Authors: Sheela Word
Tags: #coming of age, #short story, #young adult, #teen, #historical romance, #shakespeare, #free, #fantasy romance, #fairy tale, #bbw, #ya, #georgette heyer, #enneagram, #jane austen, #sweet romance, #literary romance, #tudor romance, #enneagram type 6
The Very Large Princess (A Tale of
Love and Romance)
By Sheela Word
Copyright ©2013 Sheela Word
All rights reserved. No part of this
story may be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without
the express written permission of the author, excepting brief
quotations in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses
permitted by copyright law.
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King Piers of Sidslund oft lamented
his late Queen. “Whilst your mother lived, I longed to escape her
clattering tongue,” he told his daughters. “Yet now would I give
all my wealth to hear her speak again.”
“Bestow your gold upon me, Father, and
I vow that your ears shall ring with my scolding,” said Princess
Drusilla. The younger princess, Margery, said nothing, but smiled
sweetly and slipped her slender hand into her father’s.
“You shall have wealth enough, my
girl,” the King replied to his eldest daughter. “You are richly
dowered, and surely you shall be wed before many weeks have
Drusilla flushed, thinking of her
suitor, Prince Aubrey of Langley.
Each morn, Drusilla swept into the
Great Hall to meet the Prince and receive his attentions. The
Prince bowed low over her hand and suggested a walk in the garden,
if the weather were fine, or a game of chess, if it were not. Then
they would talk as old friends, and never did the Prince fail to
smile and make jests, and never did Drusilla fail to
But as day followed day, the Prince
did not tell his love. More troublesome yet, the times when he drew
the Princess aside for private conversation became less and less
frequent. Instead he seemed content to sit with her in the presence
of Sober John, his companion, who watched them with a stern eye,
and little Margery, who quietly worked her embroidery, peeping up
at them now and then, with a shy smile.
“Shall he ever speak?” Drusilla asked
herself one night, as she prepared for sleep. “I can wait no
longer. Tomorrow, in word or gesture I shall let him know the
fullness of my heart.”
When she entered the Great Hall the
following morn, Drusilla knew she looked her best. She had dressed
with special care in a gown of crimson brocade, and adorned her
brown hair with a jeweled comb.
Yet her father met her with a frown.
“Read this,” he said, holding out a piece of parchment.
Excellent and most honored
the letter began.
I beseech your forgiveness for departing in such
haste. Although I honor and admire Princess Drusilla, I regret that
I am unable to offer for her hand. I am of only middling size, and
Drusilla is such a very large princess.
Drusilla looked at her trembling
hands. They were indeed very large, but she had hoped, nay
believed, that he did not find them so. Had he always perceived her
thus…e’en during the times he had seemed most tender? How soft his
dark eyes had seemed to be when they looked on her.
“His Highness is a rogue who hath
fooled us all,” said the King, seating himself at the high table
and selecting a pear from a platter of fruits. “Think no more of
it, my dear.”
But Drusilla could think of little
else, and when a second message was brought, she took it from the
servant blindly, not knowing what she did.
“What is this?” asked his Majesty
Drusilla dropped her eyes to the
He hath asked
me to go with him in the coach, and I cannot say him nay. I hope
the journey is not long. I shall miss you and Drusilla very
“What!” shouted the King, pushing
himself up from the table so violently that his heavy chair nearly
“Sire, what would you?” asked the
“Summon my Chamberlain!” shouted the
King, and the man hastened to do his bidding.
Presently the Hall rang with loud
voices. The Chamberlain, and all the King’s ministers proclaimed
that Aubrey must be brought to earth, like the villainous fox he
“But where is he to be found?!” his
“Surely, Sire, in church,” said the
Chamberlain, and several heads nodded.
“Nay,” croaked an elderly
minister, running a thin hand over his grey beard. “They shall
travel to his father’s kingdom, and there be wed in proper style.
And indeed, it may not be a bad match, though Princess
“Fie,” said the Chamberlain. “He is
such a youth as would wed without his father’s blessing. E’en now
he and the Princess are fleeing toward some church or
“Sire, I fear the truth lies
elsewhere,” said a young minister who hoped to distinguish himself
at Court. “Prince Aubrey is but a tool of his father. He hath
stolen the beauteous Margery at his father’s behest. She shall be
held captive, and we shall pay dearly for her safe return. Our only
choice is war!”
Silence fell, and then discussion
again broke out, louder than before, with some counseling caution
(“Let us not be hasty, Sire!”) and others courage (“Your Majesty,
bold action is required!”).
King Piers at last put up his hand to
stem the tide of voices, and not a breath stirred while he
considered. “We must summon the Captain of Armies,” he said at
“Nay,” said a voice that had not,
until now, been heard. Though she had spoken quietly, all eyes
turned to Princess Drusilla. “Father, there is ought that I would
tell you, but I crave a private audience.”
