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Sunday, June 04, 2006 The Parting

Just as Eloise expected, Rael’charon indeed arranges things up for her. Rael’charon ‘borrows’ Robert as Eloise’s bodyguard from Duke Walthorn by the authority given to him by the King, and Duke Walthorn doesn’t mind at all, knowing that Robert’s basic training are already completed and being a royal bodyguard will be a major breakthrough in Robert’s career.
Eloise is glad that from now on she can meet Robert everyday. But Robert doesn’t recognize her in her true self – he only behaves coolly and respectfully as usual, with his usual sulky or expressionless face.
Robert also wonders why he never meets Elaine again since the declaration of love in the flower garden. Did she resign from her job as maid? Did she try to avoid him because she had a change of heart? Or much harm has befallen her and her fellow maids didn’t inform Robert about that fearing that would break his heart?
And now I’m stuck with this good-for-nothing, cruel, naughty and loudmouth princess! Never complain, Robert. Never-ever complain about your duties.

But as time goes by, Robert begins to notice certain resemblance between the pampered princess and his beloved Elaine. Maybe Eloise has a slightest clue about what happened to Elaine, Rael’charon’s maid. Robert himself never dares to ask Rael about Elaine because Rael is too clever and his rank is too high, and Robert never knows about Rael’charon’s personality. So Robert decides to ask Eloise about that at the first chance he gets. And he talks to Eloise early the next morning.
‘Pardon my insolence, Your Highness. But do you happen to know a maid called Elaine who works under Royal Advisor Rael’charon? I must confess that she is so dear to me and I figured that you might have a slightest clue about her as her face resembles you greatly, except that she never wears any make-ups and she has a long, black hair.’
‘And I believe you love her very much, right soldier?’
‘Yes, Your Highness. With all my heart.’
Eloise feels that it’s a waste of time to hide the truth any longer, so she tries to make Robert recognize her – to realize that Eloise and Elaine is the same person. Eloise pretends to be angry.
‘INSOLENCE! How dare you talk about your love life with me! I’ll have you hanged for this! You’ll be hanged tonight – on a bean sprout!’
Robert is horrorstruck. How come Princess Eloise knows about his joke that he only told Elaine the first time they met? Elaine must’ve told her, or she actually is…
‘Yes, Robert. I’m Elaine. And the reason I left you at the garden at that time was I knew that I deceived you – you only love Elaine the maid, not Eloise the princess.’
Robert’s voice is vibrating as he replies.
‘You’re right, Your Highness. I do love Elaine the maid. But I must tell you one thing, although she has deceived me so, I still love her whoever she is – a maid or a princess. I love you, Eloise. But you know our love is forbidden. We’re not meant to be. So please forget about me, Your Highness, for your future’s sake.’
‘Ah, Robert. How I wish I’m just a common peasant, how I wish I really was Elaine. But you know I’m only a prisoner in this palace – by the protocols – a prisoner of loneliness. Only with you I’m not alone anymore. I love you, Robert. And I’m willing to leave my family and my title just for you.’
‘Please don’t, Your Highness. If you leave, your father will be dispirited. Our country is in danger now. Ever since your grandfather died, the Arcadians have shown signs to launch a full-scale attack against Lore. They have but to wait until spring to finish their preparation – that’s less than a month away from now – and they’ll declare war on Lore and attack. Your presence is very essential here. Please stay, for Lore.’
‘Fate is indeed a cruel thing…’
‘Yes, Your Highness. If I ever want to ask for your hand in marriage, I better do it through the proper way; to do the best I can to become a duke or a marshal like my lord Walthorn – those are the minimum suitable ranks to marry a royalty. Just stay here and wait for me, Eloise – unless a worthy prince comes first.’
‘Robert, I swear I won’t marry another man but you. I’ll wait for you.’
‘Don’t swear a thing you can’t keep, Your Highness.’
‘I know this seems impossible, but in Vadis, nothing’s impossible.’
‘By Vadis I hope so.’
‘What’s your plan now, Robert?’
‘I think I better start to follow “the proper way” right away – by first fight for my country and put all the years of my training into use. I’ll go with my lord Walthorn to war.’
Tears start rolling from Eloise’s eyes. As she strokes Robert’s silvery hair, Eloise says in a trembling tone.
‘Robert, please kiss me one last time.’
‘I love you, Eloise.’

Both of them hug each other and kiss – a warm, passionate kiss – They keep kissing and hugging for several minutes, as though they will never let go – feeling the warmth of the forbidden love flowing in them - … And at last Eloise backs away. She is obviously crying at the eve of their parting, and she runs out of her chamber, leaving Robert alone, standing there, stunned.

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