Part III: The Jolly Wedding
As High Spring Observation Day approached with joy, merriment and happiness reaching such levels in Dingledong that even the revered village grumpy old men, (a position of much diligence) were seen to secretively crack their faces and mutter ‘Yeah I suppose no harm will come of this particular tomfoolery’. And tax collectors were observed saying to the poor ‘Pfft! Like the King is gonna miss your six bronze pfennies? It’s writ off. Have a nice day,’
Prince Frendlehanz (The Handsome Groom, general all round nice guy, and an interest in gardens) spoke with his many young male friends and official Witness To The Groom Prince Hanselfrendlesten (Also handsome, brother of the bride, liked warfare) and said:
‘Ok guys. We’ve had some laughs of late, but tomorrow is going to be kind of solemn and means a lot to the parents, and the ordinary folk, so let’s tone down the ribald stuff, keep your hands off the girls, until party time that is, and I know this is tough but try and be nice to the Chilbin lot, y’know how touchy they can be, particularly Hulstrum ; looking at you there Hanselfrendlesten,’ he said these words in such a good natured way that every young man including Hanselfrendlesten, laughed, toasted his health and got the last few ribald remarks out of their systems.
Now as was the custom Princess Aureyborealice (beautiful, kindly, delightful to folk and the environment, artistically gifted etc) being sister of the Groom was designated Companion to The Bride; being , Princess Whinsome (reasonably beautiful; possessed of russet hair, kindly, good at needlework and theologically astute). Thus as was the custom they were locked up together (in a civilised and restrained way) in a comfortable apartment for the day prior to the wedding. Ostensibly to rehearse their duties at the ceremony and mediate on the correct and goodly ways of a wife or young maidens who weren’t wives yet. This was their first meeting but kindly Aureyborealice being uncaring of etiquettes and decorums in general stuck out her hand and said.
‘Hello I am Aureyborealice. Nice to meet you Whinsome. I am so happy we’re going to be sisters. This is a nice apartment but it is so stuffy on such a sunny day. I know a secret way out to a very small garden no one cares about. Do you want to go for a walk?’
Whinsome as a result of much attention to needlework and theology was somewhat reserved, but being just as kindly as Aureyborealice took her hand survived the enthusiastic shake and in a polite soft voice said.
‘Oh that would be nice. I would like some fresh air,’
Thus Aureyborealice showed Whinsome how to sneak unseen in and out of the apartments; for unbeknown to the whole kingdom Aureyborealice had a sweetly mischievous side and as long as no harm was done to anyone had a very flexible approach to rules, regulations and conventions. Thus did she show Princess Whinsome that it was perfectly fine to walk barefooted in the grass, sit down in and upon places which were not artificially crafted and scrupulously cleaned by diligent servants and also how to converse with things not people. They got back in time for a luncheon after which Aureyborealice and Whinsome were slightly dutiful by going through their required nuptial rehearsal, albeit (at Aureyborealice‘s instigation) with the bridal crown worn at somewhat comical angles two impromptu dances and a few funny faces.
‘Oh thank you sister to be,’ said Whinsome ‘You have put my mind somewhat at ease, I can cope with the ceremony, ’tis no worse than the ten extremely dull and convoluted ceremonies of obligations the Bishops of Trundlealong have thought up to secure their jobs, but I am nervous about our wedding night, for no one has explained anything to do about what passes twixt a husband and wife,’
‘How very remiss,’ said Aureyborealice with concern ‘Whereas I have no direct experience I have sneaked into parts of the Royal Libraries I am not supposed to read many of the books which go into great detail on the subject; why so book many I cannot think there seems to be some repetition. Anyway in addition from inadvertently chancing upon places where servants and lesser staff go to indulge in each other it would seem the whole business is enjoyed by both parties. Let me explain,’
‘Oh my,’ said Whinsome afterwards,
‘Worry not sister to be. For I have overheard some of less prudent of the young women of alleged noble birth say of my brother ‘No complaints there,’ which I did feel a trifle vulgar and inopportune. But let us not trouble you any further, let us sneak away into the garden to watch the sunset,’
Meanwhile unbeknown to both bridal and groomal parties Lady Frastreiayal watched them with the aid of small magic mirror, which she had cunningly disguised as a small mirror and did smirk unto herself at the trouble she was about to bring unto them. She was, truth be known, not a particularly evil person and there were some rugged folk who had felt IF she had done something to her cheatin’ father and his fluffy little schemer then her only crime wuz being caught out. That night she gathered unto herself all the spells, magics and magiks she needed for the next day.
