“Then we will make camp here. Princess, after we and your soldiers setup camp, they will tie Ethan and myself up. If either King investigates, they will find their cousin a hero. You will give us to whichever King arrives first. This will rescue your life, and buy us the time.”
Giuseppe didn’t wait for an argument, he simply started gathering wood for a fire. Ethan froze in place. As the Italian Hatmaker walked into the woods beside their new camp, the Princess spoke to Ethan. “He’s brave isn’t he? To volunteer for captivity is gallant.”
Ethan looked at her, aroused from his shock. “It’s better than dying isn’t your Majesty?” This time it was the Princess who froze momentarily, then she whispered. “Perhaps, but captivity is not easy.” “No your Highness, I guess it isn’t, even if it’s from a palace.” With that, Ethan went off to help his friend.
Now, Henri joined her. “You take to many risks your Highness.” “I suppose I do Henri, but my brother knows how desperate I am. I left him a letter before I volunteered to be ‘kidnapped’ by our English cousin. In it I explained that I would die if I married for any reason other than love.”
Henri looked at the strong young lady that he had grew up serving. “What do you suppose his response would be?” She laughed a laugh that was both painful and cruel. Although the cruelty was not hers, it was a mimic of her brother. “Then marry for love of your kingdom my sister. You’ll learn to love my ally in time.”
“I take it you’ve had this part of the conversation with him before?” “The night before I left Paris, I escaped, I suspected that I would never find love if I hadn’t.” Henri smiled. “I suspect that the hat maker’s friend was right, you think you may like him?” “I don’t know him Henri, but I would like to see what he looked like minus the beard and mustache.”
“I suspect, it would have to be but spoken, and he’d be willing.” She shook her head no. “I would not ask that on a whim. If he loved me, I wouldn’t have to ask at all.” With that remark, the Princess walked towards her horse.
Henri found Giuseppe and Ethan. “The Princess favors you my friend, but not your companion.” Ethan immediately took offense. “I’m not partial to her either!” Henri laughed. “Not you my friend, the one that protects Giuseppe’s chin. She does not like his beard, nor his mustache for that matter.”
Giuseppe flashed with an anger of his own. “I have had them both since I was a young man. Why should I shave them for a woman that called me ugly!” Henri laughed. “It was not you of which she spoke, it was of your companions.” “Why should I care?” “Oh, but you do don’t you. I know it is asking a lot, and she did not ask. The Princess would not be pleased that I am here.”
“Then why are you?” “My Wife and I were walking through Paris one day. We passed by a small flower cart, filled with the most beautiful flowers. I commented on how I enjoyed the carnations, but my wife preferred the lily.” “And Henri?” “We have such beautiful rows of lilies outside our home.”
“I can say goodbye to the beard, but not the mustache. My Mother remarked how much it made me look like my Father.” “I wonder what your Father gave up to see your Mother smile? For now, remove the beard. See if the reaction you receive will warrant saying goodbye to the other as well.”
He handed Giuseppe a razor, and walked away. The Italian Hatmaker returned to camp minus his beard. He would forget the other old friend, the one under is nose, just as soon as he saw the smile that graced the Princess’ face.