Part 4: Here
I paced my small chamber until I grew dizzy from making sharp turns in a small place. I sat I on my narrow straw mattress, with my head in my hands, and my elbows on knees that bounced with trapped energy. Tonight would be the final act of our ill-planed play. Whether it would prove a comedy or a tragedy would depend on the Good King’s humor.
Just as I made up my mind to confess to King Konig and beg his mercy, I heard a shuffle and muffled giggles outside my door. The light-hearted antics of my fellow servants conflicted with my desperate resignation. I stood, intent tell the randy couple to take their rendezvous to the stables, when I heard a knock on my door.
James stood at my door with the giggling Princess Adelheide.
“M-my Lord, my Lady” I stammered “W-what, how?” The princess shoved her delicate fist in her mouth to stifle a fresh peal of laughter.
“Henry! It worked! Let us in and I’ll tell you what happened after we retired to the chamber.”
Still blinking at the turn of events, I stepped aside to allow the new couple into my already cramped accommodations, then checked the corridor to ensure no prying eyes were watching. Satisfied that there were no obvious observers (and realizing that I couldn’t do anything even if there were), I closed the door.
“Henry! Your spell worked better than we could have imaged! I’ll admit I had my doubts. And Adelheide, dear Adelheide, she was shocked!”
“Shocked is an understatement!” The princess agreed. “A frog! A frog prince! Who ever heard of such a thing? What could you have been thinking?”
As it turned out, James had already filled the princess in on our travels and our plan to observe her family in disguise.
“I wanted to be angry, but found the plan so ridiculous and funny, I couldn’t” She confided, laughing again. “You turned yourself into a frog so you could spy on us, and thought that we might be the problem?”
“I confess, it seems rather silly in hindsight.” James confessed, as I avoided both their eyes by staring at the floor.
“You foolish boys. You are lucky it worked as well as it did.” The princess spoke in a light, maternal tone. “Still, we must decide what to do next. Prince James cannot be discovered in my room, and this frog-scheme is bound to cause troublesome gossip.”
The plan we devised relied heavily on James and the princess Adhelide’s acting. James would stay the night in my room. Shortly before dawn, I snuck him out of the castle. Shortly after luncheon Prince James “arrived” with the rest of our company as part of the formal delegation. I held my breath when Prince James was formally introduced to each princess in turn. Princess Henrietta spoke politely, but gave him a look of calculating appraisal. Princess Ida murmured her greeting barely looking up. Princess Adhelide greeted him gayly with a sly smile. As the formalities continued I listened to the whispered gossip for any signs of our scandalous romp. Thankfully, Adhelide’s warm welcome was passed off as interest in a new, handsome suitor by the ladies of the court. We did it! They did it! We all fooled the king and court. The iron bands around my chest loosened, and I could finally breath.
The month of negotiations, feats, and games passed in a blur. At the end of it all, Crown Prince Hans was formally betrothed to Crown Princess Henrietta. Their Union would unite the neighboring Kingdoms in peace and prosperity for generations to come. Prince James was formally engaged to the Princess Adhelide. Traditionally, Princess Ida would be the proper choice, but her well-known shyness and desire to remain unwed allowed her younger sister to accept the offer, to everyone’s satisfaction.
Prince James and Princess Adelheide were wed in Sonnigeebene the day before we were to return to Waldgebiet. Princess Adehleide, as new as James’s new wife, would serve as companion and chaperon for Princess Henrietta as she relocated to her future kingdom. The wedding feast was bittersweet for King Konig as he prepared to say farewell to two of his daughters. After a touching toast, wishing his daughters and in-laws happiness, and the newly entwined kingdoms of Sonnigeebene and Waldgebiet prosperity under their future rulers, he retired to his inner chamber to gather his emotions.
As the newlyweds dabbed tears from their eyes from the king’s speech, Princess Henrietta offered her personal congratulations.
“My dear sister, I am so pleased that you will be coming with me to our new home. And I am overjoyed to see how happy you are with your new husband.” She kissed her sister’s cheek, and hled out her hand to her brother in-law.
“I am pleased to call you sister” James agreed, kissing her hand politely, but squeezing her fingers with genuine, brotherly affection.
“If your brother and I can be half as well matched, we shall all be happy indeed.” The future Queen replied with a true smile. Then, leaning in to the new couple she lowered her voice’s volume, but raised her intonation with mirth.
“Dear brother, I must ask. Does your brother also turn into a frog?”