I woke up to the harsh sunlight pouring down on my bed which I shared Gretel with at 5 am. I had heard rich people such as Lords and Kings, because they could afford them, owned curtains and kings even owned glass windows! My family cannot afford such things as curtains let alone glass windows. In the winter it would get very very cold, sometimes we could wake up with snow scattered around the room. I go over to Gretel’s bed and gently wake her up, I then pick Clara out of her cot. I go into my brothers’ room and wake them up, thrusting Clara to a sleepy bed head Dave. I head into the ‘bathroom’, which is really a room with a tin tub, which we wash in every month, or so with water from the river and heated over the fire and a toilet which is just a wooden bucket. I go to the toilet and empty the disgusting content into the smelly grass below. I go back into my room and change into the same green and brown dress I wore yesterday. I don’t have many clothes and with the amount of time and effort it takes to wash clothes, it is really not worth wearing a dress for only one day.
I quickly make some porridge for breakfast; I serve it into the wooden bowls my father carved. I quickly eat the bland porridge and wash it down with a drink of water from the pump. I start washing out the bowls as my father goes to work with Thomas and Dave. My mother picks up Clara and Gretel follows behind me to the small flower field.
I sighed, I wasn’t overly happy with how we lived. My life is always about rushing everything and trying to finish everything as quick as possible, so we can squeeze as much money from our small farm. Even though we put lots of work into looking after our farm, we hardly get anything back out of it. It would be nice to one day, just one day, to sit down, enjoy life calmly, and have absolutely nothing to worry about. Of course, it was never going to happen, I was just a 17-year-old peasant girl, nothing special, nothing unusual just like Sophrona has always told me.
‘’Ce-ce, should I finish the flower picking?’’ Gretel asked, I looked at the field there is a lot of flowers left.
‘’Sure, the basket is in the house, ask Mother for it. But be careful though, we do not want to be losing any money as you damaged the stems. ’’ I smiled at Gretel, I could use a bit more time to water the crops and maybe even milk the cows and gather the eggs before dinner.
‘’Yay! Thank you Ce-ce’’ my 7 year old sister smiled at me
‘’That’s ok’’ I smiled back and Gretel ran back to the house.
I turned around; I filled up my bucket with water from the river. Gretal came back with the basket and began to attempt to pick the flowers. She managed to get a few, but most of them ended up with broken stems.
‘Why don’t you go and collect the eggs and put out the chicken food. I’m sure that will be more exciting for you and it will mean I can get this done quicker.’ Gretel nodded, I hoped I wasn’t too harsh on her. She put down the basket and ran off towards the chicken pen.
I managed to finish the job in just over 15 minutes, so I took my bucket of water and gently poured it over one of the crop field, which would be picked later in September.
I noticed Rose come scuttling towards me, her long hair brown hair flying everywhere and anywhere.
‘What happened yesterday? Where did you vanish to?’ Rose asked with an abnormally worried look on her face
‘Oh... yes… I’m sorry about that. Nothing much happened.’ I quickly changed the subject, I didn’t want to talk about what happened ‘you seemed to get on with Felix well, didn’t you?’’
Rose’s eyes instantly lit up her face ‘’Yes, he was very nice and he guarantees that he will organise a way to see me again. He was very sweet.’’ Rose paused, her face changed into a slight scowl ‘Cecelia I know you don’t want to answer but, please answer me. What happened yesterday?’
‘’I…’ I stuttered, I like the Prince but I know I cannot have him. Telling anyone could mean I risk people thinking I’m mad; a girl like me wouldn’t be able to be with a prince.
‘’Cecelia, please,’’ Rose begged ‘I want to be able to help you and talk you through this,’
But Rose isn’t anyone; she is my best and closest friend, the kindest girl anyone could ever know. She would never tell.
‘Okay,’ I take a deep breath and look at Rose straight at her ‘I got to talk to Prince Julian- I like him or at least liked him. Sophrona was there though, he was staying with her. I’m not the daughter of a lord, they are the kind of people they are looking for. I’m nothing special.’
‘The difference between you and Sophrona is pretty big, yes she might be rich and she might think the world is around her. But you are prettier, kinder and such a nicer person than she is, the Prince will choose you’
‘’No’’ I smiled and looked into her bright eyes ‘’Prince Julian was looking for highly ranked girls just like Sophrona, they don’t want just anybody.’
‘’You never know’’ she smiled and winked at me and sat on the grass
‘’I guess, but I’m only one girl in a million and as I have already said I’m not a high enough rank for a Prince. Plus, I only talked to him for a second, I don’t think he will remember me,’ I sighed and I carefully sat down beside Rose
‘Okay, yes. That is true.’ she looked at me with her almost glowing green eyes.
