The Kiss that Saved Her (Chapter 7, page 1 of 1)


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Chapter 7

Samuel made the journey rather quickly on his horse. The Arabian horse was
strong and Samuel pressed him into a steady trot. He rushed through the many
forests and fields and viewed many farmers out planting as he rode. He arrived at
Pantor in a day, not sure what to expect.
As he passed through the city, he saw the crowds of people. Many shops lined
the square and some men swept the front stoop as he passed. The streets were full
of women chatting and children running around. The well-dressed citizens walked
to the shops as if in a hurry while the bakery had a line of people stretching out the
door and the baking bread made Samuel hungry. He walked through the cobbled
streets and struck up a conversation with a man about the recent events.
The man told him not much was known about the Queen’s death — only that
she died in the north countryside and was found with the unconscious Princess.
Samuel heard a rumor that was circulating among the troops that a young man
killed the Queen when she attacked the Princess. He continued to the castle which
he hoped would unlock answers to his questions.
The castle had been refurbished. Marble tiles lined the square in front. They
glistened in the sunlight and sparkled as if diamonds were crushed and sprinkled
throughout them. The castle entrance had marble statues depicting different
mythical gods lined up to greet guests. Prince Samuel noted that they were new.
He learned the Queen's funeral was held yesterday. This shocked him. A royal
funeral would be delayed to allow the other Royals to travel to attend. Many times
the funeral was held after the body had been buried, but in a monarch so young,
there would surely be an investigation. He wondered why the funeral was held
quickly and if the truth would ever be learned about the Queen and Princess.
Prince Samuel watched many people from all professions enter the castle:
shopkeepers, soldiers, farmers, and lawyers. The people visiting felt more like a
funeral procession than curious subjects.
He discovered the Princess was kept behind a glass wall so everyone saw that
she lived. He imagined her return would be difficult to explain.
The Entrance Hall of Starlight Castle contained long mahogany panels which
contrasted with the rich red walls and three white columns that led the eye to the
white domes in the ceiling. A wide mahogany table took up residence in the middle
of the room and people signed a book as they entered. He made his way to the
registration table and saw General Stuart.
Stuart had a reputation as a fair man and the Prince found this to be true during
the peace negotiations that occurred between them. He admired the man.
Stuart saw the Prince in the line and went up to the clerk and whispered. The
clerk got up and approached the Prince and bowed.
“Prince Samuel, we are honored with your presence. You may be aware the
Queen was buried yesterday after her funeral,” the clerk said.
“Yes I am aware, but I am not here for the funeral, I am here to see the
Princess,” he explained. His right arm clasped his left forearm and he waited for a
response.
The clerk frowned, traveled back to the table, and said something to the
General.
The General came over and greeted the Prince with a bow. Stuart thought the
Prince looked well. He noticed a few new wrinkles which made him think the
threat of war aged him. His thick, blond hair was too long. Stuart assumed he had
been at camp too long and neglected things such as a haircut or eating as he
appeared leaner than a year before.
“Prince Samuel, may I get you something to eat or drink after your long
journey?” The General stood tall.
“No, thank you. I am here on a mission of a more personal nature. I would like
to see the Princess,” Samuel answered.
“Of course. I will take you to her.” The men walked through the entrance to a
side hallway.
The General figured the Prince needed proof of her being alive before he
believed it, and since the two countries were so close to declaring war, it was
fortunate that he came. Stuart knew Prince Samuel to be a reasonable man; his
uncle was another story. The deceased Queen had made matters worse when she
ruled.
Prince Samuel followed the General down a corridor to a side room where
Princess Joanna was behind a viewing glass. The hall had many people lined along
it waiting to see the Princess. There were many soldiers as well as common people.
The armed guards allowed people to approach the glass one at a time. The glass
protected Joanna while allowing for her to be viewed by a large number of her
subjects.
When General Stuart appeared with Prince Samuel, a guard stopped the people
from going up to the glass. The Prince saw the room was split in two by a wall
containing a huge window, which was in essence a wall of glass, with doors on
either side. Beyond the window was the Princess. The soldier, armed with a spear,
bowed to Samuel, and motioned to him to proceed through the large room which
was lit by many torches. It was a study of some sort, although the desk was
removed to accommodate the crowds.
Across the room, the glass was like a mirror reflecting Prince Samuel’s image
back to him.
He did not see the Princess clearly until he was almost against the glass. She was
more than fetching. An overwhelming feeling of discovery overcame him.
