Chapter 49 - Corinne /and/ Richard

It was the day of Lord Richard and Corinne’s wedding. The manor had been specially decorated with flowers of every colour which adorned the Lorcqan landscape.

Corinne’s dress was of a pale blue colour that matched her eyes while Richard was to wear the uniform of the Lorcqan military - a silver tunic over brown trousers with a black belt tied around the waist. The people invited to the private ceremony were Corinne’s family, the staff of Dachshund Manor, Richard’s former governess, Miss Amber, and Eric Stag.

The ceremony was to take place in the grounds of Dachshund Manor - the season was Spring and the grounds were a breath-taking sight - conducted by Prince Bernard and officially witnessed by the prince’s brother, Prince Russell, and his sister, Princess Anna-Tolia. Afterwards, there would be a parade through Periville’s streets and a public banquet in the town square during which the newly married pair would open their wedding presents before Lord Richard and the now Lady Corinne would travel west, riding into the sunset to the beaches along that coast named Oc-Syden where they would spend their first night as husband and wife.

*

Richard and Corinne had finished their lunch - their last meal together as an unmarried pair.  The mood during this had been casual and light-hearted: neither person wanted to display nervousness before the other, and also they were content in each other’s company. Both reminded themselves that the wedding would be the happiest and most meaningful event in their lives which helped to lessen the anxiety that they felt.

Richard walked to the parlour where the male members of staff were waiting to help him with his attire while Corinne went to her bedchamber where the maids and the chef would help her with hers.

An hour later Richard was standing on the lawn before the manor, Prince Bernard in front of him, Prince Russell and Princess Anna-Tolia a little to his left, the guests behind him on the most comfortable chairs that the staff had been able to find, and he was waiting for Corinne to arrive beside him. The men who had helped him sat on the available chairs - not one person had declined the invitation sent out  - and there was quiet murmuring while Corinne prepared. The nerves were almost too great for Lord Richard - he was afraid that he would perform some part of the ceremony wrongly or humiliate himself - and he found it a wonder when his legs didn’t attempt to carry him away. He looked at Prince Bernard who was smiling calmly at him.

“Nothing bad will happen,” he assured Richard. “It may feel that way but when the ceremony is over you will look back at it and call yourself silly for worrying so.”

Richard nodded, though he still felt nervous.

“Relax,” the prince advised. “It will be easy: I promise. If you ever find yourself losing confidence, look into your lady’s eyes and think about why you are marrying her.”

Richard tried to smile.

“I thank you, Your Majesty.”

The prince smiled.

“You’re welcome.” He glanced behind Richard. “Ah, there comes your lady now.”

Richard turned his head and stared.

Corinne was walking towards him gracefully, dressed in a blue gown which covered all of her body below her neck, save her hands and feet. She wore dark blue, sparkly slippers upon her feet. She smiled gently though the sheer intensity of her happiness could be seen in her eyes. She looked as beautiful as might a serene goddess. The maids and chef followed silently - and everyone fell silent as she approached Lord Richard - and took seats as they saw them until Corinne was walking alone. She took her place beside Richard, smiled more widely and then turned her head to face Prince Bernard. Richard stared for a few more seconds before looking at the prince as well.

“Dear friends and beloved family of Lord Richard Dachshund and Corinne Kingfisher,” Prince Bernard began, “we are assembled in the beautiful grounds of Dachshund Manor to witness the marriage of these two young characters who have happily found love and wish never to part for the rest of their lives.”

“For the rest of their lives,” the guests repeated, their voices low to suit the seriousness of the event.

“Their bond is in its initial stages of blossoming and this ceremony should cause the bud to fully open. It will become a flower representing strength, a flower representing steadfastness, a flower representing love.”

“May the pair find strength, show steadfastness and feel love,” the audience chanted.

Princess Anna-Tolia walked forwards carrying two rings made of a purple metal that glinted in the sun.

“The pair has chosen Thystian rings,” Prince Bernard told the guests. “Thystian rings are symbols of hope: of light in darkness. Lord Richard is expressing his desire to provide hope for Corinne and vice versa. Any ring is a symbol of commitment, a symbol a promise and a symbol of eternity.” Princess Anna-Tolia stopped walking at this point, standing inches away from Richard.

“Before Lord Richard presents Corinne with her ring, I must ask, is there any objection to this marriage, based on law or human values?” Prince Bernard looked around and there was an aura about him that almost seemed to threaten any man who was considering objecting.

He smiled as no one stood to declare an objection.

He turned to his sister, took one of the rings and gave it to Richard.

Richard’s heart began pounding in his chest. Could he do this? Could he put this ring on Corinne’s finger and be bound to her forevermore?

He followed Prince Bernard’s advice and glanced into Corinne’s solemn eyes. He instantly relaxed as he remembered the very first day he had looked into those eyes and seen openness and purity.

Richard took her hand and waited for his instructions.

“Recite after me: ‘By this presentation of a Thystian ring...”

“By this presentation of a Thystian ring.”

“‘I, Richard Dachshund, promise you, Corinne Kingfisher,...”

“I, Richard Dachshund, promise you, Corinne Kingfisher.”

“‘That I will be loyal,...”

“That I will be loyal.”

“‘...be strong when you require it,...”

