The Pauper Prince – Part 34

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 34

Being with Isabel was comforting when she was sleeping, nursing, or wiggling her limbs around and gurgling, as babies will do. When she was inconsolable, it was a less comforting experience.

The thick door and walls muffled the shrieks within, but Mara knew what was coming. She leaned against the wall, closed her eyes, took in a good breath, and opened the door. Miss Daphne was holding and gently bouncing the little Princess, trying to use soothing words and tones which were clearly not soothing enough. She could not hide her frazzled, frantic frustration and apologized loudly over the din. Mara did not respond, but took in the scene mutely before steeling her nerves and gently taking her daughter into her arms.

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The Pauper Prince – Part 33

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 33

Mara’s assistants did, after a time, reach a state of mutual tolerance. It was rather unlikely that they would ever become friends, but she was accepting of this. The two women stood apart in far too many ways and had been brought together artificially. There was otherwise no reason for them to associate with each other. As long as Heather understood that she did not need to fight to retain her Lady’s affection, and that Daphne understood that she was not one misstep away from the gallows, everyone could get on with their lives. Especially Mara.

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The Pauper Prince – Part 32

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 32

The first of Mara’s “staff meetings” took place one bright morning that was, unfortunately, not warm enough to conduct outside. She, Heather, and Miss Daphne sat around her parlor table while Isabel dozed in a cradle beside her mother. The Princess insisted on pouring the tea and doling out the breakfast food herself. This was nothing terribly unusual for Heather, who was as able to accept the offerings as to serve them. Miss Daphne accepted both the food and drink with some reluctance. She waited for her Lady to take the first bite before starting her own meal, noting that Heather had already started. Her Lady was in high spirits and did not appear to notice any impropriety.

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The Pauper Prince – Part 31

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 31

 

Mara was by herself on the throne room’s dais, sitting in her designated chair to the right of the Queen’s. The Queen herself was not seated, but standing off to the side with the rest of the family. Mara had asked her to perform this ceremony for her, but the Queen’s reply was simple: “No.” It was the Princess’ idea, and so it would be her responsibility to see it through. Writing the speech, making the presentation…

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The Pauper Prince – Part 30

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 30

After breakfast, no time was wasted allowing the Princess to recover from her infamous “lost day” and get caught up on everything she’d missed. To begin with, little Isabel needed a baptism posthaste. The bishop had been on standby since her birth, and once the traditional, tent-sized, white baptismal dress was on her, off everyone rode to the chapel for the mandatory naming and dunking ceremony. Having only recently been introduced to the various concepts and traditions of any religion, never mind theirs, Mara failed to grasp the sense of urgency. In which case, she had no objection to the quickness of the ceremony – only confusion.

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The Pauper Prince – Part 29

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 29

There was a loud, piercing noise in her dream that seemed to come from nowhere. She spent a few moments of dreamtime trying to locate it and stop it before it drove her mad, when she was shaken awake by Heather. Mara was disoriented and flailed a bit, only not so much this time to cause her assistant to flee the room in terror. Besides, she no longer had a sword to wave about.

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The Pauper Prince – Part 28

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 28

You’re going to be all right! You’re going to be all right! You’re going to be all right!

Heather stood at the far end of the birthing table, where she had been told to stand and comfort her Lady to the best of her abilities. This, like her Lady, was the handmaiden’s first experience with childbirth. It was daylight when they had arrived at the midwife’s; it was now well into the night and counting. Heather’s Lady had cried out during a particularly strong contraction, and that had been the handmaiden’s chant while rubbing her temples.

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