Princess Joanna rested in a bed, her arms folded. Next to the bed were two
mahogany chairs, one at the foot of it, and the other in the far corner which made
the room feel stiff as if death would call any day. She wore a white dress which
flared at her hips and accentuated her small waist. Her black hair was worn down
and her skin was the color of the whitest flower. Samuel focused on her lips. They
were red and full and curved. The Prince thought her the most comely woman he
had ever seen.
He had a feeling of familiarity when he saw her behind the glass and he fell in
love with her at first sight. He never believed there was such a thing, but when he
saw Princess Joanna he knew he loved her. It was an odd way for either a prince or
a solider to feel. So much of what defined him as a man was order and duty. The
rational prince’s heart beat faster. The woman before him beckoned. He motioned
to the soldier and requested to view her close up because he wanted to see the
Princess without the glass between them.
The soldier bowed and turned to ask General Stuart if the Prince of Ott was to be
granted permission to approach the Princess.
The General understood Prince Samuel needed proof she was not dead and it
was reasonable to ask to examine her more closely. It was not lost on General
Stuart that the heightened state between the two nations would ease once Prince
Samuel reported back to his uncle that the Princess of Bow was still alive. The
Tower family of Bow and the Worzek family of Ott and all of their subjects could
return to the peace they had known before the Queen from a distant kingdom
controlled the armies.
General Stuart walked past his soldier, took out a key and opened a mahogany
door next to the glass window. The Prince of Ott was permitted to see the Princess
up close.
Prince Samuel took a few steps to the foot of the bed and saw the woman. He
thought her more captivating as he stood close enough to touch her. He marveled at
her beauty. He walked a few steps more and stood over her with his back to the
glass window as if he would block the rest of the world from viewing her. Her
closed eyes and long lashes made her appear merely asleep. In all his travels he
had never seen such perfection. Her lips blended softness and curves into beauty.
He stared at her lips and thought of the poisoned apple. Suddenly, he
remembered his purpose and the antidote he carried. He thought of her suffering
and wanted to save the Princess.
He reached inside the pocket of his jacket and took out the antidote balm which
he spread over his own lips. When he saw Joanna up close in all her loveliness, he
bent down and kissed her, spreading the balm and pressing the medicine into her
lips. The kiss lingered as if time ticked backward to undo the harm of power. Her
lips were soft like the promise of love. The kiss joined him to her as his antidote
dripped into her body. Prince Samuel knew nothing would be the same again.
He waited to see if his medicine would cure her.
The General was on the other side of the glass. Stuart thought it strange when
the Prince bent down.
The Princess awoke after his lips touched hers.
“She awoke!” cried out the soldier whose sideway view allowed him to see past
the Prince.
The General quickly walked up to the glass, placed his hand on it, and saw her
try to sit up. He ordered a soldier to get Dom quickly. The General was overtaken
with emotion and hope. The people in line were overjoyed.
At first she wiggled as if to stretch and then her eyes opened as if her memory
returned.
“Still yourself, Princess,” Prince Samuel said. She obeyed. The Prince took her
wrist and counted her pulse. His eyed closed in relief, her beat was steady.
Prince Samuel said, “You need something to drink.”
Prince Samuel saw a cup on a side table, and took it to her. He lifted her head
slightly to help her sip.
She seemed afraid as people began to fill the room. Prince Samuel stepped away
as several people crowded the tiny room. Dom arrived and began to examine her
and he was soon joined by Dr. Fitzgold and some others. In the confusion, Prince
Samuel slipped out without being noticed.
*
Princess Joanna sat up in her bed, surrounded by her advisers. She observed the
lovely white roses on her night stand had begun to droop. When Dom entered her
chamber, he sat down next to her. She smiled weakly at the sight of him. The
chatter of her aides stopped.
“Joanna, I have to inform you of something.” Dom began to tear up but he
straightened his back and Joanna knew the news was bad.
“Yes, Dom. Please tell me.” She sat up as best as she could.
“When your stepmother tried to kill you and failed, she did kill someone else.”
Joanna looked at Dom and in her mind she thought of David.
“David killed her with his knife but she poisoned him with the apple and I could
not save him. He ingested too much of the poison.”
The words seemed too violent to be spoken in a comfortable bedroom in a
magnificent castle. David was dead? The will to go on left her and she wished to
join him in the next life.
“No! Not David!” The tears fell. “Anyone but David!”
