POUND! POUND! POUND! A loud pounding awaked me in the middle of the night from the workshop. POUND! POUND! The water in the basin was sloshing onto the dresser and my vase of flowers was coming dangerously close to the edge. Yanking the covers off my bed, I stood up, and wrapped myself in a blanket. On my way out, I pushed the vase back safely to the dresser. I walked down flight after flight of stair. The workshop was at the utter bottom of the manor, buried in a pit. I came to the wooden door, and kicked it open with my foot. “What are you doing? You know, it’s like midnight?” I said. “What, oh hi, Ana.” Damon turned around, holding a chisel and hatchet. Damon, my older brother, was brilliant mathematician, and architect. My younger brother, Lorenzo, was older than me, but still young. There was a huge piece of stone lying in between them. They had been using a large hammer, very large. “Why ever were you up, now doing, whatever you were doing?” “Ana. You understand that you are looking at the newest piece of marble, that you will probably ever see. And, you never see a hammer that holds this much power; we have charged the most power into it, which is about 25% per-“ “I don’t care! I just want to sleep! Can your special marble wait until tomorrow? Really, come on. Do you know what Constance will say?” I said. “I am almost a grown man, Constance doesn’t have any hold on me anymore” Damon said. “Damon and Lorenzo Robinson! What do you think you are doing at this hour?” Constance burst in, holding a long robe to her. “Really, Constance. You know that we just got this marble; we need to use it now! Its very fresh.” Lorenzo said, rolling his eyes. “My dear, marble can’t be fresh, it’s stone.” Constance said, patting his shoulder and taking the hammer. ”Well, how about, you leave the marble tonight, and come back tomorrow! Now, get along!” She smacked Damon and Lorenzo on the shoulders, and got them moving out the door. “Really, Anastasia, why were you up too?” Constance patted my shoulder and led me back up the stairs to my room. “No, Constance, I heard that pounding noise, and I had to go yell at them again.” I said. We arrived at the top, and Constance came to my door, pushed it open, and held out a large candle. I took it graciously, gave her a hug, and shut the door. I jammed the candle in a holder, and slid back into bed. It felt wonderfully warm, and comfortable. I could hear my brothers talking in Lorenzo’s room. They could be banished from the workroom, but still discuss work. I blew out the candle, and without any noise, thankfully fell asleep .The next morning, it was so cold that the water in my basin was frozen. The window was open! Uh, how annoying. I jammed the window shut and added wood and a flame to my fireplace. After a few minutes, it began to warm up. I put my ice cube in a pot next to the fire to warm up. “Ana? Are you up?” Constance called. “Yes, come on in.” She came in, holding a pile of new linens for me. While she changed the sheets, I pulled my black wool dress out of the armoire, and sat down in front of the fire. I was making this dress, and I only had about 6 inches around left. Constance had finished with the bed, and had brought me tea to warm me up. With honey and milk, my favorite. “Thank you, Constance,” I said. “How’s your dress coming? May I see?” she said. I held out the dress, and she carefully inspected it, looking for knots and drop-stitches. “Oh, you have two, along the last two rows. You might want to fix that before you get to far,” she said. I sat back down, and poured myself a cup of tea. I yanked out the rows, and began again. I was really going at it, until I heard my brothers heading down the stairs. How lovely. And sure enough, a few minutes later, POUND POUND POUND! When the fire was down to embers, my dress was done. After Constance came to check it over, I put it on and clipped the shoulders together with white brooches. I braided my hair down my back, and covered my hair with a light scarf. Then I pulled on socks and my black boots. I stopped in the kitchen, and dropped into see Constance. “Is there anything I can take into town for you?” I said, loading my basket with some money and scarf. “Dear, you are too kind. There is something that I do want you to do. Would you take Damon and Lorenzo out? Or at least one of them?” She said. “You know that in itself will be very hard, but I will try. Wish me luck, Constance,” I said. My brothers had their hammer on full charge, and when I swung the door open, they didn’t even notice me. “Hey, HEY! Lorenzo! Hello?” I poked Damon in the ribs and he jumped. “Ana! Why did you just do that? I am holding something very powerful in my hand, and I could have killed you. Watch it.” He turned back to the marble, which now resembled something like a stone bed. “Constance says that I have to bring one of you to town with me.” I crossed my arms while they exchanged looks. “Lorenzo, you go. Pick up the new supplies that we need. Happy Ana?” Damon said. “Thank you very much for the effort.” I said, as I pushed Lorenzo out the door before he could change his mind. As Lorenzo got his bike out, walked into the stables. My horse was in the third stall on the right. I walked in, and Myra snorted. “Myra, are you ready to go to town? Lorenzo