Ruth Long’s Picture Choice: Two
Title: The Wife That Wasn’t
Out on the moors, the inclement afternoon weather was wholly befitting the moody nature of Albion.
Inside the great room of Castle Grunwal, though, an altogether different mood prevailed.
On the heels of a rousing game of marbles, father and daughter were now engaged in a bit of family history.
Stopping before the last painting in the row, Freddie tugged her father’s sleeve. “Who is this, Papa?”
He smiled indulgently. “You know who she is, poppet. You were named after her.”
“Yes,” she said, nodding so vigorously that her dark curls danced, “but I like the way you tell the story.”
He lifted her onto his shoulders. “That is your Tante Frederica, the wife the King of Graziers sent to me when I returned from the War of the Broadlands.”
“The wife you didn’t marry, right, Papa?”
“Quite right poppet,” he said, with a heavy sigh. “Instead, I impulsively married your Tante’s terrible companion, Lady Claramond.”
She grinned, her dark eyes sparkling with mischief. “Why would you marry such an ogre, Papa?”
He looked swung her off his shoulders and onto the back of the divan. “The she-brute twisted my arm.”
Looking up from her embroidery, Claramond said, “Stuff and nonsense!”
Hubert chuckled. “When first you arrived, my dove, you scolded the cook, hounded the chamber maids and boxed the stable boy’s ears.”
Claramond chucked a pillow at him. “I was readying the household for Frederica, as was my duty.”
He evaded the velvet missile. “And a good thing too, for it was only a few short days later the plague swept through the village.”
Freddie snuggled up to her mama. “That’s how you lost Tante Frederica, isn’t it?”
“Yes, my pet,” Claramond said quietly.
“And how papa came to marry you.”
“No, Freddie,” Hubert said, settling onto the divan beside them. “I married your mama for love. She was formidable and sharp tongued, yes. But she was accomplished, beautiful and willing to put up with a road-worn blue-blood.”
Claramond tipped up Freddie’s chin. “Do you know what I asked for as a wedding gift, sweetpea?”
Freddie touched the gemstone in the hollow of her mother’s throat. “The star sapphire?”
“No, sunshine, something far more precious,” she said, kissing the top of Freddie’s head. “A daughter!”
Freddie eyed her parents suspiciously. “Then why do I have four big brothers?”
Hubert chuckled. “They’re testimony to your mama’s determination to get a little Princess Frederica of her own!”
A reader by birth, paper-pusher by trade and novelist by design, story-telling in my passion. If you enjoyed reading today's story, please consider checking out my blog bullishink.com, joining my creative community sweetbananaink.com or participating in the madcap twitter fun @bullishink.