Beast Unseen Ch. 04-07byTasteofHome©
I am not sure if I am doing the right thing. You should have seen the look on Collins face when I told him that it was time for him to get married. I know we talked about this, but my heart breaks for him. I can only hope that one of the princesses that we have invited will bring him out of his shell. It pains me so to see him so reclusive. I know we both talked about this and we feel it is for the best, but if it is for the best you would think he would show a little more enthusiasm.
You were right about Ethan; he took to the idea like a duck to water. It was almost like he had planned on this day coming. It going to take a strong woman to be able to be his companion, he has had relations with several of my ladies in waiting and I am not sure how to approach him about it. Do you think you could pull him aside and talk to him about it when you get home? It is hard for me to deal with the constant tears when he grows tired of them. I miss you dearly love. I am glad that the negotiations are looking up. I can't wait to have you home and in my arms again.
Be careful my heart.
The carriages turning wheels seemed to find every single bump and pothole in the road. Six girls sat uncomfortably in the carriage for the fourth day in a row. None of them had ever been traveling this far or this long ever and most them more then tired of each other's company. Violet sat in the center between her two youngest sisters, Rose and Rosemary. Her sturdy blue cotton traveling dress with cape and a matching feathered cap, were beginning to look more then a little wilted and tired. Violet glanced at her sister to the side of her. This set of twins were a little over sixteen with long blond hair and bright blue eyes, and cheeks the color of roses and lips the color of cherries. They had the sort of beauty that men would fight dragons just to sample their charm. The two had decided that they both wanted to watch scenery pass and commented on every little thing they saw out the windows. Dressed in matching buttercup yellow traveling dresses and coats they looked like children of summer. It would seem that all the summer activities amused them to no end. Violet not having a chance to see sit by the window once the entire trip heard about it by the narration that Rose and Rosemary gave. Violet had the pleasure at hearing the squeal of excitement every time her sisters, saw some one working in a field with their shirt off or they rolled through any little town. She heard them talk about the way people dressed and moved and made despairing remarks about any one that didn't meet their standards. Most people did not meat their standards of style and fashion. It seemed that being sixteen gave the world a hue of excitement that one just didn't understand at a ripe old age of twenty.
Violet stick in the middle seat, tried desperately to read her book by what little light came through the carriage windows most of the time and forget about the unease her stomach gave her as the moved along by four chestnut mares. In all the time they had spent on the rode, she had barely gotten a fourth of the way through the novel, due to the unending queasiness of her stomach. Taking large calming breathes through her nose and letting them out through her mouth she peered at her other sisters. None of them seemed to be having the same reaction to traveling that she did.
Across from her sat her three other younger sisters, Zinnia age seventeen with straight black hair and blue eyes, dressed in a cool green traveling habit, with the feather on her cap now showing any sign of drooping. Violet couldn't understand how she never seemed to look ruffled despite the days they had been traveling. It was almost like she had some sort of domestic magic that kept her cloths from ever being a wrinkled mess or her hair out of place. Today her hair was coiled in intricate braids at the base of her neck with her had perched smartly on top. Her icy blue eyes constantly challenged Violet to keep her temper. Her posture never seemed to weaken on even the most horrendous of bumps and her patience was extremeness being seated in between the other set of twins.
The other set of twins at age eighteen, Poppy and Petunia, dressed matching pale pink traveling habits that complimented their dark red curly hair and dark green eyes that danced easily amusement peered out the windows also. They both work their hair pinned up in curls that hung and swished around their face whenever they moved to quickly, giving them an animated look. When they were not watching the scenery pass they three of them chatted mindlessly about the guests they had talked and flirted shamelessly at the their sisters wedding only a week before, continued in that vein of conversation, with plotting and planning how to get the princes to marry them. Violet having heard most of the scheming plans it all at least three times since the start of this trip, shut her eyes and leaned back in the stiff plank board seats, hoping that perhaps she would be able to get some sleep before they got to their next stop, since she wasn't sure how long her breathing trick was going to work for her.