The King dismissed his ministers. Ere
the heavy oak doors of the Hall had closed on the last of them,
however, a barrel-chested man of middling height thrust himself
into the chamber, shaking off a servant who tried to hold him
“Do you dare to breach this chamber!”
shouted the King, who recognized the intruder.
Sober John, Prince Aubrey’s companion,
stepped forward and made a low bow, then stood up and met the
King’s angry gaze with his own steady brown eyes.
“Have you taken hurt, John?” asked
Drusilla, offering her handkerchief.
Tis only a scratch,
m’lady,” said Sober John, ruefully daubing his forehead. “The young
devil took my horse, else I would have overta’en them. I was near
abreast o’ them when my paltry nag bolted and tipped me off in a
“You might have had a courser from the
royal stables,” said Drusilla.
“I feared to be thought a thief. First
a Princess, then a royal steed gone missing. Indeed, I am much to
blame, for never did I ken that Aubrey would do such a
“You have much to answer for,” said
the King, “But, quick, man, tell where they may be!
“Alack, sire, I cannot say! They were
on the high road, when last I saw them, but likely have turned off
“Yes, they would have turned at Middle
Cross,” said Drusilla. “From thence, it is half-a-day’s journey to
the Chalet of Duc Pepin De Coeur.”
“Aye,” exclaimed Sober John, “It may
well be so!” And he pulled from his sleeve a piece of parchment
that was covered in fine script. “When I woke this morn from a
sleep more deep than nature ever wrought, I found this missive
tucked up in my doublet.”
You have ever been an
over-watchful friend. Yet your eye did miss the draught I poured
into your mead last night, and now you lie before me as a felled
ox. Perhaps I was unjust to treat you so, but this is the last
trick I shall play. I am for a new life. In the words of the
immortal Pepin De Coeur,
Love is like a lake,
And thou art like a
Must draw the lover
“The young cur!” King Piers
“Father, Aubrey oft did
tell me that he wished to become a troubadour, in the style of
Pepin De Coeur,” said Drusilla. “
If I but had a muse’ he would say,
then gaze at me with such a gleaming eye, I took it all for
“Aye, and it is naught more than a
lad’s folly,” said Sober John. “But it shall take a deal of trouble
to convince him so.”
“Lad or no lad, he shall be dragged
back in irons!” bellowed the King.
“Margery would weep to see him treated
thus,” said Drusilla. “And you must know, Father, that Aubrey ne’er
would do her harm. No, let him stay with the Duc if he will, but
Margery must be brought home.”
“Aye, that is the best course,” said
John. “I shall take to the saddle at once.”
“Wait,” said Drusilla. “You must not
go alone. Father, by your leave, I shall ride with John. Margery, I
know, will gladly return with me. Mayhap, we shall all be here to
dine with you tomorrow, and this matter put behind us. But you must
write a letter to the Duc, that he may receive us
King Piers required much persuasion,
but at length he agreed that Drusilla’s plan was best.
Drusilla and John prepared quickly for
their journey, yet the sun was already high in the sky when they
set out. They were on horseback, and a carriage, laden with
clothes, food, and costly gifts for the Duc, followed some distance
Although the day was bright and the
road good, Drusilla seemed blind to all they passed. Her companion
glanced at her from time to time, making remark when he saw a
hedgehog scaling a stile, a donkey braying at a kitten, or a raven
tugging at a tassel of wheat. Yet he could not win her to a
Drusilla thought of Aubrey’s laughing
face, all that he had meant to her, and all that he had said. “How
can it be that he does not love me?” she wondered again and again,
stroking the neck of her mount, a chestnut stallion that was her
father’s favorite and her own. Her head drooped as she remembered
the delicate grasp of Margery’s slim fingers on the reins of the
little gray mare she favored, a beast as gentle in spirit as
“Ho!” cried John, interrupting
Drusilla’s reverie. They had turned off the main road and passed
through Middle Cross. John pulled up his horse, and prepared to
“Hath your mount thrown a shoe?” asked
Drusilla, pulling on her own reins.
“Nay, but he’s a fool,” said John,
leaping to the ground, and pulling a small knife from the soldier’s
pouch he wore about his waist.
Drusilla stared, as John rapidly
strode back ten paces to confront a large, unseemly rose bush that
thrust its thorny arms at passersby.
“This is the beauty I did see,” he
said, returning with a full-blown blossom. “A bloom as crimson as
wine. Yet the fool of a beast plodded on with nary a glance.” After
deftly trimming its stem, he held up the rose that Drusilla might
take it; and she tucked it into her girdle, smiling at his
Now, as they rode, Drusilla’s heart
felt lighter. To pass the time, she asked her companion how long he
had been in the Prince’s service.