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Athena Brown

Minerva and Sir Alfred the Honorable Green Knight

.....They laughed as they spurred their horses along. This was the time they stole to be together away from everyone to be free and unrestricted. Her Father King Robert of Ettrick had always given his daughter a free hand to do as she pleased. Sir Alfred the Honorable Green Knight had rode with her since she was a child and he just seven years older. They rode together on this day as so many times before. She had loved him since a child and he had loved her since he first laid eyes on her so many years ago. They took long rides each afternoon leaving her maid and Sir Alfred’s page by a stream as they went racing the hillsides.
She knew that she should be heading back to the castle soon. She had to be ready that night for a great feast and celebration to celebrate her 16th birthday. As this thought came to her, she rained in her horse to a walk and her mood became one of regret. “My Lady, why does your mood change so suddenly”? Alfred brought his mount along side her mount and smiled down at her. “Tis the hour Sir Alfred, soon I should head back to start to prepare for to nights festivities” She looked down at the ground and sighed. “My Lady, you should be happy to celebrate your birthday. Your father has gone too much planning for this night.” He smiled down into her deep dark blue eyes. “I know Alfred, it is just that we have to cut our time short here and I do enjoy the time we spend away from everyone”.
“Rest assured we shall have many days more of these outings. I think we should head back now. You have much to prepare for Minerva”. “Aye so I do”. Minerva answered. Her mood changed just as suddenly as it had before she smiled and then turned her horse around and spurred her horse on laughing as she went. Sir Alfred shook his head laughed and followed.
The race was grand she kept glancing back to see if he was catching up to her and smiled to herself when she saw he was behind her but not to far behind. Across brooks, she jumped her horse, feeling free and wild as she spurred her horse on. Sir Alfred at one time was just a horse nose behind her and when she looked back, she smiled at him and spurred her horse on faster.

Reigning in her horse she was flushed with excitement breathing hard as Sir Alfred caught up to her. He pulled his horse up next to hers as the walked the horses to cool them down.
“Milady, one day you will break your neck riding like that!” Alfred exclaimed in a not to unkind of voice. Scowling at her, he continued. “Your father would have my head if any thing happened to you. And I would not be able to forgive myself either”
“Sir Alfred, please do not scold me as it is my birthday,” She pouted.
“Blast Milady, if you are not so charming when you look like that! It is a wonder why your father gives you such a free hand. You ride like any warrior in a battle” He shook his head.
“Then maybe they should let me go to war?”
“Oh yes, like any of us that love you would dare to put thee in such a situation and by gads ye are a woman!” Sir Alfred thundered.
“Oh Gads to you! You and my father thinking me so fragile and that I shall break at the first instance of doing something you deem not safe for a woman. A woman can do just as well as a man at anything she puts her mind too”. Princess Minerva shouted back with a tear glistening in her eyes.
“Minerva, please do not cry”. Sir Alfred said gently. He hated to see the Princess cry she was a soft creature beautiful with her long flowing red hair that went past her waist. She was small only standing just a bit above 5 feet. She seemed like a fairy to him every time he was with her. “Minerva, you are just loved by all of us.” He sighed.
“I am not crying Sir Alfred”. She wiped at her eyes with annoyance. "Is dust that has blown into them from what the horses have blown up”.
He smiled as they rode the rest of the way back to their servants in silence.
“Harlan, help her Highness’s maid up on her horse, we are to head back now”. He looked over to Minerva and smiled. “Be quick Harlan we have not all day”.
The four of them rode in silence back to the castle to prepare for the festivities that were to be held that night. As they rode into the castle livery area Sir Alfred jumped from his mount walked over to the Princess and gently helped her down from her mount. “Your Highness I shall hope to see you later tonight.” Taking her hand, he placed a kiss upon the backside of it looking into her eyes as he did so. “You shall see me Sir Alfred, thank you for such a pleasant ride”. She curtsied low to him turned and walked with her servant to the entrance of the castle.

