Ella

ella

The Dashing Prince

The towers of the palace are slowly coming to view. Against the backdrop of clear blue skies and autumn coloured trees, the palace indeed looks majestic. My guards are yelling for me to slow down but I really like the speed at which my reliable steed is running at. His name is Stallion. I know, I know…it isn’t the most imaginative of names but if you look at him, only one word would come to mind … Stallion. So that is the name I gave him five years ago.
Kingdom of Lucrecia…. Such a pretty place and a very rich kingdom. I am here to strengthen the alliance between their kingdom and that of ours. There has been talk about strenthening the alliance through marriage but I told my parents frankly that I will decide on it once I see this famous beautiful princess of theirs. Besides, there are different ways of strenthening alliances — trade, shared border patrol, shared campaigns. It doesn’t all boil down to marriage. That is such an old fashioned way of doing things. Still, it won’t hurt to see this beautiful princess of theirs.

‘Prince Anthony’ my poor page, Thomas, has finally caught up with me. He is really more of a friend or a brother to me as we grew up together albeit slightly of different stations in life. ‘Prince Anthony, you have to slow down. We cannot afford to break your royal neck in this journey. The king will break our own necks if that happens to his only son’

‘Come on, Thomas, where is the fun of just trotting along? Have you seen the beautiful vista in front of you?’ I gestured my hand to the pictureque palace and land scape. ‘ it feels good to feel the sun and wind on my face’

‘Your highness, you have to understand that not everyone has the privilege of riding an animal as strong as and as fast as Stallion’ and my faithful steed neighed in approval.

‘All right, let us water the horses first and let the men rest up a little bit before we make our grand entrance. Afterall, I cannot appear shabby and sweaty before the royal court.’

‘You mean, before Princess Beatrice right?’ Thomas knows me only too well. He knows what my parents told me and what I told them. But he also knows how much I dislike disappointing my parents. It is not enough that I have learned the ropes of running of our kingdom and not just run wild like my cousins but I am expected to marry and produce an heir too. Here’s hoping that this Princess Beatrice, who is apparently my equal ,will indeed be pleasing to the eye.

The lady-in-waiting

There is an irony to my station in life. Princess in my own kingdom yet here I am, waiting on one of my richer cousins who will soon be Empress if the Fates align. Oh well, us daughters of the lesser kingdoms must serve inorder to maintain peace. Are we actually royal hostages to keep our families in line? I rather think not. Afterall, who in the right mind would teach a hostage the art of sword play and skills in bow and arrow?
Ah I miss the clanging of my sword and the twang of my arrows. Yet here I am with my frilly blue dress, sitting by the Princess’ s feet sewing, as apparently I need to have the necessary skills of a woman. Yep, that is me with the ebony hair pulled neatly into a tight bun and wearing a frilly blue dress with white laces at the cuff of my sleeve. From afar, I would look like part of the beautiful picture of giggling ladies in waiting. Unltil you watch me closely, then you would notice me biting my lower lip in concentration as I try my hand on embroidery. Embroidery! What use is embroidery if someone tries to kidnap Princess Beatrice? Shall I fight them off with my needle?

‘Don’t you agree, Daniella?’

At the sound of my name I look up from my wasted effort on embroidery to look at the speaker. I am pretty sure I missed the gossip that got all these silly girls blushing.

‘I beg your pardon, your highness, I wasn’t really paying attention’ I tried to put on the most innocent expression I can manage to cover my annoyance at being put on the spot. What useless piece of gossip was I supposed to give my opinion on? It does not pay to be six years older than these girls for I have no patience for their frivolities. Then again, even as a teenager, I never had patience for girlish frivolities. At their age, I was learning to run our kingdom then drought struck, the crops failed, live stock died hence my presence in this beautiful palace in exchange for the monetary help given to our kindom. I really should not complain as I am well looked after but to engage in silly gossips! I can feel my brain cells dying an anguished death!

‘Daniella? Are you daydreaming again? I really wish to know the man who makes you stare into space. ‘Princess Beatrice said,with mischief twinkling in her blue eyes which sent the other girls into giggles again.

‘Sadly, there is no such a man’ I replied patiently, ‘now what was it that you asked of me?’ Please let it be about science or history or even sword play.

‘We were asking you whether you thought Prince Anthony was handsome. He has such beautiful piercing green eyes. He is a dream isn’t he?’ One of Princess Beatrice’s young ladies in waiting, Joan, piped in.

