A.N. Before you start reading this story I want to point out two things this tale is sadly lacking. The first and foremost being perfect grammar and spelling, because I am about the worst speller you will ever meet. I check my story (believe it or not) but I still manage to miss quite a few errors. So if you are one of these people who can't stand reading a story with errors, even if it might have a good story line, I suggest you turn away now. Furthermore, this story is not 100 solid historical fact. I did very little research before starting this story and I wrote it mainly for the story line and not the history of the times. So if you are a great historian and hate when things are not proper according to history, then you should turn away also. And if you are a grammar fanatic AND a great historian, well then I really have no hope of you reading further than this paragraph. I still hope you at least give my story the benefit of the doubt and read on anyways, and if you're feeling really generous give me a review as well.
Thanks, Anna M
One look into the dark sky told me it was going to rain a hard, thick rain that would last all day. I sighed, trailing my fingers across the cool water that flowed from the fountain's depths, listening to the soft cry of birds over head. I had finished my morning duties early, and now I was taking the time to relax outside, sitting at the edge of one of the many elegant fountains in the castle's garden. I found myself marveling at the beautiful castle for which I call my home. It is the king's retreat, where he spends most of his time between fighting battles and conquering lands. It is not a war castle. The walls are thin with many broad windows, and every room is embellished with only the finest of fabrics and imported silks, with many gold statues and fine paintings. It was build to display the King's immense wealth and fortune to the world.
The king wishes to be entertained with many festivals, balls, and sporting events. Not that I have ever been given the privilege to attending any of these events, for I am but a servant in this glorious castle. I know I must be happy with my position in life but sometimes I find myself longing for more. A life other then the one I was granted.
"Sophie?" Came a sharp voice behind me, pulling me out of my thoughts.
It was my cousin Jane Sanford, come to force me inside. I did not get up though, instead I continuing to stare into the water's depths not even bothering to look up as she approached.
"I was sent to fetch you, so you could help with the cleaning. Do you not realize that it is about to rain?" She asked sweetly, knowing quite well that the statement would make me feel like a fool.
I will never be made a fool, though. "I'm quite aware of the fact that it's going to rain. I just wanted to enjoy the last moment outside before it did. It wouldn't hurt you to do the same; you have been looking rather parched lately."
I gave her the sweetest of smiles, and she placed a firm scowl on her pasty white face. Rising, I walked briskly towards the castle, leaving a bewildered Jane in my wake.
The scene inside the castle was surprisingly lively despite the weather to come. All the servants were running about making sure everything was ready for the arrival of the King's only son David and his lovely daughter Elizabeth. It was customary that the royal children be sent away for proper training and instruction until such time that both are old enough and ready to return. David was now 17 summers, old enough to return to the castle and find himself a wife so the king might have an heir. The princess was to be married off as well, probably to a prince in some distant country. In the meantime they were to stay at the castle. By the king's order, everything was to be perfect for their arrival. Every bed was to be made, every room sweep, every cobweb gone and certainly every window properly washed.
I continued to walk down the crowed hallway toward the washroom where my Aunt always spends her mornings, doing the washing and ironing for the nobles and members of the royal family.
I hesitated before opening the door dreading what punishment might await me for arriving so late. The room was filled with steam and the smell of soap and sweat as a dozen or so women worked. A huge basin was placed in the middle of the room where most of the women stood scrubbing the beautiful fabrics clean. My Aunt stood among them washing a pair of navy trousers.
Looking up she saw us standing at the door, Jane by my side looking especially pleased with herself.
"Sophie! Where have you been? I sent Jane out looking for you ages ago. There is far too much to be done to have you gallivanting around the castle!" She hollered dropping the trousers into the soap water before approaching us her hands placed on her plump hips.
"I am dreadfully sorry aunt. I simply lost track of time." I said politely hoping the answer would be to her liking.
She raised one bushy eyebrow at me, but said nothing. I was glad for that. My aunt is a rather large woman, who is always quick to backhand me if I give her an excuse that is not to her liking. Thankfully today she was too preoccupied with all the arrival of the Prince and Princess to think about punishment.
"Here!" She said, forcefully shoving a stack of clean linens into our hands. "Take these to the Princess Elizabeth's room. She specifically requested there to be clean linens on her bed when she arrives. The Princess refuses to sleep on dirty sheets."
