*** Chapter 4 ***
In My Honor?
By an hour later, Mary and I had not only explored the room, but had both washed our travel worn bodies in the now cold and murky water in the basin. As my things were brought up, we had put them away, airing out my second best dress, the one I was to wear to dinner that night, refined my fallen hair- though much more complex, as well as intricately pinned and jeweled- laced and fastened the aired out dress over my thin shift, and I bejeweled myself a thousand times over, getting Mary's opinion on each, and finally deciding on a simple obsidian necklace that ran to just above the bodice of my dark green silk dress.
Now I was anxious for something, anything, to happen. I was even debating knocking on the prince's adjoining door when a young servant girl entered the room. She stood meekly, but there was a fire of defiance set deep in her eyes. Though successfully quelled as it was, it still shone through like a star through a tree forest canopy.
The girl was astonished at all that had been done. "I was sent to help you get ready for dinner, then take care of your things after I had escorted you to the Great Hall, where the feast is being held, though now it looks as if I am only to escort you, Milady." She said this in a rush, all with the same astonished look on her face. Both Mary and I laughed at the poor bewildered girl.
"Is dinner ready?" I asked when I was finished laughing. I was famished.
"Did you say feast?" Mary asked. She seemed as hungry as I was, though I could not be sure.
"The feast is ready, Milady. The palace cooks have been preparing for this feast in your honor upon your arrival here at the castle," the girl replied with reverence.
"My honor?" I said, pointing to myself. "I have never had a feast in my honor before," I mused.
"Really?" said the servant; she was staring at my face. Why does everyone keep doing that? She shook her head and looked down. Then she asked, "May I escort you to dinner now?"
"Is Mary coming too?" I asked. The girl had acted as if Mary was not even there. Again the girl's expression turned to one of astonishment.
"You are her servant, yes?" the girl finally addressed Mary, the look of astonishment still plastered to her face. Mary nodded, trying not to laugh. "You know her name?" the poor girl asked, addressing me once more.
"Yes, her name is Mary. What is yours?" I asked her.
She was looking at me in awe, as if I were the strangest thing she had ever encountered, barely stammering out, "Louisa."
"Alright, Louisa, will you escort us to the feast now? I am famished!" I said, turning the girl around and encouraging her to lead us to the food.
Louisa led us through an entire maze of halls and corridors. I would never be able to find my way to the Great Hall by myself.
The Hall was well named; it was a huge cavern with burning fireplaces all along the walls and tables everywhere. Few of the grand royal court were not there, many already seated, but all were talking loudly. Louisa started leading me up to the head table, where the royal family was. When I walked through the tables, every duke, lord, earl, lady, and duchess fell silent until I had passed. Then the whispers started.
I had heard them in the halls on the way to my new room while walking with Charlemagne and the king, but they were nothing like this; not many would whisper with the keen-eared royals in tow. Now, the whispers were overwhelming, and no Highnesses were here to stop them. So I held my head high and tried not to trip on the heavy skirt and petticoats I had chosen to wear.
Thankfully, once I had waded halfway through the chorus of whisperers, Charlemagne glanced down from the head table where he sat and saw me. He stopped short; that one glance had captured his attention so thoroughly. He jumped out of his chair and hurried toward me. I stopped and waited for him as he approached; I was not about to start running towards him and a break from the hushed voices that surrounded me would be welcomed.
"I am sorry I was not waiting for you at the entrance. I thought I would have more time until your arrival," he apologized ignoring the stares that were coming from every direction. He shot a scornful look at Louisa, as if it was all her fault that he was late. Louisa looked down guiltily.
"I seem to be quicker than most people," I said in her defense. "How long have you been here?" I asked, wanting to know how long he had left me in my room with nothing to do.
"I sent the servant girl after you right before I departed my room. I merely just sat down when you seem to have arrived," was the prince's reply.
"Milady, you are much quicker than most," Louisa stated in answer to my apparent question.
"I think I instructed you to something else as well, Servant," Charlemagne said curtly. She looked down shy and ashamed.
"In fact, she does not; Mary and I accomplished her task before it was even assigned to her," I said protectively.
Both the servant and the master were staring at me in disbelief, as well as the surrounding courtiers who had decided to join in our private conversation. Louisa looked at me and whispered, so as not to be heard by her master, "I thought the maid-" Mary glared at her. "Sorry, Mary, had done that herself."
"Why should she?" I asked in bewilderment; I was perfectly capable of helping her.
"I am going to have to talk to some tutors…" Charlemagne muttered. To me he said, "We will talk later, but now, let us eat."
"Good, because I am starving," I said happily. We walked the rest of the way up to the head table arm in arm.
Here we are FINALLy! I am so sorry to whoever has been waiting for this for forever, but I am hoping to get the next one out sooner.