‘Well’ I tried to compose my thoughts as I do not want to send these girls into tears or swooning with my answer, ‘ I have not had the pleasure of meeting or talking to Prince Anthony yet so I cannot really offer an honest opinion of him. ‘

‘Oh silly Ella, you don’t need to talk to him. You only need to see him and know that he is most handsome and dreamy prince that has come to court’ and they start giggling again.

Yep, that is me. Silly Princess Daniella, also known as Ella, who wants to interact with a man first before making my opinion of him. Silly Princess Ella, who had the brains that could tackle sciences, the skill of a royal guardian, yet is spending her afternoon with giggling young ladies who are excited to see this dashing Prince Anthony. Silly Ella ,indeed… Silly Ella who is hiding everything behind the facade of a lady -in -waiting.

The Meeting

‘His Royal Highness, Prince Anthony of …’ The royal announcer proceeded to exalt my parentage as I stand at the doorway. I have now changed to garments more befitting to my station. It was good that Thomas convinced me to change to my royal tunic otherwise I would have been severely under dressed in court.
I walked briskly to the throne area and bowed deeply to the King and Queen.
‘Good evening, your Royal Highnesses. I would like to express my gratitude for welcoming me and my men into your court. ‘
‘Good evening, Prince Anthony’ King Phillip said jovially, ‘ we have been looking to having you with us again. It has been too long since you were last here. You were still a baby and now you are fine young man!’
‘May I present to you my daughter, Princess Beatrice’ Queen Sarah gestured to a line of young ladies. One of whom stepped forward and did a small curtsy whilst I bowed.
‘It is a pleasure to meet you, Prince Anthony’ she was looking me in the eye with her piercing blue eyes. Her golden blond hair shone in The light. She has a slight blush on her cheeks as she looks at me.
‘The pleasure is all mine, Princess Beatrice’ I said gently as I continued to survey her face. The gossipmongers were not doing justice in describing her. She is not beautiful— she is gorgeous!
All her ladies- in-waiting curtsied just as my men also bowed down to them.
‘Well’ King Phillip exclaimed, ‘ Let us get to dinner then so these young people can socialise afterwards’

The procession towards the dining hall was led by the King and Queen followed by the Princess and her ladies-in-waiting. It was indeed a beautiful sight. Beautiful ladies who were gigling softly in their beautiful colourful dresses have my men and I enthralled Then I felt a heavy stare on me. I looked to my right and looked directly into disapproving hazel eyes. They belong to one of the ladies -in- waiting whose expression immediately became neutral when our eyes met. Unlike the rest of the ladies, she was not giggling nor blushing. She walked at the end of the group stiffly. I wonder how I managed to get her disapproval already. I am used to fluttering eyelashes and blushing cheeks, not scrutinizing disapproval looks on first meeting.
‘ It is very lucky that we made this journey, Prince Anthony’ Thomas said softly as he stares at the young ladies, ‘very lucky indeed.’
‘ I agree with you, Thomas’. I whispered, still slightly perturbed but trying to shake off the feeling, ‘ very lucky indeed’

The Dance

The music floated softly in the air as the dancers pair up. In the middle of the pairs is the golden couple — Prince Anthony and Pincess Beatrice. He is wearing a blue velvety tunic with silver and gold thread whilst she is pretty in peach coloured dress. If their smiles were any indication, the connection between kingdoms can only get stronger.
And where am I whilst all these merriment is on-going? I am thankfully and strategically standing outside in the balcony where I can still enjoy the music, watch the merriment and be left alone in my own company. Besides, the starlit skies can outshine the beauty inside the palace. No, I am not anti-social, far from it. It just so happens that the merriment makes me homesick.
The songs, the dancing, the laughter, and the overall merriment make me think of home. At least from afar, I can pretend that I was sneaking into the ball as I used to do as a young girl to watch my sisters and cousins dancing.
The dancing song was followed now by a ballad about a pining lover. I turned around to look at the skies and stare at the bright stars. They call their constellations differently here but I know they are the same stars my mother is staring at. For seven years, I have been separated from my family. They only get to see me twice in that span of time when King Phillip’s court traveled to our kingdom. Sigh… How much company does a rich princess need? She has enough giggling ladies-in-waiting. She really doesn’t need one who is bored out of her wits and would rather spend her time in the grand library in the east wing.
‘You are missing all the fun inside’ a male voice said calmly to my right

I glanced to my right and met twinkling blue (i think) eyes. I quickly averted my eyes.