is coming with us this time.” I pulled down the saddle and blanket down from their peg on the wall and settled them on Myra’s back. I tightened the girth and secured the bridle on her head. Once we were in the hallway, I mounted Myra, and securing that my basket’s contents were secure, I trotted out the door. “Are you ready yet, Ana?” Lorenzo called from the other side of the road. He was riding his bike, something I could never learn to do. The big wheel in the front was hard to maneuver, and I always fell off. “Race you there?” Lorenzo called, and I urged Myra into a gallop. When we arrived at the outskirts of town, Lorenzo was breathing hard, and I was red in the face from the wind. I walked Myra the rest of the way, to let her relax. When we came to the bakery, the first store in town, I dismounted and walked through the mud and snow towards the tailors. Lorenzo had gone of to some equipment store, and I had lost him. I had tied Myra to the hitching post, and walked inside the shop. “Excuse me, I am here to pick up an order for Robinson?” I said, pushing a curtain back. “Oh, yes I see that right here. Two dresses and 4 tunics. Just wait here and I will go get them,” the secretary said. She turned away, and bustled around in the back room. “Well, here you go. Oh! Lady Anastasia, so sorry I didn’t see you.” She said, fumbling with her dress sleeve. “It’s quite all right, don’t mind it.” I said, pulling the clothing off the counter and stuffing it into my basket. “Good day” I said. Myra and I walked through town, looking for Lorenzo. I finally found him standing next to the town well, holding several large bags full of who knows what. “Hello Ana, how’d it go?” he said, tearing a chunk off of bread. “Nothing exciting. Can I have some?” He slowly handed it over. “What should we do now?” I said. “I have to get back to Damon, because he is waiting for these parts. Constance doesn’t allow you to stay in town alone, so get back on your pony, and we’ll be going.” He said. “Please, can we stay a little longer? You’ve been working on you doo-hickey thing for ages, so just chill.” I said. “Fine, I’ll wait here, and you go do whatever, just be back in a hour. All right?” “Fine. I promise I’ll be back soon.” I handed him my basket and got back on Myra. I wandered the street, looking for my friend, Joseph. He was the apprentice at the blacksmith shop. When I arrived at the smithy, I left Myra outside with the other horses, and went inside. The Smithy was terribly hot and dirty inside. It was also filled with people. Boys and men, covered from head to toe with soot and coal. Joseph worked by the window, in the corner. “Ay, what’s a nice lady doing in a shop like this? Nice to see you Lady Anastasia. If you looking for Joseph, he’s right over in the corner.” A large boy said to me. I walked through the long tables and benches, over to Joseph. “Good Morning, Joseph.” I said. A slim boy dressed in black looked up at me. “Hi Ana! It’s nice to see you. Do you want to go outside? It’s kind of crowded in here.” He peered around, at the other boys looking at us. I followed him out the door around the back. “Did you bring Myra?” “Yeah. You have no idea how hard it was to get out the door today. My brother would not leave, because they were working on some new thing, and it’s oh so important.” I said. Joseph pulled a carrot out of his pocket and handed it to me. “Here, give this to Myra, I’m sure she’ll like it.” “That’s too nice, Joseph.” We walked around to Myra, and she greedily took it from my hand, getting slobber all over my dress. “How’s work been lately? Alright?” I said. “I guess it’s fine. Edric doesn’t pay me as much as he used to, and I can’t afford my current place for much longer.” He said. “I keep offering to you to come stay at the manor house. Won’t you, Please? I would love that.” I said. Joseph shook his head. “No, I couldn’t accept that. Thank you though.” He said. “Hey, Ana, I kind of have to get back to work, and you probably have to get back to your brother, so I’ll see you later.” He said, and then made a hand gesture that meant, we’re being watched. “Well, good bye, Joseph.” I waved to him and untied Myra from the hitching post. Sure enough, when I turned around to look for Joseph, there were at least 5 boys staring out the window. I turned and mounted Myra and trotted away, back to Lorenzo. He was sitting on a bench, writing in a journal. “Hello, Lorenzo. I’m ready to go,” I said. He stood and snapped the journal closed. “Really? Can we go now? Are you all done?” He got on his bike, and I raced him home. When we arrived, Lorenzo crashed his bike in the courtyard and ran to the stairs. Constance hates it when he does that, and hates when I ride through the courtyard, but it’s a lot shorter than going all the way around. As soon as I had taken Myra’s saddle off, she lay down, and I called for some warm water and a blanket. Once she had cooled down, I wrapped her in the blanket and went back in the courtyard. Wandering over to the middle, I sat down on the fountains edge, and looked in. Many bright fish swam in the ice water, circling below the waterfall. I trailed my fingers in the water and watched the fish come up and nibble my fingers. It tickled. I laughed and tried to pet the fish, to grab one. They