3. Rags to Riches

    “You couldn't possibly tell all that just by looking at my hands!” she gasped in disbelief.

“I can tell many things about a person from their hands. I can see what their occupation is, their general age, and how hard they’ve worked just by glancing at their palms,: The captain boasted, crossing his arms across his chest, a sly smile upon his face. “So, tell me if I’m right, or prove me wrong. I’ve told you a bit of my past, now it’s your turn to spill, my lady.”

“Well, err... I... umm,” she started, nervous as always. Taking a deep breath and straightening her back, she began again, “My name is Hataru Orfanos-Catomerus, princess of Trellisaina, daughter of King Isicar the Clement. Albeit, it wasn’t always so. Years ago, when I was only eight years of age, I was practically living on the streets in a port city in my country of birth, Marcelia. My mother had grown ill and was near death, and over grieved by her state, my father began wasting away the small amount of money he earned as a blacksmith’s assistant by gambling at card games. I was forced to fend for myself and try to care for my sickly mother without any financial support to call a doctor. My clothes were made of rags I had found in the tailor’s garbage; I stole stale and burnt bread from the baker’s dumpster. Hunger and Coldness were my only friends.

“Then one night, I came across a remarkable amount of money. For a moment, I thought that my luck was about to change, alas, I was wrong. I tried, oh, how I tried to hide it from my irresponsible father, but he had a way of sniffing out every single coin, like a sickly dog cleaning the floor of crumbs with its tongue. Needless to say, the cash was gone by morning. My mother gave up the fight for life soon after that, and my father was arrested for not paying the royal taxes. Mourning over my losses, I was completely alone in the world and had nowhere to go. After months of tears and an empty stomach, I, only a mere child, had lost the will to live. I stopped scavenging for scraps of food and slept on the street, but somehow I survived the harsh winter.

“The next spring, as I was stumbling through the city, king of a neighboring kingdom, King Isicar, was riding down the streets on a horse as black as night. His youngest daughter had just passed away, killed by a rabid dog, and his misery was almost as painful as mine. Uncaring and unaware of the rest of the world, I didn’t stop to gaze at his procession like the rest of the crowds as he went to visit an old friend; I just shuffled down the side of the road with my head bowed. Tripping on a large rock, I fell into the street directly in front of his ebony horse’s hooves. He pulled on the reins and stared at me, completely taken aback. I looked up at him in fear, horrified that I might be trampled, but when he saw my face, he turned ghost white. ‘Arlana, Arlana is it really you?’ he whispered, tears welling in his eyes, as he hopped off his steed and approached me.

“Apparently, I looked an awful lot like his deceased daughter, and he thought that I was she, back from the dead. I bet I looked like I had been dead with my gangly body, pale, ashy-white skin, sunken eyes, and ratty hair. I shivered and hoped against hope that he wouldn’t hurt me when he found out I wasn’t who he thought I was. I watched as his expressions changed from hopeful, to disappointment,  and then to love, an expression I had not seen for quite a long time. He continued to crouch down next to me, cradled me in his arms, and whispered in my ear, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ A stared in wonder at his old face with salt and peppered hair and whiskers. His smile so warm. I'd never imagined that I'd feel like that after my parents' removal from my life.

“Within the next month, King Isicar adopted me, moved me into my new home, and I began learning how to live the life of a proper princess. I have never known such generosity as I’ve recieved from the Catomeruses. My new family all loved me unconditionally, even when I got in their way or said the wrong thing at the wrong time, which I did on a numerous account. Somehow, I had gone from living on the streets, eating scraps of food, to sleeping in a cozy bed, dining in a magnificent dining room, and playing in the castle courtyards. I’ve done my best to adapt to this new environment by engrossing myself into my studies, acting the way a princess should. Though, it is still beyond me how this ever came to be.

“Of course, I am not in line for the throne. I have an elder brother who will be king when our father retires; two elder sisters, whose husbands will be crowned if the worst happens; and then I have a younger brother who will be given the keys to the kingdom before I. Still, Father believes that I should be happily married to a nice, respectable man of high status. So, for the past year, I’ve been traveling kingdom to kingdom in search of a suitor. However, those nasty pirates came aboard and locked me up on my father’s ship, where you so kindly rescued me. Thank you for doing that, by the way.” Hataru, who had been speaking to her tea cup, shyly looked up to see the captains face. His gaze captured hers, and she could tell that he had hung onto her every word.

             They were still staring at each other when Firious burst through the doorway screaming, “Levi, quick! We’re under attack!”

The End

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