The Problematic Prince
“I’m a prince too.”
The people sat around the spacious table shouted to one another, Lisa heard the commotion as she came into the room and clicked her tongue.
Everyone likes to gamble, so much so that if they were not servants, they would all be card players in the city, but they were stuck with what they had.
It really was the end of the world when they had to resort to revealing the winners and losers of the married couple fight.
“Hey, Lisa, what about you?” A maid asked Lisa with a bright face.
It had been nearly a week since the first terrible fight between the Grand Duke and Duchess and in that week, they had not spoken to each other once.
Lisa flashed a frown as she approached the table.
Everyone here was betting on the prince, Lisa wasn’t intending to bet, she was a self respecting person, but at the same time, she wanted to show support for her long time mistress.
“I bet for the Grand Duchess.” Lisa put in, she felt bad for doing this, but she couldn’t just watch Erna get ignored.
The other servants showed sympathetic looks at Lisa, as her name was added under Erna, which had been empty up until that point.
Lisa didn’t have chance to say anything when the call bell the the Grand Duchess’ room rang.
“Don’t you think you should rest?” Lisa said.
Erna’s complexion was worrying.
Over the last few days, it seemed like her health was deteriorating, but Erna behaved like nothing was wrong.
Other than looking pale, paler than normal, she didn’t look like a person who had just emptied her stomach.
“I’m okay, Lisa, I’m resting.”
“I’m not sure this counts as resting,” Lisa added, worry all over her face.
All about the desk Erna had been working at, scraps of cloths lay strewn out and half cut up.
Erna was busy scissoring and judging by the shapes of the petal pattern she was cutting around, she was making a rose.
“Because my mind goes all over the place when I’m resting, I need to keep busy so my mind can rest,” Erna smiled at Lisa, but didn’t take her eyes from the cloth.
Lisa looked at the piled up corsages already finished, the desk crammed with petals and the faint smile on Erna’s face.
She might be a petite woman, but she had the strongest spirit.
It was clear that her idea of resting was very different from most.
Erna put down her scissors and rubbed her red fingers.
Then, after taking a sip of lukewarm tea, she picked up the scissors and resumed her work.
Lisa could do nothing but help.
Clearing away wasted material and bringing in fresh cloth.
It felt like the time Erna was making corsages to raise money to pay off debts.
“Your Highness, if we sell this back to Mr Pent…ah, you cant.”
The excitement quickly dissolved as she took up a bunch of colourful corsages.
It was quite impossible for the Grand Duchess to sell artificial flowers to department stores.
At that time, they were in a situation where they needed money, but now that she was famous for being the Grand Duchess of Lechen, it might be considered unseemly.
They could have sold the corsages under a pseudonym, but if anyone was to find out, well, the Grand Duchess had enough scandal to worry about.
“Why don’t you give them to the maids?” Erna said excitedly.
“Why? All they do is gossip behind your back.”
The corsages were beautiful and coveted by many.
Lisa remembered well the face of Mr Pent when he found out Erna would no longer be providing them.
“This precious thing,” Lisa help up a rose corsage Erna had just finished, “how much money would you get for selling this?”
“We can’t sell them, but, why would the maids hate them?”
“Well, they wouldn’t, but why would you want to give them to people who only gossip about you?”
“We can give it to them as a present, Lisa, then they might realise that I am a good person, at least, a little bit.”
Lisa felt only cynical answers come to the surface, but couldn’t bear to say them out loud and just nodded at the Grand Duchess as she smiled.
Anyone who didn’t fall for her smile were evil people, the Poison Mushroom Prince especially so.
“Will you give a present to the prince too?”
Although she was desperate for the two to get along more than anyone, Lisa also wanted Erna to win this fight.
It was sad to be in a position of unbridled love for a man, but resentful to lose the first fight.
“What was that, Lisa?”
Erna had been so caught up in her flowers, practically face down on the desk, looked up at her maid, waiting for her to say those resentful words again.
Although they had fought because they could no longer hold back their feelings, Erna didn’t want this.
On the first day, she felt relieved, on the second she grew worried and on the third, she slowly opened the door to her chamber.
Had Bjorn been there, she was ready to pretend that he had won, but once more he showed his true face and was absent.
Bjorn had never looked for Erna.
He slept along, ate alone, went out alone and everything he did, he acted like he didn’t have a wife back home.
He acted like he was never going to see her face again.
