The king felt bad about what he had said to Alys. She was right. He was at fault with all of this. She wouldn’t be famous in Solemn if he hadn’t sent her there as a child. She wouldn’t think Solemn as her kingdom. He also thought about he had betrothed her to Matthew. That just made his problem worse; of course she’s going to thrust that back in his face. Thinking about this made him think about Matthew’s proposal. “Let Alys ride in the championship” he had said, “after all, she’s going to be the queen of Solemn someday.” Matthew was right, but as a father he had to enforce some rules…Should he let her go or make her stay?
Alys ran to find Matthew. It was lunchtime, she had skipped sewing; she was never planning on going back to sewing or embroidery again. Figuring that he would be in the kitchen, she headed in that direction. Sure enough, when she got there, so was Matthew.
“Hi!” Alys said, hiding her anger. Matthew grinned,
“Hi! Come eat!” He patted the seat next to him. Alys took it gratefully, grabbed a bowl of salad and began to eat. After she took a couple bites she turned towards Matthew and said,
“I don’t care what the king says. I’m riding in that competition!” Matthew stared at her, wide eyed, then said,
“You should at least wait for his answer before deciding that.” Matthew wondered if Alys was angry at her father. He’d only known her for a day, but he knew that this was her usual attitude.
“What is your next class?” Alys asked him.
“Um…” Matthew said, pulling out his schedule. “Well, here it says…” he ran his finger down the parchment muttering, “10:00, 11:15, 12:30, 1:45…ha! 2:15-Geogrophy!” Alys shook her head.
“I have riding, but I’m not going to learn all of those baby lessons from Peter anymore. I dismissed him this morning. I’m going to teach you. Meet me at the stables in fifteen minutes.” Then she left. Matthew stared after her, wondering when he was going to go to geography, then realized that it wasn’t such a bad thing. HE turned back to his food, finishing his sandwich then heading off to the stables.
Matthew arrived a few minutes early. He leaned against the barn, waiting quietly for Alys, pondering her character. He believed her the most amazing girl he had ever known, even though he hardly knew her. The way her long golden braid goes down her back, keeping her hair out of her laughing, sky blue eyes. The way her childish, almost elfish features made her look younger than her thirteen years. Her genuine felicity mesmerized him, but he knew that you do not want to get caught with her when she’s angry. He’d already experienced that for himself. Absorbed in his thoughts, he looked up and saw Alys coming towards him.
He watched Alys run through the garden meadow to the stable. Before she came to the stable, however, she ran to the swing and jumped on, getting just high enough for pleasure before jumping off again. She continued to run as soon as her feet hit the ground, she was very coordinated in that way. Suddenly she reached him, stopping, and hardly gasping for breath. As soon as she stopped she started talking at top speed,
“Hello Matthew, are you ready for your riding lesson?” she never slowed down. Matthew nodded, smiling, for her laughing manner had a way of rubbing off on anyone she came in contact with. She giggled, “Good, that’s how I want it.”
Matthew sat, watching Alys, just as he had done the night before. She saddled up Bruno, explaining as she went. After she finished she handed Buttercup’s harness to me, saying,
“Now you saddle up Buttercup,” she paused. “Since I’m giving you lessons I figure you better have a decent steed. Father gave her to me to make up for a stable-hands mistake. Along with lessons, my gift to you is buttercup.” Matthew stared at her, but she wasn’t finished.
“I expect you to take care of her. That is the first lesson that I am going to teach you in this course.” Alys loved sounding so official. Matthew stammered his thanks, and then Alys began.
She taught him what, how and when to feed her. Then she explained in more detail how to saddle up. After that she taught him how to correctly groom a horse, for many people do it wrong. She finished just as it was time to go to their next class.