Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Merely Meredith: A Modern Persuasion" Excerpt--"A Chance To Love," By Meredith Elliot

This is a tale of heartache and heritage.
            There was once a girl named Freida; her father was a rich duke, the latest heir of a long line of dukes. This Duke had been Duke since before the current line of kings began. It happened because the ancestor of this Duke—the First Duke--had founded his Dukedom right in the most profitable area of the kingdom-before-it-was-a-kingdom. The First Duke had made the land profitable, had amassed wealth and earned it by the sweat of his brow and through wise dealings. His son, who became Second Duke, continued the family legacy and expanded the Duke’s Castle till it was the grandest establishment in all the land. The Dukedom kept the Dukes’ coffers overflowing with gold; they wanted for nothing. By the time the Third Duke—Frieda’s father—inherited the Dukedom, his family’s fame had spread throughout the world, and he could live in absolute indolence if he so chose, as long as the dukedom continued producing gold for him, as it had for his forefathers.

            Freida had two sisters, one older, one younger. The older sister, Evelyn, was a rare beauty among women—yet there was not a man among a thousand who could please her enough to win her hand. The younger, Celia, was not as beautiful, and not quite so amiable, yet with her loud voice and her marvelous wiles, had caught the attention of a certain Baron, who accepted her hand in marriage, and thus won the petulant child favor in the eyes of her father the Third Duke. Both sisters pleased their father immensely, with their devotion to the finery and the splendor that befit the daughters of the Duke. Between the three of them, the money flowed out of the coffers almost as fast as it came in, and there seemed to be no one in the kingdom greater than the Third Duke and his daughters.

            Poor Freida had little to recommend her; her nurse, Paula, had told her that she resembled her mother in both beauty and temperament. Her sparkling grey eyes were both calming and lively, like watching a creek in the forest. She had wavy brown hair that draped around her face like the perfect picture frame for her graceful, delicate, glowing face. Her coral-colored mouth expressed a wide range of emotions and a good many ideas, both fanciful and factual. Frieda, in addition to a pleasing face, possessed gentle, soothing hands, not sickly-pale but rosy-hued with health and good hygiene. These hands were the most capable, most giving hands of anyone in the whole Dukedom—yet the aristocracy never saw her hands; they sneered at her, all because of her abiding love for Martin.
            Frieda saw him enter the park as an outsider. No, worse than an outsider; The Outsider. Martin belonged to the class Incompatible, but from the instant her grey eyes fell upon him, Freida decided he alone embodied the class Incomparable.
            His clear blue eyes gleamed shyly from beneath his dusty blonde hair that covered his head and hung down over his forehead. Those eyes captivated Freida; they seemed to speak with their own voice about everything they observed, while everything they seemed to say was itself concealed in a foreign language that could only be translated by the owner of those eyes. Verily, the only thing wiser than the glint of his eyes was contained, Freida discovered, in the sound of his voice. Those two things were like twin lenses to scope out the depths of his soul, which the innocent young girl discovered to be a deep, rich fount of information and coherent, deep ponderings of a pensive man. If Martin watched her eyes while she spoke, Freida in her turn watched his mouth. She grew familiar with every minute feature of that region of his face, from the curl of his upper lip framed elegantly by congenial dimples on either side, to the curl around the cleft of his chin, and the eloquent lips upon which seemed to appear the words he spoke. His hands, in appearance alone, were opposite to Freida's, as it ought to be. Where hers were pink and delicate, his were brown and somewhat work-worn. But Frieda loved to feel their caresses, for she detected the same level of sensitivity as in her own. There was nowhere, she felt, in the world as safe as within Martin’s strong embrace.
            It came to pass, that Martin, too, began to fall in love with Freida. He loved to watch her lively grey eyes when they were together—and they were, constantly. From her gentle, giving hands Martin fed not only his ears on heavenly piano music, but also his soul on countless letters written full of sensitive, intelligent, lovely maxims composed for him alone by she who adored him, and his belly on the delicious treats she made for him on occasion. Martin alone knew of the wealth of Freida’s hands, and the beauty of her face.
            But such companionship was not to be. It came time for Martin to leave the Dukedom for other lands. Freida conspired to go with him, to spend the rest of her life with the one who loved her instead of remaining behind with the people who never seemed to see her. She spoke to her nurse, Paula.
            Paula informed her that, since he was an Outsider, Martin was the sort that could never fit anywhere; as an Insider, it was young Freida’s duty to find her place in society and occupy it fully.
            “You would not want to force the man you love into a place where he doesn’t belong, would you?” asked the wise Paula. “I do not believe that of you; therefore, let Martin go. That which you feel is young love; the idea has not been fully appreciated yet. It will hurt a while, but the pain of unrequited young love will pass. Perhaps he will find another Outsider like himself, and you, if you wait but a few years, will discover a Compatible suitor that will satisfy you as he has. Let him go, dear Frieda; do not cling to him so tightly that he cannot be the man he is meant to be.”
            Frieda knew the pain of being held back by one’s peers; with a heavy heart, she let Martin depart. She would remember every detail of that day forever. He looked so sad to be leaving her, he was so distraught at her decision to remain behind, Freida wondered if in fact he harbored the same feelings for her that she did for him. But Paula was so wise, she must be right; now was the time for Freida to lay aside her childish fancies of what love must look like, and take hold of the new, mature perspective of love as a duty, as “finding one’s place.” It must hurt for a while, but in time, she trusted that they both would learn this truth about love, and find their places in their world—apart. Martin gave her a gift, a locket he had crafted with his own hands. Freida resolved to treasure it forever, even though the Third Duke would never let her wear it in his presence.
            Thus Freida remained in the Dukedom, waiting, wishing, longing for true love, whether Compatible, or Martin. She waited, but none came.