‘Your highness…’ I started to say
‘We have not met before now yet I can feel the weight of your disapproval in your stare’ Prince Anthony cut off my polite response, ‘what have I done to annoy you so? Or is frowning your preferred expression?’

At this my browns knitted some more but I did my best to neutralize my expression when I look back at him.

‘I apologize if you got that impression, your highness’ I said softly, ‘ I am merely thinking and was taken aback to find you here in the balcony. Surely, they will be missing your presence inside the hall. ‘ as if on cue, there was a peal of laughter from inside the hall

‘They seem to doing well without me in there,’ he shrugged as he gave a quick glance at the door towards the hall, ‘I needed the fresh air and some time alone.’

‘I will leave you alone then, your highness’ I curtsied then started to walk towards the door

‘You never gave me your name…’ He called after me

‘You never asked’ I gave him a quick glance and a hint of a smile over my shoulder before entering the hall again.

The Lady in Red

I stared after her as she enters the hallway. Her ebony hair pulled tightly into a bun on her head. She had a slight blush on her cheeks when we talked or was that just the reflection of her red dress on her skin. I have a feeling that she is a woman who does not give easily to giggling or blushing.

The air is cool outside and I needed to clear my head. All these dancing and drinking assures me of a headache tomorrow. Thankfully my meeting with the trading ministers is scheduled the day after and thank goodness that our trading ministers are with me too.

Well, I guess have to play the part of Prince Charming again. I scanned the hall for a familiar face and I met the gaze of hazel eyes across the hall. Her eyebrows slightly raised in acknowledgement then she turned back to the gentleman she is talking to.

‘Prince Anthony, ‘ Princess Beatrice’s voice even carry the easy smile in her voice, ‘we are just talking about organizing a hunt tomorrow.’

‘So, you hunt, Princess Beatrice?’ I am surprised that such a delicate lady is talking about hunting.

‘Well, actually’ Princess Beatrice smiled some more, ‘ we mostly only come for the ride, the thrill of the chase and the picnic afterwards. I am unlikely to hit anything. Only Ella has a prayer in hunting successfully with the men. Ella!’ She called out across the hall. Her lady-in-waiting who is in the red gown and with the disapproving stare, glanced our way then she walked stiffly towards us as if she was being coerced to join our company. So that’s her name —Ella.
‘Ella,’ Princess was saying excitedly, ‘I was just telling Prince Anthony here of your hunting prowess’

‘You flatter me, your highness,’ Ella has a practiced and patient smile on her face, ‘ I do not hunt. I merely know know how to use a bow and arrow.’

‘Oh Ella, stop this false humility,’ Princess Beatrice admonishes her, ‘she has won contests on marksmanship and that was with male contestants as well.’

‘That is a rare skill for a woman, Lady Ella,’ I commented, hoping that a compliment would actually fluster her a little bit but she stared steadily at me as she answers.

‘Where I am originally from, your highness, it is a necessary skill, not a rarity. King Phillips also encourages me hone my ‘skill’ ‘ her answer sounds innocent enough and given with a smile but it gives me a feeling that she is silently mocking me.

‘Ella is like my unofficial female guard’ Princess Beatrice offered with a smile so I smiled at her

‘Indeed’ Ella said softly, ‘ but it would be hard to protect you, Princess Beatrice, if I only have a needle as a weapon’

Her quick wit caught me by surprise. Who knew that the lady with the disapproving stare actually has a sense of humor

‘Oh Ella!’ Princess Beatrice laughs, ‘you are funny. Who would want to hurt me anyway?’

‘May I please have the permission to retire early, your highness’ Ella asked, ‘ if we are to go on a hunt tomorrow then I would like to be fresh for it. ‘

‘Yes you may retire early,’ Princess Beatrice declared regally

Ella curtsied to both of us then walked slowly out of the hall. I watched the lady in red walk out of the hall without a second glance to us.

‘Lady Ella is not very fond of parties’ Rachel, the red haired lady-in-waiting explained, ‘she gets tired easily I think. She is not as young as us.’

The Library

The wind whistles through the windows and brought in a cold draught into the library. I pulled my robe closer to my neck and sighed. Sleep refused to come to me tonight despite my attempt at going in early.
The library has always been my solace at times when my mind refuses to switch off. Books… They are my friends. They take me places especially when I feel trapped in this beautiful yet binding prison of mine.
I really should not complain. I am being treated well. I have been given ample freedom apart from going back home. My fetters, invisible as they may be, are still heavy and binding.

‘I thought you wanted to retire early?’

I was startled by the voice that has invaded my deep thoughts so I looked behind my chair to see who has invaded my sanctuary at this hour.

