The Oh-So-Typical Fantasy Story

Chapter Three

Needles to say, The Duke immediately marched Hyacinth-Anne-Marie back to the stable, where there horses had been sheltered during their tour. The unfortunate salesman came behind them, wringing his long-nailed hands and bubbling with apology.

Please, your grace," he was saying to the Duke, talking even faster than normal, "I'm terribly sorry about that. If you would like to have some tea to calm down, I will serve you some in my office." He was begging now, but the Duke would not be convinced.

"No, thank you," he said regally, accepting the reins of his horse from the stable boy, "I think I shall be taking my daughter home now."

"I have some lovely little cakes too, sir," The salesman pleaded, "And I assure you that the boy will be fired immediately. It was a mistake you hire such a riffraff."

"That won't be necessary," the Duke replied, the very picture of grace, "The boy should not be blamed for my daughter's sins." He glanced at Anne out of the corner of his eye. She cringed slightly and smiled apologetically at him, "Show some mercy towards him, will you?" The salesman stared for a moment, blinking confusedly.

"Oh!" he said, "Mercy, yes. Of course." But Anne had the feeling that he would be heading towards his office to look up the word the second they were gone. The duke swung himself up onto his horse. Anne did the same.

"Well, then, your grace," the salesman continued, "When should I be expecting you back?" He smiled.

"You shouldn't," the Duke replied icily. The salesman smiled again, continuing blatantly on.

"Oh," he sad, nodding and smiling, "Alright. That would be…" he stopped abruptly, "What?" His mouth hung open, making him look like a large fish.

"You shan't expect me back," the Duke replied, "For I shall not be coming." The duke shook the reigns lightly, clicking with his tongue. "Come, Hyacinth-Anne-Marie," he said, trotting out of the stable. The salesman stared after them, gaping.

"Ah, man," Charlie said, coming up behind his employer, "That's rotten luck." He was grinning broadly. The salesman glared at him.

"That was entirely your fault," he said accusingly.

"Not really," the nonchalant youth replied, "She could have pushed me away when I tried to kiss her. Um, I mean..." He blushed, realizing his mistake.

"YOU tried to kiss her!" The salesman cried, "You started it?!"

"Well," Charlie said, rubbing the back of his neck, "I suppose so, yah." He dropped the hand and sighed. "But look at her," he said, motioning dreamily at the steadily disappearing cloud of dust, "Wouldn't you?"

"Yes," replied the salesman, equally wistful, "I would. I mean…" He cut himself off at Charlie's laugh, turning bright red. "Go back to your dragons, boy!"

"Don't be mad," Charlie called as he walked away, "Keep on dreaming. You don't have a chance, though." He disappeared into the trees with the salesman's growl following him.