posted by IsabellaMCullen
I awoke the next morning feeling a bit groggy from a restless night's sleep. As I remembered what I was going to attempt to do today, I couldn't help but smile to myself. I was excited at the chance of a taste of freedom, but at the same time I was nervous because of the likelihood that I would be caught. I had only a moment to dwell on it, however, because no sooner had I rubbed the sleep from my eyes when Anna and Samantha entered my chamber.
"Good morning, Princess," they both greeted me in sing-song voices, causing my smile to disappear. Anna and Samantha both knew I loathed it when they called me Princess, but still they persisted. I knew that propriety demanded that even my ladies-in-waiting should address me properly, however we were such good friends that it seemed silly for them to follow that particular protocol.
"Good morning, ladies," I replied with a scowl that caused them to giggle, for they knew exactly what had brought the sour look to my face.
"Are you ready for your grand adventure?" Anna asked excitedly as she pulled back my blinds and Samantha set a tray containing my breakfast at the foot of my bed.
"Yes, although I am quite nervous," I admitted, making my anxiety known.
"You have no reason to be," Samantha said. "We are here to make sure that things go smoothly."
"Very well," I answered, knowing it was useless to argue with either of them.
"Alright, then. Eat some breakfast while Samantha and I find you something appropriate to wear," Annastasia said as she gently grabbed my hand and lead me to my tray.
"What have the King and Queen scheduled for their day?" I asked as I nibbled on a piece of fruit. I wanted to make sure they would not be requiring my presence, or expecting me to attend anything that they considered to be a royal responsibility.
"They are making the necessary arrangements for your engagement ball," Samantha answered from inside my closet, where she and Anna were rummaging through an endless selection of garments.
"My engagement ball?" I asked, indignant. I didn't want to be engaged, let alone have a ball to celebrate it.
"You are a Princess, and you are engaged, therefore there will be a ball to celebrate," Annastasia replied.
"This is the last thing I wish to celebrate," I answered, my eyes beginning to burn once again with tears of frustration.
"We understand," Anna said, sitting down next to me and taking my hand in hers. "We know of Prince Taylor and have heard your complaints of him, and we agree that the life you are being forced into would not be cause for celebration, but unfortunately we have no choice in the matter," Anna explained on behalf of herself and Samantha.
"Are you still eating?" Sam asked. "You have a big day today and you will need your strength."
"Yes, I am eating," I said as I ripped in to a piece of crusty brown bread.
"There is nothing suitable for you to wear in this closet," Anna announced in frustration a moment later. I was dumbfounded by her statement, because I know that she and my mother had personally chosen each and every item in my closet, which was very well stocked for any occasion that may arise in any season of the year.
"Excuse me?" I asked, voicing my confusion.
"All of your clothes are much too regal and speak of your social position for you to be able to blend in without anyone taking notice of your true identity," Anna explained.
"Oh no," I said, realizing that once again I may be prevented from acting like a normal girl, even for a day. "I should have known that such a thing would be impossible."
"It's alright. I think I may have dress that will work," Sam said. My hopes lifted once again as Sam quickly exited my chamber.
Anna and I waited in silence while Samantha was on her quest. Anna did, however, share the rest of my breakfast with me. Several minutes later Sam rushed into the room breathlessly, carrying a dress over one arm.
"Will this do?" she asked Anna while still trying to catch her breath.
Samantha's dress was brown, fitted at the bust and waist, with a low-cut neckline and a full skirt that flowed out simply at the bottom. Underneath the top half was soft white fabric that peeked out just above the bust line, then re-appeared from the brown fabric at the shoulder, gently gathering at the upper arm to create shoulder poufs. The creamy white sleeves cascaded down gently almost to the base of the skirt. It was a common dress that any non-royal female would wear into town.
"It's perfect," Anna replied before I could. "Hayley will most definitely blend in with the crowd in that dress."
"I agree, Samantha. It is perfect," I replied.
"Excellent. I was able to find these as well," Sam said, pulling out a pair of simple brown shoes from under the dress. They made a perfect ensemble.
"Those shoes will go with the dress wonderfully," I replied with a smile.
"Well, let's get you ready," Anna said excitedly as she started bouncing up and down.
Sam helped me don my new attire, and I was pleased how well the dress and the shoes fit me. Anna brushed my hair straight down, letting it flow freely as opposed to the bun and ringlets I normally wore, and did not to add any make up or jewelry to my look.
"Samantha, thank you so much for the dress and the shoes. They are amazing," I said while giving her a hug.
"You're welcome, Hayley" She replied while hugging me back.
"Well you had better get going. You are wasting the day," Anna said with a quick hug, and we made our way out of my chamber.
"How will I get past the guards?" I asked as we arrived in the main level of the castle.
"We will take care of it," Anna said as she and Samantha exchanged an evil glance.
I hid behind a statue while Anna and Samantha made some sort of ruckus that I could not see. As soon as the guards ran in the direction of the noise I ran out of the door and away from the castle. I was grateful that the town wasn't terribly far away, since my only method of transportation at the time was my feet. Being out in the fresh spring air was enough to clear my mind and lift my spirits, but just knowing that I had the whole day to do as I pleased made everything seem even better.
