An alternative fairytale in bite-sized portions
Suitable for family reading
Mistress emerged from the basement, transformed. Buttons might not have known her if he had to rely on his eyes, like humans do. Her hair shone like polished chestnut as it tumbled around a twinkling tiara. Silver earrings glittered under the streetlights as they trailed like delicate peacock feathers with gems for eye-markings. Even her voice sparkled.
‘But I can’t just walk through the crowds at the palace gates and up that grand drive.’
Euphemia followed her out. ‘A friend of mine will drive you, but he must be back by midnight. Be sure you are ready to leave when he comes for you.’
The gown shimmered, casting an aura of enchantment around the Mistress. When they had found it that morning, in a trunk of her mother’s, Buttons didn’t recall it looking so… luminous. She lifted its skirts to climb the steps and her shoes flashed like fine crystal.
‘Mind now,’ called Aunt Phemie. ‘Home by midnight.’
The evening was warm and still, yet the purr of the vintage limousine’s motor was hardly noticeable.
He caught a waft of jasmine as Mistress passed. Running boards along the sleek, black sides of the limousine served as a step when the chauffeur handed her in.
The sharp-faced driver was behind the steering wheel, the car already moving.
Dogs are good at seeing through disguises, and Buttons smelled a rat. His mistress wasn’t going anywhere without him to watch over her.
He ran… and leapt onto the running board.
Too old and too slow, was he?
When the limousine pulled up at the empty palace steps, Buttons jumped off to hide in the bushes.
He heard the car drive away, and a door open above him. Music and voices escaped into the night air before the door closed, leaving only the night sounds of owls and rustling undergrowth.
The Ball promised to be as awful as Alfred had feared. His parents were beside him, greeting the guests. He was only required to say ‘P-pleased to m-meet you,’ or ‘G-glad you could m-make it,’ but he thought the reception line would never end. He searched in vain for Nanny Ffinch’s comfortable round face among the waiting guests.
Cindy hadn’t been online last night. A message on his computer this morning explained that she’d had a visit from her godmother.
But she hadn’t been online today either. He’d been up to his room several times to check.
The arriving guests were queuing down the palace steps. He recognised the family inching through the door as the girls who had fought for Aureila’s wedding bouquet. They tapped their feet as they waited and jostled the other guests every time the queue moved on. The taller sister was red with embarrassment and hung back from the others, to the annoyance of guests waiting behind. He smiled at her to show he understood.
When they reached the reception line, their mother wouldn’t stop talking. The Queen said three times that the footmen would take their coats, but they only moved on when the King added, ‘Do help yourselves to champagne.’
When the last guest was greeted, there was still no sign of Nanny Ffinch. They moved into the reception hall.
The screeches of guests greeting new arrivals assailed his ears and loud ‘look-at-me’ gowns assaulted his eyes. Steered by his mother to meet potential brides, he struggled to remember the names that went with the glittering tiaras and gleaming teeth. A footman arrived and stood clearing his throat until the King noticed him.
‘The musicians are ready, Sire, whenever Your Highness wishes.’
His Highness raised an eyebrow. The Queen tipped her head a fraction and ended her conversation. She took his arm. The pianist in the corner packed up her sheet music.
Musicians in the ballroom began to play.
Click here to catch up with the story so far.
The Godmother is now available in e-book and print from Smashwords and your local Amazon
90 pages, no illustrations