kept slipping out of my grip. BANG! The huge wooden doors to the outside swung open and took me by surprise, I fell in the fountain! The water was ice cold, and when I came back up, my fingers were already purple. “Oh Dear! Let me help you out of there A-. Oh, who are you?” Constance said, pulling me out. “We are the kings advisors from France. We are here by the kings order to request Lady Anastasia governess for permission to take Lady Anastasia to France.” The man on the first horse said. “Well, you can’t just come waltzing up, declaring to take Ana, I mean Lady Anastasia’s hand! And I meant what are your names?” she said. “Sir Walter the third, and this man on my left is Sir Charles of Tobias, and the man on my right is Sir Williams the fifth. And, yes we can. If you take a look at this marriage contract signed by her parents and our Majesties, they agreed to give her time to grow up, with a governess and then get married.” Sir Walter said, producing a document from his saddlebags. “Can you wait here for a minute? I need to take her ladyship inside, she must have caught a cold.” Constance said. She wrapped me in her coat, and we walked up the stairs and into the main foyer. “I can get to my room, will you go and get Damon and Lorenzo?” I said. Constance looked a little hesitant, but she let me go. When I arrived in my room, I hung all my wet clothes by the fire and changed to a nice wool nightgown, and got into bed. Constance and my brothers came in a little while later with some tea. While I drank it, Lorenzo sat next to me, and we talked occasionally. Constance and Damon were having a quiet discussion near the fireplace, although I strained to hear them, I couldn’t. “Hey, Lorenzo, why did Constance start calling me Lady Anastasia, right when those guys showed up? She hasn’t called me that in years. What were they even talking about, I don’t remember half the conversation.” “I think she started using your title, because it is improper for a lady to be unrecognized by her own wait staff in front of guests. And don’t worry about what the men were saying, it will all work out. Go to sleep. Constance put something in that tea to make you sleepy.” Lorenzo said. “I’m not tired, tell me what those guys said!
I promise, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon!” I said, but he was right. I could feel my energy draining, just begging to lie down and shut my eyes from the world. But, they obviously did not want to talk about the men that showed up, demanding something important. I fought to keep my eyes open, but my head slipped down, and before I knew it, I was asleep. I could imagine Lorenzo smiling right now, ooh how I wanted to wake up! I eventually did, and Lorenzo was still there, but in a chair across from me. “Not one word.” I gave him a stern look, which he responded to with a smile. I sat up, and leaned back against the couch. “You never answered my question, what did the men say?” “You didn’t give me a chance! You fell asleep to fast.” Constance came in, and she sat down on the end of the bed. “Are you feeling better? Did Lorenzo tell you that I put something your tea? I’m sorry, but it was necessary.” She said, “What did the men say? Did you give them rooms here?” “They are camping outside, near the stables. I didn’t allow them inside. They felt as if they carried a bad omen. Eventually they will have to come in and, we will have to chat,” She said. “Drink up, I need to go make some food for our guests.” She stood up, and left the room. I pushed off my blankets, and stood up. “Constance said for you to stay in bed.” Lorenzo said, standing up too. “Well, I want to get up. I’m not sick, I’m just sleeping. I popped the trunk open and pulled out my tunic and leggings. “You’re not going riding today. Constance specifically said for you not to go outside.” He said, grabbing the clothes from me. I jumped up on a chair, and tried to grab the leggings, but they were just out of my reach. Pushing down hard with two fingers on his neck, Lorenzo dropped the clothes, and grabbed at his shoulder. “Hey! Watch it!” he said, whirling around. Quickly, before he could stop me, I jumped behind my screen, and pulled it closed. I put on the soft pants, and then my leggings. I tucked in the tunic, and the wool riding jacket. When I came back out, Lorenzo was standing by the door, his arms crossed. I ignored him. Brushing my hair back into a braid, I glowered at him through the mirror. “You know I’m prepared to climb out this window just to get to the stables.” I said, pulling gloves on. “I know.” I held up tow fingers, and he cowered. “If you’re that desperate, then I’ll let you go. Don’t tell Constance” He stepped aside, and I dashed out the door. When I made it to the stables, I noticed the tents Constance had been talking about. There were murmuring I slid along the stable wall, I didn’t want to be seen by our guests. I made it into the stables and into Myra’s stall. She was standing by the window, looking at the tents. “They showed up this morning. I don’t know what they want.” She came over to me, and snorted in my face. I grabbed the saddle from its hook and laid the pad and saddle over her back. As I was tightening the girth, I heard somebody walk in the stables. Quickly pulling the saddle off Myra’s back