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The young girl began to sob as she ran as fast as her legs could carry her, for what she just heard couldn’t be true, it just couldn’t. She ran to the one place that comforted her, the small river in the large deciduous forest not far from her village. She plopped herself down on her favorite rock and continued to cry. Soon, night had fallen and the girl knew she must go home before the beasts came out of their underground lairs. She sighed and brushed her auburn hair out of her eyes and slowly trudged back to her home.
She listened to the conversation between a frustrated woman’s voice and an exasperated man’s through her window.
“John, she’s been gone for hours, and the sun has set, we have to go get her.”
“She’ll come back, Marie, she knows the curfew.”
“Yes, but the dire wolves and grizzlies don’t! And they don’t care either!” The woman’s voice was becoming shrill. The girl rolled her eyes and opened the front door.
“I’m home,” she said bitterly, “stop your horrid moaning…”
Her father folded his arms. “I’m glad you had enough sense to come back at this time, and I can’t believe you overreacted like that.”
“I overreacted? I think that’s perfectly normal behavior for someone who’s just been told that she has to work at the castle to repay our family’s debt! And you tell me that I’m leaving tomorrow?!” the girl shouted.
The mother looked as if she were going to cry. “Jade, please, the castle is a wonderful place with nice people,” she pleaded, “please cope with this, it’s not all that bad.”
Jade made a rude hand gesture at her parents and stormed off to her room, where she saw her mother had already packed up the contents of the tiny room into a suitcase by the door. She collapsed onto her empty bed and stared out of her small bedroom window at the large stone castle several other villages down. That’s where she was going to live for the next couple years of her life. She then instantly fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Jade opened her eyes as bright rays of sunshine shone through her window. She looked around at the empty room and remembered today was the day she had to leave. She gazed over at the dress draped over her suitcase, the one she was to wear to the castle. Sulking, she removed yesterday’s garments and put on her best dress, a green one with lacy trim. She hated to wear it, but her parents wanted to make a good impression on the Royal Family. Jade slid on the matching green slippers and marched out her bedroom door with her suitcase. “Good luck, sweetie,” her mother said as she planted a kiss on her daughter’s cheek and placed a loaf of bread in her hand. Jade looked at the bread. It was very rare that anyone in her family would ever get a good slice of bread, and here she was with a full loaf. She looked at her mother, silently thanking her, and hugged her father goodbye. She took a deep breath and stepped outside, where a royal carriage was waiting. The footman took her luggage and stored it on the roof, and helped Jade clumsily climb inside the large and heavily decorated carriage. She waved goodbyes to her family and friends as she rode to the castle of Arya. Jade’s eyes became heavier with every clip-clop of the horses’ hooves, until she finally drifted off to sleep once again.
“Miss, we’ve arrived,” said a gentle man’s voice, “we’re at the castle.” Jade snapped awake at once. The footman helped her out of the carriage and carried her luggage to the heavy iron gates. The guards behind the gates looked at me, and opened the doors. Jade timidly stepped inside the castle perimeters and ate small pieces of the bread mother had given her. The carriage she had ridden in tore of behind the castle, presumably to the stables. The guards looked at her uninterestedly, and opened the heavy wooden doors leading to the throne room. Jade stepped into the huge stone fortress with a squeak as the doors closed behind her. Yet another guard grabbed Jade roughly by the hand and proceeded to gruffly drag her up a wooden staircase without a word. “Hey, stop! Let me go! Ouch!” Jade shouted .The guard did nothing about her discomfort, but he simply yanked her hand harder. A young man came racing down the stairs. “Release her at once, Regulus!” he commanded. The guard released his grip on the young woman, and bowed mockingly to the boy. Regulus then marched back downstairs to yank the arm off of his next victim to walk through the oak doors. “I am so sorry for his behavior, miss, he’s always been a handful. You must be the new spinster.” Jade nodded warily, for she was still in shock of being in the castle. The young man continued. “My name is Prince Archaimbaud Wolfric Cornelius, but everyone calls me Archie. No need for that huge jumble of words. Hey, since I got Regulus off of you, I’ll show you your room.” Jade stared at him. She’d only been in the castle for about forty seconds and she had already met the Prince of Arya, and was being shown to her room by him. Jade nodded, still amazed at herself. Archie took her hand gently and led her upstairs, jabbering all the way, until he stopped at a wooden door in the middle of a grand hall. “Your luggage will arrive at your room soon, and the spinning room is down the hall. This has been cool, and I’ll see you at the Dining Hall in a couple of hours. Oh, and I’ll tell Mom you came.” The Prince called as he ran down the hall. Jade stared open-mouthed down the hall for a few minutes before opening her door. It was a reasonably sized room, bigger than the one she had at home. Jade sighed as she hung up her clothes and a picture of her mother and father.