“Be strong when you require it.”

“‘...look after your needs,...”

“Look after your needs.”

“‘...and love you for all time’.”

“And love you for all time.”

“Put on the ring.”

Richard carefully slid the ring along Corinne’s finger so that it rested above the diamond engagement ring.

Prince Bernard took the other ring from his sister, who walked away to rejoin Prince Russell, and gave it to Corinne.

“Recite after me,” he told her: “‘By this presentation of a Thystian ring...”

Corinne spoke slowly and carefully, and her voice betrayed her nerves.

“By this presentation of a Thystian ring.”

“ ‘I, Corinne Kingfisher, promise you, Richard Dachshund,...”

“‘That I will be loyal,...”

“That I will be loyal.”

“ ‘...comfort you in times of strife,..”

“Comfort you in times of strife.”

“ ‘look after you as well as I can,...”

“Look after you as well as I can.”

“‘...and love you for all time’.”

“And love you for all time.”

“Put on the ring.”

Corinne’s fingers shook as she slipped the ring onto the correct one of Richard’s fingers. She looked up into his eyes, smiling despite her nervousness.

Both Richard and Corinne turned to the prince so he could close the ceremony.

“You have married and the Palace has borne witness to it.” Prince Bernard faced Corinne. “Corinne, you are now Lady Corinne Dachshund of Periville.”

Corinne nodded, still smiling. Prince Bernard resumed looking at both members of the pair.

“May you live a wonderful, shared life and may you always remember this day.” He smiled widely. “You may now kiss.”

Richard cupped Corinne’s face in both of his hand, leaned forwards and kissed her softly. The guests burst into loud applause and the sounds of women crying could be heard.

Tears dropped from Corinne’s own eyes as she withdrew and turned to quietly thank Prince Bernard.

Richard murmured his gratitude as well before turning to the audience.

“Thank you all for attending. You are now free to follow the parade, wait in the marketplace or return home. Staff, we will not require you until the day after our return from Oc-Syden and guests who are not inhabitants of this town, I have asked for inns to allow people to stay the night free of charge. Presents will be opened in the marketplace and the banquet will begin in two hours. You may leave.”

All guests rose and while most walked a short distance away to wait for the parade, Corinne’s family and Richard’s former governess - a severe-looking woman when you first looked at her but a kind, caring lady when you looked into her eyes - approached to embrace the pair, Corinne’s relatives welcoming Lord Richard into their family. The baby Daniel was present and Richard teased Corinne when she cooed and lightly bounced her cousin in her arms, saying that she loved him more than him. All the family laughed when Corinne said, “Well, he is more adorable, I find.”

The parade was a walk of joy for all parties. The little girls of Periville arrived at Dachshund Manor excited to be part of the procession led by the ‘fairytale couple’- they were all dressed in bright colours with their hair tied up in ribbons that streamed merrily in the wind; the adults found that the high spirits of the children were infectious, and of course Richard and Corinne were elated to be married and could not remember a day that could even begin to compare with this one. As the parade reached the marketplace almost all of Periville had joined it. Scarcely any of the remainder could not be found in the town square: so popular were Richard and Corinne amongst the people.

 The presents were varied and wonderful. The pair received many bouquets of flowers, as well as items useful for babies (though Richard wasn’t sure exactly how many children the people of Periville thought he and Corinne were going to have) and the choicest selections of shop-owner’s particular trade. Some people even wrote poems for the couple (including the children).

The banquet that followed the storage of all the gifts in the building where the tables for the market stalls were stored and the placing of flowers into countless vases containing water which would hopefully sustain them was delicious. There was food for every man: the best chefs in Lorcqa had prepared almost every meal that existed in the country; and there were even small snacks for the little children which they seemed to enjoy. Richard and Corinne sat at the head of the long row of tables, sampling everything that they hadn’t tried before until they were too full to eat anymore. During the banquet there was lots of laughter and conversation: no one seemed to feel awkward or be isolated: a truly gratifying sight for the recently married pair.

At one point during the banquet, Eric Stag approached Corinne and murmured, “Have the best of lives,” into her ear before mysteriously dropping a little bag hand-sewn out of cotton into her lap and walking away without another word but with a wide smile on his face.

“What is it?” asked Richard curiously, who hadn’t missed the event.

Corinne opened the bag and found a string necklace with a silver charm in the shape of a star.

She pulled it fully out of the bag and showed it to her husband (a word which produced a thrill of delight in her).

“That is beautiful,” he murmured. “Eric is most kind. Would you like me to put it around your neck?”

“Yes, please,” she replied quietly, awed as well by the prettiness of the jewellery. 

Richard took the necklace, untied the knot in it, leant towards her and tied the string at Corinne’s nape. He let go but before he could draw away, Corinne kissed him on the lips.

He smiled. “I cannot wait to see Oc-Syden at sunset,” he whispered.

“Me neither,” she replied.

And two hours later their wish came true. The banquet finished and the banqueters progressively dispersed and once every man had left the table Richard led Corinne to the manor where they mounted the horse which would take them to the famous beach. In time that seemed quickened rather than slowed by Richard and Corinne’s excitement they arrived on the golden sands and were greeted by the sight of the setting sun across a horizon uninterrupted by landmarks...

The End

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