and ducked in the hay. Boots scraped the stone floor of the stable. “So, in a matter of days, we must return to the king with the treasure. How do we plan to get her out of the house, Sir?” one man’s voice said. “Charles, when you are the head royal advisor of the high king, you come to understand how to deal with urgent situations. William is coming up with a plan, which should be done soon.” Their voices faded as they walked farther and farther down the aisle. The stables were built like a labyrinth, so if they were going for a walk, they would not come back for at least a few hours. I threw the saddle on Myra’s back, and with one hand, tightened the girth, and with the other, grabbed the bridle. Myra took the bit hastily, and I opened the door and we ran out. I mounted her as swiftly as I could, hoping that the other man in the tent did not come out, and urged her into a gallop. I turned around to look at the tiny tents in the distance, and managed to see a small figure come out of one of them. Shoot. After a long stretch of running, I slowed Myra to a walk and let her graze. I hopped down from the saddle, and sat next to her. “What do they want, Myra? Do they want Constance? I just wish I had been listening when they came in, instead of in the fountain. When I figured that I had been out long enough that Constance wouldn’t check on me, I swung back on Myra and we set back for the palace. I didn’t think my plan though enough. The tents, of course! Myra wasn’t going to be able to go back to her stable, but if I could sneak around the side, to the secret passage that led to the courtyard. I trotted along the fringe of the forest, and then, I just had to get across a wide stretch of land, and I was free. I was about half way, when a voice called to me. I scowled. “Who Goes There!” two men came over, with swords drawn. “Is it a serving boy? But he has quite a nice horse, and some long hair. Why, it looks like the lady!” one on the men said to the other. They sheathed their swords, and looked up at me. “Are you Lady Anastasia?” the first man said. I froze. Glancing up at the windows, hoping that Damon, Lorenzo or Constance was looking out one of them. “I-I-“ I stuttered. “Yeah, I’m guessing this is her. Come along, little lady, we need to talk to your governess. “My what?” They both looked at me. One of them grabbed Myra’s bridle and tugged forward. I could tell Myra didn’t like this. I knew that both men were watching me, but, just my luck, that Damon had been sent to chop wood, gave me just the perfect opportunity. I gave Myra a big kick, and she took off, leaving the men behind. “Damon, Damon, help me!” I came up to him, breathing hard. “You had to go for a ride, didn’t you?” “Lorenzo didn’t stop me! He tried, and then just gave up, blame him!” Damon smiled, and shouldered his axe. The two men came up, huffing and puffing. “Good Day, young sir, I see that this is your little sister. I’m Sir Walter, and this is Sir Charles.” Walter said. “You do understand why we are here? To take you-“ “Yes, yes I know,” he glanced sideways at me. “Anastasia, how about you go inside. I’ll put Myra away. Go see Constance.” I dismounted, but insisted on taking Myra inside. After I untacked her, I gave her a good brushing, and blanketed her. As I was heading towards the door, she nickered softly, and nudged me with her nose. “I have to go now, but I promise I’ll be back later.” I gave her nose one last pat, and went inside. “Oh Dear! Anastasia Robinson! I can’t believe you!” Constance came running over to me. “Oh never mind, it doesn’t matter. Let’s bring you upstairs. Do you feel comfortable in the library? You’re room is a little, well messy.” I nodded, and we walked up the stairs. As soon as I was in the library, Constance wrapped me in a blanket, turned up the fire, and closed the door. I also managed to hear a little clink, like a lock. I can’t believe she locked me in! I ran over to the door and tugged on it. Locked. “CONSTANCE! LET ME OUT!” I pounded on the door with my fists. No answer. I walked over to one of the bookshelves, and browsed through them. After a few hours of reading an awful boring autobiography about some William guy, I heard a lock turning in the keyhole, and Constance came in with my two brothers and our guests. I tossed the book aside, and sat up on the couch. “How was your afternoon?” Constance came and sat down next to me. “I knew what you did, that was not very nice!” I hissed in her ear. My brothers sat down on either side of me, and the three men sat across from us. “We need to talk to you about something. Do you remember when you were little, and your parents, well passed away, and you were left to me and your brothers?” I nodded “Well, just before that, your parents signed a marriage bond with the king and queen of France. They have a son who is just a few years older than you, and both parents figured that it was a good match. Deciding to give you a few years to grow up, they left you with me, and when you were 16, you would go to France.” She looked at me, waiting for something. “But I don’t have to go, right?” I said, hopelessly. “The reason you spent the day in the library is because I’ve been packing your things, and yes, I’m sorry but you must go.” She leaned in and tried to give me a hug, but I pushed her away. “So you knew about this the whole time, and just let me go?” I looked at her, now a completely different person, and one whom I could not trust. “As soon as Constance has finished packing your things, we will be off. There is a 2-day carriage ride, then a short boat ride. