"What on Earth were you thinking?" my father yells, enguling me with shame and guilt. He had walked -dragged- me home before starting to rant about the reasons preventing me from accepting Bastian's hand. "You could jeapardise the friendship between the Loxleys and ourselves. And for what? Some foolish romance? You could have a secure home, a secure future with Mr. Loxley. What do you think people will think? They will think that you were not simply here for the money. I will not have my daughter labelled a harlot! It simply cannot be, dear. All passions will be ceased for the security of your future. I have your best interests at heart, dear." he says holding my chin.
"Father, please. I could have just as stable a future with Bas -master Neville- as I could with Mr. Loxley, more so! You said yourself the Loxleys have not as grand a fortune as the Nevilles. Please, father, I could be happy here, very happy here."
"Enough. My daughter will not be known as a hussie! You will shame us all. There will be no wedding between you and master Neville. You will marry Mr. Loxley and master Neville will marry Elizabeth." he softens his tone more now and looks at me with a sympathetic smile. "One day you will realise that this is for the best."
He goes to turn. If he leaves the room now then it is conversation over, no possibility of me marrying Bastian, so I tell him. "I love him."
He turns slowly, painfully so.
I finally see the look on his face; awe, joy and -disappointment.
He turns and walks out. This will not be the end of the conversation. I follow him down the corridor and he makes a left into the study where we see Bastian and Lord Neville in deep conversation -I know what about. Bastian looks to me first, a glimmer of hope sparkling in his sapphire eyes, then that hope burns as he looks towards my father's raging face.
My father gesures for us to follow him into the corridor. We do as we are told. Due to my skirt's size, my father does not see when Bastian interlaces his fingers with mine behind my back.
We stand ready for the disappointment of a lifetime.
"This is wrong. All of this is wrong. You, master Neville, are engaged to Elizabeth: a respectable young girl with a bright future. And you, " he turns to me now. "are engaged to Mr. Loxley." I feel Bastian wince. "Both secure and possibly happy marriages. And that is why I have decided, " Bastian squeezes my fingers in support -possibly more for himself than for me. He has already been refused by me once, he couldn't bare it if my father did so also, not when I have finally agreed. "to give you both my blessing." Bastian lets out a sigh and laughs in relief. He hugs me tightly and then shakes my father's hand, then hugs me again. Thank the Lord for that.
It has been a month since that day.
I wait in a drafty room, palms sweating.
"You look beautiful." My father says. And I smile at him. I look at my white gown, sleeves of lace and a long skirt; my mother's wedding dress given to me as a gift from my father three weeks ago.
"Please, father, do not make me cry." I say and smile, however a small tear runs off my cheek.
"My daughter, all grown up. I am glad." he says.
"Father, please. Do not leave me. Do not let this be the end." I beg, tear after tear rolling down my face. I reach for my father, but am greeted with nothing but cold air.
My father died two weeks ago.
I had moved in with the Neville's earlie than planned and Bastian had been nothing but supportive. He even offered to postpone the wedding for a while if necessary, but I had refused, my father wouldn't have wanted that. The twins had checked on me frequently and had been very kind to me, knowing exactly th pain I was -am- going through. Even the servant-girls who doted on Bastian had shown some form of sympathy towards me. I had seen exactly how I could call that house a home.
However, a hole was left in my life where he had been. He was the foundation of my very being and now he was gone. Nothing more than a rotting corpse in some freshly turned dirt.
At least that's all others will see. I will still see his stories, his love, his imagination running freely in my mind and his. Us giggling at silly jokes we make about silly things. Us mourning the loss of our family together. Us always being side by side through life.
Now there was nothing at my side but air...and a voice: "My child," it says "live your life as you wish. There is a chapter starting in your life, as I reach the final one of mine. I will always be here."
I wipe my face dry and smile.The doors open and I step down the aisle. People are stood from where they were sitting upon my arrival and smile at me; all, that is, except of course Elizabeth.
Then I look up to Bastian and what do I see? I see a future, a friend, a husband, a shoulder to cry on, the crier upon my shoulder, my council, a family. And as I see a single tear slide off his cheeks at the sight of me, I know that's what he sees in me also.
I walk towards him and stand at his side. Side by side, in life, until death do us part. And it is now that I hear it; the scratching of a quill on parchment. I see my father's face etched in concentration as he works on another masterpiece. I see the satisfaction on his face as he writes new words of his final legacy, his final story; the story of a Tudor Girl.
YOU ARE READING
A Tudor Girl named Ethelreda lives as a maid in a grand house. But things do not go to plan. The master's son- a spoiled, arrogant, rude man with no regard for anyone but himself- and two mischievous children make her life extraordinarily difficult...