I rolled my eyes at the absurdity of the Princess's request. No one has ever slept in the princess bed, so how on earth could the sheets be dirty?
"You will mind to keep those eyes of yours straight, if you do not want them dug out of your head." My Aunt said sternly.
I heard Jane let out a little snort of laugher at my expense. I had half a mind to turn around and hit her, but I knew I had to act like a lady, at least in my aunt's presents.
As soon as we left the washroom, Jane let out a great wail of laughter that surely the entire court could hear. I tried to pretend as if I did not notice and walked more quickly down the corridor.
"What a fool she made of you," Jane snickered, obviously not getting the hint that I did not want to converse with her at the moment, or anytime in the near future for that matter. "You will never get the Queen's favor with you way you act."
"Oh and I suppose you will." I snapped harshly turning towards her, "Snorting like a pig at everyone's misfortune?"
She stopped laughing mid-snort. I secretly smiled, she always tries so hard but some how she can never win at a game of wit.
"You are absolutely insufferable." Jane spat obviously unable to come up with a suitable come back.
"And you are a selfish snorting pig. I would not be at all surprised if your husband cries himself to sleep every night at the site of you." I replied smoothly
"At least I have a husband."
I stopped walking abruptly, feeling as if her words had just punched me in the gut. It always seemed to come back to this, the fact that I was nearly a year older, but she had gotten to marry first. It kills me every time I think about it.
"Yes, and I very much pity him to be forced to wake up every morning and see your piggy face." I replied after a few moments, and continued walking towards the princess's room as if it didn't hurt in the least what she had said. Though it did, worse then she knew.
I was happy when we arrived at the Princess's room and I did not have to endure Jane any longer, I always feel angry and irritable whenever I have to be around her. She annoys me to wits end and I wish desperately that I was not related to her.
Nearly a dozen other servants were already cleaning when we walked into the Princess's room, all talking and laughing loudly as they worked. I saw with great relief that Mary, one of my good friends was among the workers. She was over on the opposite side of the room washing windows. She saw me and waved; I smiled back at her and then rolled my eyes towards Jane to show that she was annoying me beyond endurance today. Mary gave me a sympathetic look. She knows full well the trying qualities of Jane.
"Ah there you two are!" Came the exasperated voice of Anne Coldwell, coming over to Jane and me in a rush. "Brought the new linens I see, here give them to me. I will put them in their proper place. Jane, you make take these old sheets back to your mother" Anne instructed as she plopped the "dirty" linens into Jane's arms. Jane scowled at getting such a low job, and made her way out of the room in a huff. I sighed feeling relieve for the first time this morning.
"What takes do you desired of me, Anne?" I asked politely, crossing my finger that I would get to work with Mary. I had some important news that I needed to discuss with her.
"I think window washing would be a fine task for you at the moment." Anne smiled knowing the assignment would please me. Anne had always liked me for some reason, and it was a pleasant break from my aunt's constant nagging.
I nodded, smiling as I strolled over to the large window to converse with Mary.
"He asked about you today." I said as she handing me a rag from the bucket of muddy water.
Mary turned to me barely able to contain her smile of delight. "He did? When? What enquires has he made?" She asked excitedly, knowing instantly that I was referring to her lover Thomas.
"He just asked what of your daily activities, and when you might be able to find a chance to visit him in the stables." I said smiling mysteriously.
"What was your reply?" Mary asked forgetting about the window washing for a moment her eager eyes waiting for my response.
"Oh simply that you would be impossibly busy preparing for the Prince and Princess's arrival, and the chances of spare time will be quite slim…"
Her face lowered at this, showing how very much she wished to be in his company.
"But, having said such, tonight you are surprisingly free." I finished unable to hide my giggle.
"Sophie!" Gasped Mary, but I saw that she was smiling.
Then she got serious, "Did you really give such a reply? Did you really tell him that I would see him tonight?"
I nodded, and she let out an excited squeal. I thought for a moment that she might jump up and down with joy.
Then she got serious again, "Sophie what do I do? Should I really go to him? Will he be expecting me?"
I gave a little laugh, at how silly she was being. "Oh Mary you worry far too much. He adores you, as you do him. He will be there when you go to him tonight. And as far as what to do, my only hope is that you do not disgrace yourself or him."
