The Pauper Prince – part 19

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 19

The wedding was like a dream. Not a dream as in “dream wedding” or “dream come true,” but the sort of dream that has its own reality for itself but that makes no sense in the outside world. The sort where things seem clear and detailed at the time, but trying to remember anything later is a wasted effort. If asked to describe the day to an outsider, Mara might have done so this way:

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The Pauper Prince – Part 18

–why, yes, it IS a book-length story. Why do you ask?

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 18

She found Heather in the separate room where the various guests’ servants were being fed. And entertained, it turns out, since some of them were musically inclined, and had formed a small band that played at a moderate volume. Loud enough to listen and dance to, but quiet enough for others to have conversations. Heather’s back was to her. She seemed to be deep in conversation, but was alerted to Mara’s approach by the reactions of others near her. Namely, they were standing straighter and bowing and curtseying and offering “m’Ladies” to the approaching noblewoman.

Mara held up her hands as she approached. “Oh, please, please, there’s no need,” she said to all. Heather finally turned around, and curtsied to her because there were witnesses. Mara apologized for the intrusion and whispered her need for assistance in being extricated from the dress in order to visit the little noblewoman’s room. Heather snapped into action and led her Lady away.
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The Pauper Prince – Part 17

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 17

Mara had grown fond of her future in-laws, especially the Queen, whose facade was cool but whose heart was warm. The King was still something of a cypher to her, but since giving the blessing to the marriage, he had been treating her to flashes of tenderness. Sometimes it was a kind look or warm smile, and his tones when speaking to her in private had become… softer. Sometimes he would let slip a joke that she was usually too surprised to react to, if she caught it.

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The Pauper Prince – Part 16

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 16

The Queen and her entourage arrived at Mara’s new chambers, which had previously belonged to the Princess Flora, to inform her of a new duty, for which her training was to begin immediately: running the castle. All of it. As she explained it, the King ruled the kingdom, but she ruled his home. All decisions regarding the operations of the castle were hers alone, with one exception: the King’s Guards. This duty fell to the Prince, as well as the King himself. There had been times when, in the King’s absence, the Queen had ruled on his behalf, as had the Prince, but she assured Mara that this was not expected of her. At least, not any time soon.

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The Pauper Prince – Part 15

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 15

Mara had somewhat lost track of time since her arrival at the castle. She guessed one week, but Kelvin assured her that it was a fortnight. By this time her meals with the royal family had become, as much as a meal with a royal family could be, routine. By this it meant that she was simply dining with them and having more or less mundane conversations, and not interrogations, tests, questioning, arguments – not about their possible marriage, that is – nor long, uncomfortable pauses. She had, in time, managed to obtain footwear other than her old boots, due to needing custom shoes that took longer to make.

True to his word, Kelvin had arranged for an instructor for her, first to teach her reading and writing. After that would follow any other subjects she wished. For now Mara was requesting law and history, and later, at Kelvin’s suggestions, literature, mathematics and science. She still showed no interest in studying music, so he relented on that. Rather than combat instruction with Seamus, she requested instead to learn archery and horsemanship. What she absolutely refused to do, though, was ride sidesaddle, which her instructor insisted was the only way for “ladies” to ride. At first the Prince had tacitly agreed with that, but finally stepped up to order her riding instructions to be identical to a man’s. This required that the seamstresses make special riding clothes for her that allowed her to spread her legs enough to sit on the horse properly.

**

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The Pauper Prince – Part 14

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 14

An hour earlier Heather had created a minor masterpiece of braidery with Mara’s hair, humming all the while, before taking leave of her mistress. As soon as the sprightly girl had left, Mara returned to her brooding and spinning of her sword. The sound of the leather scabbard’s tip on the floor changed suddenly, becoming harder and sharper. She examined the tip and sighed. The tip had finally worn enough for the blade to start slipping through. More of her stupidity in action, damaging her most precious possession.

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The Pauper Prince – part 13

–Parental guidance suggested–

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 13

Two days had passed since Mara had been shown Kelvin’s, and possibly her, private chambers. The two most notable events during this time, other than the epiphany about her father, were that she had finally managed to give her positive review of Heather to the Queen – who reacted anticlimactically to the report – and that the royal seamstresses had completed one of her dresses. Not from scratch, but by modifying an existing dress. Her other garments would take time and would be from scratch. The women brought the first gown directly to her guest room, but Mara resisted being undressed in front of them, women or not. Fortunately they had brought a folding screen.

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