Click here to read part one.
A year passed. Then another. The dream became harder to envision, and the night sounds of laughter and glee from the village below again began working their way slowly into her thoughts. It became harder to concentrate on her preparation; harder to be patient.
One morning while taking her breakfast in the Royal Kitchen, a knock was heard at the back door; the door where deliveries were made from the village below. She waited for one of her Father's servants to answer, but when none immediately did, she decided to answer it herself.
"Hello," said the young delivery man as he pulled off his crumbled hat and bowed. (It was an exaggerated bow, very low and lasting, followed by a winsome smile.) She couldn't help but laugh.
"Delivery for his Royal Highness, the King." he proclaimed with just the slightest shade of irreverence. "And my, but I must say that he has hired some lovely kitchen help, a great improvement indeed!"
"Why, thank you, but I'm not the kitchen help," she said blushing, "I'm the King's daughter."
"I had heard that he had a daughter. But I was never told how beautiful she was! Do you live here all alone with your Father?"
"For now," she replied, thinking briefly of the now fading story her Father had told her. He carried the supplies past her into the kitchen. "You ought to come down to the village some night. The lads would be taken with you! Lots of friends your age and wonderful parties."
"Tell me about the village."
For an hour they talked--talked and laughed. Every story of the village life seemed so full of humor and excitement! He acted out the stories he told and sang a village favorite, dancing merrily to the tune. She could not remember ever laughing so much, and found herself resenting her Father for not allowing her to take part.
"You must come to the village this very night. The Fall Festival begins, and it is the best of the year."
She glanced awkwardly at the closed kitchen door. "I don't believe my Father would allow me to attend."
"Then sneak out after dark. I will meet you at the bridge this side of the village. You'll have a great time!"
"Perhaps." She hesitated. "But I can't promise."
"I'll meet you there," he said, then shut the door and was gone before she could answer. That evening, she sat with her Father in the Great Room, he reading aloud from the Book of Lessons, and she pretending to be listening. In reality, she was measuring the diminishing light from the setting sun. The distant music began to loft it. It took several moments before she realized that her Father had stopped reading.
"You seem far away tonight."
She straightened her dress nervously, "No, just tired I think. Perhaps I should go to bed early."
"Really, Father, I'm fine," she said, quickly getting to her feet. "Good night," she said back over her shoulder as she scampered up the stairs.
Two hours later, when it was believed that all in the castle were sleeping, a lithe, young figure stole out the kitchen door and disappeared into the night.
To be continued...