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine” William said. He was tall, and good looking, but he looked like he knew he was smart. And don’t tell me there’s nothing wrong with the other two. The one in the middle had a smirk, and the one on the right was smiling in an odd, sideways way. “NO! I will not go!” “Dear, you have to.” Constance laid a hand on my arm. I looked hopefully at Damon, but he nodded, and so did Lorenzo. I felt betrayed. I had to go. “Fine, if I had to go, then I’m taking Myra. That’s final.” The three men exchanged some looks, but they finally agreed. Giving the three men a sneer, I walked back to my bedroom with Constance. I helped her pack the last few things in my bedroom, and also my saddle, and blankets for Myra. Damon and Lorenzo loaded my trunks onto the back of our best carriage. Two driving horses were hitched to the front, and Myra and William’s horse were hooked to the back. William was going to drive, and Charles and Walter were going to ride. I was wearing my best dress, a light blue one, with a wide sash. It was my favorite. First I gave Lorenzo and Damon a hug, then Constance. It wasn’t her fault, it was my parents. There was nothing she could have done about it. I stepped in the carriage, and leaned out the window as it started to pull away. “Good Bye! Come visit me, please!” the last few words were gasps for air, as I began to cry. I cried for several hours, watching out the window. A few times I leaned out the window, and looked back at Myra. We were going at a slow enough pace so that she did not have to go too fast. We were going to drive all night. The wedding and coronation was only in a couple of days, and I had to be there soon for fittings, and preparations. The seats were wide enough for me to lie down, but it was quite hard to fall asleep, because of all the bouncing and jostling. When I finally did, I had horrifying nightmares, which I woke several times from, in a cold sweat. In the afternoon, we rolled to a stop, and when they opened the door, the smell of the sea hit me. I stepped out, dazzled by the beauty of it, shining and wet. “Our boat is waiting for us at the dock, so if you could take your horse down there to the first ship, they will take her on board. You also have a private room on the upper deck, and I will show you to that. We, unfortunally don’t have a lady in waiting for tonight, but tomorrow you will. I took Myra’s halter, unclipped the rope from the back, and together we walked down the pebbly slope to the sea. When we reached the docks, a young boy came and took Myra away, to the horse stalls. William and Charles were bringing my trunks down, and Walter was bringing the driving horses down, along with his own. When the horses were all taken care of, he helped me up the gangplank and on the upper deck. We fought through, many people and finally arrived at a large wooden door, which produced to be a nice, red room. The walls were painted red with terrifying sea creatures, and a nice bed, on the corner, with a silk bedspread. Among other things, were my trunks, alone and isolated, completely different from the room? “Is this all right for you?” Walter was leaning on the door. “This is fine. How long is this ride?” Walter checked his pocket watch. “About a day. Just go to sleep, and in the morning, I’ll wake you up and well be there.” He closed the door, and I could hear him walking down the deck. I sagged on the bed, leaning on the wall. How boring. I got up and popped open the first trunk and looked inside. I saw dresses that I had never seen before. Nice dresses, of many different colors. Constance must have been saving these for me, when she knew this would happen. After I had looked through all four trunks, I couldn’t find the tunic, breeches or my riding jacket. She hadn’t packed them! Ugh! Now I couldn’t ride Myra unless I was wearing a dress, and a sidesaddle. Lovely. MYRA! I threw open the door, and tried to mark the spot where my cabin was. Assuming that the horses were probably on one of the lower decks, I climbed down the nearest ladder, into a dark room. “Who goes there?” Not this room. I quickly climbed back up the ladder, and ran off. “Excuse me, can you tell me where the horses are?” I stopped the same boy who had taken Myra from me. “Just two decks down- wait, why do you care? Sir Walter instructed all the crew to keep you on the upper deck. It’s not safe down there.” He started to walk away, but I grabbed his arm. “Please! I have to see my horse. Will you take me down there? Please!” he turned to look at me, and said, “ I’d love to, but it be my job, and my head. Oh! Sir Walter, over here sir!” he waved Walter over, despite my efforts to stop him. “Something wrong, Lady Anastasia?” he said. “She wishes to see her horse, Myra if I am not mistaken. I told her that she was not allowed, but she won’t stop, and I have things to do. Pardon.” At that last word, I had thrown him a sharp look. “So sorry, but he is right. It is too