The next day was not any better; in fact, in Maria’s eyes, it was worse. Prince Emil had one of the male workers bring down the painting and asked his brother, who had come that morning, whether it looked more like Lady Thea or Maria.His brother, Prince Malthe, was basically a younger version of Prince Emil, with the exception that Malthe had telltale sideburns, and his dimples were not as obvious as Emil’s. For a few seconds, he stared at the painting and even cocked his head to get a better angle. “Definitely looks like her,” Prince Malthe concluded, pointing at Maria. “Her eyes and nose are not as . . . established as Lady Thea’s.”
That night, when Maria entered the kitchen, a small bag with her belongings was sitting on the table. The cook, who was a very wide lady, was standing behind the counter and abruptly said, “She kicked you out.” Then, she passed Maria a note that simply stated that her help was no longer needed and that she would need to be gone by dawn the following day.
Not saying a word, Maria trudged out onto the rainy streets that she had called her home for so many years. Six years of serving Lady Thea with great honor and respect, and now, she was rewarded with a new home, back out on the streets. At least, her lowly uncle would give her a job at his cafe, even if it was long, underpaid hours; it was a job nonetheless.
“What do you mean she’s gone?” Prince Emil questioned. “According to your staff, she was one of the best workers you had!”
“Why worry yourself about her? She’s simply a servant,” Lady Thea laughed at the breakfast table.
Prince Emil, in his anger, stood up from the table, motioning his brother, who hesitated, but then, followed him into the hall.
“Let us search the city; she could not have gone far,” Prince Emil whispered, and donned his coat, making his way to the door. Prince Malthe just rolled his eyes and followed him. Searching for a girl in the thick fog instead of sitting and eating seemed ridiculous, but Prince Emil was older, and he always got what he wanted.
“Can we get a drink? At least a bite? It is lunchtime,” Prince Malthe prodded his older brother. After an hour of nagging, Emil finally gave in and headed to a local eatery, where Maria was serving another table. Emil elbowed his brother and whispered something in his ear.
“Can I have a table please?” Emil tapped Maria’s shoulder.
“Of cour-” Maria stopped in her tracks and just stared at the two princes in her uncle’s cafe.
Eight Months Later
As the carriage turned the bend, Princess Maria gasped in amazement. “It’s so beautiful. Large,” she paused. “That must be a pain to clean,” she sighed, leaning back in the velvet seat.
“You will not have to lift a hand, Maria,” Prince Emil laughed softly at his wife, who was clearly new to the ways of the royals.
“Then, what will I do all day?” Maria retorted.
“If you want to clean the oven, then I suppose I cannot stop you,” Emil replied shaking his head softly. A gentle smile spread on Maria’s face-indeed, this was going to be an adventure.