[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.“What is it, child? What was so important about the papers?”How could I have let this happen? If I’d gone straight on to the Royal University, as was my original plan, I’d be there, starting my studies.But now I’d lost my admittance twice.How could I get in now? The thought of going before Lord Appleton again made me shiver.“Without the papers,” I said slowly, “I can’t go to University.I desperately want to go.”“Do you still? Are you sure?”“Of course I’m sure!”She rubbed my back.“Well then, in that case, when I return from my honeymoon as queen, I will decree that you shall have the funds and authorization to go.”“But you’ll be gone a month or more,” I said.“My opportunity to enroll may have to wait a full year.Couldn’t you speak to King Leopold on my behalf so I won’t have to wait?”“Oh, my love, I would, but you know how busy he is today, with the wedding tomorrow.I don’t think it would do any good, even if I tried.”I felt my eyes wanting to fill with tears, and I scowled ferociously in an attempt to prevent them.“Then all my effort to get here, and leave my poor grandfather, has been in vain.”“Hush, hush,” she said.“Surely you don’t mean that.Why, we’ve found each other!”I had no response to this.“Will it really be so bad, staying here at the castle for another year?” she said.“You shall have everything your heart could wish for.Rhoda and Erma and Dorothy will tend to all your needs.You shall read, and swim, and take walks through the park, and visit the city and all the shops, with money to spend.And when I return, we shall be companions and friends, and my sole aim will be your comfort and happiness.”I blew out a long breath and tried to calm myself.“You make me feel like a brute for rejecting your offer,” I said, “but I came to Chalcedon to learn to be a doctor.To help sick and injured people.And that’s still what I want to do.”She gave me another squeeze.“Then you shall, Evelyn.I promise.Leave it all to me, and trust me.I know this … this temporary inconvenience is upsetting to you, but put your mind at ease.I will take care of everything.” She gave me a friendly little shake.“All I ask in return is that you get me through these next two terrifying days.”I wiped my eyes with the handkerchief she offered me.What could two days matter now? It was Friday.The day would be spent in tedious wedding preparations.Tomorrow would be the wedding itself.Like it or not, I was the maid of honor.My only job, for now, was to support and assist the bride.I could push University to the back of my mind for two more days.Even disappointed as I was, I could do that for Annalise’s sake.It was the least I could do after all the kindness she’d shown me.That afternoon I wrote to Mrs.Jeremy Thorndike in Hibbardville, enclosing money, more than we’d taken.I kept my promise to tell his wife and son he died thinking of them.One duty discharged.Then I tried to write a letter to Grandfather.I needed to tell him where I was.I should have done it sooner.He must be worrying about me awfully.But the words that came from my pen were lies, and I knew it.There was no way I could overlook my leviathan and be truthful.What should I say? “Dear Grandfather, I regret to inform you that I am an affront to nature, a girl from a foreign land, attached for life to a huge and dreadful sea serpent.Did Father never tell you what kind of woman Mother was? Of course he didn’t.If he had, I know you would have prepared me.In any case, I am now outcast from society, except for the royal palace itself, oddly enough.I will no longer be able to come visit you, but by all means do come and visit me, if you can bear up under the strain of the journey.Your loving granddaughter, Evelyn.”The shock would kill him.Maybe it would be better if he thought I’d died.What a heartless thing to think!I crumpled my paper and tossed it into the fire.Later that afternoon, Annalise and I rode back from the cathedral to the castle in her graceful little carriage.We both kicked our slippers off our feet and groaned about the wedding planners.Annalise leaned back in her seat with her arm resting over her eyes, but I, who hadn’t spent much time yet outside the castle walls, watched every sight that passed by.Such a press of people on every street, thronging the shops and the stalls and the vegetable markets! Elegant clothes and rough-spun brown trousers, carriages and milk carts.“You’ll be queen of much more than a castle and all its parties,” I observed.Annalise opened one eye.“Doesn’t that make it all the more fitting that a serpentina should be queen?” she said.“Someone with extraordinary abilities ought to govern.”“Your confidence astounds me,” I said.“I wouldn’t want the job.”“And your lack of confidence is what worries me,” she said.“You ought to know that you could rule this or any kingdom.”I saw something through the window that made me laugh out loud.“It can’t be them!” I cried.“La Commedia dell’Arte!”“La what?” Annalise said.Sure enough, there, performing on a street corner, their faces painted, still wearing the red suit and the black suit with matching trim, were Rudolpho and Alfonso.A small crowd of onlookers had gathered to watch.Our carriage passed them by, and they vanished from my sight.“La Commedia dell’Arte,” I repeated [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]