Drama Romance Fiction


The moonlight illuminates the garden and the rose bushes cast sketchy shadows on the nearby earth. It is impossible not to see that the rows and rows of flowers have had their ample share of attention recently. All to impress him, whatever he may look like. She stands at the window, looking out, but she might as well try to count the stars as to imagine the countenance of her betrothed.

Father has said she will think him well-favored and handsome, but taking his opinion is not something she chooses to do. Mother, however, hasn't said much as to his appearance but has abundantly commented on his lovely disposition and charming personality. This, in her young mind, does not bode well for the quality of his looks. Her sisters are actually jealous of her marrying a wealthy nobleman, but she fears they will change their minds when he finally arrives and they actually lay eyes upon him.

Lord Erich Battlehaus is his name and when they are married she shall acquire the noble title of Lady Celestine Battlehaus. She smiles when she thinks of being referred to as a lady when she is barely sixteen years old. But cousin Gertrude was the same age when she wed her arranged husband and so was her friend Katherine when she suffered the same fate. To all appearances they were all doing fine lately and that did surprise Celestine a trifle as she thought both of the men boorish and ill mannered, and that was not counting their horrendous looks. She shuddered a bit while thinking of what she might be facing on her wedding night. 

It was the custom to marry off your oldest daughter to nobility, providing, of course, the gentleman took a liking to her. Unfortunately he had the advantage of seeing her at a ball last year and made up his mind then and there that when she came of age, he would make her his wife. She felt it must have been at a distance that he observed her because she was careful to stay with her friends, in a corner at the ball and was not formally introduced to any gentlemen. It would have been considered presumptuous for a young lady's family or, God forbid, the lady herself, to initiate such a meeting.

Up until last week she had thought herself safe from this terrible fate that awaited her. But then her father received a missive proclaiming Lord Battlehaus' intentions with regard to his eldest daughter. Father was overjoyed as such a union would set the entire family in a favored position. Mother didn't say much, her sisters were overjoyed for her, and she, she went for a walk in the garden. It was rather funny, she thought, now standing here at the window, how the garden looked so much more beautiful in the moonlight. Perhaps the moon had a magic in its beams. 

In the distance she now noticed a single figure stumbling along the road towards their house. As he approached she was able to discern that his clothes were muddy and torn and he walked as though he might be injured. She knew her parents would not take kindly to a battered stranger spoiling her meeting with Lord Battlehaus. The closer he got the more her heart bled for him. Poor soul, all alone in this condition and with the next house over two miles away. Impulsively she ran from the house and went straight to the bedraggled stranger. 

“Are you hurt, Sir” she asked politely as he grabbed her arm to steady himself. The answer to that question was obvious, although he didn't provide an answer. She draped his arm around her shoulders and began walking towards the house. It was only after they were about halfway there that he took it upon himself to speak.

“Dear lady, thank you so much for your help. My horse threw me about a mile from here. You are so kind.”

She looked at him in the moonlight and saw that he was quite disheveled. She smiled to herself to think of what her parents would say when she took him into the house for patching up and maybe even something to eat. Then he would need a horse and.... They had reached the door and she didn't hesitate to bring him inside and make him comfortable on the freshly brushed sofa. Then she set about tending to his needs – wiping the mud from his face with her hand embroidered handkerchief and offering him some refreshments from the silver tray set out for Lord Battlehaus and his entourage.

Thinking that Lord Battlehaus had made his entrance her family came into the room expecting to see royalty instead of a common bum as her father referred to him. 

“Get him out of here at once” her mother said in the most harsh voice Celestine had ever heard her use. Her father for his part paced the room mumbling to himself about royalty and bums. Her sisters stood in a corner and watched the entire scene playing out before them. They remained silent.

“Patrice, get him a glass of pure water and a few towels so that he may make himself, if not presentable, at least a little less muddy” Celestine gave the order to her youngest sister who immediately complied with her wishes.

“Really, you're very kind but you are obviously expecting company and I should just be in the way. If you would be so kind as to lend me a horse I'll continue on my journey.” The stranger spoke louder now than he had previously and everyone in the room looked at him as he stood and took Celestine's hand in one of his and gracefully brought it to his lips. “Thank you my lady for your gracious hospitality. I shall never forget your kindness.” Celine blushed as he said these words and did not for one second think of Lord Battlehaus or her coming nuptials. 

But reality has a way of presenting itself at the most inopportune moments, for just then they heard the carriage of Lord Battlehaus coming to a stop at the furthest row of flowers. The room was silent as they awaited the inevitable with fear and trepidation. When the knock came at the door her father went to answer it looking despondent and defeated. 

“We've come for Lord Battlehaus. Has he arrived?” The colorfully clad soldier stood at attention as he spoke. Then, looking past Father and into the room he said. “I see he has arrived safely.” Then walking up to the stranger he made a small bow from the waist. “My Lord, your other set of clothing is waiting in the carriage.”

Two weeks later the arranged marriage of Celestine Thacher and Lord Erich Van Battlehaus took place. And when the bride said “I do”, she did.

June 10, 2021 00:40

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.