Cinderella's Step-Sister Part 3
The Stone Castle
Who is this sister of mine?
I sought to keep my demands on Cinderella few but Mother sternly admonished us as to what we, as ladies, could or could not do. Cinderella, however, never complained. She went about her work in steady progress, working as quickly as she could. Only once, do I recall, upon entering the kitchen, searching for Housekeeper, did I stumble on Cinderella quietly sobbing behind the kitchen chimney. Not revealing my presence I left silently, but was profoundly and strangely moved by the incident.
Cinderella’s dignified poise in spite of all her circumstances slowly awoke a strange kind of kindness in me, which had previously lain dormant in my heart. I would think, and think, and think about this but did not or could not comprehend the growth of natural human compassion in my heart. I found myself wanting to bring a little more joy into Cinderella’s life; become a little more acquainted, not enough to be disgraced mind you, but just enough to know her a little.
Once, I left Cinderella a little bit of colorful ribbon together with some old lace to adorn her tired gown. Regrettably, this did not have the end result I had wished for. When Cinderella wore her treasure of ribbon and lace, Mother and Annabelle insisted she had stolen them, no matter that I came to her defense. My gesture of kindness, instead of making life better for Cinderella, had instead brought her more grief. After that, I sought more tangible ways to cheer her, leaving flowers in her garret room, nice sweetmeats and truffles, which I brought away from mealtimes. Once I even left her an old picture book with which to amuse herself, as I was certain she could not read.
The Kings Document!
A few months later, when spring had marvelously appeared, the household was again set all astir. This time however, a very important document was delivered to my Stepfather by the King’s courier. A King’s courier! Imagine that. Such a thing had by no means ever occurred in our household. How elegant this courier looked in his cream colored hose, his deep emerald colored vestment which went over a trumpeted sleeved blouse. And how could I ever forget the graceful feathers which stood so tall from his jaunty cap. I barely able to keep my eyes decorously averted from all the finery.
We could hardly restrain our exasperation when Stepfather decided he had to open the document in the privacy of his study. Mother and Annabelle paced a rutted pathway on the floor of the passage-way, as they devised imaginary errands which would enable them to watch should Stepfather emerge. Finally, with unusual self-possession, Stepfather opened the door. We all came scurrying and hovered around for the news. It soon became apparent however, that it would not be forthcoming soon. Stepfather had decided to take advantage of his unexpected control over the heretofore uncontrollable ladies of his home, and grandly announced we would have to wait till the evening meal. No amount of cajoling or petulant demanding could break the news from his lips. It wasn’t until Stepfather threatened us with a much longer wait that he was finally left in peace.
With Mother and Annabelle pouting, we all retired to our private chambers to speculate what could have brought a King’s courier to our home.
Annabelle felt sure it was an invitation to court but Mother said that was ridiculous as it was out of season. But she could not come up with any other reason other than a dire one which is why she decided Stepfather was delaying in sharing the news as he was protecting us. However, even I could tell that she did not really believe this either. At length it was decided there was nothing to do but wait. Mother went to sit with Stepfather, in case he changed his mind, Annabelle went to harass Cinderella in her frustration and I went to my room to dream.
At long last the bell rang announcing our evening meal. Stepfather acted as if there was nothing out of the ordinary and carried on as normal, causing great pain of waiting for the rest of us. Finally the meal was over and Stepfather had finished postulating. But not before he gave a rather lengthy speech regarding the esteem we should all hold for the reigning Monarch and the obvious honor it was for the King to have sent this missive. Stepfather did at last though produce the official ornate document from the folds of his coat to the great sighs of all who were present, servants included. Cinderella, Where was she? Why she was never included in the dining hall to eat meals with us. The girl would have had no manners whatsoever and well, Annabelle would never have stood it.
With a great theatrics the contents of the document was revealed. In the scroll was an official invitation to the King’s Ball to be held at midsummer’s eve in honor of His Royal Highness, The Prince. Stepfather, Mother, including all the marriageable daughters of the house were invited to attend this gala event.
Oh my, such excitement. Stepfather was straight away forgotten as the impact of the news was realized. Mother, completely beside herself, began planning. All her efforts on our behalf were at long last coming to fruition. Annabelle swooned, as she is wont to do when excited for any reason. Such topsy-turvy excitement, the whole affair was better to watch than when the troubadours came with their entertainments.
To be continued...
Onward...to Part 4