Story Saturday: "A Sister's Love"

Now that I'm getting close to my 100th post, after which I'm going to stop updating every day, I'd like to try something new. Every Saturday, I will try to come up with a new short story about a princess and share it here. My first one is called "A Sister's Love." Please let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it and if you would like to see more weekly stories from me.


"A Sister's Love"

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom in peril. The invading conquerors were dangerously close to taking the throne from the rightful king and queen. To protect her only daughter, the queen entrusted the baby girl to her favorite handmaiden, a sweet elderly spinster named Janella.

"Take her far away from the danger, and tell no one who she really is, not even her, until she's ready," said the queen.

Janella always longed for a daughter, but such a dream proved impossible for the life of a handmaiden. Perhaps that is why she kept Princess Lucinda hidden far from the castle long after the war had ended and the king's throne was secured.

Sixteen years later, however, a new threat had arisen in the kingdom. A cloaked woman with her young daughter knocked on Lucinda's door. Lucinda answered was surprised to have visitors. She was not used to receiving visitors, having spent most of her life in the middle of nowhere.

"I'm sorry to intrude," said the woman, but my daughter and I are in grave danger and seek refuge. Is your mother home?"

A teacup shattered on the floor. Lucinda turned around to see Janella staring at the visitors in shock.

"Your majesty! My goodness! It's been so long. How did you find me?"

The visitor lowered her cloak, revealing an olive-colored face with dark hair similar to Lucinda's.

"Janella? Is it really you after all these years?" asked the woman

"Mother, what's going on?" asked the girl holding the cloaked woman's hand. "Who is this?"

The woman ignored her and stepped inside the cottage.

"Could this be... Lucinda?"

"How do you know my name?" Lucinda asked.

The woman pulled Lucinda into her arms and held her close as her eyes grew misty with tears. Meanwhile, the other girl crossed her arms angrily.

"I demand that someone tell me what is going on this instant!" she huffed in a shrill voice.

"Clarinda," said the queen, "this is your sister, Lucinda."

"That's impossible!" the two girls shouted in unison.

"How could I have a sister I don't know about?" asked Clarinda. "Surely, someone would have told me!"

"You said I was an orphan!" cried Lucinda.

The queen exchanged worried glances with Janella, and the two explained to the girls how Lucinda was left in her care during the war.

"Why didn't you tell me I was a princess?" asked Lucinda.

"I'm so sorry. I promised your mother I wouldn't tell you until you were ready, and when that time came, I grew to love you so much that it was too hard for me to give you up. You had become my daughter."

"But she was never yours to keep," snapped the queen.

"I know. I will accept any punishment you bestow upon me for all the years I've taken from you. The time I've had with Lucinda was well worth it."

The queen was thoughtful. "If you let us stay here indefinitely, I will consider your debt paid. Our enemies are closing in on us. You understand that I will be taking both of my daughters back with me after the danger has passed, of course."

Janella bowed her head. "Of course, my queen."

Clarinda stomped her feet.

"But you can't take her back to the palace with us! Look at her! She's just a peasant. I am crown princess."

"Clarinda, you will not speak of your sister in such a manner," said the queen.

"I have no sister," Clarinda huffed.

"Don't I get a say in this?" asked Lucinda, still trying to process everything.

"I'm afraid no one gets a say in the matter of their birth, my dear," said Janella. "I've been selfish to think I could keep you to myself for this long."

"Well, if that's how you feel, let me make it easier for you!" Lucinda hissed as she stormed outside.

"This must be difficult for her. It's so much to take in all at once. I'll go talk to her," said the queen.

"No, Mother. It's too dangerous. I'll do it," Clarinda.

The young princess gently placed her hand on her mother's purse and kissed her on the forehead. Before the queen had a chance to stop her, she was gone.

Clarinda found Lucinda weeping under a tree behind the house.

"Dear sister, there's no need for tears," she said. "We're together now. You can come home."

"Oh Clarinda," Lucinda wept, "I'm afraid you wouldn't understand. To you, this village must look so quaint, but it's all I've ever known."

"I understand better than you might think. I was happy with my life the way it was too. Let me help you find a way to stay here."

"How? The queen seems so determined to keep me."

"She won't want you if you're a thief."

Clarinda held up some jewels she had slipped out from her mother's purse. They glittered crimson in the moonlight.

"But I would never--"

Before she could finish speaking, Clarinda dragged her sister by the wrist back into the cottage, holding the jewels up like a trophy.

"Mother, Lucinda was going to run off with your jewels! I caught her just before she managed to get away. Clearly, she is not fit for palace life."

"What's this? Lucinda would never do such a thing," said Janella. "She's always been such a good girl."

"Please, your majesty, it's not true" wept Lucinda, "I didn't want to go back to the palace, but I would never steal from you."

The queen rubbed her chin in thought.

"If it wasn't Lucinda, you must have set her up, Clarinda. That is no way for a princess to behave. What have you to say for yourself?"

Clarinda looked horrified.

"Mother, I--" she stammered.

"Wait," interrupted Lucinda. She sighed heavily. "Clarinda was telling the truth. I was scared of my new life and tried to run away, but I needed your jewels to support myself."

"Lucinda, I'm surprised at you. I taught you better than that!" said Janella.

"You are my first-born daughter," said the queen. "What's mine is yours, but I can't have you taking things without permission. You will be put to work on your decorum as soon as we get home."

"I'm sorry," Lucinda mouthed to Clarinda.

"I'd like to speak to my sister alone for a moment," said Clarinda, pulling her sister back outside.

"Be careful! Keep an eye out for our enemies!" the queen shouted after them.

"Why did you lie for me about the jewels?" Clarinda asked when they were out of earshot. "You could have gotten yourself in trouble."

"You're my sister. I didn't want you to get in trouble. Besides, you just wanted to help me."

Clarinda looked at the ground, ridden with guilt. "I suppose..."

"Get down!" Lucinda grabbed Clarinda and pulled her behind a bush.

Two intimidating men rode by on horseback.

"I heard a girl's voice from over here. It might be the princess," said one of the of the men.

He handed the other one a sword.

"Remember, strike first. Ask questions later. Check those bushes first. I think I heard some rustling coming from them."

"Stay here," whispered Lucinda.

"What are you doing?" Clarinda whispered back.

Lucinda climbed out and approached the man.

"Are you lost, sir? There's an inn in the next village east of here."

"What were you doing in the bushes, girl?" he asked, readying his sword.

"I fear I've lost my prized doll. You haven't seen her, have you? She has straw hair and blue button eyes. It's the only one I have, you see."

"I'm afraid not. You haven't seen anyone suspicious lurking around, have you?"

"You mean besides yourself?"

"I mean cloaked woman with a girl. She looks like you, but younger."

"No sir, no one like that. Just me and my mother here. Nothing else for miles."

The man considered this for a moment and returned his sword to its holster.

"Very well then. I guess we must have been mistaken."

Lucinda held her breath as he rode away and snuck Clarinda back inside as quietly and quickly as possible. Clarinda ran to her mother and eagerly told her story of how Lucinda had protected her from the enemy soldiers.

"Oh Mother, you should have seen her!" she said. "She was so brave. She saved my life."

To Lucinda's great surprise, Clarinda pulled her into a tight hug.

"I was wrong about you, Lucinda. You have the heart of a princess, and I welcome you into my family," said Clarinda.

Months later, Lucinda saw the majestic palace and dressed in clothes that were finer than any she had ever worn, but there was no moment in which she felt more like a princess than that quiet hug in the village the night that she had earned her sister's love.

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