John wrote to the Sherriff, putting of his visit to Nottingham for the next few weeks. Every other moment he spent was with Caroline. He found her simply enchanting; he'd never met anyone remotely like her. She was clever, intelligent, rebellious at times and… unique. The picnic had been proposed by his mother who had spotted the attachment quite early on and was very keen to encourage it. As for Isabella well, she was absolutely furious at being swept aside and tried to attack her cousin at almost every opportunity, to distract her, her father betrothed her to Hugh Le Brun, the son of the man she was originally to be betrothed to and who seemed a little wild in his ways.
On the day of the picnic, Caroline got up early and dressed, too excited to sleep.
'Ah! Young love!' The countess of Portsmouth had remarked to the queen, 'To credit them, it is a very good match!' She suddenly smiled, 'You must have the picnic on my estate! I have not had one for years!'
Queen Eleanor smiled, 'That is very kind of you!'
Caroline smiled as well, 'Oh yes My Lady!'
Suddenly they were interrupted by the sound of the prince drawing up in a carriage, 'Good morning!'
Caroline rushed up to him, 'Good morning Sire! The countess of Portsmouth has invited us to a picnic on her estate!'
'Excellent!' The prince smiled, 'I hear you have a particularly fine old oak My Lady.'
'Well, we'll look forward to it,'
The day was particularly fine. During the entire picnic, it was as if no-one else existed to John, he and Caroline talked and laughed.
Suddenly Lady Swaffham said, 'I understand your brother is to return soon your highness.'
Prince John smiled, 'indeed! I must say, it merits a good rest my travelling back and forth to London all the time.' He looked at Caroline, 'Especially as I have one or two reasons for not doing so.'
Eleanor sighed, 'Although your brother will not stay for long, it will be nice to see him.'
'You must miss him terribly Ma'am.' Caroline ventured.
'Indeed I do dear, but I like to think that I am enlightened enough to respect his choices.'
'He's never liked England anyway!' John replied as he casually bit into an apple.
'No dear! I blame your father for that.'
Caroline smiled, 'Do you like England John?'
John smiled, 'I find it a country very much underestimated my lady.' He sighed, 'No, when I am king, every part of it will warrant my attention. Not to mention the oppression of the church which must be quashed.'
His mother shook her head, 'How your father could've entertain the idea of your being a member of the clergy in the first place I just do not know.'
John didn't reply but instead took another bite of his apple with a slight more venom., his father was a subject he did not care to discuss.
Later, as the sun begun to set, John walked Caroline to her carriage and nervously said,
'I am much honoured that your ladyship should think that she should merit my company in escorting her to the carriage.'
She laughed, 'Why my lord prince! I do believe you are being humble!'
John laughed, 'I assure you my lady, I am perfectly capable of such a sentiment when encouraged.'
'…And, you have found such a device to encourage you?'
He turned to face her, 'Oh indeed I have! Though the device in question warrants a more personal pronoun in the feminine genre.'
She blushed, 'I am honoured.'
He hesitated then said, 'My Lady Caroline would you do me the honnor of granting me an interview to-morrow, alone? '
'Yes, for you see… there-there is something rather particular I wish to ask of you.'
Caroline's heart thumped, 'Of course.'
He smiled and kissed her hand, 'Thank you.' As he took leave of her he turned round and noticed her still standing there. He felt elated and rode faster.
Caroline watched him go and felt a sense of triumph, who said that Prince Charming only existed in fairy tales?