Chapter 14 – A Princess and a Pauper
Chapter 14 – A Princess and a Pauper
Alexandria peaked cautiously around the changing room door. Even though Tilly informed her that no one was around, she couldn’t help but double check.
She felt slightly ridicules in her new dress.
It was a deep purple, with large skirts that shot out from her waist. It was accented in silver, and was accompanied by a silver tiara place perfectly in her hair. Madam Willaminia had given her a matching purple mask. It was heavy, given the amount of ornamentation attached to it, but Alexandria knew that she wouldn’t be wearing it long. With the mask came a new persona, Lady Amethyst, but it was just for show.
No one would be calling her by it.
The outfit made her the epitome of a Princess.
She stepped out into the empty hall and sighed with relief.
The only people about were working staff, and a few curious servants.
Alexandria made her way back to the entrance hall. She was heading towards the ballroom doors when a particular object on the mask table caught her attention. It was a large white box, and it had no purpose being there. Before she could dismiss it, Alexandria noticed the object sitting directly in front of the box. It was a familiar dark green mask with just a hint of silver lining around the eyes.
Her hands moved of their own accord and lifted the lid.
Her heart sank when she recognized the suit, but if his suit was here than it meant that-
He was gone.
Why would he leave so suddenly, and without saying goodbye?
Alexandria ran a hand along the fabric of the dark green suit. She noticed a few bits of dust that clung to it and remembered how he had climbed the palace railing earlier that night. The moments that they shared flew through her mind, and she couldn’t help but smile.
A small piece of paper sticking out from underneath the jacket caught her attention. She turned the jacket over and her heart skipped a beat when a small note came into view.
It wasn’t the note; it was the stains splattered across his light colored shirt that caused her heart to stop. She counted them,
Six, dark red stains.
Before she could wrap her head around what it all meant, the light sound of footsteps caught her attention.
Without thinking, she quickly closed the box and shoved the letter into the folds of her dress.
“Ah there she is.”
Alexandria was surprised to hear her Mother’s voice behind her. “Hello again mother.” She responded hastily, flustered by those six drops of dark red.
“Are you nervous dear?” She heard her mother asked.
Alexandria stopped her hands from playing with the paper. She couldn’t believe that she had taken it; it was for Madam Pumberly, most likely from Lord Jenkins. Still, her mother’s presence meant that it was too late to return the note.
“We all get nervous my darling.” Her mother concluded when Alexandria didn’t respond.
Alexandria lifted her head and tried to smile at her mother, “I just... I don’t know if...” She couldn’t get the words out.
“Breath.” Her mother advised wisely. “It helps.” Queen Valerie looked at her daughter’s new attire. She offered Alexandria an approving look apparently satisfied by its appearance. “I am immensely proud of you.”
Her mother’s words shocked her. She hadn’t expected her to say them, “Truly?” Alexandria didn’t know why her mother’s opinion suddenly mattered, but it did.
Her mother nodded and then turned towards the large doors that separated them from the rest of the guests. Alexandria couldn’t help but notice the way her mother’s warm brown eyes lit up underneath her golden mask. She truly appeared radiant that night.
“Are you ready, dear?”
“I am if I have to be.” Alexandria answered.
Her mother chuckled slightly at her daughter’s response, and then as if on cue, the trumpets sounded and the doors of the ballroom opened before them.
Alexandria couldn’t help the quick glance back at the white box on the mask table. Those six red stains still bewildered her. He wouldn’t personally be by her side, but the small piece of paper that she had stolen gave her courage.
She looked back at her mother and nodded. They entered the Grand Ballroom together as Queen and Princess. When the announcer introduced them Alexandria was unable to mask the surprise on her face when the man presented them as Lady’s Amethyst and Ember.
An ember was the final glowing coal on a fire.
It seemed like an odd persona to give the Queen of Alminia. She looked up at her mother in confusion, but instead of agitation, the Queen’s warm brown eyes were shining with a pride.
~~~ Change Character Focus, Later
By the time Noah was informed that his masters were ready to leave only the members of Society staying at the Palace remained. Most of them and their servants had all gone to bed a while ago.
He had no idea what time it was when he hitched up the horses, but he was positive that he’d see the sunrise before they made it back to the manor.
Hopefully his masters would sleep until dinnertime. His run in with them earlier that night left him with a migraine, and he dreaded the thought of strenuous activity. Thankfully his lip had stopped bleeding.
None of the other staff members or coachmen that he ran into that night questioned his swollen lip. Hitting a servant wasn’t a common practice among nobles, but it did happen.
It was called the Servant Discipline Law. It had been a part of Alminian decree for longer than anyone could remember. One of its many clauses indicated that no servant was allowed to publicly complain if the individual punishing them was their current employer. Another clause prohibited the retaliation of any Servant towards his or her Masters.
It was cruel to the servants and protected the nobles, but Noah was not on the side to do anything about it.
