As the laborer was about to pass the fireplace, his eyes scanned the collection of portraits. Leaning closer to the cluster of faces, he focused only on one.
“Madame,” he asked without turning in her direction, “May I ask who this fair lady might be?”
Smiling, the handsome matron responded, “My eldest daughter. And why might you be asking?”
“Well, I do not mean to be impertinent, Madame, but I, huh, well, you see,” his voice trailed off as he carefully considered his words.
Studying his face, the matron spoke softly, “You are drawn to my daughter?”
“This may seem foolish to you, Madame, but her eyes speak volumes to me. I will see to the problem with the back door now.” Lowering his eyes, he slipped out of the room.
After he left, the matron approached the fireplace, gazed at her daughter’s portrait, and sighed.
That evening, the laborer was unable to sleep. Each time he closed his eyes the image of the matron’s daughter haunted him. “She is the one, but is now the time?” he whispered aloud.
When morning came he approached the manor’s cook. “Yesterday I came upon a portrait of the family’s eldest daughter. What can you tell me about her?”
“What’s to tell?” every wrinkle on the cook’s face deepening as she scowled at him, “Cept she’s a lady ‘n you ain’t nuttin more than a poor laborer with no sense ‘bout you.”
Taking an apple, he laughed. “Sounds like a match made in heaven to me. Now you be nice to me or you won’t be invited to the wedding.” With that he waltzed out of the kitchen.
“That boy’s outta his mind,” the cook muttered, shaking her head. “He don’t know nuttin bout nuttin.”
Approaching the gardener, the laborer continued his quest for information. The old gentleman had worked for the family before the lady was born. Proudly, he told what he knew, as if his knowledge somehow elevated his status.
The young man’s hands tackled the day’s tasks while his mind pondered how to proceed.
After completing his chores, he slipped into his master’s quarters for parchments and ink. Hiding them under his outer garment, he stopped by the shed for a smooth flat piece of wood. Outside again, he whistled as he walked along the stream until he was certain he was out of sight. Finally he found the perfect spot for his venture.
Carefully, he scripted an introductory letter to the young lady. He weighed every word in his mind before meticulously lavishing the parchment with letters and loops. Once he was satisfied with his presentation, he went on to his next project—a poem.
Verse after verse, meter after meter, he created rhymes that would capture her heart. With his fingers cramping, he finally finished, leaned back against the nearest tree, and enjoyed the sunset’s glorious colors. The vibrant hues promised a wonderful day would follow—just as his rich renderings promised a rewarding future.
A courier presented the parcel to the matron’s daughter. Gazing at the unfamiliar handwriting, the young lady gently ran her fingers across the bold lettering. She glanced about. Relieved no one was in the vicinity, she hid the parcel under her apron while dashing to her room, bolting the door behind her.
With each page she turned, her heart beat faster. Her eyes welled with tears. “How could he know of our troubles yet still want to redeem me for his own? Does he understand what it will cost him?” On the next page he answered her questions. He knew.
“But who is this laborer who can afford the bridal price attached to me?” She bit her lip as she turned another page.
Each penned line stole her breath.
“I don’t understand why he disguised himself as a poor commoner, subjecting himself to ridicule, insult, and hard labor when he is the son of the king?” She put down the letter, wiped her eyes and tear-streaked face, composed herself, and returned to his renderings.
He explained how the kingdom had been established, of the people’s rebellion, the king’s ensuing anger, the need for a sacrifice, and the son’s willingness to shed his own blood to save them. The poem spoke of redemption, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and love. All she needed to do was to accept his invitation to be his bride.
The laborer loved the lady.
The prince wanted her to be his princess.
He awaited her answer.
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