‘I have come in search of my sleep,’ I replied to him. He raised an eyebrow at my reply. I have my legs tucked in underneath me. Surely, he is not expecting me to get up and curtsy again, is he?

‘I doubt if sleep will come to you if you are reading an adventure book,’ he said whilst browsing the books on the shelf.

Whilst he had his back towards me, I gave him an impatient look. This library is big enough to contain a big house so why does he have to walk into my section.
‘ I was looking for adventure stories, too,’ he explained as if reading my own thoughts
‘Oh you read’ the words escaped my mouth before I can filter them, ‘ I am so sorry. That was very rude of me to say.’

‘Why do I have a feeling that you disapprove of me, Ella? And yes, I do read.’

‘ i do not know you well enough to approve or disapprove of you, your highness’

‘See,’ he pointed out,’right there! You say the correct words yet I feel that you are actually mocking me.’

‘I have no control over your feelings, your highness,’ I answered him, feeling my annoyance rise with his observation,’ how you perceive my words has more to do with your own thoughts of yourself than my own. ‘

He grabbed a book and sat at the chair opposite me.

‘ You are too educated to be a simple lady-in-waiting’ he said then proceeded to open his book and start reading.

I held onto my retort and look at him. At the same time he looked up from his book and our gaze held. There was a hint of a smile on his lips and as if by agreement we stopped talking.

So, it was this way that we spent at least an hour in the library that night until we fell asleep on the chairs.

The Wager

‘Typical’ someone was tapping on my arm, ‘it is so typical that I find you in the library on the morning after the party’ Thomas was already removing the book from my lap. ‘ Good thing I grew up with you and know you too well so I know exactly where to find you. Can you imagine the uproar it would cause if the royal son of King William is missing?’
‘Thomas,’ I started as I established where I am. ‘Where…’ I looked at the empty chair across me

‘Where’s what?’ Thomas looked around the library

‘Nothing’

Fingers of early sun rays were reaching into the library.

‘ Come on, your highness, ‘ Thomas said patiently, ‘we need to get you presentable for your princess. I do not think stubble will endear you to the beautiful Princess Beatrice.’

Thomas was ushering me out of the library. Sometimes, I wonder who is the boss of whom as Thomas dictates what needs to be done. Besides, I am too tired to argue. Coffee… I need coffee to wake me up! I gave a last glance at the red velvety chair which gave no indication that the disapproving Ella was ever there. I wonder when she left the library. We did not really talk last night but spent the time reading in companionable silence.

Stallion has been brushed and fed. He is prancing about, getting impatient to get going. I looked at the party of people gathered and had to shake my head. Ladies in colourful dresses chattering away and my men can hardly keep their eyes off them. I doubt that this hunt will be successful at all.
‘Prince Anthony,’ Princess Beatrice smiled sweetly at me and fluttered her eyelashes, ‘I trust you had a restful night?’ My heart skips a beat at the lilt of her voice.

‘Yes, I did, Princess Beatrice’ I replied politely, admiring how her pale blue dress makes her eyes more blue.

Princess Beatrice started walking away towards her pure white horse and her ladies-in-waiting, followed her.

‘How is your neck, your highness?’ She stopped briefly at my side but she asked her question without looking st me. I involuntarily kneaded my neck in response.

‘You could have woken me up when you got up’ somehow I sounded like a petulant child. What is with this woman that affects me so?

‘You looked like you were enjoying your sleep’ she quickly glanced at me then walked away.

I stared at her back, frowning then I realized what is different in this picture. She is the only one wearing olive coloured dress and has a quiver of arrows slung over her shoulder.

‘Good hunting, Prince Anthony,’ Duke Francis, the finance minister of our kingdom said

‘We will see you at the feast later’ Queen Sarah said as she kisses her daughter goodbye

‘Remember to bring the boar’ King Phillip called after us as we start moving towards the forest.

As expected, most of the ladies proceeded directly to the picnic area. I guess, it is better that way so the men can concentrate on the hunt. The laughter, as pleasant as it may sound to the ear, would just drive the game away.

‘ i wager, Prince Anthony, that my ever dependable lady in waiting, Ella, would bring down the boar instead of your men.’

I glanced quickly at Ella who was quick to replace her frown with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

‘And what are we wagering on then, Princess Beatrice?’

‘You can ask anything within reason,’ Princess Beatrice promised with a smile.

Oh she knows the effect she has on men. The ladies, sans Ella, were giggling behind their hands whilst my men were just melting with her voice.

