"I hate public appearances"
Newel peered through the crack in the lattice at the gathered crowd of people. They waited eagerly for the expected royal appearance. Newel dreaded it.
“I hate public appearances,” Newel grumbled, loud enough for his mother to hear. “I hate having everyone staring at me.”
Mara repositioned her crown on her head. Then she crossed the room to Newel’s side, her silken gown rustling, and grasped her son’s shoulders, turning him to face her.
“What have you to fear from them, my son?” she scoffed. Her eyes searched his face, reading there the reluctance in his eyes. She turned to the window, gesturing through the lattice at the populace. “What are they?” she queried, her tone reeking of haughty boredom. “Peasants, mostly. Nobodies. Bugs…insects, my son, in comparison to your greatness. You have the blood of kings. Bah! Let them stare if they will. They cannot hurt you.”
Newel clinched his jaw and nodded. Mara stood in front of him, fussing with his shirt and vest. She fairly oozed confidence. “You are to be king someday, Newel,” she told him. “Do not fail me in this simple appearance.”
It was time then. Newel went to join Alton in the dark room that opened onto the balcony. His heart pounded in his chest.
Alton looked calm. Newel hated him for his calmness.
The strong voice of the forerunner was heard bellowing from outside. “The royal sons of Lerata! Prince Alton and Prince Newel!”
The doors creaked and groaned as the guards swung them open. Light streamed in through the open door in blinding brightness. Alton stepped forward boldly toward the open balcony. Newel blinked at the light and followed him. His eyes quickly adjusted and he stared out over the swarm of people. There were so many of them!
As soon as the boys stepped into view, the crowd began cheering at the top of their lungs. The men quickly picked up a chant and the women’s voices joined in. It took a moment for Newel to decipher the words.
Prince Alton! Prince Alton! Prince Alton! They chanted.
Newel was as good as invisible to the crowd. The whole swarm cheered for his brother and ignored him. Likely it was not even an intentional oversight; Newel was the forgotten prince, the one who stayed at home.
But the more Newel thought about it, the more he decided it was no accident. His older brother must have bribed the crowd to ignore Newel. All of Alton’s willingness to have Newel join him was merely part of Alton’s plan to publicly shame him.
Newel wanted to step forward to the edge of the balcony and shout to the people. “See me!” he would have shouted. “ I am Prince Newel. I am the one who will be king. Cheer for me, you insects!” But he could not bring himself to do it. Slowly he backed away. No one seemed to notice him at all. Newel turned and fled into the safety of the palace.His mother met him there. He turned his face away from her in shame. But she reached out to him, pulling him to her bosom. “There, there, my son,” she crooned. “They are all against us. But we will conquer -- never fear. We will make them recognize us when the time is right. Hush, my son."