Chapter 15

Gentle rays of light cascaded through window panes, floating lazily in thick gold beams to lay across Cassandra's face and warm the skin there. She shifted in the seat which forced her upright, glancing from the corner of her eye to the blue sky and kind day just outdoors. It made her heart long to escape from this prison of a room, a cell of utter boredom. She would rather be playing in the stable with Nakatara and Sam, as childish as it sounded.

"Princess, you have set aside your needlework?" Lady Edwina asked firmly, yet it was less of a question and more of a statement.

Cassandra tossed her hair by silently answering with a shake of a head and focusing her attention on the frustrating needle and threat before her. Why must she, a royal Princess, a Queen-To-Be, sit about and sew? Wouldn't she have people to do such things? How would she use a talent like sewing in her future? It was a grand waste of time.

"How many times must I tell you; do not shake your head so violently."

"Yes, Lady Edwina," Cassandra replied with a murmur. She had known this woman for as long as she could remember. She often thought that her governess might have been quite a beautiful girl in her past days. Though her hair was a perfect, clean white framing her face, Cassandra imagined it dark like night. Her eyes, brilliant like emeralds, absorbed everything but said nothing. The form of her face, though worn with age, was impeccable. Her whole self was entirely kept and always an image of class, a vision worth respecting and admiring.

Cassandra knew nothing of her governess, who had such an impact on her life, a strict, cool hand which had formed her as a Princess. And never had she turned her eye to another of her sisters--while they had all shared one single lady, the youngest for some certain reason had been singled out to be placed with this woman. Many times, especially when she was younger, she had abhorred Edwina. Her manner was chilly and unforgiving, her critisms unrelenting, and she always seemed to be watching even when turned away. Some moments, Edwina would burst with frustration and anger, but managed to calm herself and treat the girl even more coldly. At times, Cassandra felt she could do nothing right. Little praise ever was offered her despite her hard work, doing as the lady asked in an attempt to please her. Finally, after years of work, the Princess was given more smiles, a nod here and there, a compliment perhaps. 

The mistress was proud to see her young student blossom so handsomely, even through all the girl's hard-headedness, her stubborn nature, her vivacity and curiousity which at times was hard to control. But the girl had indeed worked hard, and she had seen it. Lady Edwina would be pleased to present Cassandra before Navarn as their Queen when the time came.  

A knock came on the door and a maiden servant slipped inside. She curtsied deeply, straightened and began, "The Duke of Lycroft, a Sir Giddeon, is here for you, Lady Edwina."

Cassandra straightened herself curiously, her eyes turning toward her governess, who surprised her by grinning with glee and standing, "Oh, allow him inside, Arathna."

On rules of courtesy, the Princess stood as well as the servant curtsied a second time before leaving the room, allowing for the Duke for to make his entrance. "Lady Edwina....Princess Cassandra," he bowed briskly. "Am I interrupting? I may come back at another time...?"

"Oh, no, Giddeon," she suddenly smiled slyly. Her behaviour was stunning Cassandra. "I was just about to speak to Cassandra about a certain something, and your presense will assist me."

"What?" muttered the Princess, shocked as Edwina took her arm and guided her forward.

"I heard that the previous night that you two caused quite a show when you were dancing. The both of you should certainly know better, I have trained the both of you how to dance. It is quite embarrassing to me, you know," she waved her finger in play. Cassandra looked curiously at the Duke. Her governess had also been Sir Giddeon's? "Now, we shall practice, so neither of you shall make that mistake ever again.

"This time, I want your hands, Giddeon, right here on her waist, and yours, Cassandra on his shoulders. I never fancied that dance when you had to hold hands, it is quite awkward," Edwina instructed them.

Cassandra colored slightly. If she felt intimate last night, she felt even more so today. Not that she should be too out of place, she had often danced like this. Why was she acting so silly?

"Can you believe her?" whispered Sir Giddeon with a wink and a smile.

"Oh, shush, you bad child!" grinned the governess. "You have always been a rascal."

"Me?" he batted his lashes, making Cassandra giggle. "We don't even have music, m'Lady?"

"We don't need it. I can manage," Edwina said. Suddenly serious, she began,  "Ready,...and 1, and 2...."

The End

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