Maiden ArmourChapter 3: Cinderella
Cinderella sat at the table uncomfortably as she felt eyes all around her. She always felt like she was being watched, becoming royalty means that you have to keep up your image, you have to be beautiful and brilliant all the time. It was very tiring. Of course Cinderella was beautiful to begin with, her short light brown curls prefectly framed her china doll face, becoming a Queen had only added to her beauty. But Cinderella did not pay much attention to her looks or even care.
The servants stood on the sides of the room, smiling pleasantly and ready to do anything they were asked. She couldn’t believe that a few months ago she was doing chores for her stepmother and step sisters and now she was in a room full ove people who would do the same for her, willingly. Since taking the throne and living in the castle with the prince, it was becoming difficult for her to adjust. She sometimes missed her life from before, not the yelling or cruel jokes but just doing things for herself. Now that she was a queen she had people doing everything for her, she couldn’t even dress herself. One day they even tried to bathe her…that’s where Cinderella drew the line.
“Can I help you miss,” asked a serving maid named Bess, Cinderella knew all of the servants’ names. Bess happened to be a kind red head with two children.
“No thank you,” said Cinderella, smiling nervously and stray hairs from her face, “But could you tell me when her highness will get here.”
“I’m not sure, miss,” said Bess blushing.
Despite her new title as Queen, Cinderella still referred to her mother in law as “Her Highness”. Many of the castle servants found this to be humorous and would make private jokes whenever they had their gatherings. But to tell the truth they feared the woman.
Picking up her spoon, Cinderella began to stir some sugar into her tea and wait for her mother in law. When Christopher’s mother asked her to tea this morning Cinderella was a little scared. The fact was that the Queen was extremely daunting; Cinderella was frightened of her…perhaps even more than her Stepmother. The Queen barely spoke to her or even seemed to acknowledge her presence sometimes. She acted as if anyone below the royal family was not worth speaking to and Cinderella suspected that her origins were reason for the Queen’s coldness. Today she had personally invited her to tea and Cinderella couldn’t help being suspicious.
Around the Queen Cinderella was much like the tea set that sat on the lace tablecloth in front of her, fragile. Cinderella made sure that the setting was right and despite the fact that the servants had already placed it and set everything in it's place, she altered it a bit. A nervous habit of hers from always needing everything just so.
Cinderella heard the servants suddenly stiffen and straiten themselves and she turned to see the Queen enter, removing her gloves and handing them to the door man. She felt a chill go up her spine as the woman’s black eyes bore into her. Every step the Queen took was strong and every movement she made had a purpose.
“Hello dear,” said the Queen, she never used Cinderella’s name, “I’m so glad you could come and I apologize for being so terribly late…but I had some important matters to attend to.”
Cinderella did not appreciate how the Queen under minded her constantly, as if she, the new Queen, had nothing to do. She knew very well her mother-in-law had nothing to do; she just wanted to make Cinderella wait. However Cinderella sat up and tried to look attentive.
“It’s quite all right your highness,” she said politely, placing her cup on its saucer, “You said that you wanted to discuss something with me?”
Cinderella always tried to place everything just so on the table, as Christopher had taught her. Christopher had always laughed at Cinderella's deep desire to be the perfect Queen. He always said, "You're beautiful, kind and generous, good table manners are not in the laws of being a great Queen." It was a bit silly but she wanted to get approval from his mother, she thought if she did everything just right then the woman would like her. She was wrong.
“Yes. I have been thinking on this for a long time and it’s come to the point where you must be involved.”
The Queen finally took a seat, taking care with her skirt. She wore a ridiculous gown on that day, all frills and ribbons. Her clothing was always extravagant, to let everyone in the room know she was superior. It contrasted greatly with Cinderella’s simple light blue and lace gown. The woman waved her hand at the servants and they all took their leave of absence, like mice running away from a cat. Cinderella now faced her mother-in-law alone. She wondered what this important matter could be, it must be dire for the Queen to need her help, so she paid great attention to the woman to show her eagerness to help.
“I’m not going to bother with niceties Cinderella, ” The woman said without blinking, “I don’t like you.”
“Don’t interrupt me,” she snapped, pursing her lips, “There’s no way you could change my mind and there’s no way around my feelings. You are simply below my standards for my son and you will never be worthy in my eyes. You’re an embarrassment child, by some miracle you came across to us as a Princess all prettied up at the ball…a proper choice. But when my son brought you home we saw you for your true colors, dirt, all covered in soot and ash.”
The woman said these words harshly, her face full of contempt and her.
Cinderella tried to keep a straight face but she found herself faltering and had to look down at her hands. She had come so far but still the woman’s words hurt like daggers at her soul. The woman had dismissed her and did not even taken into consideration the value of Cinderella’s character, just the level of her social status. Apparently, despite her new title as Queen, she would always be a lowly kitchen wench, Cinderella had always felt this way.
“I have a proposition for you. My son is still young, through some unfortunate fate he has fallen for you but this is a mistake,” she said pausing to take a sip of tea, she turned back to Cinderella pretending to be sympathetic, “I want you gone. He is young and he still has a chance to find a proper bride. I know you have become accustomed to this new way of living…so I’m willing to pay you generously.”
“No,” said Cinderella quickly, finding herself a bit braver than she thought, “I can’t believe you think me so low as to take money in exchange for my life with Christopher. I love your son and there is no amount of money to keep me from him.”
The Queen’s gaze grew deadly, “This is not a choice.”
“You want me to leave him,” asked Cinderella, not able to comprehend how she could be hated so much, "Well you said this was a proposition and given the circumstanses I must refuse."
