Isabella stood watching the waves roll and break against the rocks below. The salty air stung her eyes and delicate nose, but she took little notice of the sea air’s intrusion. She sat cross-legged on her favorite vantage point a large oval shaped boulder that over the years had been shaved and eroded by the elements. Here she could dream and wile away the hours until Robert her love would come to her. She had fallen in love with him the first time she met him. Visions of his scruffy black hair and piercing blue eyes still haunted her every waking hour. They had met in the marketplace one Tuesday morning. She had not been watching where she was going and had run headlong into his unsuspecting arms. Oh! What arms he had, such wonderful arms.
Isabella knew it was wrong meeting Robert in secret, but she also knew her father the King would not be happy. Isabella was his only child and would one day with her husband rule the kingdom. Unfortunately, her idea of who should be her husband and the man her father chose as her husband were two different things. She knew in her heart that once the truth came out her father would have no other choice but to accept Robert as her intended.
The wind started gusting and Isabella’s long strawberry blonde hair began to whip about her face. She spied a lone rider winding his way up the narrow path to her hiding place. This to her was the worst part of the deception, the fear of being caught. She shuddered to think what might happen to Robert or possibly even to herself should her father ever discover their frequent trysts.
She heard hoof beats as Robert rode up the hill to join her for their outing. She watched as the horse and rider wound their way slowly but steadily up the incline. She could not take her eyes away from his face. She wondered if he knew how much she truly loved him.
He caught sight of Isabella as he drew closer to the summit. She stood there watching him. Her long hair blew freely in the air. She was like a tiny fairy, so delicate and frail, but she was the strongest women he had ever met. Her eyes were emerald green and her skin as white as a freshly opened lily. Her lips were full and the color of strawberries when fully ripe. Just the sight of her did something to him that he could not explain, nor could he control.
She waved to him and he returned her wave as he urged his horse onward. Once he reached her he slid quickly from his steed’s back and scooped her up. He twirled her around madly and then finally held her close. The kiss was always so wonderful. If he had one wish it was that their kisses would last forever. He felt her sigh and give in completely to him. What they shared with each other was heaven.
“What?” screamed King Leonard at the spy, “What is this you say, my daughter and that commoner kissing and cavorting around in secret with each other?”
King Leonard had suspected something strange was happening with his daughter Isabella. He had sent Felix to spy on her. Felix being the rather thorough soul that he was had watched for several weeks now as the two lovers had met. He had always cared for Isabella, but knew she would not have him. Jealousy had eaten away at his heart and now with great glee he revealed all to his King. Felix was certain that King Leonard would have the young man killed and then he would be there to comfort Isabella. In addition to having Isabella to himself once more the King would reward him generously for his troubles.
Upon her return to the castle that evening her father was waiting with a rather sad look on his face.
“Isabella,” he said beckoning to her, “I have had some disturbing news. I was told today you have been meeting someone in secret. I was also told he is your lover. Is that correct?”
“Oh Father,” Isabella cried as she fell to her knees in front of him, “yes what you heard is true. He is all I ever want and need in another. Please don’t be angry with him or me.”
Tears started to form in the corners of her beautiful emerald eyes. Her father pulled her upright and patted her back.
“Now, now,” he said, “I am not angry. I am just disappointed that you have kept him secret. I want someone who is worthy of you. After all I have your best interests in mind.”
Isabella managed a half -smile as she looked in her father’s face.
“Thank you Father!” she cried as she hugged her father about the neck.
“Well you know Isabella,” her father said, “He will have to serve in my navy for at least six months. Then I can make him a knight and we can plan a wedding.”
Isabella felt her heart stop in her chest.
“Serve in your navy,” she stammered, “but why?”
“He must prove to me he is man with courage and bravery,” her father replied, “then he can court and wed you.”
The next day Isabella waited for Robert and told him of the conversation with her father.
“That’s wonderful,” Robert said kissing Isabella on the forehead, “don’t you see we can wed when I return from sea.
How amazing that he would be so kind about it all. My love this is good news. The best of news.”
