At the stables, however, her teacher had a different idea. He hadn’t gotten her Bruno out, but a black stallion and a golden-brown mare. This bothered Alys. Yes, she had a way with animals, but her heart had been set on a nice ride with Bruno, not on the horses standing in front of her!
“Hello princess,” her teacher said, “My name is Peter. I will be your instructor for your horseback riding lessons. Please choose your steed.” He was a young man, about 20, and he looked nice enough. However, Alys was anxious, still not sure if he believed all of this princess nonsense.
“Please, call me Peter.”
“Well, I sort of wanted to ride my horse, Bruno.” Alys said, “the young white stallion with the green blanket.” As she said this she led him into the stables and pointed Bruno our to him. Peter, however, just laughed and chided,
“Now princess, that isn’t a proper riding horse. He’s been inspected and sold. He’s going to do fine in the fields.” At first Alys was too shocked to say anything, but after the wave passed over her she stood her ground.
“No,” she said in her most demanding voice, “That horse was a birthday present from Nana when I was 9 years old. He is meant to be ridden, not to pull a plow! I will ride my horse, or none at all!” and Alys saddled up Bruno and rode away, ignoring all of Peter’s protests.
Alys was steaming. The idiots had sold her horse! Well, she wasn’t going to let them get away with it. She wouldn’t put Bruno back into those stables if his life depended on it. She was not going to lose her only connection to her old life. She would not let them take her baby away. She wasn’t going to let them take anything away. And then she rode towards the castle.
As she arrived near the palace door she was stopped by a group of guards.
“Young lady, I am sorry, but we cannot let you enter the castle on your steed,” the larger of the two said, “Take it to the stables, it will be safe there.” Alys’ heart was pounding, mind racing. She still didn’t know if she believed the king, but she needed a sense of authority. Whether she believed it or not, she must act. Alys gave her choice on last thought, then very carefully chose her words.
“I am Princess Alys!” she said, in her most commanding voice, “I wish to ride my horse through the palace. You will allow me to pass!” Sitting tall, she willed herself not to smile, for she had sounded ridiculous. The guards she seemed to agree, for they both burst out laughing, then said,
“Oh, we know who you are.” It was still the larger guard speaking, “but even theprincess” he put emphasis on the word, clearly doubting, “isn’t allowed to ride in the castle. Anyway, that horse is to be sold, so, if you would kindly remove yourroyalbehind from its back, we’ll escort you to Ms. Harriette.”
Oh, how Alys wished she believed, wished she had control. But still, she doubted. How could she, Alys Baker, her guardian was Maria Baker, was the closest thing to a parent she had ever known. Now the king of Ondger has claimed her as his daughter, telling her crazy stories of why he sent her away. Finally she made her decision.
“No!” she said, then turned and rode towards the gardens.
When she arrived at the oak tree she sat underneath it and sobbed. She was so mixed up, wondering whether to trust the king or the story she had known her whole life, the story her Nana had told her when she was only five years old. Whether she should hide Bruno, or let him go. Whether she should run away or stay. One thing she knew was that she should wait a few more days before deciding whether or not to believe the king, whether or not she was going to run. Finally she sat up; she knew there would be one thing she would enjoy, that was art.
Alys let her mind wander back to her art class, where she had already begun learning. She remembered what Professor Davisen had told her, about her art being displayed throughout the palace. Maybe, if she ran away, she could come back in disguise to display her artwork. How wonderful it would be to show her work to the whole palace! Maybe someday,She thought, climbing into the tree. For now she would wait for her mind to settle down.
The next thing Alys knew she was being woken up from a wonderful dream. She had been at home with Nana, baking bread to go with their stew. The smell had been so real, so unmistakable she could almost taste that supper, the last supper she had had with Nana. Still the smell haunted her; it was so enticing that she could almost run towards it. Shaking her head to rid herself of the feeling, Alys jumped out of the tree, she needed to speak with the king. She ran to Bruno and said,
“I’ll be right back. Stay here, and stay out of sight.” Bruno nodded his head and whinnied, as if he understood. Alys hugged him, and then ran towards the castle. When she arrived at the palace door she saw the two guards, the angry large one and the silent smaller one. When the large one saw Alys he stood straighter, gave her a mock salute and said,
“Well, isn’t it miss littleprincesswho thinks she’s so wonderful and in charge.” Alys didn’t let this comment bother her. She kept her head held high and thought,At least I’m not the only one who is doubting the king. She frowned, pondering all that had happened in the last few days. She remembered the day she got her summons to the palace on Ondger.