‘ Rose-y, just because I talked to Prince Julian doesn’t mean I get to go to the palace. There is probably some sort of requirement list. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, it is just very unlikely, I only spoke to him for a minute. You are getting your hopes up for me.’ I smiled at her; it was worth believing it was possible, but it wasn’t going to be.
‘’You’ll get your prince and I’ll get my Knight’’ her eyes lit up her face.
‘’Knight?’’ I laughed ‘’Oh you mean Felix! You were talking to him for a long time yesterday, weren’t you? So have you got feelings for him them?’’ I giggled and Rose bit into her lip and blushed.
‘’Yes, he was very charming. I stayed long after you had left, mother nearly had my ear of as I got back so late.’ she giggled too
‘Oh Rose,’ I laid down onto the grass and looked up to the cloud ‘we will both get our charming’s one day’
‘Yes, one day. Me and Felix and you and whoever it may be’ Rose flopped down beside me ‘Doesn’t that cloud look like a tea pot?’
I couldn’t help but laugh, Rose could say the silliest things.
‘’Yes, if you think so’’
‘’No I believe so’’
Rose was always so positive with everything, even clouds it seemed.
After Rose left I went to the cow barn. Milking the cows wasn’t a fun job; I ended up spilling a lot of the milk as I am not very good at keeping the cows still. I usually had help, my dad, mum and David were too busy harvesting the crops and getting them ready for the market tomorrow. The day before market day is always the busiest, so much to prepare and so much last minute affairs to sort out.
I sat down on a wooden stool with my bucket placed in front of me under a cow.
‘Hi’ someone said, making me jump. I turned around quickly, almost knocking over the bucket. Under the big archway door was Julian. He was leaning against the wooden frame, probably getting his crispy white shirt covered in dirt and dust.
‘Why are you here?’ I asked, he had no reason to be here.
‘I got bored, there is only so much of Sophrona that I can take and when all she does is talk about herself, there is even less. I can’t put up with it anymore.’ He replied
‘Why come here?’ I asked again
‘I wanted to get away but I wanted to talk to someone normal. You are the only other person I have talked to other than Sophrona’s family and Edwin, who has disappeared of somewhere. Edwin had the right idea to leave sooner plus, he does not have to find a princess.’ He answered
‘How did you know where I live?’ I questioned
‘I just asked somebody, they knew. Small towns are good for knowing where everybody is.’
‘Or bad as everyone knows what you are doing.’ I said back. I turned back around, the cows weren’t going to milk themselves. I could hear Julian walk closer.
‘So you, do this a lot?’
‘What, this?’ I gestured towards the cow. Julian nodded ‘Yes, some people have to work hard all day to just survive.’
‘I do, do a lot of work! I have a lot to learn, I’m going to be looking after the whole kingdom. I’ve also got to meet people and act kind all the time. If I wasn’t me, I would have already told Miss spoilt to go away and leave me. I can’t though, it wouldn’t be right of me, that is not how I am supposed to act.’
‘I wouldn’t dare speak back to Sophrona, it is like a death sentence!’ I laughed. I continued to milk the cows, the awkwardness of not knowing what to say filling the barn.
‘I haven’t had much chance to talk to anybody else. All these girls are driving me crazy, they are all the same. They are all desperate to become the princess and don’t care about getting to know me. I haven’t found one interesting fact about any of them, unless you include they are the daughter of somebody important from their town.’ He paused for a second ‘You seem different; you just want to get on with your work.’
‘I have to.’ I say ‘If I don’t we won’t get the potential amount of money.’
‘Tell me something about yourself.’
‘Please, I want to get to know you better. What would you want to do if you didn’t have to work on the farm?’ he asked again
‘I want to become a writer. I learned how to read and write when I had a tutor. I have this note book, it is full now, but it is full of poems and stories I have written. We can’t afford school and tutors now.’ I sighed
‘That’s your answer? Wow, you really are different,’ he smiled
‘How?’ I asked
‘I’ve asked each girl the same thing, what they would be doing if they could pick anything. They have all said to be princess. Your answer is the only one with a different answer.’ He replied
‘I guess it goes to show that they just want to be married to you, as you will be king.’ I say
‘Yeah, it does show it. You are different.’
‘No, I’m not. You haven’t talked to anyone else other than the same kind of girls with similar backgrounds. I am not the only girl living like this.’