Their relationship had been stuck like this for over a week as Erna, who’s pride had been hurt, responded in the same vain.
The overly spacious palace made it easier for the pair to ignore and avoid each other.
Erna took a sip of her tea as she began to feel nauseous again.
She gathered together the finished corsages.
Roses, Cherry Blossoms, Lilies of the Valley and orange flowers.
The flowers almost seemed to bloom as they were disturbed.
Lisa began to mix the flowers.
Erna was much better at making artificial flowers, but Lisa was better at weaving them together.
“The more I think about it, the more its just a waste.
These are some of the finest corsages you’ve made.”
While complaining, Lisa carefully made gifts for the other maids.
The remaining flowers were also decorated on Erna’s hat.
Just as she tried on the hat, Mrs Fitz picked it up.
Staring at the still, nervous people like children caught doing bad things, she began to report without much admonition.
“The Royal Family will arrive at Schuber Palace in three days, before the opening ceremony.
I got a call from the palace sayign that you don’t have to prepare a separate meeting for that day.
It is the will of Her Majesty the Queen that it will be enough to have the family together at dinner.”
“Ah, yes, then prepare the banquet dinner for that day according to Her Majesty’s wishes,” Erna said calmly.
With the King and Queen, the couple had five children, Princess Louise and her husband and their young children.
Adding Erna to the mix, the family would easily fill up the dinning room table.
“This is the final guest list, please check it through,” Mrs Fitz said.
The Royal Family, including the King and Queen, would be staying at Schuber Palace for the World Expo opening ceremony.
If it had not been for the fact that the twin princes birthday was only a couple days before the opening ceremony, they might have gone some where else, but for now, the banquet was under Erna’s jurisdiction, being the hostess of the Palace.
She was nervous.
Erna went over the list very carefully and went on to discuss a few more.
It was just as Mrs Fitz was leaving that the nausea came to Erna again.
“I’m sorry Mrs Fitz, I’ve been feeling quite nauseous recently.”
“I will call a doctor,” Mrs Fitz said.
“No, there’s no need, I have medication for stomach cramps,” as Erna shook her head, Lisa was already coming up with the medication.
“Don’t take that medicine,” Mrs Fitz demanded, “I will get the doctor to give you a proper check up, maybe its just symptoms of a stomach ache, but didn’t you miss your cycle this month?”
“My, cycle? Oh…” Erna flushed with embarrassment.
Erna’s mind suddenly raced.
Mrs Fitz turned to Lisa, who was desperately trying to hold back the desire to jump about and stamp her feet.
“Go to the housekeeper’s office and tell her to call the doctor, now, Lisa.”
A dark brown stallion galloped through the forest.
The powerful sounds of hooves echoed up and down the path, littered with new spring growth in full bloom.
The hooves stopped only when it reached the end of the forest and overlooked Schuber Bay.
The mane blustered and billowed in the fresh sea breeze.
Bjorn got off the horse, took off his riding hat and breathed in the cool air.
The calm sea glittered brightly with the light from the sun.
It was a beautiful day and the perfect presentation of spring.
Thick cotton clouds hung suspended in the azure blue sky.
There was a sweet scent of blossom, the low buzz of busy bees and the chirrup of finches.
Bjorn laughed at the fact that some people didn’t like spring.
The weather resembled Erna.
When he roused in the morning and went out onto the balcony, he first got that thought, the start of an unlucky day.
When the swear cooled, Bjorn got back on the horse.
When he erased the thoughts of that woman, his day resumed its carefree calmness.
Thanks to her, he had been enjoying riding out a lot more.
He had nothing to lose.
Two days ago, he had run into Erna, who had been out for a walk with her maid.
Even when their eyes met, she didn’t turn around and she was still entirely unforgiving.
She simply held up her parasol to block their view of each other and carried on walking.
She passed him by, lace and ribbons fluttering in the breeze as if trying to tease him.
Bjorn sat on the horse for a long time, not moving and just griped the reigns tightly.
Bjorn shook his head and erased the bad memory as he came into the garden.
When he reached the front door of the Grand Duke’s residence, the servants rushed out to greet him.
“Your Highness, it’s the Grand Duchess, the medical examination has been done, you need to go to her.”
Bjorn wore a frown on his face at the dumb grin on the servants face, he was fast becoming annoyed at the situation and as he was about to speak.
“Congratulations, Your Highness, you’re about to become a father.”
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