“You are a foolish child to think I would let you leave Christopher, it would be a deadly blow to our reputation if dirt such as you left of your own free will,” said the Queen, disregarding Cinderella's refusal. “Nor would it be wise to throw you out. The people have seemed to have taken a strong liking to you.”
The Queen stopped to savor her brilliant idea, the ghost of a smile appeared at the corners of her mouth. Making Cinderella's spine chill.
“My plan was to stage a death,” she finished finally, “That would give Christopher a proper goodbye and let him move on to some one more appropriate. Thereafter you could assume a new identity and go far away.”
Cinderella stood with hot tears welling at her eyes, “I had no idea that you hated me so much… I can't believe how hard I have tried to make you like me. Christopher told me to give up, but your his mother and I just wanted to have your approval. You are right...I was foolish to believe you could ever see beyond the fact that I scrubbed floors.”
She had to leave fast because she couldn't embarass herself any longer in front of that woman, she couldn’t show her how weak she was. Her knuckles were going white as her hands closed into tight fists.
“I’m going to pretend this never happened,” she said, “I wish you a good evening.”
The Queen was stunned as Cinderella rushed past, trying to retain some dignity. She didn’t understand anything about the feelings going through Cinderella. She only saw her as a contamination to her kingdom.
Cinderella was exhausted and thanked the footman with a smile as he helped her from the carriage. It was one of her favorite things to go out and help the townsfolk, but very hard work and she was always terribly tired when she returned. Today she had helped a local woman open up a facility for the children who had lost their parents in the recent war. It was enough to see the smiles on the children's faces when they go to meet her. She pulled her cape tightly to herself as the breeze went by and she slowly made her way to the door. Once she got inside, happy to feel the warm fire from the main hall, she was suddenly seized by harsh hands.
“Where is he,” demanded the Queen, clutching Cinderella tightly.
“Who,” asked Cinderella, wide eyed and disoriented.
The Queen looked like a petrified ghost, her hair was a mess and her eyes mad. Her fingers dug into Cinderella’s skin through the fabric of her gown and Cinderella couldn't pull away.
“Don’t be foolish now,” said the Queen, “You’ve taken Christopher away because I tried to get rid of you!”
Through the woman's predjudice she had blamed Christopher's dissapearence on Cinderella.
Cinderella felt the world starting to tumble, the floor disappeared beneath her and her knees gave up, now sitting down on the floor. Her fingers tried to grasp something but nothing was in reach, she need to fell stable but she felt like she was just free falling. Christopher was everything to her, she was beautiful to him…even in rags. He treated her as an equal and always asked her advice. He was a friend before a lover. She had no one else that she trusted in the world and now he was gone? Where? She had to…
“Get off the floor you clod,” screamed the Queen, “Tell me where he is.”
Cinderella didn’t comprehend the Queen any longer, she stood with a sort of dead look in her eyes and determinedly began walking up the stairs. She looked like a spirit herself…pale and haunting the grand entrance hall. She had to grasp the rail tightly and stumbled on every other stair. She walked past the servants quickly, moving towards her bedroom. Many of them watched her strangely wondering if her health was all right. Everything seemed to be moving in super speed to her. all she could think was,Find him. Find him.
The castle felt cold now without his presence, everything that seemed beautiful was now dark and menacing. The painting of his ancestors looked at her in rage, the statues of cherubs seemed to be goblins, and with every step on the stone floor she felt as if she were stepping on knives. As Cinderella came to the doorway of their bedroom she felt so terribly alone and she was saddened that this feeling was so familiar. After a long day of chores…sitting alone by the mantle…being covered in ashes and all alone.
Quickly with tears raining down her face she packed a bag, nothing big or extravagant, but clothes easty to carry. She nearly tore her gown off of her body that felt pained everywhere and started to slip on a travel gown…one of her old ones. She was back in rags but somehow it felt a bit comforting, familiar. She needed to find him, she had to find him.
When Cinderella had finally finished she pulled on a heavy cloak and pulled a small bag over her shoulder. She went to the window and looked down at the sharp stones with little fear, she had to get over to the trellis to get down. Quietly she lifted herself out onto the ledge and carefully stood grabbing onto the stone wall. No one could know she was leaving or she would surely be blamed for his disappearance. She carefully made her way to the trellis, losing her footing a few times and nearly screaming, but she bit her lip to the point of blood to keep herself silent. She was on a road to find Christopher and she couldn't risk being caught. Find him. Find him. Find him.
Cinderella didn't know where to go. She had been running for hours, upset and desprete to find Christopher. It was when she got to the edge of the woods where she collapsed on the ground sobbing and realizing that she didn't know where she was going. She thought back to how helpless she felt when she lived with her Stepmother, her father turned away from her, not wanting to know the cruelties done to his daughter. She only had one person to turn to and she would go to her now.
The runaway queen, made her way farther into the woods. The cold wet dirt on the bottom of her feet. It was eerily silent but Cinderella hummed a meloncholy tune to comfort herself and to keep from slipping into madness. She finally came to the small graveyard in the woods and made her way to the small stone. She had planted a tree there when she was very small and it had grown big and tall, the roots clutching her mother's stone.
Cinderella kneels down in the dirt, her bare hands gently stroking the bark of the tree and her tears watering the soil.
"Mother," Cinderella said through tears, "I have lost him somehow. He is the only one, besides you, that has ever loved me and I have to find him. I'm asking you mother...as I did before for the ball.. I need your help...I need you to help me find him and I promise that it's the last thing I'll ever ask for."
A dove started to sing in the branches above and startled a greif stricken Cinderella. She looked up at the bird the began to descend and softly take place on the stone. It was the doves that had assisted Cinderella in preparation for the ball. Her mother's spirit lived in these doves and her mother would help her once again to find her true love.
End of Chapter 3
Manage Your Items