“What is he like?” Hanna’s voice was barely a whisper. I wasn’t certain she had said anything at all, because she continued to stare out the window. She looked a lot like her mother had at that age. Her red chin length locks looked ablaze in the sun. The powder blue dress was on it’s second day, but it was better than the awful black habit she had insisted on wearing. Well, until I burned it while she was taking a bath.
“Did you say something, my dear?” I asked.
“What is he like?” Her voice wasn’t much louder than it was the first time she asked, but I was certain of her question this time.
“He’s.” I paused, not sure how to describe the young man who would be her husband. “everything you’d want in a king.” Unlike his father.
“Is he kind?” Hanna looked at me with watery blue eyes. “Will he be a good husband?”
My heart ached for her. It was obvious that it had finally sunk in that she was going to be married to Nick and there was nothing she could do about it. Much the way her mother had been married off to her father. May God bless their union with as much happiness as her parents had while they both lived.
“If I thought that he would not, I would have fought your father tooth and nail. I promised your mother I would see after you and I fully intend to keep that promise.”
Hanna eyed me as if trying to figure out if I was being truthful. After several long minutes, she looked away again.
We sat in silence for the next couple hours, until our caravan came to a stop in the Tal Von Hoffen. It marked the eastern-most edge of our country. When we left the valley, we’d be in Trier-Inkeln and less than a week from meeting the prince.
I hobbled to a nearby tree and leaned against it, standing on my uninjured foot. The leaves on the trees were turning a bright gold. Once Hanna was wed, I would be on my way back home, God willing before the snow flew. I didn’t want to spend any more time in Nicklaus’s court than was absolutely necessary. We had never been on the best of terms.
I jumped as the sound of a banshee filled the air. It’s shrill angry cries were interrupted by the yelling of men. One of the guards came tearing out of the trees. An angry Hanna wielding a staff followed him out. She barely missed the young man’s head as she violently swung it at him. It took three guards to subdue her.
I hobbled over to where Hanna was being held. The fear on the men holding her made me chuckle. Grown men who risked their lives in battle were afraid of a wisp of a woman.
“Hanna. Stop it.” She went silent. “What is going on.”
“He was watching me bathe.” She spat at him.
“I was just doing what I was told to do and keep an eye on her. I wasn’t watching, I promise.” The guard was tall and lanky. His eyes were wide in fear.
“Liar! I saw you.” Hanna began kicking and screaming again.
I motioned for a dark haired guard to help me as I hobbled closer. She settled as I approached. “You had best start acting like the lady you are or your life in King’s Nicklaus’s court will be a living hell.” I said in a low voice.
“Take her to the carriage and keep her there.” I hated to cage her, but she needed to learn. The guards holding her arms escorted Hanna away. I turned to the guard who Hanna claimed had been watching her bathe.
“Do you know what the punishment is for spying on young princesses while they bathe?” The poor boy looked as if he would wet his pants.
“Flogging. M’lady.” His voice quaked.
“Remember that the next time you are assigned to watch over a lady.” I turned to the commander. He was a hard man with years on the battlefield. I suspected he would be harsh on the boy if I did not step in.
“I trust that you will see he is not punished too harshly.” The commander didn’t look pleased, but he nodded in obedience. He understood that anything I say on this trip was to be heard as if the King himself were speaking. While it was great for protecting young men from harsh punishment, I didn’t want the responsibility that came with that power.
The dark haired guard helped me back to the tree I had been leaning against earlier. I was going to enjoy the peace and quiet for a bit. I would deal with Hanna later.