‘I look forward to collecting my reward then,’ I bowed towards Princess Beatrice. One of the ladies, Jane, I think, fainted whilst Ella surreptitiously rolled her eyes.

The Hunt

It has already been a couple of hours since we have been chasing the big boar. A couple of my men have managed to hit it yet it continues to run amok. A wounded angry boar is a dangerous game. I have gotten separated from my men but I am not concerned. I am more than capable of taking care of myself.

Then I hear the boar thrashing through the forest. I rode towards the sound which led me to a clearing. What I saw had my heart jump up to my throat. In the middle of the clearing, making no attempt to hide herself at all, is Ella poised with her bow and arrow whilst the boar was charging towards her. I do not think she heard me approaching as her concentration was focused on the boar. Judging from the speed of the boar, she will get ran over and speared with with its tusk before she can put enough arrows in it to knock it out. I dig my heels into the sides of Stallion to spur him faster. At neck breaking speed I managed to reach Ella first before the boar and grabbed her by the waist to get her onto Stallion, in front of me. Thankfully she weighs close to nothing otherwise I would have fallen off Stallion or dislocated my shoulder with the stunt I just pulled.

‘What the…’ She looked angrily at me, ‘Idiot!’

‘You’re welcome,’ I said under my breath ,’you do realize that you just called a Royal Prince an idiot after he rescued you, right? A thank you would have sufficed in this situation.  I would appreciate it if you stop struggling and put away the bow and arrow before yout poke my eye by accident.’

When I was satisfied that there was a safe distance between the boar and us, I slowed down Stallion to a trot.

‘I was not in any danger’ Ella protested

‘Sure, a tiny little woman against at least 500 kg angry boar… Guess who I will put money on? What were you doing off your horse anyway? Were you really that dedicated to your Princess that you are willing to risk your neck for her to win the wager?’

‘It was the only way to put it out of its misery,’ Ella explained. I looked at her, waiting for her to explain further, ‘ your incompetent men were causing it a lot of pain. If we must hunt for pleasure, we must do it properly and cause as little pain as possible to the prey.’ She sighed with exasperation when I did not show signs of understanding, ‘ I was going to shoot it in the eye direct to its brain and put it out of its misery.’

‘You are that confident with your skill?’

She did not answer me but instead turned away from me.

‘You better let me down here,’ she said, ‘Our current situation is unbecoming.’

‘I won’t leave a woman walk alone in a forest.’ The tone of my voice told her that this was not under negotiation.

‘Fine,’ she says, ‘can we at least put the boar out of its misery?’ She glanced at me then her eyes narrowed before she looked away.

‘What have I done now to gain more of your disapproval?’

‘Your eyes are not blue,’ there was a tinge of accusation in her voice

‘I never said they were,’ I am becoming both amused and annoyed at her impertinence. For a woman who lives in the court, she certainly does not know how to behave amongst royalty.

We stopped at a clearing. I figured Stallion can do with a little rest. Ella looked doubtfully at me at first when I gestured to help her down from the horse but eventually relented when she realized I wasn’t going away.

‘Won’t your men be worried that you broke your royal neck now that you are not with them?’

‘What is it about me that you hate so much? That I came from a wealthy kingdom? That I save your neck? Or that My men do not pay any attention to an old prune like you?’ my anger got the better of me and I know I overdid it when I saw the flash of hurt in her eyes before she looked away from me. ‘Ella…’

‘If we go to higher ground, we will have the advantage.’ She picked up her skirt and started walking away from me.

Guilt, anger and frustration in equal parts filled me up as I stare at her disappearing figure. All these feelings disappeared and My jaw dropped when she started climbing up a tree.

The Boar

I steadied my breathing as I waited patiently. I am standing precariously on a tree branch with my bow and arrow ready. I need to clear my mind if I am to do this right.

‘I can’t believe I let you talk me into using Stallion as a bait.’

‘Only an unimaginative man would call his stallion, Stallion,’ I muttered under breath.

‘Pardon?’ He asked but we both know he heard me so I bit back my retort and just let go of my breath. Focus, Ella, focus.

It is hard to concentrate if you have a whiny prince on the branch just beside you. I glanced at him, saying nothing and willing him to be silent. He still looks at me me apologetically for his words an hour ago. Well, guilt has its uses and that is why his precious horse is grazing now in the middle of the clearing. I have no doubt that Stallion can outrun the boar but I actually got some wicked pleasure at watching this precious prince squirm a little bit.

