud footsteps stomped off.
A free afternoon turned into a terrible one after what she heard, her parents wouldn't hit her, would they? No, her mother loved her very much, she knew that, but she started crying anyway. That's when she heard the bush rustle.
"Don't hurt me!" She screeched.
"Shut your trap," a voice that reminded her of her brother Alexander's said. Soon she was face to face with a gangly, messy haired boy in ragged clothing. "What you doing here?" He asked.
"Hiding," she whispered.
"Not a very good spot,"
"They haven't found me yet," she replied and he sized her up. He took her fine clothing and neatly styled hair into account. "What's your name?"
"Robert, let me guess your Gwendolyn." She nodded and he chuckled. "I'm going to call you Wen. Now do you want a better place to hide?" She nodded again and he grabbed her hand pulling her to her feet. "We have to run," they got out of the bushes and she sprinted after him. It seemed to take forever, and by the time they came to the outskirts of the property Gwendolyn was breathing hard; her feet nearly black. "Do you want to climb the tree?" She shook her head. "Suit yourself." He sat down at the base of the tree with her. "So why were you hiding?"
"Because I didn't want to be locked inside the parlor while my brothers are out fencing," he chuckled. "Why are you here? I've never seen you before,"
"I'm working; my dad brought me because I'm old enough."
"Oh," was all she said. "Do you like working?" He nodded vigorously.
"I get to work with the horses and they even pay me. Although they give the money to my dad, he gives me a bronze or two," he had a smile on his face talking about this, he seemed rather proud. Gwendolyn had never seen anyone like him before, someone so eager to work, someone who didn't care that they were clothed entirely in rags and bragging about a bronze. The bronze was the lowest piece of currency you could have. A tiny coin stamped with a face of a past ruler that you could buy an apple or some cheap candy with and that was about it. "What do you do during the day?" He questioned.
"Lessons, lots and lots of lessons," she muttered in response, Robert tilted his head in confusion. "I learn how to dance and sing and paint and sew and add numbers and write and read…" she exhaled a deep breath.
"I wish I knew how to read. There's a schoolhouse in town, but none of my brothers and sisters went. They have to make money. My parents say they'll teach me, they can write and read simple stuff, and do some basic figures. They never have time though,"
"I could teach you," Gwendolyn offered with a shrug of her shoulders showing it was no big deal. She liked Robert quite a bit, besides he was unique and saved her from getting caught.
"You could?" He asked, she nodded, adjusting herself to sit on her knees. Soon a large 'R' was written in the dirt.
"This is your name," she said before completing it. He looked down at the large letters written in the dirt: 'R-O-B-E-R-T'. He copied it down below her writing and waited. "The 'R' makes a sound like 'er', the 'o' makes sounds like 'ah'," she went on in that same manner teaching him his letters.
"Gwen," the pair was on their knees drawing letters in the dirt when they heard her name being called.
"It's my brother," she whispered. "He's alright," he stared at her.
"I'm climbing the tree, I'll head back after you two leave." Swiftly he scaled the large trunk while Gwendolyn rubbed away any evidence of their lessons.
"Gwen, what are you doing?" Felix asked. Felix was the eldest of her brothers. She had to admit he was rather handsome with his tall height and broad shoulders. His hair was dark and wavy. Bright green eyes framed by long lashes were the central focus of his tanned face.
"I don't know," she answered with a shrug, feeling her heart beating faster. What would he do if he caught her with Robert? With a slight smile he ruffled her hair and picked her up without any warning.
"Little girls should not be wandering away from their lessons. They especially shouldn't take off their shoes and stockings and leave them in the parlor," he scolded, as if she was much younger than her eight years of age. Gwendolyn felt rather embarrassed, squirming in his arms. Robert was probably getting a good laugh out of this!
"Put me down." Gwendolyn protested; her brother was only six years older than her at age fourteen and acted just like her father.
"No, it's faster this way." He said not budging at all, she had to admit he was rather large for his age and was could carry her around like she weighed nothing at all. Gwendolyn struggled a bit, but finally settled down in her brother's arms. It wasn't long before they reached the house. "I found her," he called inside taking her to the parlor where her mother was, along with the governess and the very upset tutor. Alexander and Simon stood by their mother.
"What were you thinking?" Her mother asked. Gwendolyn had never seen her mother this angry before, usually her mother was the calm one, her father had the slight temper. When she fell the governess would tell her she was fine and too get up, if her mother saw she would scoop her into her arms, smothering her with kisses.
"I…I…" Gwendolyn stuttered as Felix set her on her feet.
"You weren't thinking. Excuse me Felix will you take Alexander and Simon back outside to resume your fencing lessons." He nodded, leading his brothers out. The Duchess then turned to the governess and tutor instructing them to close the door and wait outside. "What am I supposed to do with you? Whether you like it or not, you are of noble birth and it is your duty to show up for lessons. Some day you will be leader, people don't want an incompetent leader."
"Knowing how play scales on the piano or embroider a rose doesn't make me competent." Gwendolyn muttered.
"They are skills that make you well rounded." Gwendolyn pouted and the Duchess looked at her daughter. Gwendolyn reminded her of herself at that age; they even looked the same. Gwendolyn had inherited the lightly tanned skin, almond shaped eyes, thick eyelashes, wavy brown hair…the only thing that was different was the eye color. Whereas her own eyes were a grey tinged blue Gwendolyn's eyes were the same greenish-brown, hazel, which her fathers were.
"May I be dismissed?" The Duchess nodded and sent her out. Gwendolyn infuriated her at times with her stubborn attitude and constant energy. Her sons were the same way, but they grew out of it as they matured, in fact Felix was just as wild as Gwendolyn and now he was well behaved and responsible. She hoped it would be the same for her daughter.