Welcome back to WEEK 3 of the Rule of Three Blogfest where we are dropped into the town of Renaissance, population 333. Everyone has a secret! Details of the blogfest and the rules can be found below. For now, I give you my third installment: Princess Cassandra’s Tale. Next week, the climactic ending. Enjoy!
Four weeks passed when the woodsman returned to his shack on the eastern edge of town. Cassandra had grown so used to solitude. She marveled at how easy it had been to adjust to a commoner’s life.
“Come in,” she whispered.
“My apologies, your highness.” Godwin stood near the table holding his hat.
“Please, call me Cassandra.” She looked at the man to whom she owed everything. He was clean shaven, his hair combed to one side. He looked like a child about to give confession. She dropped to the floor, kneeling before Godwin. She kissed both his hands.
Cassandra had been careful to remain indoors during the daylight. She only left the shack at night, and then only to use the outhouse. Fear of being discovered by her tyrant brother was fear enough. Eleanor Blacksmith visited daily with food, water and clean linens for the child. She also brought gossip from the town.
Cassandra looked forward to Eleanor’s visits. They talked together and both remarked at how peaceful the child was. His cries were easily tended. Each day, Cassandra thanked God for sparing them, for the kindness of strangers, and for keeping the people of Renaissance in the dark.
“You’ve spoken to your brother?” Cassandra asked. “About his plan for me, for us, for the three of us, I mean,” she stammered.
“Aye, I’ve just left him. Eleanor sends regards,” he smiled. Godwin shuffled from one foot to the other, looking at his boots. “It’s a wise plan. After a month on this hunt with his Highness, it might be your only hope. He is set on finding the child. His party has taken a new guide to the north. He’ll be back, he swore it.”
Cassandra laughed. “Swore it, did he?” She lifted the sleeping babe from his basket. Her pride swelled as she shared her son with Godwin. She couldn’t ignore the feeling of deep fellowship connecting her now to this gentle man. She wondered if Geoffrey’s plan would be the end of them both. Godwin put his large finger in the babe’s hand, letting the child grab hold with tiny fingers.
“Geoffrey will receive the letter tomorrow,” he said. “No one in Renaissance knows that we don’t have a brother living south of the Culdees so news of his death will be received without question. I’ll leave the following morning to tend to my dead brother’s business and return in a week’s time with his bereaved young wife and new babe.” The way Godwin spoke to her, Cassandra wondered if he was having second thoughts. Everything depended upon the will of this man and his family. She felt vulnerable.
“Are you sure you’re prepared to keep me as your wife?” She asked. I know it is custom in these parts for a man to take on his brother’s burden, but can you live knowing it is all a lie?” Cassandra tried to keep her voice steady. She knew the people of Renaissance would never know her on sight, and without all the jewels and fancy garments of the royal house, she could pass as a peasant with ease.
Godwin cleared his throat and looked into Cassandra’s eyes. “I’ve never married. Not for lack of want, but because no woman stirred me deeply enough to capture all of my heart. And then I beheld you in the forest. For the first time, I am alive.”
A different fear gripped Cassandra’s heart. He was so earnest. She wondered if perhaps she was the one to worry about. Could she hold up under this ruse? She tried to smile.
Word count: 600