The little food in her stomach will still in an uproar. Toast and tea should settle the stomach more then anything, but for the fourth day in a row it was a battle to keep it down before they stopped for dinner. It was going to be at least another couple days before they got to the castle, and sleeping in the inn never seemed to make her feel any more rested then she did when they started the trip. It could be because there was never enough room for all of them, and Violet somehow always ended up sleeping in some sort of chair by the fire for most of the night. She would have a crick in her neck the entire time. Violet closed her eyes trying to think of nothing but sleeping, so that hopefully she would soon be doing just that. Just as she was beginning to herself doze off, she was abruptly startled by the sound of a loud piercing whistle and galloping hoofs. A white horse with a rider dressed in a worn black riding bolted past their carriage causing the horses of their carriage to whine and whinny in anxiety. All of her started sisters twittered in anticipation and wonderment at where the rider was going in such a hurry. Violet feeling more exhausted then anything, just laid her head back and went back to trying to doze.
Collin pressed himself against his steed trying to urge the creature to go faster. An urgent missive had been received that morning from the city of Glendrop. There was a mini riot between Genovia and Skirvania nationals that had taken refuge from their homeland was brewing. King Zemeckis being at the empires capitol had no way of getting to the remote fishing and shipping industry before a war broke out on the streets. Despite know that they were expecting guests of the female persuasion and it would deeply displease his mother, the Queen that he would not be there to greet them, he felt it was more important for the sake of the kingdom to get this issue resolved before war and riot became the norm for the peaceful cobbled streets of Glendrop. If the city of Glendrop turned to riots, and warfare in the streets, most of the commerce in the kingdom would come to almost a halt, since Glendrop was the main import export city of the kingdom. Without the frequent ships coming to port there and exchange of goods, the land and the countries next to it would slowly go broke since, it had almost a natural harbor and was the easiest dock to manage all along the coastline is shared with its neighbors. Fortunes were made and were lost in Glendrop on a daily business.
While the horse raced down the road towards Glendrop, he briefly wondered about the carriage that it he had passed. He had to whistle at the driver of the carriage to make him known to the driver, because the drive was taking up the entire road. It looked like the driver was more then a little bit road worn and could possibly have begun to fall asleep at the reigns. The road was a bit narrow, but not uncommonly so, that two carriages could not pass if they were to meet up, but this carriage was driving in the exact center of the road. It was hard enough to get by on the road, but the carriage drove down the center as if it owned the entire road.
It was a narrow space that him and his faithful stead had to make due galloping really close to the other horses and the carriage windows to get past. He had seen several ladies heads peer out at him while he passed and could hear some of the horses behind him whining in protest. He hoped that he didn't scare the horses to bad, because it was a good chance that the ladies in the carriage were the ones his mother had agreed to host. If they were the ladies in question, he was sure that he had just made a wonderful first impression on they.
If they were that close to the kingdom, then he had better get to Glendrop fast. The longer he lingered away from the castle the worst it would be for him when he returned. He know that his mother would be fussing and clucking over each of the girls and try to talk him up to each one of them. And the longer he would be gone, the more she would talk him up and it would be nothing but misunderstanding and misery when he came home and they had to deal with the real him an not the image his mother had seeded in their fertile brains. On the bright side, hopefully his brother would be there to entertain them, and just perhaps they wouldn't notice he was there all that much.
It seems that they always expected him to be a lot more like Ethan. Ethan always seemed to know what to say to the ladies and probably never felt tongue tied at all in his life when talking to the opposite sex. He knew for a fact that his brother seemed to have a voracious sexual appetite, since Collin has seen several of the younger maids and several of his mothers prized ladies in waiting try to discretely leave his suite in the middle of the night. Collin normally wouldn't care, but it always seemed to bump into about half of them in the hallway on the way to his suite from the kitchens. He often would take the back servant stairs down to the kitchens and fix himself a cup of tea and grab a couple of cookies the baker always had stashed for in an old flour jar, when he couldn't sleep. It seemed that he couldn't sleep most often and became quite a night owl. A cup of tea, a couple of cookies and reading a book for a couple of hours always seemed to help with this ailment.