The Law had been challenged many times in the past, but the Advisors had always managed to protect it, much to the dismay of the many Alminians in servitude. Thankfully a large portion of members of Society found less garish ways of disciplining their service, but they would still turn a blind eye to the actions of those in their circle that were more forceful.
Noah signed disapprovingly at his thoughts as carriage came to a stop in front of the palace doors. He jumped down from his seat and stifled a curse as pain shot through his bruised shins.
Lady Cathliene was the first to step through the palace entryway. Her mask dangled loosely in one hand and a palace staff member struggled to keep her steady. She acted just as frigged as ever, but the slight pink tint on her face, and her unsure footing were telltale signs of how intoxicated she actually was.
“Stop standing about, Servant!” She called out loudly.
Noah rushed to assist the palace staff member with getting his Mistress to the carriage before she started screaming. She looked at Noah’s busted lip with spirit washed eyes, decided that she deserved to hit him as well, and smacked him forcefully across the face with her mask.
The palace servant sent him a concerned look but didn’t say anything. The two of them easily got her into the carriage by they time the Twins finally came into view.
They were speaking with a Lady at the Palace entrance. The way the light fell, Noah couldn’t see the young woman’s face, but her extravagant dress and the glint coming from the top of her head informed him that she was of high social standing. The twins bowed obnoxiously to the person before them and Noah couldn’t help the confused look that appeared on his face.
Those two didn’t have a humble bone in their body.
And yet they bowed.
Who was the mysterious member of Society at the Palace entrance, and how had she gotten such a reaction from Johnathon and Ronald?
She didn’t appear affected by his master’s exaggerated behavior, but she did nod towards them to acknowledge their farewell.
Her actions caused him to smile, and again her wondered who she was.
Lady Cathliene snored loudly from inside the carriage startling Noah. Once his heart calmed, he rolled his eyes at how his mistress had fallen asleep before her sons were even half way down the palace steps.
The two were chatting to themselves. They seemed somewhat happy, or at least in a good mood. Noah couldn’t understand much of their inebriated babble, but it sounded like they were already reliving the night’s events.
Noah made sure to lock the outside of the carriage door once everyone was inside. Sky forbid someone fell out on the journey.
He looked back at the front door. Even though he still couldn’t see her face, his body stilled when he saw that the mysterious Lady was still standing at the Palace entrance.
Was she was waiting for something, for someone?
Noah was unsure about what to do, but a loud banging from inside the carriage reminded him that he had to return to the Durseman Peak Manor.
He was unable to bow to the silhouetted woman. He didn’t know why. There were plenty of people that he had bowed to in his lifetime. Why not her? Finally he settled on nodding in her direction before he pulled himself back up to the drivers seat and took off.
The Twins managed to stay awake until he reached the city gates, by muttering incoherently about who knew what.
The rest of the journey was quiet.
Noah looked up at the night sky, and a familiar feeling of being alone washed over him. Without meaning to his thoughts slipped back to the night his Mother passed away.
~~~Six Years and Seven Months Earlier
“It’s not fair.” His voice cracked as a single candle flickered between them. It was hard not to cry, but he managed.
“You have to be strong,” she responded, her voice barely audible, “for me.”
Young Noah nodded quickly, unable to trust his words.
She reached towards him and brushed a piece of hair behind his ear. “You are going to grow into a very handsome young man.”
Noah’s face reddened and her tried to turn away, but his mother’s weak grasp was able to hold him steady. “Now listen to me,” she urged her frail voice sounding stern, “no matter how many girls, no matter what they might say to you, I need you to promise to not have kids until you are properly married.”
He was shocked by his mother’s words. He had never shown that kind of interest in girls before. Besides, Noah was the son of a governess he- no, he was a soon to be orphaned servant. Who would want him? He didn’t even know who his father was.
“Don’t fight me on this Noah.” She began when he hadn’t answered.
“I promise, momma.” He spat out quickly. She was fading faster by the second; he wasn’t going to argue with her.
She pressed something into his hands. “Take this.” She said her voice even weaker. “Your father gave it to me... you, you should have it.”
And then she was gone.
Noah wanted to cry, he wanted to scream, to curse, to blame someone, but his body had frozen from shock.
The object that his mother had given him grew heavy in his hand. It was a metal bobble attached to a leather cord.
Noah didn’t look at it.
He didn’t turn it over in his hands.
He didn’t examine it over the light of the single flickering candle.
He was too numb too care.
Over time the pain lessened, and Noah was able to move on. A year later he was appointed as care taker to Johnathon and Ronald. Those two made many moments of his life unbearable, but it was a life that he held on to with all of his might.
He wouldn’t give in, just because it was hard.
Noah lowered his eyes from the sky and focused back on the empty road in front of him. He tightened his grip on the reigns only to notice a particular handkerchief in his grasp. He was clutching on to the favor Annabell had given him. He couldn’t remember taking it out of his pocket, but there it was.
As if to offer him comfort.
Noah urged the horses onward, and he kept the fabric firmly in his hands for the rest of the drive that night.