Excerpt from The Castle

As she was cutting off a few fresh grown daisies, she heard footsteps behind her.  She paid no mind to it.  It was most likely one of the servants coming to tend to the garden.  She went about her business cutting flowers until she heard someone clear his throat directly behind her.

Kate gasped, jumped up, and swirled around.  Her heart pounded fast and hard like a beating drum.

She berated herself for coming outside alone.

There was no way to escape from the village man now.  She was face to face with him with no castle to protect her this time.

She straightened up, squared her shoulders, raised her head, and looked the man in the eye.  She was not about to give the man the impression that she was a fearful, weak woman who would fall easily for his traps.

“May I help you, sir?”

She tried to keep the iciness out of her voice.

The man bowed.

“Good morning, your Highness, such a fine day, yes?”

Kate did not answer him.

She was ready for him to be on his way.

“I have heard that the princess was beautiful.  I wanted to come see for myself.”

Kate was mortified, but she tried not to show it.  She would not encourage the man.

“If you have no business here, it is best you were on your way,” said Kate with as much dignity as she could.

Her fingers were clawing into her skin before she realized her fists were balled up at her sides.

“Do you not want to hear what I came to say?  There is a dance tonight in the village.”

Kate groaned inwardly.

Not again.

“It is a lot fun.  You will get to meet a lot of new people and just have a wonderful time.”

Kate did not blink once.

She had learned her lesson.  She will not make the same mistake.

Kate knew the consequences for leaving the castle.  It was plain to see with Camellia.  Kate knew what was right and that was to stay in the castle.  She knew what her father had taught her all these years.  She would not back away from them now.  She had come too far.  She will stand.

“I am not interested, sir.  I have no desire to go to the village or to dance with you or anyone else.  My place is here in the castle, and here I will stay,” Kate declared sternly.

The man simply stared at her dumbfounded.

Kate noticed motion behind the man.

She looked and saw a beggar coming up the lane.

She saw her chance to escape. There was no servant around to help the beggar so she must do it.  “If you will excuse me, there is someone who needs my help.”

Kate lifted her a dress a bit to prevent herself from tripping over it and ran down the lane to the beggar.

Once she reached him, she saw it was a man hunched over on a cane.

“May I help you, sir?”

The beggar looked up.

Kate’s heart went out to the man.  He was very frail, and he looked like he had not eaten in days.

“Do you care to bless an old man with some water and bread, miss?”

“Of course.  It is no trouble at all.  Come with me.”

The beggar followed Kate up the lane to the castle where one of the male servants ran to help the beggar into the castle.

Kate retrieved her basket of daisies she left on the ground and went into the castle.

She thought back to the man from the village.

She smiled as she walked to the dining hall.

She had overcome.

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