Then I can hear the boar rushing this way. I knocked my arrow into place, kept both eyes open, steadied my breath then released the arrow. Two arrows hit the boar’s head. I looked and saw that Prince Anthony did the same thing as I did. So he can shoot an arrow.
The boar collapsed and died instantly whilst Stallion continued to graze, unfazed by what just happened. I guess, the over confidence of its owner has spill over to him.

Prince Anthony got to the ground quickly and was now waiting patiently for me to get down. Well, he is fast and agile, i will give him that. I made my way down from the tree, trying to ignore the extended arm of the waiting Prince. I have been climbing trees all my life…then I lost my footing on the last branch and fell down. Prince Anthony caught me as if he was already anticipating my fall.

‘Thank you’ I said as my feet touches the ground

‘So you do know the words,’ he said with a hint of smile on his face but he walked towards the boar before I could say anymore.

It was at that precise moment that his men arrived.

Thomas whistled in appreciation as he examined the arrows on the boar.

‘You sure did a number on this one’ Thomas said as he looked at the arrows on the head, ‘but there are two arrows here. Who?’ He looked questioningly at Prince Anthony.

‘Princess Beatrice was telling the truth about Ella’s skills’ Prince Anthony replied.

The men glanced at my way but I ignored them. I stayed away from the boar. I did not need to inspect it to know that it is dead.

‘Lady Ella, we found your horse,’ Alfred, the man at arms of the palace said,’ we initially feared for the worse when we saw her without you.’

‘Prince Anthony rescued me,’ I offered him that much. Impertinent I may be but I am not going to be rude to him in front of his men. His patience with me might just run out.

‘Come on, Cow,’ I patted my horse’s neck, ‘let us go home,’ when I was at a distance, I heard the men guffawed as people normally do when they learn my horse’s name.

The Feast

It was a good night to have a feast outside in the palace grounds. Everybody seem to be in good mood this evening. The boar has been roasted. Tables laden with food were placed at the center of the field. There was music and laughter in the air.

As usual, I got turned off from meat after each hunt so I was filling my plate with fruits instead.

‘You accused me of being unimaginative for calling my horse Stallion,’ his voice was filled with mirth,’so how do you describe calling a horse a cow then?’ He gave into his laughter.
‘I was young when I named her,’ i explained defensively,’besides if you look at her white markings on her chestnut coat, they resemble that of a cow.’ I glanced at him annoyingly as he is wiping tears of mirth from his eyes, ‘ what are you doing here anyway? Don’t you have wager to claim from Princess Beatrice?’

‘Contrary to your belief, Lady Ella, I am actually drawn to the table of fruits here rather than to your beauty or company’

‘Oh I am not under that illusion at all, your highness,’ i offered him a smile, ‘you have made it perfectly clear this afternoon what you thought of me. ‘ with that I walked away slowly with as much grace as I can muster. I refused to let him see how his words affected me so.

‘Ella…’ He called out but I did not turn back. I had my quota of insults for the day and I needed some peace and quiet to lick my wounded pride.

I walked to the farthest edge of the garden which is by the lake. Not many people venture as far as here as the light of the torches do not reach this far. This does not bother me as I can enjoy my meal in silence, staring at the stars.

‘You really like to court danger, don’t you?’ Just like that, the silence was broken as Prince Anthony plopped himself beside me on the grass, ‘It is dangerous for a little lady to be alone by herself in the dark,’

‘I think we have established that I can take care of myself’ I said turning slightly away from him

‘Sure you can take care of yourself,’ he said sarcastically,’ nearly got ran over by a boar, fell off a tree, lost her horse. ‘

‘I did not lose Cow,’ i explained, ‘i intentionally got down from her.’ He raised an eyebrow to this,’Why am I explaining myself to you? Don’t you have a gaggle of young ladies and a Princess to entertain you?’

‘I happen to like this place too.’

‘The place is big enough for us not to be in each other’s personal space’ I pointed out to him

‘Are you seriously telling me to go away?’ He asked incredulously

‘Well, there’s always a first time.’ I mumbled under my breath

We looked at each other, willing the other to look away.

‘Prince Anthony!’ Rachel waved frantically at him as she and a number of ladies in waiting came over, ‘Princess Beatrice is looking for you. Oh hello Ella’ she looked between Prince Anthony and me with uncertainty, ‘she wanted to discuss the terms of your wager.’

‘Did she now?’ Prince Anthony beamed them a charming smile, ‘ well, we better not keep her waiting then. ‘

With that they left me without a word. Finally some peace and quiet.

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