Saturday, 1 January 2011

“Just Another Princess Story” by Lisa Taylor.

Once upon a time in a land far, far away lived a young girl. She wasn’t just any girl she was a beautiful and well mannered young princess although she didn’t yet know it. Her parents knew she was royalty yet kept it secret from her until her 16th birthday. Her golden hair and bright blue eyes were mesmerising to anyone who saw her. She had many admirers, both secret and known. Her father knew his princess would one day be grown up and with so many offers for her hand already, he knew his selection of suitors would not be at a lack.

In a few days she would be turning 16. Her mother had brushed and curled her golden tresses with care. Her dress had been created with care by her mother, a well developed seamstress and protector of her young, naïve, innocence. The blue of the gown brought out the colour of her eyes and made them appear even brighter. Her nails painted golden as golden as her hair. She knew her father would approve of her fashion. The suitors were lined up along the lower staircase with care. Her father had selected them him self, he had the most important young gentleman, in his mind at least, at the very front of the line. He would be the first gentleman for his daughter to see. In her fathers mind she knew he had something planned especially for her. Her nails painted with care, her hair tied in the latest fashion, her dress immaculate she made her way down the winding staircase. Followed by a nervous woman whose own beauty had escaped her; she was obviously older and it showed in her features. She was a kind woman who had brought up the princess as her own, although the princess did not and would not ever know. When Amy came down the stairs her father gasped. He didn’t realise his little girl had grown up to be such a beautiful young woman. The suitors resisted their urge to swoon over her. She was a beauty alright, a young thing with all the good looks of her father and mother. Bless her soul. The poor woman had died on a terrible journey when Amy was a very young and sickly babe. Her father came and hugged her. He whispered that she was easily the most beautiful young lady he had seen in a long time. He knew she would shine at the ball.

The Ball:
She didn’t want to be the focus of all the attention, yet she knew her father would not like his princess to be afraid. She nervously stepped into the room, to gasps of admiration and delight. She noticed happily that her friends Emma and Lizzie were there. They had, had earlier entrances than she. They were dressed in their mothers’ finest linen dresses. Their dresses were not nearly as beautiful as her dress. She knew then that something about her was different. She knew she was not just another one of them, an individual, unique, special. Yet she didn’t know how or why. She just knew that she was different and the thought of that alone, thrilled her. Many of her fathers hand chosen suitors asked her to dance that night, although she was tired she could not refuse as to do so would seem very rude, not to mention odd of her. Her father knew who, of the males at least, was at the ball. The next day she knew he would ask who she had danced with so she made sure she had filled out her dance card correctly.

Her father had a surprise for her for her 16th birthday; a train journey by herself all the way to Cornwell. She didn’t know what was so special about Cornwell but she knew it would not do to refuse her fathers request. After packing belongings with her mother and a pile of food she set off with her father to the train station. When they had arrived her father spoke with the conductor while she was swooned over by the fat controller. He whimpered in her ear. She didn’t like it but knew better than to make a scene. Her father heard the fat controller’s whimpers and took her onto the train, safely away from the fat man. She felt safe on the train and settled in quickly. There were other women in the same car as her. The conductor had nicely arranged the train so as to keep the single women and men separate if they were travelling alone. It made life on board easier as there was no expectation for perfect gowns and looking ones best. Many of the women had travelled before unlike the young princess. Her father had been careful in his arrangements for this trip. She had no idea who was meeting her once she arrived. But she knew that there was something special happening it wasn’t every day that her father allowed her to remain alone for any long period of time. The women were of all ages. The older ones helped the younger. Amy soon worked out she was the only one who had not travelled far by train before. The elder women mused over the fact she had no idea who was meeting her at the end of her journey nor that she knew why she was going on such a trip alone, other than because her father had sent her. She was like a lamb for the slaughter.

One of the women spoke about her son Marshall. He was young she said, naïve like the young Amy. She thought they would make a lovely pair. She showed Amy a dated picture of him dressed in his army uniform. She was polite but to be honest he wasn’t nearly as good looking as some of the suitors her father had chosen for her back home. Out of nowhere it began to rain violently. The train shook. Women, men and children’s screams could be heard throughout the train. Amy stayed calm even though she had become white with fear. She tired desperately what her father had told her about storms when she was a young girl. She knew better than to leave the train. But she knew a large metal box attached to metal tracks may have been a very place to be. The lightening flashed and thunder crashed. The rain continued to pour. The windows fogged up and it began to get very cold. The women huddled together under blankets from their cases. They started to share stories of picnics in the sunshine with their lady friends back home. Amy grew less frightened and began to enjoy herself. Before they knew it the storm had passed and day fell into night.

Amy felt as if she was going back to the beginning as she stepped onto the platform from the carriage. The conductor followed her carrying her case. He rested the case on the platform and introduced her to an elderly woman and man. They were Mr and Mrs Black. Her guardians for her stay in Cornwell. She had dreamed and wondered while on the train about what her guardians would look like. This couple was nothing like she had imagined. They were elderly yes, but dressed immaculately. Mrs Black had her hair up under a bonnet with the most elaborately detailed gown Amy had ever seen. Mr Black was in his finest suit it seemed complete with top hat and cane at his side. Behind them was a scraggly, wrinkled young woman, or was it a man? It was hard for Amy to tell in the half light. Mr Black barked at this creature to collect Amy’s baggage or else. Oh a threat. Amy had never heard her father threaten any of the staff. He only used to have one person for him who worked at home and that was when Amy was a very young child. She had been her nanny and teacher. The bedraggled creature carried her case with care Amy noted. Mrs Black led Amy to a remodelled 1933 Ford Tudor. The car was a very dark green but looked black in the light. Amy clambered in as gracefully as she could into the back seat. Mr and Mrs Black sat in the front seats. Mr Blacks driving was erratic to say the least. Amy tried to hold back the feeling of carsickness but before she knew it Mrs Black was holding her as she became overcome with the sickness. The servant had to hold Amy as she was laid in the back seat after a brief break on the side of the road. Mrs Black asked Mr Black in hushed tones to please drive a little more cautiously as it was soon obvious that it was his driving that had made poor little Amy sick.

Mr and Mrs Black ushered the servant into the house, they had to carry a now emotional Amy into the house. It was grand and majestic. Gothic in it’s detailing. The staircase from the gardens led up to a huge wooden door. Mr Black struggled with the key. But soon the door swung open. He demanded the creature to take Amy to the upper bed chamber. She was to stay there under the care of Mrs Black until dinner time. As soon as they were alone and her case had been brought up to her and unpacked into the drawers, Mrs Black and Amy sat in the small dining room nearest the conservatory to have tea and biscuits. Mrs Black told Amy of her heritage and the plans for the next few days. She was to attend a ball before her father arrived, to attempt to make friends, to attend church and finally to perfect her methods of teaching. Mrs Black had been told by her father of her ability to teach. So Mrs Black had taken great liberty in arranging for Amy to teach at the local church for Sunday school and also to teach at the local hospital to the poor children whose health had taken a turn for the worse. Amy felt grateful to the Blacks for their excellent hospitality and ability to help her fit in to life at Cornwell.

Amy’s first mission was to teach children in the local hospital. The children were polite and well mannered. Much to Amy’s delight, the children back home were often cruel and impolite to one another. Not to mention rowdy and uncontrollable. These children were angels. Some probably would really be angels and possibly sooner rather than later. One little girl who was bald from the cancer reminded Amy of her friend Emma their spirits were the same in Amy’s mind. Mr Black and the servant came to collect Amy after a long days work. She had had such a good time she hadn’t noticed the time fly so quickly.

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