(Becoming The Bride of Christ Series)
In a Land, Far, Far away. . . But Closer than Any of Us Realize. . . the Following Story Continued. . .
The entire village was abuzz!
Everyone was out in their yards cleaning up, decorating their front doors and little picket fences, and baking all manner of sweets for the special occasion! Merchants in the market had closed early and in place of their usual wares, were dangling streamers of all colours, blowing air into sealed bags and hanging them around their entrances. A path through town had been specially prepared and strewn with leaves and flower petals. Today was the annual celebration of the Crown Prince’s Birthday! Legend had it that one never knew just which village the Prince might choose to ride on his birthday, so every single village and hamlet across the entire Realm went all out, just in case he chose them!
Maria was helping the Inn Keeper decorate his front door when all of a sudden shouts and cheers could be heard coming from the far end of town! Could it be??? She dropped the decorated vine to the ground and ran out to the main street to see!
Sure enough, surrounded by an entourage truly fit for a King, came the Crown Prince Himself! He was just entering the village, giving Maria enough time to dash home and dust herself off quickly before reappearing at her own gate. But she was barely back outside at her own gate when the Crown Prince and his entourage rode up in all their finery and stopped hardly a few feet from where she stood.
Peasants and farmers from surrounding areas joined the villagers as a crowd gathered in the street. Musicians that travelled with the Prince struck up a lively tune as the Prince dismounted Swift Wind, handed the reins to his aide, and walked up to Maria. Turning to the crowd he motioned for silence. The musicians toned down their playing to background levels as the Prince took Maria’s hand. Leading her out in front of his stallion, the Crown Prince lifted his other hand as he announced Maria as his future Bride! Maria almost went deaf with the roar of delight and amazement!
The Crown Prince kissed Maria to the utter delight of the onlookers, then placed her on Swift Wind before swinging up into the saddle himself. Together they rode along the specially prepared path through town, tasting the festive wares and tossing air-filled bags with the children. Maria could hardly believe what was happening. . . Was this inclusion in her Prince’s birthday celebration just for his birthday, or was there more to this? After much merry-making, it was time for the Crown Prince and his entourage to return to the Palace. As they approached Maria’s home, Teacher came out to greet them, carrying the bag the Prince had given her. Walking up to Maria he reached up to her holding the bag.
As Maria reached down to accept it, Teacher paused, “Maria my dear. . . I have greatly enjoyed having you in my home this past year. Mother and I will miss you, but you have been chosen, and now it is your time.” “My time???” Maria thought quickly. . . The thought must have been written all over her face because Teacher smiled back, “I have put everything the Prince gave you, back into your bag. Plus a little token of your time with us. Take it, and remember us?”
Maria nodded, reaching to give him a hug. “Yes, Teacher, I shall never forget you and all that you taught me. I learned so much in your home, from Mother, from you, from everyone! I am not the same person I was a year ago!”
With that, the Crown Prince waved at Teacher and the village, and rode off toward Capital City. The Great King was beside Himself with happiness! He simply could NOT prevent Himself from diving into the hustle and bustle around the Palace grounds preparing for this very special day! No, it wasn’t His Son’s wedding day, but an outsider might think it was with all the dinner preparations, decorating, music, and groups preparing their presentations. The Great King barely put the last candle on the table when he heard the trumpets heralding the arrival of His Son within the Palace gates!
Quickly he rushed to change out of his servants’ garb and into his ceremonial robes. Making his way to the throne room, he paused one last time. Was everything ready??? A sigh escaped his lips as he observed that they were as ready as they’d ever be. It was time. . .
The musicians entered the great hall first with great fanfare, filling the massive room with their joyous melodies and crashing cymbals! Next came the dancers with their ribbons and flags, weaving their way around the smaller tables to various appointed positions around the room. Then came the honour guard and the servants all decked out in their finest paraphernalia, the guards forming lines on either side of the throne, and the servants lining the walls, waiting for their cue to serve.
Guests began to file in, each being checked that they wore the robe given to them by the Crown Prince. One could say this was practise for the Son’s wedding someday soon. When all were in their places, the music stopped! With great flourish, the Great King rose to his feet and raised both hands high over the seated throngs below.
“All rise, for the entrance of the Crown Prince of the Realm and. . . .” He paused for dramatic effect, “His Betrothed Bride!!!” Thunderous applause greeted the Crown Prince as he escorted in the most beautiful woman the court had ever seen! Maria thought she was dreaming now for sure! The Crown Prince walked Maria all the way up to the throne and presented her to His Father, His face beaming with joy as he placed her hand in His Father’s outstretched palm.
“My Father, meet Maria, my Bride. I have invested my life in her Father, and I choose to one day make her my wife.”
The Great King was as enthralled with her as the rest of the court. Taking both her hands, He could hardly contain Himself as he very publicly welcomed her into the family and gushed over how eager he was for the great day to arrive!
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