The Return Walk

 An extra story for the day
Me writing too much in a day. Ah, happiness.

The Return Walk

    When Alasdair could not possibly eat another bit of the vanilla cake Mrs. Averleigh produced, he declared himself done and immensely thankful. “One of the best meals I have had in a very long time,” was the king’s proclamation.

    “Oh,” Mrs. Averleigh tittered, “I’m certain you must have banquets aplenty at the castle. One small meal cannot motivate you, majesty, but you are so very obliging to say as much. It warms a poor mother’s heart.”

    “We may have celebrations and feasts at the keep but I prefer small dinners to large ones,” Alasdair said. “When I was young, my grandfather and I used to eat together in his room, just the two of us. I’d tell him everything I’d learned with my tutors that day, he would read me stories about the first Frewyn kings and teach me violin. We would spend hours before the fire and when I was older, I learned that he would miss dinners in the royal parlour to spend time with me. I have grown so accustomed to secluded company that even I don’t have meals in the royal parlour.”

    Mrs. Averleigh cooed over Alasdair’s gentle manner for a few moments and added to the subject by saying how fondly she remembered his grandfather. “King Dorrin will forever be loved by everyone, majesty,” she sighed. “I’m certain most of all by yourself. Oh, he was a kindly man. He came here for visits to the regent when I was younger. He always took take to meet everyone and observe everything. He had a great care for our kingdom and I’m very pleased to see that you are just like him.” She made certain not to mention the folly of Allande and smiled, prodding him to continue with stories of the past.

    Alasdair spoke a great deal over tea and Mrs. Averleigh listened with animation. Carrigh remained quiet and allowed the king and her mother to speak so she may grow more trustful of him and evermore fond. They conversed well into the night and when the stars could be seen from the bare window, Mrs. Averleigh suggested that perhaps a rest for the evening was best. They had a long journey and she was certain they were tired. She asked that they stay together at the inn but Carrigh protested. She wished to stay with her mother for the night and Alasdair agreed it would be best that the two women remain in each other’s company as long as their time would allow. He moved to leave but Mrs. Averleigh would not abide her daughter being separated from the king especially when the eyes of the capital were on upon them. Carrigh asked to speak to her mother in private in attempts to persuade her otherwise but her mother was armed with every excuse an affectionate mother could muster.     

    “No, no. You must be alone with him, dear,” she said quietly to her daughter. “You must encourage him, but not too much. Not that I don’t believe a king would be respectable but he’s still a young man. I know the sort of things young men do.”

    “Mother,” Carrigh sighed, rolling her eyes.

    “I’m just being sensible. I don’t doubt his love for you, dear. My only wish is that you shouldn’t be hurt if things do not work in your favour. He is a king,” she reminded her, “and though he’s a superb and exceptional young man, there may be regulations against such a union.”

    “I hadn’t thought of that,” Carrigh said, looking back at Alasdair as he was turned away. “He’s very open in his affections, mother. All of the nobility knows, I believe. Commander MacDaede and the Den Asaan-“

    “Have they come with you?” Mrs. Averleigh excitedly asked.

    Carrigh nodded and smiled.

    “Oh, the Den Asaan! I’ve heard he’s quite a difficult man. Did you travel with him?”

    “No, mother. Alasdair and I went alone in his carriage.”

    Mrs. Averleigh gave a romantic sigh and forgot her questions of the giant and his mate. “This is too good,” she exhaled. “My daughter caught the eye of a king. Of course you did, dear. Such a pretty and sweet girl could have caught nothing less. What happy fortune that you should be sent to Diras. Please, dear, spend the night in his company and don’t worry about your mother. We will see each other tomorrow. I will give Sheamus the run of the shoppe for the day and we will go out together.”

    Carrigh nodded in submission to her mother’s request, as she knew she ought to have done, and attended the king on the return walk to the inn.

    Mrs. Averleigh believed there was no one happier in Frewyn than herself as she watched the king lead her daughter through the Hallanys town square. She observe how attentive he was, how he doted on her, how considerate he was when she spoke, how he slowed his gait to meet hers, and she was astounded that Alasdair though so alike in appearance with Allande was not at all comparable in person. The raising of her daughter in station, the exorbitant increase in her wages, the exclusiveness he held with Carrigh’s consideration were all the markings of a man very much in the throes of love. She did not ask the wanted questions of how they met or how Alasdair had continually put himself in her daughter’s way but as the king had come to her home simply to gain her approval of the odd match, she supposed such queries superfluous when everything had been answered by his conduct. She sighed from her place at the window and was glad to leave her daughter in the hands of one whom she knew indisputably could care for her. 

     Alasdair was gratified to have his woman on his arm and a full stomach. He had not had such a pleasurable evening in a long time. He listened to Carrigh’s words of thanks and praise toward himself while he observed that Carrigh and her mother bore a great semblance of one another. Their features though differing in colour and complexion were similar and whereas Mrs. Averleigh was weathered by a life of hard work, she was not unbecoming. Alasdair believed that if Carrigh should look just as well when she reached her mother’s age, he was convinced that she would remain beautiful for the rest of her life.  

    “I didn’t realize your mother lived alone,” Alasdair said grimly. “I had hopes you had a brother or a sister to help her. Would she consider . . . ?” But Alasdair left off the question when he recalled why her mother remained behind in Hallanys. “I cannot ask her to leave your father’s tailor,” he said quietly, turned his gaze aside. 

    “She prefers to be alone,” Carrigh assured him, rubbing his hand on her arm. “She enjoys working and doing everything by herself. My mother has always been that way. Even if she were to come and live in Diras, she would still insist upon living on her own.”

    Alasdair nodded and was pleased to escort the seamstress back to the Golden Crown. They gained many looks of shock and bemusement along their short path from curious strollers who recognized the Frewyn King. Many murmurs followed, all of them wanting to know who the lady of consequence was connected to him. He smiled to think of Carrigh as being mistaken for one of the nobility and simpered, as he believed her to be far superior to those of finer birth. How little the notion of rank by inheritance meant when the most unexceptionable creature in the world was being admired by everyone who saw her beside the king. Alasdair beamed with pride to display Carrigh and when a few acknowledged her as the tailor’s daughter, more buzzing was roused just as they had reached the inn.

    The matter of sleep was brought up and discussed. Carrigh had thought she was being given a room separate from the king but when Alasdair imparted he had only reserved one large suite, Carrigh’s timidity returned.

    “I didn’t think you would want me to share your quarters,” she said, shivering nervously. “I mean, I’m grateful that you’ve taken care of every particular for the journey but would it be proper for a king to-”

    “I want you to be my guest,” Alasdair asserted, feeling his confidence rise. “Will you do me the honour in sharing my bed this evening?”

    Carrigh was silenced by the force of her aspiration. She wished to be the king’s companion in every aspect but knew not how to conduct herself with prudence when she felt herself in peril of being more in love with him than ever.

    Alasdair understood her silence to be a mere impediment due to her natural reserve. He took her hand and led her up to their shared room for the evening. He vowed to remain a gentleman and conduct himself with discretion but Carrigh could not make the same distinction. When they were alone, his forcible powers of disposition had always ruined her and Alasdair was apprehensive for what might ensue. He had meant for them to share proximity with one another in a more comfortable auspice than a cramped carriage, but considering what enjoyable happenstances the closeness of the coach had incited, Alasdair wondered how long he would be able to keep his oaths of forethought.            


  1. AHHHH LONG LIVE LOMANCE!!! ^________________^

  2. Mothers are all schemers for their children and Alisdair wins as a result.


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