Francis hurried across the patch of thick grass, he was moving at a pace most uncomfortable to him, though it was not quite considered running it was certainly a brisker pace than he was used to. He was hoping to escape a moment or two of his harsh physical education regime to speak to his sister. Who he had noticed sitting not too far from his first lesson of the day. He knew he would not be able to escape from his tutor Lord Haynes, for very long so he walked quicker than the gentle stroll he was accustomed to.
Adelaide was sat among her ladies, there were about seven women in total, they were sat sewing, and the sound of pleasant female chatter filled Francis’s ears as he approached closer. He saw his sister struggling with the simple stitch she had been trying to master for the past few weeks. She never could be the domestic woman the Queen, and society dictated she must be. In fact she was far from it.
As Adelaide was about to give up, she looked forwards and saw Francis rushing towards her. A smirk crept across her face, she saw how distressed he looked and she had a good idea as to why. As her eyes met her brother’s, she instinctively scowled at him but then her glare softened as she saw the discomfort he was in.
There was an air of panic as the future King approached her ladies, they all rushed to their feet and curtseyed before taking a few steps back. Not that they were not interested in what the Dauphin had to say to his sister, but out of respect and an element of fear they chose not to risk upsetting their future ruler.
A whisper erupted as Adelaide did not stand and curtsey to her brother, she could feel her ladies glare disapproving looks into her back, but she did not care. After all, it was she who held the title of heir to the throne long before her brother was even conceived. Besides Adelaide was almost a fully grown woman and she refused to bow to her younger brother when he was so young and so unintelligent.
Lady Claudette, her Governess offered the Prince her chair which was close to Adelaide’s. The Prince gladly took the chair, thanking her greatly. He was physically exhausted and was thrilled for the much needed break.
“What is it? Why do you frown?” Adelaide asked holding her sewing out for someone to take. One of her ladies did so quickly.
“Today I study physical education; Lord Haynes has granted me a morning of sport as a reward for my excellent progress in Latin. You know I am nearly fluent.”
“I am most thrilled for you, brother,” she replied with a sarcastic air to her voice.
“I assume you are not sincere with your last remark,” he sighed. He leaned back on the chair. His breathing was quick and erratic it was clear he was out of breath.
“You appear to be parched, perhaps one of my ladies may offer her services and fetch you a drink?” Adelaide asked.
“Something strong, not wine,” he said shortly.
“Celine,” Adelaide said. Celine, Adelaide’s least favourite lady, stepped forwards and curtseyed. “A drink for the Prince,” she snapped. “Something strong, not wine,”
“Of course, your Highness, at once,” she said curtseying to both Adelaide and Francis before hurrying off. Adelaide assumed Celine thought it a great honour to run errands for the Dauphin, no doubt she would tell everyone what she was doing and how she fetched a drink for the parched future King so proudly.
“I am right to assume you would prefer studying Latin instead of sport?” she asked.
“Of course,” he said sharply. He turned and looked at his sister. They both started laughing together. “I would rather be anywhere else,” he grinned. “Even scrubbing the royal backside,” he added in English.
Though the French court was so close to England not many in the palace could speak the language fluently, the royal siblings used this to their advantage, often whispering in English or Spanish so no one would be able to hear what they were saying. When they whispered to one another in a foreign tongue, it was usually to tell each other rude jokes or gossip. The Queen had warned Adelaide that she must not whisper to the Prince in English as it reflects badly on the King, Adelaide did not understand what the problem was but she was told sternly not to do it again. She assumed Francis had been delivered the same speech but she believed he had been told the actual reason why. It was probably something politics related, and Adelaide was glad she was not bored with the details of foreign affairs.
Now they only spoke in English when they were around lowly servants and never around anyone higher. Adelaide’s Governess was the younger sister to the Duke of Brittany, the King’s cousin and closely trusted adviser; but Lady Claudette, who also spoke English, found their whispering charming and thought it was good the brother and sister were bonding together. She did not mind and Adelaide and Francis knew she would not report them to the King or Queen.
“Francis!” Adelaide exclaimed in delight at her brother’s crude joke. A massive smirk erupted on her face. “As would I, though I would rather be playing sport rather than spending all day sitting down sewing. You have seen my stitches, tell me I am getting better,”
“I hate to say, my dear sister, but you appear to be getting worse!” he grinned. She slapped him playfully which again caused muffled whispers to rise into concerned conversations, especially as the pair was still happily talking in a foreign tongue.
“Francis, the cheek, and to think I was going to make you a wonderful patch work quilt as a gift, now I am not so sure you deserve my hard work!”
“Please, I could ask any person in the whole of France to make a quilt and they would do so without as much as a work of hesitation!” He said.
“But no other lady would make the quilt as lovingly as I, your dear sister. There is no lady in your entire Kingdom who loves you as much as your dear big sister.” She smiled placing her hand on top of his. “You will remember that,”
“How much I love you, even when you marry Catherine, you will remember me, won’t you?” she asked her voice quiet and gentle as though she was fearful. For the first time in her life she sounded like the little girl she was rather than the big one she was pretending to be.
“That is the thing,” Francis said. “I don’t want to marry her,” he whispered. “I am not interested in her, or any woman for that matter.”
Adelaide opened her mouth as though she was about to gasp at what he had just said when they were interrupted by the sound of her ladies swooning.
The pair jumper from their thrones and turned to see what they were looking at. The royal congregation had come outside and they were now walking in the direction of the Prince and Princess. The King was strolling leisurely followed by the Duke of Brittany and the Cardinal were walking closely behind the King, though not too close as they did not want to intrude on his private stroll outside.
“Not a word to anyone,” Francis whispered.
“I would not dream of doing such a thing,” she replied.
Louis spotted his two children stood facing him; he gave them a large smile. It was refreshing to see the Dauphin and Princess spending quality time together, though Louis thought his son was supposed to be in lessons today.
Louis needed to speak to his son urgently. It was about his upcoming marriage to the Princess of Sweden. The King understood that his heir was a bit sceptical about getting married. To Louis the decision could not be any easier, if was his duty to get married and produce heirs to the French throne, he just could not understand his son’s hesitation.
Adelaide and Francis walked out from behind the thrones so they were in front of the King, the congregation came to an abrupt stand still as the King walked to meet his children.
“Adelaide,” he said, greeting his preferred child first.
“Your Majesty,” Adelaide smiled curtseying.
“Francis, may we speak in private?” He asked.
Francis knew that the question was, in reality, not a question. His Father, the King was ordering that they spoke in private.