Princess Minerva and her servant walked the castle halls. She grew up running and playing in all the corridors. Her mother passing when she was just two years old, from that time on it was not uncommon to see one of her nurses chasing after her as she ran from room to room and corridor to corridor. She was a very independent child and a curious one at that too. Such memories she had of all the fun she had from hiding from those that were in charge of taking care of her. She hated to sit and learn to do what all ladies were taught and she said so to her father so often that he gave up on trying to make her sit for long hours doing so.
Now was her sixteenth birthday and her father had planned a big feast and entertainment for this day. She and her servant finally reached her compartments and she started to take off the riding boots that were made special for her riding. (Most women rode sidesaddle and wore the insignificant shoes that would not protect anything. They were more for dancing and walking each day).
“Your Highness, I will have hot water brought up for your bath. Then by chance you might be a taken a rest before we prepare you for the feast tonight”. Her servant Janet said.
“Thank you Janet, that sounds good”. Minerva smiled at her servant and friend.
“Aye your Highness, I shall return to help you prepare”. Janet bowed and left the room. As Janet closed, the big doors behind her Minerva went to look out the window. She had a great view of the surrounding countryside, and the front of the castles grounds. She could see some of the gentry from around coming up the road. She sighed and thought that they were getting there earlier than she thought they would. She did know that many more would be arriving soon from farther away. These would spend the night here at the castle for a fortnight as others closer would only stay the night.
Minerva wandered back to her table were her brushes and combs lay. She picked up a brush and started to brush the tangles from her hair. She smiled thinking about the ride today with Sir Alfred the Honorable Green Knight. She secretly loved the way that he worried about her but for the life of her she could not think why she did not like him to know of this. She shook her head and put the brush done since her task was done.
She walked into the room that held all her dresses and looked once again at the dress that she would wear tonight. She had a girl’s excitement when she looked at something so beautiful. Her father the King had this one made special for tonight. It would flow down her sleek body framing every womanly curve she had clinging to it. Made of the richest silks and lace, two items that were very rare and expensive to have but a King could afford this and since it was her sixteenth birthday he wanted to spoil her, but he always spoiled her and whatever she wanted was granted to her. She had never asked for such a dress before. The color was a hard to find dye and had to be sent away for from a merchant in Venice. Light lavender that went well with her complexion and tiny jewels sewn into the bodice of the gown. Down the sides darker lavender ties laced up the dress to hold it together. A pale blue under dress went under the dress. Her feet small and slender like the rest of her were to wear soft silk shoes that had tiny jewels that were sewn onto the top of the shoes to match the bodice of the dress. She smiled at her self as she could image what she would look like once she had everything on and her hair was done up in the tiny jewelry that would go inside of her hair.
She sat down to take off her stockings as her servant Janet came bustling back into the room with two men servants carrying up the tub that she would take her bath in. She put her dress down quickly and sat as they put the tub over by the window. They bowed and made their exit. Janet went to close the door but in came the scullery maids bringing in pails of hot water. Each as they dumped their load of water into the tub curtsied and murmured a happy birthday to her highness. Minerva smiles and said a thank you. All the people loved her since she was so kind to everyone and asked about their health each time she saw them.
Janet closed the door behind the girls as they went out for more hot water. Janet went to unlace the back of Minerva’s dress so the young women could climb in the bath and soak before the water turned cold.
“Your Highness, soak a bit while we wait for some more hot water. Then we shall get that long hair of yours washed so it can be a drying”. Janet said softly. Minerva slipped into the tub and sank down. Janet brought a rolled up sheet to put behind Minerva’s head for her to rest well. Minerva closed her eyes and drifted near sleep. Just as she was about to fall completely she heard a knock on the door which made her sit up and grab the sheet behind her to cover herself. It was only the scullery maids with the fresh hot water. They came and went doing their duty fast.
“Milady let’s get that hair washed and then you may finish up and we can let you rest for about an hour” Janet smiled. They washed her hair and had to rinse it several times to make sure that all soap was out. Minerva finished her bath, went, and lay down on her bed. Janet went out quietly and closed the door. Minerva drifted off to sleep and dreamed of Sir Alfred. He and she were riding as they did each day but there was someone chasing them and they kept their mounts going and just as the person was to catch up to Janet awakened her she. Janet helped her dress and then did her hair for her using the combs and jewels throughout her hair.

All eyes were averted to the stairway as this beautiful fairy glided down them. She was beautiful and all gasped as they caught site of her. His Highness gasped as he caught sight of his daughter for the first time in her gown. A tear came to his eyes. He went to meet her and bring her the rest of the way into the great hall. “My girl you are beautiful! You look like your mom at that age”. He whispered to her. They walked together her arm linked inside of her fathers. As they passed, each one bowed or curtseyed. Her Father brought her to her seat and as they sat so did the rest of the people.
“Tonight we celebrate my daughters sixteenth birthday. I want one and all to enjoy themselves tonight”. Her father waved and the servants started bringing the food and serving. Once that began the entertainment started. Her favorite were the jugglers and acrobats they were so fluid and graceful as they preformed. She looked through everyone seated for Sir Alfred but did not see him and she was crushed. He had said he would be there and now he was not. Her joy was demised with his absences.
“Father?” she whispered to him. “Yes Minerva?” “Where is Sir Alfred?” “Oh uh he is not here?” he whispered back. “No he is not and you know that don’t you?” she said back. Her father patted her hand and signaled for more drink to be brought to them.
Minerva sighed but thought that she must be happy for her father had gone to much trouble to make things special for her tonight and nothing would spoil things for him. She smiled and nodded to the jugglers. Once they were finished they left the room and the musicians started to play as she glanced to her left side she noticed that the chair was empty and wondered who was suppose to be there beside her but was happy that it was vacant.
“Excuse me fair people. I have an announcement to make tonight. This being the Princess Minerva’s sixteen birthday I have arranged a surprise for her. As you have noticed beside her the chair is empty”. He paused and smiled down at his daughter then continued. “That place is for her future husband. He shall be here shortly to take his place next to her”. Minerva grasped and felt the world spin. Oh who could her father have chosen and how could he do this to her. “My child, I have chosen you a worthy husband that shall love and take care of you for the rest of your lives” but before he could finish she started to interrupt him. “Father...” “My daughter hear me out. Your husband is Sir Alfred Honorable Green Knight.” At this Alfred came walking in and around to the chair that was meant for him. He leaned down, kissed her cheek, and smiled. Minerva stood up quickly with joy on her face.\
“You knew about this all day did you not?” she asked. “Yes my love as I said we would have many more days to do as we did today. I have never lied to you and never shall. We start soon on our life together and what an adventure that will be”