And did the Great Day arrive. Because the weather was so pleasant it had been agreed on an outdoors ceremony as that many folk crammed into a church was not conducive to the maintenance of jolliness. Everyone was dressed in their finery, or in the case of the peasants clean common cloth with some ribbons. With the aid of functionaries, servants and soldiers selected for exceptional reserves of patience all the nobles and folk with money were put in their right places. There was the expected small problem of Hulstrum (For Diplomatic Reasons The Mostly Morose and Only Slightly Fierce) who insisted he had to sit at the very front row of guests because his father had told him to demand so, personally he couldn’t have cared less. He was accommodated as Aureyborealice was nowhere near him. There was music, ceremonial pre-ceremonies, various religious folk walked up and down doing religious things while servants and others made sure Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One was escorted to a dais which had a conveniently high and plush back to it designed to look as if it was NOT propping him up.
There came the expected murmurs of appreciation as along in a tasteful restrained stride came Prince Frendlehanz (benign smile to everyone) escorted by Prince Hanselfrendlesten (also tasteful stride and trying not to smirk at Hulstrum –currently stiff-backed and grim faced). After a suitable pause thence to the audible gasps of delight (and relief of the wedding planners who had been hoping for this reactions) came Princesses Whinsome and Aureyborealice whose dresses were long and flowing, flowery, and very white; both maids were pictures of innocent beauty and dignity and trying not to remember after a few glasses of wine last night’s Who Can Do The Best Vocal Impression of Farm Animal competition. In the very farthest of back rows sat Lady Frastreiayal (vengeful if in an ironic way-wait and see)
All went acceptably well for a while as Doctrindoss (ponderous and determined) went through all the preambles, aided by a mechanical device which made his voice boom out and stop folks falling asleep while the four young folk were stalwart in standing, with straight faces Whinsome and Frendlehanz doing the covert glancing thing.
Then Frastreiayal, eyes ever on Hulstrum struck. She made small, deft gestures as if wiping from her eyes sentimental tears and whispered incantations under the guise of small phrases of delight at the ceremony.
Firstly the clear bright sky was gloomified by a sudden mist which fell as a thickish fog about the place.
‘Fear not and stay in place,’ mechanically aided Doctrindoss boomed out ‘For ’tis naught by a blanket of softness bestowed by The Supreme One to shade all from the heat of the over generous sun. What hath commenced(ed) shall not be stopped(eth),’ And he carried on, even if everyone was having problems seeing everyone else. For as was the regionally accepted belief of those days once The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One had started not even kings nor queens could stop This Servant (or The Old Fool as some would have) of the Supreme One. The four young folk managed by whispers, nudges of feet, tentative grasps of elbows etc to keep in contact.
Meanwhile Frastreiayal(having fun) by secret means sent messages into the mind of Hulstrum (militarily alert for nonsense) to beware for evil plots that none of the rest (all foolish) seemed to be aware of. He took these as instincts warning him. He would not have been surprised if some barbaric shamans had sneaked in, actually he was pretty certain of it, particularly when Frastreiayal conjured into the murky process some largish, slightly brutal and very clumsy creatures from the flatish places of The Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng who she had during her tenure there treated in a fondish, pettish sort of way. All they did was lumber, blunder and bray- which quite frankly was enough. But Frastreiayal added her crowning touch into Hulstrum’s mind she whispered ‘Now is your chance. Save everyone and win the hand of fayre Aureyborealice,’ . Well, personally, he still couldn’t have cared what happened to the annoying little freak, except a paternal order was a paternal order, and anyway he was in the right mood to hit things. Thus knocking the squawking old fool next to him off of their chair, he broke off a leg of said chair and waded into the confusion (of course he should have used a leg of his own chair, but he was in that sort of mood).
