The Princess and her Ladies Pt 3

The princess and her ladies only ever disagreed over one topic: the princess’ impending nuptials.

That the princess was to be married none argued with.  In the eyes of her ladies it was only proper that she become a queen of another land since she could not rule her own. It was the princess’ plan for her ladies that they railed against. The princess wished to marry them off.

After the news of her wedding, the princess began a frantic search for respectable bride grooms for her two ladies, at first without their knowledge and later without their consent.  They had never thought of marriage so soon, their lives were tied up with that of the princess and if they were married to noblemen in their home country it was unimaginable that they would be allowed to follow their princess to her new home far away. They begged her with tears in their eyes not to send them away, but the princess refused.  “You will both leave me one day,” she declared, “and I had rather it be sooner, with men handpicked by me whom I have known all my life, than let you be taken by strange men in a strange land.”  Her words held truth, their new king would doubtless marry them to some favored courtier to help cement the new marriage.

And so they acquiesced.

Later the love child approached the princess while the changeling was gone.  “I do not wish to speak for myself, my lady.  It is for Eitelkeit I entreat you.  She cannot be married yet.”  Until this point the love child eyes had been respectfully lowered as she humbly stood before the princess.  At this her green eyes met her lady’s with a cool and frank gaze.  “You know as well as I the reasons.  She is too young, in emotions and sensitivity to be sent away from you.  She is also too frail.  Eitelkeit is too small to survive a pregnancy.  Once she is older, my lady, please marry her to a lord you have judged fit for her in Losod.  She has no family left in this country, it is no matter if she resides permanently there or here.”  When the princess made no response, the love child lowered her eyes once more.  “My lady, I am exceedingly grateful for your care concerning my own match.  You are doubtless aware how much it means to my family and I.”

The princess walked past the love child, the changeling was calling for them.  As the princess passed she patted the love child on the shoulder, and smiled brightly.  “Eitelkeit, we were just speaking of you.  I have come to the conclusion that I really cannot lose both of you at once.”  Eitelkeit’s smile was happily startled.  “Instead, only our dear Francis will be wed this summer.  You will stay with me.”  Eitelkeit’s smile faltered.

The princess’s face hardened.  “What?” She snapped, “Are you displeased with my decision?”

“No, my lady.  I am overjoyed with your decision.  But, I feel confused, as I am joyful, yet still sad to lose Francis.”  Eitelkeit’s wide blue eyes, that seemed to mirror all the world, closed happily as her smile widened, suddenly childlike.  “My lady, the past years I have spent with you both have been the happiest of my life.”

Softened, the princess patted the changeling’s head affectionately.  “Of course my dear.  I know.”

The love child took one of the baskets from the changeling’s hands, pressing several books waiting on a nearby ledge into it.  The princess noticed the action and began to walk to hide her smirk.  Her ladies followed, for they were to have a picnic.

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