‘Honestly,’ Julian said ‘If I could, I’d pick you. I have ten girls to pick, all of which have to meet my father’s terms, I do not care who they are, I just want you to be one of them’
‘Me?’ I blush ‘But surely you can’t. I am too far low down to compare to your top class.’
‘That is just it. I want to pick someone I like and can talk to without getting bored, annoyed or uncomfortable.’ He sighs
‘I barely know you.’ I simply say
‘I know, but already you are a thousand times better. Can I have a go?’ Julian quickly changes the subject and points to the bucket
‘You want a go?’ I laugh ‘Okay, sure don’t spill anything as we cannot afford to lose anything.’
I stand up and let Julian sit down on the old stool. I show him how to milk the cow. He does an okay job, but very slowly.
‘I think I should take over. I need to get this done for tomorrow.’ I say, Julian nods in agreement, he’d barely gotten any milk and I still had several cows to go.
We talked and laughed, Julian even followed me around as I did other bits around the farm. He was good company and I enjoyed talking to him, it is shame that I will not see him again once he leaves.
‘’Cecelia, come on! We have a few hours before we head to the market. Get up!’’ my mother shouted at me
‘’Yes mother’’ I shot up from the bed and woke Gretel and Clara and helped them get dressed into something semi-decent and quickly hurried them to breakfast.
Mother, father, and David were already tucking into their porridge at the scratched wooden table. I poured some into three bowls for my sisters and myself and quickly ate it, without even tasting it.
‘’Dave, Cecelia wash the dishes, we will set the horses up’’ father instructed
‘’Yes mother’ David and myself said in unison
‘’So Cecelia, I heard you wet to Sophrona’s to see the Princes, right?’’ David had a cheeky look on his face
‘’Maybe- you were there? Or who told you?’’ I glanced away from him; I didn’t want him to know. David was a horrible tease when he wanted to.
‘’Rose told me, she came up to me and told me that a ‘wonderful thing had happened to you and your life had changed forever’. It’s ok if you met the prince and liked him, I wouldn’t care at all, I just want my sister to be happy with whoever she marries. Rose seemed to think he was interested.” He said ‘’Plus, I heard you talking to Prince Julian in the cow shed.’
‘You heard us!’ I exclaimed, the heat raising up my face ‘Please don’t tell anyone, especially father, he will flip!’
David nodded ‘Sure, okay.’ I sighed in relief, David could be a good brother.
‘You like him?’ David continued ‘He must of made many girls jealous of you, especially as you’re pretty’’ he smiled genuinely at me, kindly proving that he was actually happy for me and didn’t just want to be mean.
‘I don’t, I can’t’ I insisted
‘’You do, you should agree with me, I’m your brother’’
‘’Sure...’’ I said sarcastically
‘You do like him and he clearly likes you back. Why else would he go to some smelly barn and actually attempt to work.’ He said
‘I do,’ I admit ‘but, he can’t be mine. I am just not suitable enough.’
‘’No, I don’t understand. He would pick you if he treats you differently.’ he denied the fact that me and Julian were possible and washed up a dirty bowl.
‘He may treat me differently to the other girls, but I am just not cut to be married to a king. It wouldn’t look good on him.’ I said
‘If you don’t agree I’ll tell father you love Prince...’ he paused as he thought of their names
‘’Julian’’ I prompted for him and I put away a clean bowl.
‘’Prince Julian, he will not like it one bit. He wants you to marry someone in your depth and reach’’ David frowned trying to think about father’s choices of bachelors for me to marry.
‘He wants me to marry a farmer or blacksmith so I can continue working like I am now’ I sighed and cleaned a spoon ‘He doesn’t understand that I’m not ready yet. Father believes I should be married this time next year when I am 18. He keeps persuading me to talk to a ‘Johnny’ or a ‘Robert’. Admittingly I am far too low of a class to marry a prince. ’
‘You marry who you want, I will make sure you do’ he smiled at me and put away the rest of the bowls.
‘’Thank you’’ I smiled at him and hugged him. I placed down my spoon and turned back to George ‘Now let’s get on the carriage’
I picked up my many baskets of flowers and I closed the wooden door behind us.
The market went well and I managed to sell nearly all my flowers and yesterdays milk while mother sold her bread and some materials along with some cushions, father sold his meat, Gretel sold all her eggs, David and Thomas sold a lamb and 7 chickens. We had done all right.
We continued working hard on the farm in pretty much the same routine as we had always done. Weeks past and I gradually forgot about my encounter with Prince Julian as we worked into the hotter months. I was happy but nothing was new and different but I had begun to listen to Rose and David by starting to believe a little more in many different things much to father’s disappointment.