dangerous for a lady like you to be venturing to the lower decks.” He gave me an apologetic look, but I wasn’t convinced. “If it’s not safe, then why is my horse down there?” “Well, you see, um- Listen, I really should take you back to your cabin, and I think you should remain there for the rest of the day. I have to get back to work, and so does everyone else.” He took my elbow, and we walked back. I turned back just in time to see the boy smirking. I scowled at him, and he dashed off. I made faces at Sir Walter’s back as he walked out the door. I flopped down on a chair, and stared gloomily at the wall. I let my head fall onto my chest and I gently rocked with the ship. I woke a several hours later, to find someone knocking at the door. “Come in” I called, and sat up, and flattened my hair. A young member of the crew brought in my dinner. “I’m sorry that this might not be very good. This is the best we’ve got, so enjoy” he smiled at me hopefully. “Well, goodbye then” I peered at him. “ Right, sorry.” He blinked several times, bowed and dashed off. He had forgotten to close the door, and when I got up to close it, I had to step out and look at the sky. The dark midnight sky was covered with millions and millions of tiny, twinkling stars. I stood there, my head straight up, gazing at the stars. “Ahem” a voice from my right came. I looked over, and saw, ugg, the serving boy. “Look, it’s not like I don’t like you, but what do you want, because I’m stargazing and I don’t want to be disturbed” Yeah, that sounded good. He made a face, and said, “So sorry, but I was, well hoping you would like to maybe, um talk?” I snorted. I couldn’t help it. “Listen. You seem like a nice kid, but I really am not interested, right now I am going to marry the future king of France. Just leave me alone, okay?” I turned back to the stars, and when he didn’t go away, I scowled at him, turned on my heel, and shut the door of my cabin in his face. Finally, peace. I took off my traveling dress, and replaced it with my nightclothes. I climbed into the lumpy bed, and fell asleep fast. Waking up early, I changed quickly and gulped my breakfast. Putting my last few things away in the trunks, and put on my shoes. When Sir Walter came to get me, I charged out the door, and once I was on land, I anxiously waited for Myra to come. When she finally did, she nearly trampled the boy who was leading her. She finally calmed down, and we walked quietly away, up a hill, and to an awaiting carriage. “It’s only going to be a few hours, before we reach inner France. So you might want to make yourself comfortable.” Sir Walter ducked out of the widow, and walked towards the front. We rolled away, and in an hour, we were entering the outskirts of France. I let my head rest against the side of the carriage, and fell asleep, again. “Dear, she’s so cold. Let’s get her inside.” A lady’s voice said. I opened my eyes, blinked a few times, and looked into the face of a middle-aged woman. She defiantly looked nice. “Are we here? In France?” “Yes, dear. Now, come along inside, your shivering so much.” I slowly got up, and walked inside behind the woman. I didn’t get to see much of the house, because she brought me right upstairs, helped me into my nightdress, and into bed. “I’ll turn up the fireplace, then leave you, because you need lots of sleep.” She worked over the fireplace for a few minutes, and left. The room was warm and dark. I strained to look in the dark to see my surroundings, but only managed the end of the bed. When I woke up, the lady was shaking my shoulder. “Good Morning, dear. Did you sleep well? If you just wait a minute, your breakfast should be here. Oh! That reminds me, I need to call for water. You’re in terrible need of a bath.” She bustled out the door, leaving me staring at the room. It was beautiful. The bed had light blue trappings haning from the sides, and the walls were painted the same, sheer color. There were two chairs, excusivitly carved and embroidered, and in front of them, on a table was a beautiful glass swan, holding fresh flowers in it’s beak. I jumped out of bed, and ran to my dresser. Flinging it open, I saw that it was stuffed full of beautiful ball gowns, tea dresses and much much more. “I see you’ve found your closet. We also installed a mirror for you to look at yourself while you are getting ready.” I looked around the door, and found a full- length mirror, next to one on a dressing table. “This is an amazing room, is it really mine?” “Yes, now eat your breakfast, you must be famished.” She set a tray don on the table, and showed me to my seat. “Listen dear, we must talk about something. First of all, my name is Grace. Now, I understand you must be eager to get out and explore your new home, but until the wedding, the king has decided to keep you a secret. The prince himself has not even seen your portrait. Your coronation ceremony is on Sunday, after the wedding. That reminds me, we need to fit your wedding gown. All of the preperations are being made, you have no need to worry about a thing. Everything will be very busy, and I will have no time to come in becides to deliver your meals. I could understand you feel like a prisoner, but it’s the order of the king.” She patted my leg, stood up, and left the room. I finished