For some reason the ladies in question almost always took those stairs, hoping that no one would see them. Each time he ran into one, they would stutter and turn red and mumble some sort of apology as they tried to pass. Several of them would try to cover any sort of love bites and or bruising they might have had on their arms or neck. One of his mother's ladies in waiting sat and cried in the dark and dingy stairwell when he made eye contact with her. He was so beside himself that, he gave her his cookie and offered his cup of tea to her. She was so surprised; she quit bawling and dashed down the rest of the stairs, dropping his cookie into the stairwell. The cookie tumbled down the stairs creating a mess of crumbs as it disappeared into the darkness. Not wanting to cause the girl any more embarrassment he just went up to his room and drank his cooling tea and tried to read a book until dawn.
Collin just couldn't understand women. He had never felt excessively comfortable around any of them other then, Rifka, the traveling book vendor. He didn't' even consider her a woman most of the time, more like a friend. It probably helped that she was a little older then his mother with a sun tanned face that had lines upon it like a road map and graying hair that was often in a messy braid down her back. She typically dressed in suede trousers that helped her move around freely in her traveling caravan of books. Dresses would get caught on the crates of books.
Any time she was in town, he would spend hours pouring over the books in her cart, trying to figure out which ones he wanted and which ones he would actually read. He could talk to her about almost anything and she didn't seem to care at all. In fact she seemed to enjoy having some one to converse with on politics, literature, science and medicine. He never felt weird around Rifka and didn't have to worry about it being unusual or awkward if they spent hours together, because it was all to a purpose. Having very little contact with any other lady other then Rifka, he was slightly mystified as to what the ladies he brother entertained in his room could possibly be embarrassed about and why they often seemed to have bruises. Collin assumed that they probably did some sort of wrestling and horse play, which would cause some of the bruises if not careful, because he knew that despite Ethan being and excellent reader he very rarely did it. It wasn't until he asked Rifka what she thought was going on in Ethan's room, did she pull out a book with all sorts of pictures and explanations. Collin had never felt his ears turn any redder then when Rifka had the birds and the bees talk with him.
Thinking of a book he specially ordered, he hoped that if he would be really lucky perhaps and possibly catch Rifka in Glendrop. If she were in Glendrop, he would be able to pick up one of the novels of folklore that he had asked her to pick up for him, thus giving him something to distract himself while the princesses pranced about the castle. Spurring his horse on a little more to try and get there faster he left the rest of his thoughts in a cloud of dust as he started to see the wrought iron city gates of Glendrop.
That night Ethan sat in the wingback chair in the library watching the logs burn in the fireplace. Flames of orange and yellow danced around. Deep coals of white glowed contently as the flames danced. A glass of scotch sat next to him hardly touched. In his mind he knew that the next day the princesses from the next kingdom over would be arriving and his mothers wedding campaign would start. He had thought that he would have more time. There never seemed to be enough time for everything he wanted to accomplish it. Most of it required lots of work, which was not something he ever wanted to admit to doing. Work would surely require him to get his hands dirty. If there was something that Ethan hated it was dirt and disorder.
Even when brooding, he made it a point to look at picture perfect as possible. Sometimes a person had to act fast if they wanted to get what they wanted and dressing made all the difference in the world between a whore and a lady, a prince and pauper. He would never be mistaken for a mere commoner by the way he dressed, unlike his brother, thought Ethan with a small frown. Even though it was almost midnight, he pants still looked as if they had been freshly pressed and his shirt had barely a wrinkle in it. His suit coat lay gently against the settee next to him to prevent it from becoming creased. The only thing that was relaxed about him was that he untied his cravat. For this part of his plan he needed to at least look a little casual. Having his cravat untied irritated him. It needed to be either on or off, but not in this half undressed state, but he held his urges in check, because he know that it would unsettle he prey if he left it tied. It would be too formal. If it was off, he would have to shove it in his pocked and then it would take forever to get it to have the proper creases. The only way to compromise was to leave it untied on his neck.
