Part 1: HERE
Part 2: HERE
Part 3: HERE
Part 4: HERE
Princess Marigold received permission from her father to visit the market. King Midas readily agreed to any activity that would separate his daughter from visiting men, and as King Franz would be leaving soon, he could begin to relax his guard. Therefore, the Princess was allowed to visit the market with only 2 personal guards and one of the palace ravens.
John had already slipped out of the palace to prepare for their afternoon’s venture. Whenever he was able, King Franz would excuse himself from the palace to “look in on his craftsmen” at the market. As their extended stay was made under the pretense of arranging a trading partnership between the two kingdoms, a desire to observe the relationship underway was far from suspicious.
“Welcome, Princess” John, disguised as a merchant, bowed to the veiled Marigold as she stepped into the tented stall.
“Good day, good sir.” The Princess replied with an unseen smile. The two guards who accompanied her stood on either side of the tent’s entrance, silent and still as pillars.
“Would you be so kind as to show me your finest wares? I wish to buy a gift for my father to celebrate the friendship between our lands”
John, devoted to his role, gestured to the laden tables. For this was a true merchant’s stall with much merchandise. The owner of which was conveniently standing by.
“Most nobel princess, I am honored by your presence! I will gladly show you all you wish to see.”
The fake merchant made a show of displaying the fine furs, jewels, and fine-bound books in his stall.
“How lovely!” The princess exclaimed. “What exquisite work! Each piece if more beautiful than the last!”
“I am honored, Princess. We take great pride in the skill of our craftsmen. But I must admit that the best of my stock is still aboard my ship.”
“Indeed?” The princess replied, feigning surprise at this revelation.
“Yes, this ship is newly arrived in port. It is laden with the thickest, softest furs, and the finest gold-bound manuscripts ever seen.” John replied, speaking loud enough for the guards outside to hear. “A gift for a king as grand as your father would be found among those treasures, but it will be several days before I will be able to bring them all to the market.” John sighed deeply, as if weary by the thought of transporting so many luxurious items from ship to stall.
“How unfortunate, for I wished to present the gift at your King’s farewell banquet on the morrow!” The princess paused as if in thought. “Good merchant, could you take me to your ship? I long to see the beauty you store there.”
John, the princess, and her two guards, made the short trip from the stall to the waiting ship as the spying raven circled overhead. John carefully lead the esteemed guests up the gang plank. The two guards were stationed outside the cargo hold, once again flanking the entrance. After several minutes of pretend shopping, the princess made the selection of a fine, but heavy trunk inlaid with gold and jewels.
“How perfect for my father’s best linens!” The princess declared. “I will have it at once!”
“I congratulate your taste, Princess. I can spare two men to take the chest to the palace by sundown.” John replied.
“Sundown would be too late!” Marigold feigned impatience. “It is so beautiful. I must take it immediately.”
“I am sorry Princess, but none of my men can be spared. I will have to go fetch some laborers…”
“That won’t be necessary, good sir.” Marigold replied. “I brought two strong men with me, did I not?”
Calling forth her guards, the Princess convinced the men to each take one end of the heavy trunk and carry it from the ship and start toward the palace. “I will follow behind in a moment, I must finish the transaction.” she explained.
The two men, seeing no reason to disbelieve the princess or fear danger in the famously safe port, adjacent to a market in which she was well known and admired, did as she instructed. But, as soon as they cleared the gangway, the anchor was lift and the ship set sail.
By the time the two guards rose the alarm and the royal navy made chase, the swift merchant ship already had a strong headstart and a favorable wind.
“I wrote a letter of apology and friendship to your father and left it in the trunk. I am hopeful he will eventually forgive me, and see the mutual benefit of keeping our partnership in trade. But I will gladly fight a war if it would ensure your freedom.” Franz told his bride as they stood on the deck.
“My father is a proud man, but is not rash. He will not start a war, for his pride would never allow him to admit he was tricked.” Marigold responded slowly. “But, he will find another way to get his revenge.”
“I do not fear his retaliation, for I have all I need aboard this ship.”
Marigold removed her veil and smiled at her groom, letting the veil fly out of her hand and out to the sea.