She thought of his smile, his laugh, his kiss. If she must die to be with him, she
wished the apple would have allowed her to taste death.
“Your Royal Highness, he died so you may live. He died a noble death,” Stuart
offered.
Joanna said, “Why didn't we leave for the border a day sooner? If we had maybe
David would still be alive.” Her sobs lifted up and filled the air to drown out all
other sounds.
General Stuart whispered to the two other advisors and they left her to grieve.
*
A week passed and Joanna improved. Her royal duties made her steady at least
during the daylight. She worked at a desk near her bed and signed the necessary
documents to call off the increase in taxes, as well as a letter stating she had no
intentions of declaring war on the Kingdom of Ott. She signed letters to other
Kings and Queens explaining that she had returned to rule her kingdom.
The doctors instructed her to walk in her garden for exercise as she recovered.
She finally was well enough to return to the cave and view David’s grave. His
death had not seemed real until she saw where his body was buried. She cried
many tears and George, Frank, Dom and Louis cried alongside her. Louis gave her
the flute with the rose carving David made for her and she clutched it.
When she returned to the castle everything reminded her of David — the trees
reminded her, the furniture reminded her, and even saying grace before she ate
reminded her of her David.
The first horrible month since David died passed. Her health improved greatly
and she was functioning well. She loved her people and understood they needed
her to rule. The castle remained a prison to her, but then she felt all of life was a
prison as long as David lived in the next world.
She sent her soldiers back to Randele to search for any of David’s flutes to bring
back to her. David’s flutes gave her strength.
After two months, she began to understand she must live without him. She took
off the gold ring that David had placed on her finger. She looked at it. After she
kissed it, she placed her wedding ring in a wooden box and locked it with a key.
*
General Stuart summoned Dom to ask him what was to be done. He met him in
the Great Hall. The paintings of the Tower family and the larger one, with the large
tree, made Dom feel the weight of Joanna’s role as ruler.
General Stuart was worried. He hoped she would become stoic as other royals
yet she was very much a commoner in her emotions. The girl who should be
Queen might rule with compassion if he could wake her from her sorrow. The
clock on the mirrored fireplace ticked as its pendulum swung. The large curtains of
creamy satin were drawn open. He paused. His starched uniform made him appear
cool and calculating, yet his reflection in the mirror startled him as his face had
aged.
“Dominic, what must be done to help Her Royal Highness?”
“I am a doctor; I can fix the body, but I cannot fix the heart,” Dom told the
General.
“She must rule the Kingdom of Bow and should be crowned Queen. I asked her
to set a date, not right away but in six months from now, and she refuses. I do not
know what to do,” the General said, pacing again.
“I will talk to her,” Dom promised.
*
Dom found her in the royal gardens. The roses were in full bloom at the end of
the summer season. Rows of white roses surrounded the gray stone patio. The
robust fruity aroma of the roses filled the air and lifted her mood. She glanced at
the layered soft petals circling around the others again and again until the entire
flower reached perfection.
“Princess, may I speak with you?” Dom asked her.
“Dom, you always speak to me,” Joanna answered. She bent down to smell the
roses.
“I mean about David.”
She stood up. “I am not ready.” She turned away from him as he stood there.
Dom sighed. “Joanna, we will never forget David. He will be a part of who we
are forever. I would be disappointed if you did forget him. What is becoming
clearer is that you need to make some long term plans to go forward with your
life.”
She put her hands behind her back.
“I made long term plans and none of them turned out. I thought I would be
living with David and now he is dead. How do I go on?”
“I don't know. I am not sure how. I do believe that if you chose to go on then
you would. You are strong. You will survive this. And David — your David — he
would want you to live.” Dom glanced at her as he paced. “He gave up his life
trying to save you, and he did save you. I think that you owe him at least the
chance to die for something better than the death you are living now.”
“I know that David wanted me to live…it is almost unbearable to live without
him. Will the pain ever subside?”
Dom stepped closer to her, patted her shoulder, and almost whispered, “You will
heal, but you will never be the same. You do have an advantage in your pain,
though.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“You are a ruler now and if you become Queen no one will be allowed to inflict
such pain again on the people of Bow.”
*
Joanna agreed to be crowned after her birthday in the spring. She ordered letters
to be sent to the Royals from the other kingdoms to inform them of her plans for
the coronation.