my breakfast in silence, and walked over to my dresser. Once again, I threw open the doors, and went through all of the dresses, and was delighted to find new, colored shoes at the bottom. I had had colorful shoes before, but not with colors as bright and pretty as ever. Taking off the nightgown, I replaced it with a beautiful pink robe. Grace came in then, along with a few other people, all carrying bucket’s of water. They all walked over to the bathtub, and one by one, dropped the water in. When they had left, Grace helped me into the bath, and washed my hair with lovely smelling things. She scrubbed and scrubbed at my scalp and skin until they stung, but it was worth it. When I got out, and sat down at the dressing table, I didn’t look like I had just been traveling for days across land and ocean. Grace pulled out a hair brush and a little bottle of oil, and brushed and oiled my hair until it was perfect. “Now that your clean, just wait here, and I’ll go and fetch your wedding dress.” A few moments later Grace came back in, holding a very large white dress, and several boxes. “I called the seamstress to come in and make sure that we can get you in this dress.” She popped open one of the boxes and took out a few undergarments. “These at least should fit you.” She tied the ribbons on the pants. The corset was perfectly white, and lacy, it fit over my torso perfectly. Once all of the skirts had been added, Grace laid the dress at my feet and told me to step in. She pulled it up over my head, and then pulled down the skirts on the bottom. When she tied the laces in the back, she managed to get it all laced up, my shoulder blades were too wide, so the fabric stretched. Grace opened another box and took out one veil, a short one, and fastened it on top. When the seamstress came in, I could see beyond the lady, into the hall. There were many people bustling around, talking. Some people had stopped, and were trying to look into the room. Grace quickly turned me around, and the seamstress slammed the door. “Oh, My. It looks beautiful. I was hoping that you would fit in the dress. You know, nobody has seen your portrait, so I was hoping that a pretty girl would wear my dress.” “Thank you, for making this for me. What are we going to do with it, one we have the wedding?” “Oh, we are going to place it in the throne room in a glass box.” Grace said. “Is this my only veil?” “Heavens no. You’re veil is in this box. It’s going to be from the back of your head, to the end of the aisle. We can’t put it on your head yet, it wouldn’t fit in this room.” I laughed, and Grace and the seamstress slowly helped me out of the dress. When they had folded it up, and stored it in the box, I was leaning back on one of the chairs, almost asleep. I heard Grace and the seamstress shut the door, and the people outside, trying to look in. I was woken twice more, once for dinner, and again for bed. I fell asleep, listening to the fire crackling. Grace had been right, the next day was busy. She came in to wake me up at 7 a.m. to start helping me get ready. I put on a robe, and sat down at the dressing table, while Grace went to get some water, and a piece of linen. She put my hair up, and washed my face, then applied layers of makeup, until I felt that my face was cake. But when I looked in the mirror that totally changed. Grace had transformed me from, normal, to well, beautiful. The girl looking back at me, was completely different from any I had ever seen. And yet, it was me. I sat back down, and she started on my hair. First she used rags to curl it, and then strung freshwater pearls and silver through it, to match. Now that I was done, I couldn’t really do anything, but sit. “You can put on some of you under clothes, if you want to. I’ll be back here in an hour to freshen up your make up, and help you get dressed.” I dared not touch my face or hair, so I sat down, and stared at the fire. It was terribly boring, yet relaxing. Most brides, if they were in my situation, would be fretting, worrying if there husbands would like them. When Grace did come back in, she had the whole pile of boxes, and opened them all over the room. She started from the box labled “one” and moved up from there. There were so many layers, way more than yesterday. “How are we going to get downstairs, if nobody is supposto see me?” “If the servants see you, they won’t have much time to tell anyone else, because you’ll be standing at the front of the aisle.” It sounded so close, and scary, I was terribly frightened now. “Grace, I don’t think that I can do this anymore. I really wish that I could go back home, where I could ride Myra whenever I wanted. Why did those men have to come?” I felt my cheeks flush, but Grace pinched me that second, “Sorry, It looked like you were going to cry.” I kept silent for the rest of the time, mad at my fate. When the final pieces were added on, Grace handed me my shoes, and freshen up my makeup. And for the first time, I walked out my bedroom door, and down the stairs. Grace had been right; nobody who was in the hallway could have made it back to the chapel. The walk between my bedroom door, and the chapel door, was incredibly short. Before I knew it, Grace was pinning the long veil on, and handing me my flowers. The wide doors