He tried to be a little irritated at his mother taking a sharp hand in this, but he had known for a while that this day would come. He just didn't realize it would come so quickly. He had thought that he had more time for his plan, but it seemed that it wasn't so. It was beginning to be imperative that he speed of the cogs of his plan if he was ever going to get what he wanted.
The door to the library opened softly. A small delicate face of a maid that had been hired to help out with the soon to be arriving princesses, slipped into the solitude of the library. With a little bit of tremor she approached Ethan. Inside Ethan smiled at her obvious fear and discomfort. He had cornered her that morning in the kitchen when the cook had been reviewing meal plans with his mother, and after a bit of charm and pressure he had her word that she would meet him in the library for princess tutoring that night when the clock struck midnight. Trying to look as harmless as possible, he motioned to her to take a seat in the burgundy wingback chair opposite to him. With a deft hand he poured her a snifter of brandy to try and calm her nerves. She shifted on her feet from side to side before she approached him. As she drew closer the firelight made her dull brown hair take on red highlights that almost complimented her thin face. After a moment she decided to accept his offer to sit and the firelight washed over her face. Her eyes were a little wide on her head and bright blue, her thin straight nose went down the center of her face and turned up at the end. Giving her an almost fishy look.
"It is alright. I don't bite," said Ethan in what he had cultivated as smooth and charming voice. He hoped that he could get this task done with in the next half hour, because he sorely needed some sleep, if he was going to be fresh and pressed for tomorrow.
"That not what I heard in the kitchens," chirped the maid in brave squeaky voice. Then realizing what she just said could be considered and insult, she started to turn bright cherry tomato red. Glancing down to the glass of amber liquid she decided to down the biting liquor he had handed her to boost her courage in one swallow. The warming liquid took her by surprise causing her to sputter and choke. Watching her sputter and choke made Ethan think even more of a fish gasping in the air on the beach after a storm. Ethan being highly amused at the pertinence of her answer, and the funny faces she was making, decided to help her out by patting her on the back until he breathing was under control.
"You have caught me. I do bite, but I promise, if I ever sink my teeth into you, I can guarantee that you will like it, my dear," whispered Ethan seductively to the maid.
"My name is Clara, please don't call me dear. It makes me feel like we have done things, and we haven't," pleaded bravely Clara. Her fingers nervously trying to smooth her already straight thin hair that had slipped out of the messy bun at the back of her head. Giving up on the piece of hair that had come loose, she tucked it behind her tiny shell like ear.
"Well, Clara, my dear girl. A man can certainly hope to do things in the future," teased Ethan, causing Clara to turn a deeper shade of red. Noticing her distress, he decided not to tease her any longer if she was going to be any use to him.
"I am sorry if all of this has made you uncomfortable. It seems that I am a horrible flirt and I have a habit of breaking peoples hearts even if I don't want to. I don't want to break your heart, since you are a very good and proper girl. If you weren't a good and proper girl my mother would never have hired you to help out with the impending arrival of the princesses," stated Ethan. Clearly dazed at this frank talk, Clara nodded her head at him to continue.
"Well, it seems that it is my mothers greatest intention for me to be married. It is most likely to one of these princesses that are to be arriving on the morrow. I feel it is a trifle unfair on my side. Six against one. That hardly seems like fair odds. What I need is someone on my side. Do you think you could be on my side, Clara?" asked Ethan as he smiled a tender practiced lovers smile to her and gazed into brown eyes deeply.