Joanna had to learn how to be Queen. She called on some of her old tutors, but
this time, she studied the art of war and how to make peace. She wanted to learn
military history and she called on General Stuart to explain to her military battles
as she had remembered her father studying classic battles. She hired some new
tutors to teach her to dance gracefully. She took lessons as a child, but needed to
refresh them. The Ballroom was filled with musicians and her tutor taught her to
dance again and the wooden floor made her shoes click as she turned.
Dom was concerned that she was taking on too much too quickly. He addressed
his concerns during their walks in the garden which was her custom each night.
They passed the trimmed hedges and ornate grasses and the herbs. The mint leaves
invigorated the air as they passed by.
“I hope that you are not overworking,” Dom began, his hands behind his back as
the strolled together.
“Dom, first I did too little, and now I am doing too much? How is this true?”
Dom took out a cloth and wiped his forehead for the evening was warm.
“Please slow down with all the lessons! I fear you will exhaust yourself, my
dear.”
How she liked hearing him call her “his dear” again!
“It is good to be busy. I don't cry over David every minute of every day any
longer.” Her face showed her sadness at the mention of David.
“I know it is good to keep busy, except, I fear that you are trying too hard,” he
reasoned.
“David is with me every single day in my heart. I will carry the memory of him
until the day that I die and see him again in the heavenly kingdom.”
“You are correct Joanna, you will see him again and so will I, and that is what
keeps me going as well.” He wiped a tear from his eye at the thought of his boy,
David.
Joanna stopped walking and turned to face Dom. “I never considered your
suffering over David's death, and I am sorry.”
“That is all right my dear, your grief is understandable.”
“I only work to forget, but perhaps I acted in haste and need to remember. I
promise to take a few days off if it will please you, Dom.”
The two continued to walk through the garden and the heaviness of their hearts
lifted ever so slightly.
*
The late fall weather made for warmth one day followed by cold the next. Her
gardens saw the last of the white roses bloom. The trees dropped their leaves and
the shadows cast by their bare branches made her nightmares worse. She slept
fitfully. Dom made her tea to calm her and she wondered how she would fare once
he left the castle.
Her Secretary of Ministry informed her Prince Samuel of Ott had arrived. She
heard good things about this Prince from General Stuart. Joanna wished to
maintain peace and decisions about Ott’s armies rested with Prince Samuel. She
heard he was a cunning warrior.
Dom was interest in meeting him too. He asked if he could be there when she
met the Prince from Ott. Dom wondered about him because he had kissed Joanna
and she awoke afterwards. The official reports had not named him directly
because the Prince had left without any explanation. In the commotion, he had
disappeared without giving them a chance to thank him.
Prince Samuel waited to return to the castle because he knew the Princess had
lost her husband. He gathered his own intelligence on what had happened in the
North Country. He waited as long as he could but he had to see her again. His
memory of the Princess brought him through her lands to discover more about her.
Joanna met the Prince in her private study. She arrived with Dom beside her and
Samuel rose from his chair. The Princess wore a lavender gown and her hair was
braided and tucked in an up do which made her appear older than her years. She
wore a plain gold crown.
Samuel wore his riding clothes and the fresh air smell lingered on them. She
thought him a dignified man and he had the air of both a military man and a regal
gentleman which made her feel her father’s presence.
“I am delighted to finally meet you, Prince Samuel. Allow me to introduce you
to Dominic Deeds. He is my dear friend,” Joanna said.
Dom bowed. “Your Royal Highness, I am pleased to meet you.”
Prince Samuel remembered him from the day he kissed her and recalled he was
Princess Joanna’s doctor.
“I am happy to make your acquaintance,” Prince Samuel said. “I am pleased to
see you are recovered, Princess Joanna.”
“I thank you. Please take a seat.” Joanna motioned for them to sit.
Joanna studied him as he sat across from her. She approved of him almost at
once and she thought him elegant. He had a scar on his right hand she noticed as he
took a glass from the servant’s tray. His nose was long and his green eyes
contained an air of the sea before it rained she mused.
“I apologize for taking so long to return to your kingdom. I wanted to return
earlier, but it was not possible.”
“I am pleased you are here now,” Princess Joanna said.
“Dominic, I am happy to learn that you are a doctor. You live near Randele, I
believe.”
“Your Royal Highness, I am impressed with your thorough investigation!”
Prince Samuel said, “I am not very good at formalities, so please forgive me if it
sounds rather like a military report, for I have spent two years now writing them.”
“I am happy that you found me interesting enough to study,” Dom replied.