As Frastreiayal had planned all was chaos. Doctrindoss would not be stopped and boomed out ‘The Supreme One’s Hand will not be stayed. Away with these fel beasts,’. Hulstrum taking advantage of a perfectly good opportunity thwacked Hanselfrendlesten on the head felling him before the fellow could get started, then went about crying ‘Away ye creatures! Begone!’ Frendlehanz (as befitted a prince of a realm) cried out ‘Fear not I will save you!’ until some panicked bishop accidentally caught him in the ‘delicates’ with a staff supposed to be for religious purposes, and the poor lad doubled up. Aureyborealice used to evicting from her gardens straying cows, ill-tempered cats and animals bent on mischief called ‘Don’t have fear sister to be, I will see these silly things off,’ and grasping the downed staff while yelling ‘Go on! Shoo! Shoo!’ held their bit of the field nobly. Whinsome, wisely hunkered down and prayed. Thus did three young folk call out defiant words to the attackers, one groaned ‘Oh my wedding night,’ one sat holding his head and saying impolite words until Hulstrum thwacked him (Hanselfrendlesten that is) again, for the heck of it. All the while Hulstrum cried out (in a less than enthusiastic manner) ‘Fear not Princess Aureyborealice, by fealty and traditions you are safe with me, thus I do swear(eth)!’ This was a sort of hasty proposal made in extreme situations such as battles, severe weather or if the father of a young woman caught her with a young man in a particular situation and the young guy wanted to keep his delicates intact. Actually Aureyborealice, defending her sister to be wasn’t paying the least bit attention, while on the question of tactical deployment Hulstrum didn’t have any idea where she was and in trying to locate her tripped over someone, scrambled up and mind now set wholly on battle set to defend his piece of turf.
The struggle was frenetic and frantic indeed, blows were landed on the beasts, who didn’t notice much, calls were heard from males to maids to not be afraid, maids were too busy giving account of themselves or praying to notice, Bishops and their clerics were not a lot of use, members of the congregation, functionaries and soldiers all got in each others ways, some subsequently happy bridesmaids were carried to secluded safety by brave young fellows and from time to time everyone fell over. Doctrindoss deciding the obvious, that this was all detracting from the solemnity of the situation made a theological decision and called out:
‘The Will of The Supreme One is not to be foiled by evils. Begone fel beasts!’ Frastreiayal having seen her scheme going well assisted him and the beasts went back home, which made the old guy think he still had it and continued ‘Thus Let it be known,’ he peered into the gloom and feeling there had been too much familiarity between four young folk during a wedding ceremony, but having quite forgotten names and faces called out ‘You and you AND you and you be judged by the Will of The Supreme One married!’ and as the mists wafted away made the most solemn and scared sign of matrimony over…
The somewhat sprawled figures of Frendlehanz AND Hulstrum, also Aureyborealice AND Whinsome. They all stopped scrambling and shouting themselves hoarse, looked at each other then at Doctrindoss, who regarded the two couples with a bemused remoteness.
‘Thus has the Supreme One decreed,’ he boomed in one last statement, looking to Frendlehanz AND Hulstrum then Aureyborealice AND Whinsome. He closed up the relevant Holy Book and walked off, with bishops and assorted clerics who had not fled rushing after him dithering, calling out objections and waving pages of other Holy Books to him and each other. He cared not. Under extreme duress he had carried out not one but two marriage ceremonies and driven off fel beasts all at the same time. Not so bad for someone of three and eighty years of age. Minor details were of no concern to The Supreme One and thus not to him.
In the aftermath the two couples, still sprawled on the grass, continued to stare from one to another. Prince Hanselfrendlesten sat and said nothing because seeing and hearing what he thought he had seen and heard made him feel maybe that second ‘thwack’ had addled his senses completely.
Queen Domestica’s fortitude already stretched to breaking point by getting Doctrindoss there in the first place and then the day before the wedding’s attendant hoo-ahhs, simply fainted.
Frastreiayal who had merely intended for a lot of chaos, cancellation of the wedding, a few minor injuries, the exquisite family and societal embarrassment of Hulstrum rolling all over Aureyborealice while arguing he had made a goodly proposal and the resulting political implications could not believe her good fortune and slipped quietly away under cover of the greatest of hub-bubs ever witnessed in Dingledong.