Chapter 10 - Corinne

To make matters worse, Dachshund Manor was expecting a visit from Prince Bernard La Bradiva at lunchtime, and he was bringing his youngest daughter, Mina, who apparently idolised Corinne and wanted to be exactly like her.

Corinne sat in her room until Samantha knocked upon her door to announce the prince’s arrival and composed herself, intending to show no signs of strain in her friendliness before the royal visitors. After all, whose fault was it but Richard’s that she had reason to be upset?

Yet the meal was one of the most awful she had experienced.

Upon seeing Corinne in the manor foyer, Mina had sprinted to her, thrown her arms around her and yelled with delight, “Lord Richard’s lady, Lord Richard’s lady!”

Her father had pulled her away, smiling in amusement, but she had gazed up at Corinne, enchanted, and said, “You are so lucky.”

During the walk to the garden where they were to take lunch, Prince Bernard had told Corinne, “She knows more about the story of you and Lord Dachshund than her own kingdom.”

While eating the roast gammon and pineapple bought from a trader whose origins lay in a country far south of Lorcqa, Mina asked questions like, “Will Lord Richard have a crown made for you?”, “Will you attend the royal balls and dance with him in front of all the Lorcqan aristocracy?” and “Will you wear the dress you were wearing when Lord Richard saved you from the fire?”

Corinne had to gently point out that she wasn’t a princess and that her life hadn’t been threatened by the fire: merely that she and her mother would have been in poverty if not for Lord Dachshund; and at the same time stop herself from crying because she so wished she could dance with Richard at some sort of event. Unfortunately, Prince Bernard sat at another table with Lord Richard and was too engrossed in conversation to notice his daughter distressing Corinne.

Corinne’s mother was at the table with Corinne and Mina - she smiled at Mina’s childish behaviour, content to watch conversations and not be part of them as was her quiet way. She noticed none of her own daughter’s sadness, which Corinne took as a sign her façade was working. Thankfully Mina began to talk about things she admired about Corinne herself after a while, which wasn't too unpleasant.

“I love the shade of your hair,” the princess with her beautiful long fair hair said enviously. “But I am glad we share the same blue eyes.”

“I have heard you adore talking to the manor’s visitors. You’re such an amiable character!”

“I love your dress today! The peach works well with the white shoes and makes your hair look even prettier.”

Still, Corinne was glad to see Mina go. The praise had turned into a spoken essay of how Corinne was the perfect lady. Corinne was told that Richard was the luckiest lord in the land, which only served to cause her to ask herself why he hadn’t asked her to marry him yet.

And upon departing the manor, Mina had called “You’re the most fortunate woman I’ve met, Princess Corinne!” which nearly ruined Corinne’s achievement of repressing every single tear which had threatened to break her composure.

On her way to the kitchen where she intended to busy herself with the washing of the dishes so she could not concentrate on her wild, almost uncontrollable feelings, Corinne passed Richard who appeared to frown at her as he caught a glimpse of her face (on which there might have possibly been a scowl).

‘I hope that hurts him,’ Corinne thought viciously. ‘I hope it’s like a stab to his heart.’ Her heart was fit to break.

The End

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