“But I will miss you,” Isabella said pouting her lips, “whatever will I do without you for six months.”
“Plan our wedding my sweet. Plan our wedding,” Robert said pulling Isabella down on top of him.
They stayed there till well after dark talking quietly and sharing secrets that only people who truly love each other shared.
At the castle two others shared secrets as well. King Leonard had once more called on the services of Felix. The two stood in the garden away from all others.
“Felix,” King Leonard said intently, “I want you to go with Robert when he leaves. I also want you to take this with you.”
King Leonard held up a small glass vial.
“What is in it Sire?” Felix asked.
“Give this to him one night,” the king replied, “it will make him sleep a deep sleep as if he was dead, then while you are out at sea give him a seaman’s burial.”
“Yes sire,” Felix said as a wicked smile starting at the corners of his mouth, “it will be my pleasure.”
At this Felix bowed and disappeared into the shrubbery that surrounded the garden.
Robert was at the dock bright and early the morning he was due to leave on his six month voyage. Isabella was there with him. Robert’s arms encircled her waist and they stood face to face talking quietly with one another.
“Well are you ready my good lad?” Felix asked Robert, “The Captain says we shove off in fifteen minutes.”
Robert took Isabella’s tiny hand and on her marriage finger he placed the golden band he had purchased for her.
“I will love you forever,” he cried to the sea and the heavens, “beyond life, beyond death, beyond eternity.”
Tears streamed down Isabella’s face and she kissed Robert full on the mouth. It was a deep kiss as if it might be there last. Robert pulled her close and buried his face in her beautiful hair.
“And I will love you forever,” she whispered to the sea and the heavens, “beyond life, beyond death, and beyond eternity.”
They parted and the ship carried him away. Out to sea and away from her. She watched well past the time that the ship had disappeared over the horizon. Her heart bled and ached but she knew he would return to her.
The six months went by slowly. She rode to the dock on the day the ship was due to arrive. She thought it odd her Father had not opted to go with her. She stood as close to the dock as she could and waited impatiently. As the ship drew closer she started to wave and began to see the deck. Felix stood on the deck, but no sign of her Robert. The captain must have had him busy down below. When the ship finally docked, Felix came toward her. There was something wrong she told herself. Felix had an unhappy look on his face.
“He died,” Felix told her, “he died a week after we left and we buried him at sea.”
It was if someone had poured live hot coals over her body, heart, and mind. She screamed but there were no words.
She ran and found her horse before Felix could stop her. She rode and rode until she had reached their spot that place that they had called heaven. She took off the white gloves she wore. Her eyes were hollow and her face was white as the gloves in her hand.
“I will love you forever,” she cried to the sea and the heavens, “beyond life, beyond death, beyond eternity.”
She kissed the golden band he had given her and she threw herself from the summit into the churning sea below.
Adapted from the poem Storyteller II “The King’s Treachery”
She was the princess fair
the one with golden hair.
Beneath her white linen glove
was the ring from her true love.
The princess lived in fear
her father, the King, would hear
she loved a common man
and he their love would ban.
One day her father came to know
of their romance and how it did grow.
He devised a cruel and viscous plan
to trick her lover and kill the man.
A law was passed by the King
that left a mark, a bitter sting
upon the princess' heart
her lover would soon depart.
He had been drafted in the King's army
and soon her love would go to sea
to fight in some distant land
just as the king had planned.
She kissed him at the royal pier
and watched the vessel disappear.
She did not know as he left
of the soon approaching theft.
Six months to the day
from the time it sailed away
The King's great ship returned.
How her heart soared and burned.
She post haste went to the dock
and was disheartened from the shock.
Her love they said had died
and how the princess cried.
There by the shore that night.
She beheld the far distant light.
It called across the mystic sea
and she sought death's mystery.
"Farwell!' she cried
"My love has died.
Now I must go see
if he does wait for me."
The King he came. Alas too late
the princess would not wait.
She walked into the frothy waves
for some heartache nothing staves.
They are there, from time to time
enthralled, lost in their love sublime
and there beneath the linen glove
is the ring of her true love.
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