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THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS
On my recent visit to Sereminia, I found myself charmed by the myths that abound in this mountainous country. (In case you cant locate an article on Sereminia in your National Geographic, I should tell you that this small country rests on the spine of the Pyrenees, between Spain and France.) Apparently, this seemingly peaceful country was once divided in two, each with its own royal family and a great deal of animosity between the two peoples.
But a legend united them.
According to the legend, a prince of one royal family and a princess of the other would be born at a foretold time, would wed and the two nations would be united. If this prophecy did not come to pass, the two nations would dissolve into anarchy.
As foreseen, Prince Danior of the House of Leon and Princess Ethelinda of the House of Chartier were born and betrothed. It was fated that they would marry on the day of Revealing in 1816. But the princess was either ill-informed or afraid of her destiny and ran away. Prince Danior, a large man, broad and stern, steeled in the struggle against Napoleon, refused to be defeated by the fears of a young girl and went to look for her.
When he found her, a solitary and mysterious woman lodging at a renowned hotel, she insisted that she wasnt Princess Ethelinda, but rather Miss Evangeline Scoffield of East Little Teignmouth, Cornwall. He paid no attention to her protestations and dragged her back to the capital of Plaisance.
The legend tells of their many adventures during the four days that it took them to return. They fought revolutionaries, were wounded, rafted the turbulent river, and faced many other trials. Legend even has it that Princess Ethelinda (or Evangeline, as she became known) had even managed to escape Prince Danior and elude her fated marriage. But then, some misguided folk say she was really the Englishwoman she claimed to be and not the Princess at all.
I was lucky enough to be in Plaisance on the day before Revealing, when music pulsated through the narrow, winding streets. Merchants sold spicy meat turn-overs and ale in remembrance of the day that Princess Evangeline had wandered among them, while Prince Danior searched for her. The citizens cheered the royal family during their annual procession. I found myself a part of the merry crowds, living the legend of Sereminia and believing in its glory.
Kneeling beside the bed, Evangeline found the carpetbag, dragged it forth and looked in at the pound notes. Enough money remained to open a
bookshop. Yetwas she going to live and die after this brief taste of luxury?
The knock on the door made her jump. Mademoiselle, it is the maitre d. I have your handbag.
Her handbag! Shed dropped it in her haste to escape from the attentions of that handsome gentleman. She walked to the
entry, but lingering caution made her say, Henri?
You also lost your gloves, he said.
She opened the door.
But it wasnt Henri whose shoulders blocked the light from the corridor. The handsome gentlemans cobalt eyes glowed with triumph and he produced a mocking bow. Your Royal Highness, he said, how long did you think you could escape me?
My next book will be SOMEDAY MY PRINCE, a spin-off of THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS. Look for it in July from Avon Books. You can write to me at P.O. Box 323, Stafford, TX 77497.
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