A/N This story takes place some years after Jane and Edward are married, they have two children—Eddy and Bella. Diana and her sea captain husband have two boys—Bertie and George. The cousins are much of an age and spend a lot of time together when Diana's husband is away at sea. Charlotte thought up the adults, the kids are mine.
EDWARD TELLS A STORY
The little boys ran through the garden: "Eddy," his cousin called, "Where's your papa? We want him to tell us a story!"
"Yes, let's go find him—I think he was with Bella."
They surrounded Eddy's father and pressed him for a story. They knew they could expect him to tell a good one as all of his stories were wonderful.
Would he tell them about the wicked Italian Contessa, or perhaps the duel he fought in Paris, or maybe the terrible storm in the Caribbean? What would it be this time?
They sat around him expectantly: Bertie and George, Eddy and Bella. "Please Papa, tell us a good story," Eddy begged.
The father smiled tenderly at his children and their cousins—to think that there had been a time when he hadn't liked children. How changed his life was now from what it had been! Of course, a little flattery for his story-telling powers never hurt!
"Very well, you shameless rascals, if it will keep you quiet for a while, you shall have your story. Mind now—this is a fairytale, but it is still a true story and it starts like this...
"Once upon a time—a prince was returning to his castle; the season was Winter, and it was rather cold outside so he was in a hurry to get home to a warm fire and a nice supper. He was riding a very fine horse and his faithful dog ran along beside him. As he rode along he thought he saw someone sitting by the hedge; but he thought nothing of the matter, for all his mind was set on getting home to his castle.
"But, his Fate was waiting by the wayside that night. There was ice on the road and his horse slipped and fell with him. Oh, what a horrible thing to have happen! One minute all was well and he would be home soon; the next moment found him lying in the road—unhorsed and in pain. Highly annoyed with this inconvenient happening; he was expressing his feelings when he became aware that he was not alone.
"A fairy had suddenly appeared in front of him! She offered to help him, but at first he couldn't understand what such a tiny creature could do for him. She tried to catch his horse for him, but the horse was wary of the Supernatural and would not let her come near. At last he laughed at the impossibility of it all, and begged her more direct aid, so she helped hold him up until he could catch and mount his horse. He thanked her for her help and smiled to himself as he rode away for he had discovered that this fairy was resident in his castle."
Eddy peered up at his father, "What was the fairy's name, Papa?"
"Well, you know, she never did tell him her name, since to do so would give a Mortal power over her; but it was an even exchange as the prince had also not identified himself."
"Then how did he know that she lived at the castle?"
"Hmmm, that's a good one—let me think: oh, of course, she had pointed it out in the distance and named it as her residence."
"Papa, that was a good story, is that how you met Mama?"
"I see you have caught me out indeed. Eddy, you are getting too clever for your old father. Here come your mothers now, children, I think it's time to go in for Tea."
Jane smiled at Diana as they walked the garden path behind the scurrying children. "Did you hear him tell that story? He's so clever at it that the children won't leave him alone a minute!"
"Well, I think it sounded fascinating, did it really happen that way."
"Very much that way—the wretch! He never did tell me who he was. I didn't even suspect it until I came home and saw the dog! Then he had the gall to sit there like a judge on his bench and accuse me of bewitching his horse! Sometimes, I wish I could have done it!"
I always thought R was a talented storyteller—this, of course, is a slightly different version of the one he tells Adele.