I soon came upon the town, and was amazed to see all of the activity already taking place so early in the day. Shops and stands were full of people buying and selling things, and it was hard for me to decide where to begin my adventure.
With no set destination in mind, I began to make my way into the overcrowded street. Still wary of being recognized, I mostly walked with my head down, until I crashed into another person and fell to the ground.
"I am terribly sorry," said a musical voice, as a hand stretched down for me to grab.
"The fault was mine," I replied as I took the hand and glanced up, only to get lost in the most gorgeous pair of brown eyes I had ever seen.
I tossed and turned most of the night due to the excitement of the upcoming day. I managed to get a few hours of sleep before waking for my day in town. I dressed hurriedly before making my way to the kitchen for breakfast, and I was relieved to see that my father had already left for his day of work.
"Good morning, Joshua," my mother said as she set a plate of food in front of me.
"Good Morning, Mother," I replied as took a bit of the biscuit that she had put on my plate.
"Your Father would like you to feed the animals before you set out," she instructed as she pumped water into the wash tub to wash the breakfast dishes.
"Yes, mother," I replied as I continued to eat.
"Josh, I know that you don't wish to speak about marriage, but I feel we must," my mother said while turning away from her dishes to face me.
"Must we, mother?" I asked in exasperation.
"Yes. Now I know that you are set against it, but it would make me and your father so happy to see you settled," my mother explained.
"That is fine, but why do I have to settle with Caorline? Why can't I wait until I fall in love?" I asked, hoping she would understand how I felt.
"There are several reasons, my son. First, you have known Caroline and her family your entire life, so it makes sense. Second, I fear you may never fall in love," my mother replied.
"Firstly, yes, Caroline and I have known each other our entire lives, but that does not mean that we will make a good husband and wife. Also, what makes you think I will never fall in love?" I answered trying to keep my anger in check.
"Joshua, I know you are capable of finding love. It is Caroline I worry about," my mother confessed.
"What do you mean?" I asked, my emotions changing from angry to confused.
"I am going to tell you something that I have not even shared with your father," my mother said, and I knew it must be serious if she had not shared it with my father.
"Go ahead," I urged her.
"I was talking with Caroline's mother the other day, and she is worried that Caroline will never find a husband. The way Caroline talks and dresses are not proper, and her mother is afraid it will drive away all the good men and draw in the bad," my mother explained. "She is fearful for Caroline's well being."
"She is right," I agreed.
"Yes. So, the two of us decided that the two of you marrying would be the best solution for everybody," my mother said, causing my anger to flare up again.
"What did you tell Father to get him to agree to this?" I asked through clenched teeth.
"I told him that it was time for you to pick a wife, and that Caroline would be perfect. He agreed," my mother answered.
"You said that this was the best solution for everybody, but I must say it is not the best solution for me, Mother," I argued.
"Just think about it. That's all I ask," my mother said, and because she looked so desperate I had no choice but to agree.
"Fine, I will think about it. I must go now," I said as I got up from the table.
"Here is the list of things I need," my mother said, handing me a small piece of paper and some coins which I tucked safely into my pocket.
"I will see you tonight, Mother," I said giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Have a safe journey, my son," my mother said, giving me a hug before I walked out the door.
I was in the barn minutes later feeding the animals as my father had asked. After feeding the cow, chickens, pigs, and horses I began to get my horse ready. I loved Biskit, my horse. She was all black with just a little bit of white around her hooves. I quickly got all the necessary equipment on her and we were ready to go.
We lived about ten miles outside of town, so I knew it would take me a while to reach my destination. After we had traveled a mile, however, we ran into my two best friends, Zachary and Jeremy. Zach and Jeremy lived a few miles away from me, but we used to attend the local school together. Zach is a pretty large man, with intimidating muscles and shaggy brown hair, but he is really quite shy and kind on the inside. Jeremy is average, blonde, and very outgoing.
"Where are you going, Josh?" Zach asked with giant grin on his face.
"Into town," I replied. "My mother needs a few things, so I was lucky enough to get a day off from working the fields," I said, trying to look enthusiastic, but having trouble doing so. My mind couldn't stop thinking of my earlier conversation with my mother.
"You seem a little stressed, Josh," Jeremy said.
"My parents want me to marry Caroline," I said, not even bothering to hide my disgust.
"That is horrible," Zach said, looking equally disgusted, while Jeremy nodded his head in agreement.
"I know, but I am going to do everything I can to stop it," I replied.
"Well, good luck. Just know that we are here if you need help," Jeremy said.
"Absolutely," added Zach. "Um, except for right now, because we are going fishing," he said, holding up his fishing pole.
"Well, you two have fun. I should be on my way," I said as they waved and I continued on my way. A bit later I arrived in town, and promptly fastened Biskit to a tree so I could walk around freely. I found myself not paying as much attention as I should have when I collided with a warm body. I looked down and saw a young woman on the ground, and immediately felt terrible for putting her there.
"I am terribly sorry," I said as I extended my hand to her for assistance.
"The fault was mine," a beautiful voice answered. The woman used my hand to pull herself up, and I was met with the most vivid green eyes I had ever seen.