In the previous episode, Celia has followed the secret passageway through a door on a mountaintop. Readers voted that she finds the Prince there, sitting next to a stream.
It was the Prince. As Celia walked toward him she realized she was still wearing the pale yellow silk gown and matching slippers, now dirty and torn from crawling through the passageway. The Prince looked up as she drew near.
“Um… hello,” Celia began. He was looking at her with a mix of curiosity and what appeared to be apprehension, and so all she could manage was, “This mountain is beautiful.”
Felix Augustus was silent for a moment, as if considering making a run for it again.
“Oh, hello,” he replied uncertainly. “How did you get up here? I thought no one knew about this place.” He sighed. “Did my mother send you?”
“No no,” Celia said quickly. “I found it myself; I went through a tunnel…” She trailed off as she noticed an overstuffed pack sitting next to the prince, who was dressed in the strangest assortment of what one might call traveling clothes if one had never traveled before. Baggy checkered cloth pants were stuffed into leather riding boots, and he was wearing a billowy white shirt under a jacket that appeared to be made of burlap. On his head was a dark green hunting hat and around his neck hung a large ornate compass.
“What are you doing up here,” she inquired carefully.
“I’m running away,” was the matter-of-fact response. “My mother does nothing but introduce me to potential princesses who are looking for a handsome, rich prince to marry and a castle to live in. It’s horrible.” Felix looked at Celia who offered a sympathetic nod. Encouraged, he continued with stronger conviction.
“At first she wanted me to go out and find one for myself, through the kingdom and the villages. She even gave me this, this pearl shoe for the girls to try on, because some old woman seer told her it would fit my future wife perfectly. Isn’t that absurd? I refused, naturally, so they began bringing them to me. But I can’t take it anymore. I feel like I’m wasting my life.”
Here Felix paused, and took a breath. “I want to see the world beyond our kingdom. I want to discover beauty and ugliness and truth. I want to know people, really know them, not just royalty but peasants and artists and ogres and thieves. I want to live.”
Celia looked at him intently. His little speech had stirred something in her. She felt the same excited curiosity she’d felt on the caravan and before entering the passageway was present, but now it was mixed with something new, something stronger. She had never met anyone like Felix before.
“I’m running away too, I suppose,” she said finally. “Although I don’t really know how I got here. One moment I was at my mother’s house, lying down before dinner, and the next thing I knew I was on this train going through a forest. Now I’m here, and I have no idea where I’m going or how to get back, or if I even want to go back at all.”
As the words came out of Celia’s mouth, she felt that she was realizing them for the first time.
She continued, “I want all that as well. I didn’t quite realize it before, but I do.” She looked briefly at Felix’s enormous compass before meeting his eyes. “Let’s do it together. We can leave now, and go wherever we want.”
Felix smiled. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.