In spite of the date, I did not write this one in 1964 when I would have been twelvve but probably a couple years later.
The prince stared into the mirror and a wave of giddiness passed through him. Not an ugly face, he thought. I wonder what she thinks? The face was youthful, tanned and framed in short, brass-colored hair. The eyes were blue and dancing and the chin was beardless. As he stared, another face, somewhat resembling his, but older, paler and more severe came up beside it.
"My brother, what do you see?" said Arneth, more cheerily than usual.
"Ah , I see two faces. One is that of a future king of Christenland, and the other is that of…""A pious, content abbot, God willing," and a wistful look took his eyes.
"Oh, Arneth, you know that may never be. The heir of so great a land as ours may not drift into obscurity…" Lawrence ventured."Then I may only pray that if I may not serve Him here, God will call me to his own…""Nay, nay! We need you here, for you can rule Christenland most wisely."
"Ah, Lawrence, 'twould be better if I did not succeed our father, " Arneth sighed. "Thou shall be the better man. Christenland needs a worldly king, not a monk who’s too often at prayer to aid his people. I predict some day this land will be torn by civil strife, and a pious king such as this will bear the cause. Nay, I’ve no desire to feast with foreign lords, to watch my knights kill and be killed when I lead the wars which will be my duty to lead. I’ve no desire to share and earthly bed with the woman who belongs to you…"Lawrence bit his lip. The Princess Josephine had captivated him with her first courteous smile. Brother Arneth had had to nudge him to stop his gaping, for at 16 the girl was incredibly lovely. He’d seen her first when they’d received his father, brother and he, into her father’s court. Secretly, she’d noticed his look and sighed a discreet sigh when so reluctantly followed his brother out to find their room. Next day, on his way to audience with his father, he’d seen her and noticing that she gasped when she saw him, he quickly drew her into a doorway and fairly begged her to let him see her. That night, in the garden, they walked and talked and fell desperately in love. Respectability had denied them the right to kiss, but the young princes’ heart had nearly stopped when she slipped her a white hand into his.Both had been severely reprimanded by a brother or a sister for gazing at each other during the evening meal. It was well-known that she was promised to Arneth though it was as well known that he wanted her less than she wanted him.
Stealthily, a few days after their garden rendezvous, the prince and Josephine had slipped out on a balcony. They spoke and stood unbearably close. He’d taken her by surprise with a kiss and she had very slowly gone up to her room and wept.Now he stood trying to comfort his elder brother who was starved by a love more godly than his. Going to the bay window he gazed out into a garden wherein stood a fairy figure all in white. She saw him and began to wave.
Glancing around, she beckoned him to come down. He whirled around to see Arneth already distracted to a wooden crucifix he was carving, with a virgin and child carved into the middle. The image of Lawrence’s princess was seen in the virgin’s likeness and Arneth said, "I’m carving it for your wedding." Lawrence smiled sadly, thinking unhappily of losing his brother, but was up and out of the castle, gay as ever, in a moment’s time.Josephine met him at the gate, and he took her hand and pulled her along the brookside. There they say and talked until she had curled up in his arms as he sat against a tree.
"Love, Arenth says that fate intends we marry…he smiled thickly and dreamily.She was too dazed with the contentment her love brought her to fully comprehend. "That would be lovely…"Lawrence’s head swam as he considered being wed to her. "Oh, lovely, do you realize…? Ah, sweet, I love you…"The words had been said on the balcony, but she’d thought they were too easily surrendered then. "Truly, Lawrence? Do you truly love me?""Josephine, my sunshine, it is distinctly clear to me now that that I shall love you until I have finally been returned to dust. Aye, I love thee so much it…hurts.""Oh, Lawrence!" she cried, ecstatic. "I love thee, too, with every beat of my heart I love thee more. Please…my love, would you kiss me?"With a warm smile and an eager heart, he kissed her and she accepted into her soul the existence of the most wonderful man who lived.
How were they to know Arneth would have his way? To know that they would marry and go through joys and sorrows with a love which, as she promised, grew with every heartbeat? Would they ever regret their love?
Tomorrow: More letters.
Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com