opened, and I took my first steps into marriage. He was at the end of the hall, standing with the priest, and his father was above him sitting on a balcony. I could see the prince look up at his father and smile, and his father smiled back, and they both looked at me. When I reached the end, I mounted the platform and stared up at the priest. The prince turned towards me and I get one quick look at him, and he was handsome. But, he had a smirk on his face and kept running his eyes up and down. It was a little disturbing, and I tried to ignore it. “Do you, Nicolas, take Anastasia to be your wife?” he looked at smile, and me and said, “I do.” No promises, of nothing from me. “I pronounce you man and wife, you may kiss the bride.” The priest closed his book, and Nicolas swept me off my feet, and kissed me long and hard. How could he have so much love for me, if he didn’t even know me? Setting me down, he took my hand and led me back down the aisle. The reception was outdoors, in the garden. The servants had strung millions of little candles from trees, and they had only lit a couple of the leaves on fire. I was no longer wearing my wedding dress, I had switched it out for a much lighter green dress for dancing. The wedding feast was lavish, and quite enjoyable, except my new husband ate quite a lot, and on several occasions gave me a kiss full of turkey. It was lovely. I’d have to say that he wasn’t bad, but something about him bothered me. “Whats wrong, love? You look distressed. Have some more to drink!” he grabbed the nearest wine bottle, and filled my cup again, and looked at me expentiatly. I picked up the cup, and pretended to drink it, and when he turned away, I poured it out on the ground. “Our coronation will be soon, you know, my father will be stepping down from the throne, because he’s been waiting for me to get married. We really should get going. I have hunting that starts early in the morning, so I should be off to bed.” He stood up, took my arm, and walked out of the room, trailing me behind. Aggressive, and a little pushy. How nice. Nicolas walked me to my bedroom, made sure I was inside, and left me. I re opened the door, and called for Grace. She came running up, a few mintues later, puffing. “What’s wrong, Anastasia?” “I wish to get ready for bed, if you would kindly help me undress, I am quite tired from today’s events.” It took me a while to get into bed, but I finally did, and pretended to fall asleep while Grace turned down the fire. When I was for sure that she was gone, I got up and went to my desk.
It is of today, that I am married. The man whom I am married to is quite handsome, I would say, but is pushy. I’m still undecided if I will like him or not. I will have my coronation in a few days. I really am not sure what is going on here, though. Maybe when I am queen, I will know more. I wish that you all are well. Tell Damon and Lorenzo that they must bring you to visit me. I am terribly lonely.
The ever troubled,
I neatly folded the letter, and tucked it under a few envelopes, so nobody would read it. After I had turned the lamp down, I climbed back into bed, and fell asleep. The next morning, I almost found myself yelling at Damon and Lorenzo to keep it down. There was a large trumpet playing band, right outside my window. I pulled it open and leaned out. I noticed Nicholas, and smiled, and he waved at me. I didn’t know if it was rude to close the windows, so I just waited for the hunting party to go. But they never did. I finally just turned away for a minute, then quickly shut them. Grace came in then. “How does it feel to be a married woman? You can now walk the palace as much as you like, and soon you will be queen, of France. Doesen’t that sound exciting to you?” she pulled out one of my dresses from the closet and shook out the wrinkles. “I guess. Can I ask you something?” I said, lowering my voice. “Sure, ask away” she hung up the dress and came over to me. “You’ve been around here all you life right? Because as soon as we were married, he seemed to have fallen in love, as soon as he saw me. It disturbed me, at how fast that was possible.” “I couldn’t honestly tell you” she said, but I could see in her face that she knew exactly what it was. “Come along, stop distressing. We need to make you beautiful” she carried the dress into the wash room, and hung it up. “Come on then” she waved to me. I reluctantly left, and into the wash room. I sat down on the plush stool, and let Grace brush all of the tangles out, and with much pain, braided it into a crown, wrapping around my head. She then helped me into the lovely dress, and added some bracelets for taste. “There! Now you are perfect.” And, opening the door with a flourish, she gestured to the hallway. “Would you like a tour?” “Yes, I’m afraid I might get lost.” She laughed, and took me by the arm, showing me every inch of the palace, and the garden, and the stables, where I was very happy to see that Myra was settled, and eating properly. “You have quite a lovely horse. Very pretty, and I can see, quite a nice ride.” “Do you ever ride, Grace?” “My Goodness! No, I’m quite happy with staying on the ground, and I don’t need to be up high.” “It’s really fun, and I could probably teach you.” “That’s very sweet of you, but I’d rather pass.”