Sighing, she walked to the spinning room and was greeted by a spinning wheel and rows of clothing material. The other spinsters introduced themselves briefly before turning right back to their work. Jade sighed and worked for two hours straight before she noticed the spinsters were leaving their posts to walk down the hall. She followed them down to the Dining Hall, where dinner was being served by cooks and many, many waiters. Jade was amazed at the amount of food that was piled onto the table. Hams, turkeys, all kinds of fruits and vegetables and pies were piled high all over the tabletop. Jade was seated at a chair quite far from the royal family, sandwiched between two elderly laundresses. Archie waved to her from across the table, took out a quill, and wrote something on his napkin. He then handed it to a cook, whispered something to him, and pointed to Jade. The cook walked over to Jade at once and handed her the cloth napkin. The cook winked at her and strode over to the kitchens before Jade could ask what the Prince had said to her. Jade opened up the inky napkin and read:
“Jade – Meet me at the gardens tonight at ten o’clock.”
She gaped at the napkin. He wanted to meet her at the gardens at ten o’clock? Had she done something wrong already? Jade moaned quietly and began to pile up on the food in front of her before retreating to her room early.
Jade had lain on her bed until the clock told her it was nine forty-five and she’d better get a move on. She sighed, and headed down the hall to ask someone who was still awake where the gardens were. She crept down her hall, and went downstairs. Nobody was there. She climbed the opposite set of stairs. Nobody was awake their either. The only one she saw out was a sleeping guard by yet another set of stairs, and she preferred not to wake him. She climbed the flight of stairs he was guarding, until she ran headfirst into something – or someone else. “Oh my gosh, I am so sorry, but can you tell me where the gardens are? Are you alright?” Jade said.
“I think I could, Miss Jade.” Said a familiar, joking voice.
“Archie. Just Archie.”
Jade brushed her hair away from her eyes again and looked at him apologetically. “I’ll go get my things…” she said in a hopeless voice.
“What are you talking about? I just wanted to see you again. You seem like a nice girl. I’d like to get to know you.”
Jade blushed. “Oh…”
Archie sat down on the red carpet covering the stairs and patted the space next to him. “I want to know everything about you. You don’t seem to talk much, but still. It gets kind of lonely around here. Too many adults.” Jade grinned and sat down next to him. Nobody had ever wanted to listen to her before. It wasn’t long before Jade had began to tell Archie all of her secrets and everything about her. The night had almost passed and the two were still talking. At the break of day, Jade went to her job, and Archie to his. Life went on like this for months, the young couple meeting at that same staircase to talk about one another. Jade began to love her life at the castle, although she was pricked regularly and had one of the hardest jobs in the castle. Until, one fateful day, the King awoke to go for a midnight ride and stumbled upon the two.
“Father, please, be reasonable! She’s a wonderful lady!” Archie argued with his father in the library. Jade had been forbidden to meet with Archie any longer, and would be relieved of her job if she dare go near him. She had been heartbroken since.
“I, be reasonable? You are the heir to the throne, you cannot go fooling around with lowly spinsters such as that Jade Sumer!”
Archie frowned. “She is not a lowly spinster. She is an amazing, kindhearted girl who I wish to spend my life with!”
Now it was the King’s turn to frown. “I forbid you to see her ever again. As long as you are Prince and I am King, this is how it’s going to be.”
Archie had gone crimson in the face. “Then I quit,” he said in a deadly whisper. “I resign from my duty as Prince. She and I must be together.”
Thus, he stormed out of the library to tell Jade the news.
“You did what?!” she yelled.
“I’m not the Prince anymore,” he said happily, “I quit.”
“You’re twenty-two, and I’m twenty. It won’t be that easy for us to get jobs!”
“Don’t worry. I took some gold from the vault, the guards still think I’m a prince.” Archie said mischievously.
She put her head in her hand. “Archie, what am I going to do with you?” she giggled.
Archie kneeled on one knee. “You could marry me.” He said, and held out a beautiful golden ring with a diamond stone.
“Yes, Archie, yes!” she squealed. He slid the ring on her finger and beamed.
The two were wed in Jade’s childhood village. The King sent out searches for his son, so the two moved to another Kingdom with Jade’s parents and their two daughters, Maria and Sonya, and lived happily ever after.