(Becoming The Bride of Christ Series)
In a Land, Far, Far away. . . But Closer than Any of Us Realize. . . the Following Story Continued. . .
One day as Maria was out walking on the palace grounds, a servant walked over to her from the Palace kitchen. “Maria, Maria, can you spare a moment for me?” Maria stopped and waited for the maid to approach. “Sure, I can spare a moment.”
The maid caught up to her and promptly curtsied. “It is a pleasure to finally get the opportunity to greet the future princess in person!”
Maria blushed at such a greeting. This whole princess business was so out of her league, but she’d been spending several hours a day learning from the elder servants how to carry herself, how to dress, how to do her hair, how to greet the common folk (in spite of being one herself), etc. The maid sensed her discomfort. “Eh, you’ll get used to it, my lady. So what’s it like being taken from the country to live in the palace? I’ve lived here all my life, so I have no idea what life is like for someone outside the Palace, or even Capital City.”
Maria motioned for the maid to join her as they walked and began recalling her dramatic rescue by the Crown Prince, how He tended to her scars and wounds, and how He brought her to a new village to start over with a family headed by someone the Prince called Teacher. The maid listened with rapt attention as Maria regaled her with stories of how smart Swift Wind was, how gentle the Prince was toward her, of the lessons she learned from Teacher, etc.
As they rounded one corner of the palace, they came to a beautiful wrought-iron gate leading down to a slow-moving river. A white-gravel pathway led from the gate to the water’s edge where ducks and swans could be seen, some on the bank, some floating along peacefully in the water. Maria’s jaw dropped at the beauty of it all.
Maria had no idea how long she stood there gazing out at the river-scene, but she became aware of the noise of servants behind her. Turning around revealed a group of servants carrying a boat, and the Crown Prince Himself bringing up the rear holding two sticks with flat paddles on their ends.
Maria may never have been on a river before, but she recognized the intent and began to jump up and down with glee! Another big grin crossed the Prince’s face as he greeted her with a sideways hug and announced his intention to take her for a boat ride on the river. The maid herself returned carrying a big basket filled with all manner of delicacies for a meal at some point along the soon-to-be-embarked afternoon jaunt.
Two tall male servants opened the vast gate’s doors, and the Prince led the way with Maria at his side. Maria could hardly take her eyes off the sparkling stones beneath her feet, and when they got close to the ducks and swans, they waddled out their way a safe distance, quacking and trumpeting as they went.
Upon reaching the water’s edge, the servants lowered the boat into the water, and the Crown Prince stepped into the boat, beckoning Maria to follow. She moved to the edge of the glistening white path, looked at the unsteady bobbing of the boat, and looked up, uneasy about placing her foot in the craft. The Prince held out a hand and two servants came over, one on either side to steady her as she climbed in. Spying benches in the boat, Maria sat down on one of them near the bow, and held on as the Crown Prince accepted the large basket of food and the oars from one of his own servants.
Soon they were on their way with the servants waving from the shore. Maria had never seen her Prince in this light before. He’d rolled up his sleeves revealing powerful muscles underneath, and with every dip of the oars, they rippled. Noticing her gaze, it was His turn to blush and he turned away. Truly He’d won the heart of this beautiful maiden. She had so much to learn, but she’d come so far already. He would look forward to many long years together.
This river was a wide, deep, lazy river that wound around the palace and through Capital City on its way to a gorgeous lake! The sun was high overhead, and birds could be heard warbling in the trees and meadows as they passed. Midday repast took place at a tiny inlet off the river, sheltered by huge, ancient, whispering willow trees whose long wisps hung right to the water’s surface providing the perfect shady spot to stop and enjoy what the servants had prepared.
After the remains of their picnic had been returned to the basket, the Crown Prince reclined against the trunk of one of these trees. Maria returned from placing the basket in the boat and paused again to admire the One Who now meant the entire world to her. Her rescuer, saviour, Prince, and soon her very own husband. . . He motioned her close and she sat down at his side there by the tree, leaned onto His chest and closed her eyes. Life was busy at the palace, and He hadn’t held her like this in awhile.
The two of them rested there under the willow, the boat bobbing where it was tied at the water’s edge and time passed just being in each other’s presence, enjoying the warmth such company brings.
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