"Sophie! You know I would never do such a thing, those matters are to be left until after marriage."
I shrugged turning back to the unwashed window, as if I did not agree.
"Well I am sorry if some of us can not afford to be as loose as you." Mary retorted in jest.
I gave her a fake expression of shock, "Excuse me but I am not loose, simply experienced. So that I may prepare myself for marriage." I said smiling. I thought of Theo, and our most resent love affair, he works in the stables with Mary's lover Thomas. Though recently I have found myself trying desperately to avoid him, not wanting him to think I want to get too involved.
Mary laughed, knowing well my great fear of commitment. "That is if you ever do marry." She said jokingly.
I know she was only meaning it as a joke, but some how it still hurt. I shook the feeling off though and laughed along with her. She was my friend after all, and did not mean to come across as unkind.
"I will marry." I said defiantly, "I am just waiting for the right man to come along." I turning back to the windows. Though honestly they were not all that dirty, and did not particularly need cleaning.
"And Theo is not the right man?" Mary asked smirking. "Even after all you have done with him?"
"No" I signed all traces of laugher gone from my face. "He is a fine man, do not hear me wrong, I just do not feel the spark. He is so plain; I would be bored after the first night." I confessed, as Mary let out a nervous giggle at the mention of the wedding night.
"What kind of man would excite you then?" She asked going along with my serious nature.
I pondered her question for a moment, conjuring up my perfect image of a man.
"A man who has seen the world, been to all kinds of places, can make me laugh, and long for his touch. A man who loves to jest and will always stand up for his country at any given moment. A man who loves me despite the many flaws of my character, and will do anything for me. A man who will stand by me and protected me no matter what, even when he does not agree fully with my decisions. I want a man who is smart and loyal, and will never let me get hurt. That is the kind of man I desire."
"What is it you want, The Prince of Wales?" Asking Mary smiling, "No man alive can fill those standards. Why can you not just settle for a man who loves you, and will take care of you? That's all I want really."
I shrugged, "Maybe for you and all the rest of the women in the world that is fine, but I want something more." I said dreamily, staring out the window at the now rain filled sky. I watched as a richly decorated carriage came up the road toward the castle, and then I realized who had to be inside.
"The Prince and Princess are here!" I shouted pointed out the window towards the carriage.
"Already?" Cried Anne, "but the floor has not even been swept, and where on earth is the mirror? It was to be sent here hours ago! Sophie?!?!?"
"Yes?" I asked pleasantly at the mention of my name, coming over to where Anne stood.
"Go see where the Princess's mirror has been taken to and see to it that it is brought back here in one piece, the last thing I need right now is seven years of bad luck." Said Anne, I could tell that she was more then a little frustrated and stressed are the current moment.
"I will see that it is done." I said sincerely.
Anne smiled "I know I can count on you."
I said a quick goodbye to Mary and hurried out of the Princess's chamber in search of the mirror.
I walked down the long semi-crowded hallway, making my way towards the front doors. I turned down the main hallway, the one that leads to the front doors, but found that a crowd of people blocked my path. I heard a trumpet sound and knew that the Prince and Princess were about to enter.
"Make way for the Princess Elizabeth of Wales." Came a booming voice, as everyone in the crowed cheered for their princess. I found a stool near by and stood on it so that I might get a better look.
First to come in were her five maidens in waiting, walking slowly with bright smiles on their faces. They were dressed richly with long dresses of purples and blues, their hair was held back in identical gold bonnets, and all seemed to be about the same height and stature. Next to come in was Princess Elizabeth herself. She looked absolutely stunning in a dress of deep burgundy and gold that draped effortlessly over her perfectly shaped frame. Her hair was pulled up in a matching bonnet. Her face was flawless, the mere essence of feminine beauty. The princess walked with grace and dignity, she held herself as if she owned the entire world, as a Princess of Wales should. The only thing that seemed off was the look on her face, which was as cold as ice, stiff and expressionless. Everyone bowed respectfully giving honor to our princess.
"Make way for Prince David of Wales." Came the voice again. I watched as the Prince's Men came strolling down the hallway, smiling brightly at the crowd, dresses even more richly then the Princess's ladies. The crowd started to cheer knowing the Prince would be next, but there was no one at the end of the procession. The crowd around me fell silent. Where was the Prince?