An alternative fairytale in bite-sized portions
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Suitable for family reading
Djarmin of Djalladin
I regret to inform you that the Emir, our father, died last night.
It is a shock to us all. Although he still mourned my honoured stepmother, he otherwise seemed well. When I spoke this morning to the Royal Physician, who is away at a conference, he was equally surprised.
In his absence, a doctor friend of Yu’qub has certified that our father died of natural causes.
Do you recall your words when you left us? You told me to learn from my father while I could. Who could have known then that I would have so little time to learn from him?
Although unworthy to fill our father’s shoes, I intend to continue with his planned reforms and would value your advice on these when you return to Djalladin.
My brother and I hope you will attend our father’s funeral and my coronation. Where shall we send your invitations?
Yours Respectfully, Crown Prince Djarmin of Djalladin
Euphemia replied to Djarmin’s email immediately
My condolences to yourself and Yu’qub. I share your sorrow at your father’s untimely death. He was a good man, who ruled his people well and would be proud that you continue his reforms that so many of your statesmen oppose.
Sadly, family business in Regalia prevents me from joining you for either ceremony, but my thoughts will be with you. No doubt, the Royal Physician – your father’s valued friend – will wish to attend the Emir before His funeral. Your father may yet have secrets to impart.
You hardly knew your mother before she died. Your father valued her advice and I believe you have inherited her commonsense as well as your father’s judgement. Your stepmother was a worthy successor, but each egg hatches a different chick. Be careful who you trust.
Yours, Euphemia Ffinch
When Euphemia returned to her inbox, she found a new email, this time from her goddaughter, Lucinda.
Could this be the family matter needing her attention? Nothing in the message suggested a problem. Lucinda – she called herself Cindy on her email address – had discovered Euphemia’s travel blog and simply emailed to say hello. Lucinda – Cindy – must be a young woman now, not the child she remembered from Bertie’s wedding.
Dear Bertie was always vague about money. His wife had managed their finances until she died when Lucinda was seven years old. Three years after her death, Euphemia was about to retire from the royal nursery when she heard that Bertie was deep in debt.
She’d arranged for a modest windfall to come his way – not big enough to attract attention, but enough to stave off immediate ruin.
She’d told him it was time to overcome his grief, for his daughter’s sake, and she’d smartened him up a bit. They’d invited friends he’d lost touch with to Fincham House and settled him back into the world.
Then she went off on her travels.
She’d heard he found himself a wealthy widow and soon after she received a much-forwarded invitation to their wedding.
By the time the invitation reached her there was little time to lose. She left Mexico in a hurry on the day her lodgings burned to the ground.
Fortunately, her hosts were unharmed, having been driving her to the airport at the time. An unmarked police car happened to be passing as the firebombers fled the scene. the police followed them to their hideout and arrested most of the Rodriguez mob: a gang that had terrorised the locality for years.
At the wedding, Bertie’s bride was elusive. Lucinda, delighted to see her godmother again, had whisked her away at every opportunity, and there had been little time to get to know the new Baroness, or her three daughters.
Come to think of it, she hadn’t heard from Bertie lately.
A shadow troubled her. What kind of godmother was she to lose contact with her goddaughter for so long? Replying to Cindy’s email, she described the Emir’s palace and the orphanage and asked after cousin Bertie.
Then she booked her flight home for Aureila’s wedding.