“I’m sorry miss.”
“That’s all right, I’m just jumpy tonight. It’s not every night you’re forced upon some unsuspecting Noble man.”
“Now daughter,” Mother. “That’s not how it is.”
“Then how is it Mother?”
“We’re just giving them the opportunity to do what they haven’t had the chance to do. I’m sure before the night is out you’ll see how sought after you are. You just intimidate them.”
The intimidation line. Why do guys always get that excuse? If a guy is incredible we’re expected to swoon. And females are supposed to believe that a guy is going to run if the girl is too wonderful?
“I know mother. I’ll try to be less splendid tonight.”
“MaryAnn, can you do something with her hair?” My maid curtsies, failing to mention that she just finished ‘doing something’ with my hair ten minutes ago after unsuccessfully working at it for an hour. My bottom is getting sore.
“Mother, I look as good as I’m going to. This make up couldn’t be thicker and only ten of my moles are showing. I think Mary Ann has done a wonderful job.” As good as anyone could.
“You’re right.” Mother sighs. “What would we do without you MaryAnn?” My maid curtsies again and leaves with a nod. Off to help fair pampered White with her hair. She’ll only take ten minutes. Of course soon MaryAnn will be just Snow White’s maid and I’ll have to find someone new. I wonder if in my new home we’ll be able to find someone who specializes in plating straw?
“Don’t look at yourself like that.”
“How am I looking at myself mother?”
“Like you’re criticizing every inch of you.”
“Well I figure I’d join the party.”
“None of us…”
“I know mother, it’s just hard living among the exceptionally beautiful.”
“You are beautiful too.” She almost whispers it. I guess it’s hard to lie out loud.
“Let’s go down. Not long now. Any special guests entering with us?”
“A young Earl your brother brought back with him.”
“Is Charming back?”
“Yes,” She laughs. “I forgot to tell you. He’s been home for two hours and is dying to see you.”
My younger brother. He might be better looking than all of us but he never makes me feel awkward like Charmant, my older brother, does. He’s been gone a long time on diplomatic missions.
“I’ll see you in the hall mother!” I kiss her cheek and fly down stairs. “Charming!” Perhaps not the most ladylike entrance but I really don’t care. If Charming had been here this ball wouldn’t be happening.
The overly tall doors stand open. No one shuts them if they don’t need to. I sprint in. Mary Ann might have to touch my hair up before the ball. “Charming?” my voice echoes through the large study. One wall is all window and the other two are covered in portraits of the family. The room is large enough for three widely separated arrangements of furniture. Each harmonious yet different. We use the room for entertaining guests before and after a long journey as it is near the entrance to the guest wing and the kitchen for quick refreshments. I hear a chuckle in the far corner.
“Sis…” He stands up and opens his arms. I run into them knocking a little wind out of him. “Not changed a bit.”
“You’ve been doing enough for both of us.” I stand back and look at him. My little brother isn’t so little. “In which kingdom do they eat frogs?” He raises an eye brow. “You must have eaten one I can still hear him croaking down there.” Charming just laughs. “So did you hear about the fiasco?”
“The ball? Yes, my friend is looking forward to it. I’m glad they planned it so well. Timing couldn’t have been better.”
“Did you hear the point?”
“Ah! Earl Wall, may I introduce my sister?”
I turn around to see a very green eyed man walking toward me. I would tell you more but his eyes almost glow.
“Lady … it is my great pleasure to meet you at long last.” Wow this guy’s bumping up the charm. I wonder what his political agenda is?
“Sis was just telling me about the ball. Did you know that some lucky man is going to get her hand in marriage tonight?” I feel my face go red. There goes the makeup job.
“May I ask whom I am dueling tomorrow for fair maiden’s hand?” I’m not sure there’s any color in my face now. Dang this whole silent women thing!
“Ah that’s the mystery. We shant know till the night is ended.”
“Then perhaps I shall have the chance of stealing her heart before it is too late.” Charming slaps the Earls back and they take their places as though to sit down. That’s my queue to either park it or leave. I hesitate. I want to take off but I’m curious. I sit.
They begin to talk about the guest apartments and I am free to observe. His nose is long but his chin is strong. Father always says to look at the chin for a good ruler. Jet black hair… no there are auburn streaks, how interesting. His fingers are long and slender, not something you see in the nobility these days. You need large hands to wield the knight’s swords. His voice… what is he saying?
“Of course it is strange to inherit a throne when one has been brought up to be an Earl. But I guess I’ll have to get used to it.” He’s going to be a King? That would explain everything. He’s wooing me and my brother because as a new, and probably unexpected, king he’ll need strong allies. Well at least now I can stop blushing.
“Lords,” I stand, my head hurts and I need my hair fixed again. “I shall see you in the hall.”
I can hear the commotion. It’s thrilling but tonight it’s also petrifying. If only I didn’t have to go in there.
Charming offers his arm. And the doors begin to open. The familiar voice of our announcer booms out.
“His Highness King Charmant the first. Her royal highness Queen Beauty. His highness Prince Charmant the second and his Lady Princess White. Prince Charming and the Lady … . The Earl of Wall of the Kingdom of Glass.
The guests are watching as we glide by. I hope I’m gliding. The women with their hats like horns and the men with their mustaches like cats that forgot to move when the men got up that morning.
“They really should look into mirrors before they come to these events.” Comes the silken voice from behind us. I giggle wondering if he had been thinking something similar.
Charming removes his arm as he leaves me by my throne. The room is going to look lopsided when I’m gone and my chair is removed.
Three strikes on the marble floor and the orchestra begin again. I am free to sit.
For the first time I’m grateful no one knows the point of this evening. It would be hard to have everyone staring and whispering. Now instead I can watch. Swirling dresses in rhythmic grace flow in waves across the vast hall. A long line of Lords and Ladies are being brought forward to be introduced to the entire family. My parents subtle way of getting to see each option one at a time and let me see too. But I really don’t care. I’d rather only give the amount of attention required. They will choose for me, why get my hopes up?
The Earl of Wall gets up and leads me to the floor. It really is good of him, sucking up or no sucking up.