Prince Samuel turned to Princess Joanna. “It is a lovely time in your kingdom. I
traveled through the country on my way here and it looks like the harvest is
completed.”
Samuel thought Joanna all the more vivacious as he sat near her and saw her
smile as if she were truly pleased with his visit.
“It is a lovely time and I believe your kingdom has had a first frost,” she said.
“Yes, we have. I am surprised you noticed the weather in Ott.”
“I am extremely interested in your kingdom, Prince Samuel.”
Prince Samuel then addressed Dom. “Have you harvested your herbs and
vegetables yet?”
“I have not been back to harvest them but am leaving this very afternoon to
return to my home. Do you dabble in the art of medicines, Your Highness?”
The Prince looked at Dom. He imagined many people who had seen him kiss
Princess Joanna were curious about him.
“Yes, I do dabble a bit into medicines, just for a side amusement you know,”
Prince Samuel told Dom.
“Do you know anything about antidotes?” Dom asked him.
“A little,” the Prince answered.
“I suppose you have worked with certain plants, a few of which only grow in
your kingdom. I have worked with treacle, but I conclude that you have worked
with a mithridate, perhaps including nettles or musk-mallow,” Dom said.
Joanna was now very interested because she had read all the reports in regards to
her treatment.
“I have used those once or twice,” the Prince answered.
“Have you ever kissed me?” asked Joanna.
“Once.”
“You saved my life!” Joanna stated. She folded her hands and tried not to react
as she longed to remain regal.
“No, no, a young man saved your life. I believe he was your husband.” Prince
Samuel shifted in his wing tipped chair to view the Princess more clearly. “I
merely tried an experiment. I have developed an ointment antidote that I will use in
battle to protect my own troops' lives if any arrows dipped in poison hit them,” the
Prince replied.
Joanna liked this man.
“Are you planning on kissing them to save them?” Dom asked. He glanced at
Joanna.
The Prince was surprised at the tone in his voice but as he looked at the country
doctor he thought of his considerable skill that saved the Princess.
Prince Samuel answered, “If necessary. We do what we have to when a life is at
stake.”
“I am thankful that you arrived when you did, Prince Samuel,” Joanna stated.
“What did your husband do for a living?” Prince Samuel asked her.
“David was a woodcarver. He made furniture and other wooden items, like
bowls and cups, boxes, and flutes. He played the flute,” Joanna said.
“That would be the best job in the world to me.” He became almost animated,
with his clasped hands separating. “I love the flute as I play myself.”
“I am happy that you think so, Prince Samuel,” Joanna said. She stopped.
“Would you accept one of David's flutes so that I may express to you my gratitude
for what you have done for me?”
“I would be honored and pleased to accept one.”
Joanna turned to her servant. “Gerard, please retrieve a flute for me — in the
Blue Room.”
He bowed and quickly left. The Princess studied Prince Samuel. She wished for
him to understand how grateful she was for his antidote.
“David was a fine craftsman, Your Royal Highness, Prince Samuel. I hope you
will enjoy playing the flute,” Dom commented.
“I look forward to it,” Prince Samuel said.
The servant returned with a flute. Princess Joanna took it from the tray, looked
at it carefully, and then placed it back in the tray. Her servant bowed and took two
steps to reach the Prince.
Prince Samuel touched the flute and ran his fingers along the smooth cherry
wood. “It is a work of art, Princess. I will enjoy playing it; may I try it now?”
Prince Samuel asked.
“I am happy that you like it, and I would love to hear you play,” Joanna said.
The Prince took the flute and played it very well; the song sounded like a
familiar song, perhaps a folk song from Ott, yet Joanna could not place it.
“You play the flute with skill, Your Highness,” Dom said.
“Thank you. A flute this beautiful should be played. How else will joy be
expressed?” Prince Samuel told him.
“And sadness,” Joanna replied.
The breech in protocol surprised him as he was not used to Royals expressing
their emotions. He realized Princess Joanna was a different kind of Princess —
although her marriage to a commoner made her very different indeed. Her softness
when she reflected made him want to protect her.
“When we are sad, it shows us the depth of our love. The pain does lessen over
time. Living will become easier,” Prince Samuel told Joanna.
“I am not sure that I want living to become easier,” Joanna replied.
“Then he would have died in vain for you. He wanted you to live,” Samuel said.
“How did you know?” Joanna asked him.
“I have heard the stories. He is legend now. Everyone knows him. He belongs to
us all.”
“And so does our Princess,” Dom said.

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