Skip to main content

An Arranged Marriage - 6

    “Your dress is as pink as the roses.” Emil fingered a thorny stem.  “And your cheeks are just as bright.”

    Ilona blushed.  “My papa sometimes calls me his little briar-rose.”

    “The perfect beauty surrounded by an army of prickles.”  He grasped a red rose, breaking the stem, and presented it to Ilona with a flourish.  “My gift to you, my queen!”

    Ilona took the offered blossom and buried her nose in its rich scent.

    “And now I have a favor to ask of you.”  His hand found hers, and he clasped her fingers in his own.

    Ilona waved the red rose.  “Was this a gift or a bargaining piece?”

    He ignored her question.  “Let me dance two dances with you tonight!”

    Ilona hid her face in the rose.  “I take it, then, that you are fond of dancing.”

    “And never have I had a more beautiful and graceful partner than I did last night with you.”

    Ilona found herself blushing again.  “Very well.  Two dances.”

     “Then I can hardly wait for the hours to pass so that I may once again waltz with the most beautiful princess on earth.”

    The hours did pass, and as evening fell, Ilona once again found herself carried away with the music.  The council had interviewed the suitors that day, and, to Ilona’s relief, the ballroom was not as crowded tonight.  While there were still a host of eager partners, she found that she had time to dance twice with Emil…and twice with Detlef.  And so the evening swirled away in a pleasant fashion.

    The next morning, after her routine with Cordula, she went to find her papa.  She found him in his library.

    He glanced up from his book.  “I’m starting additional festivities this afternoon.  We men grow bored with all this dancing.  I’ll host some tournaments during the day – archery, fencing, horseback riding, and maybe a falcon hunt – and then we shall have dancing at night for you ladies.”

    “Where is mother?”  She found a seat on a couch and curled up, tucking her feet under her gown.

    “She is resting in her room.  Something...”  His brow puckered thoughtfully.  “...something is troubling her.”  He shook his head as he noticed Ilona’s concerned face.  “Not to worry, my dear.  She is only uneasy over the purpose of the ball, as I presume all mothers would be.”

    Ilona nodded, letting go of that worry and turning her mind to others.

    “How are you?  You seem troubled yourself, little briar-rose.” Her papa shifted in his seat and lowered his book.

    “I don’t know how I will ever decide who to marry.”  Ilona bit her lip.  “Too many people are all too willing to profess their love for me, and their flattery is very pleasant.”  She cocked her head at her papa.  “How did you meet Mother?”

      “In hunting a deer, I found a dear.”  He chuckled over his own pun.  “At least, that is what I tell her.”

     “You were on a hunting trip?”

    “Aye, arrayed in my hunter greens, with my bow over my shoulder, I ventured into the forest in search of venison.  After some hours, I rode into a gorge…and there she was.”  His eyes softened as if seeing his queen for the first time.  “I think I frightened her with my boisterous splendor, but she was the most beautiful maiden I had ever seen.  I quickly saw she was injured.  She had fallen down the embankment, nearly an hour earlier, and could not walk.  I couldn’t leave her there, and she wouldn’t tell me who her family was.”  He clapped his hand over his heart.  “I brought her back to my castle and, by the time her leg mended, we were very much in love.”

    “You never told me all this before.”  Ilona reached for her necklace, rubbing the smooth amber pendant in her fingers.  “Who were mother’s people?  Was she the daughter of one of your lords?”

    “Ah!”  Her papa shook his head, his eyes alight with remembered amazement.  “Your mother is one for riddles.  She says she was not one of my subjects but the princess of a kingdom within a kingdom.  More she will not reveal.”  He winked at Ilona.  “Not yet.”

    Ilona straightened up in surprise.  “You still don’t know where she came from?  After all these years?”

    He got up from his table and joined her on the couch, wrapping his arms around her and resting his chin on her head.  “And neither do you, for all your sixteen years.  You see, it doesn’t matter, lass, when we love her so dearly.  The people accepted her as my bride without complaint.  And she’s made the loveliest queen and mother on God’s green earth.”  He squeezed Ilona’s shoulders and kissed her on the top of her head.  “She’ll tell us when she’s ready.”

(by Esther Brooksmith)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Guest Post by Emily!

Character Creation by Emily Ann Putzke
My character in Ain’t We Got Fun is Georgiana (Gi) Rowland, the older sister of Bess. Their family is struggling during the Great Depression, so Gi takes off for NYC to make a fortune and help them out. The sisters recount their adventures, joys and heartaches to each other. My co-author, Emily Chapman, and I wrote this story in letter form in January. Our characters are very different people! Here are a 5 things that helped me bring Gi to life, and give her a personality that’s all her own.
1.  Give Your Characters Flaws None of us are perfect, so our characters shouldn't be either. Gi is a fun, loyal, light hearted girl with big dreams. But she has a flaw that she struggles with throughout the entire story. Pride. She’s very stubborn, independent, and doesn’t want anything from anybody.
2. Use That Flaw to Stretch and Change Your Character Pride gets Gi in quite a few scrapes. Throughout AWGF, she’s constantly battling with it. Everytime she thi…

Anti-Hope: A very real emotion

Have you ever wanted something?  And you've wanted it so deeply and for so long?

    And then, against all odds, there is a whisper that it could happen this time?  Maybe instead of the expected rejection letter, you got a "we've taken your submission for further review."  Maybe a sudden source of income appears that may allow you to earn enough for horseriding lessons.  Maybe you find a nebulous symptom in your own body that hints at the possibility of a long-awaited pregnancy.  Whatever the case, you have that realization that your dreams COULD come true.

    And, instantly, anti-hope appears.

     What is anti-hope?  It is that emotion that springs up as a counter-balance to keep you from being too disappointed if your hopes are dashed again.

     Anti-hope says, "Don't get too excited.  'Further review' isn't the same as an acceptance.  They could still reject your story."  Anti-hope says, "You still might not earn quite enough …

First Snippets from 12 Dancing Princesses

I haven't settled on a title for my Twelve Dancing Princesses story.  But I've written about 4500 words so far.  Here are a few snippets for you to enjoy.

I chose my words slowly and carefully.“I think it’s important for you to do what you feel like you were meant to do.I’ll always support you in that.” ***
I released my nose, confident that it would now stay on my face...
I broke into a run and reached my yard in time to see a dozen soldiers on horseback.One of them had pulled Hope into his saddle with him.My papa was lying on the ground, and a mounted soldier held a spear aimed at his chest. “Hey!” I shouted.“Leave them alone!” *** The General and our captain bowed. “We honor you on the beginning of your new life,” murmured the captain. *** King Howenth sat on the throne, looking rather like a pudding that has fallen over against the side of its pan.“Come, my daughters!” *** “As you know, I am never one to accept any lie fed to me.Nor am I one that simply sits around and waits f…