As it was, the only people she met were her maids (all female) and her guards (all old). Her family, including her extended cousins, didn’t count. They were family. Though if she remembered right, cousin Emily had married second cousin Roger. And third cousin Katherine had married fifth cousin once removed Peter. Or something like that. But they were… family. And she couldn’t—wouldn’t—do that. No matter what father said.
The suitor that stood before her now was an Admiral and he had no relation to her. He was very young for an Admiral, being only twenty five, but he was very old to Amanda because she was barely eighteen. But princesses had no say in the matter, of course. Whatever they said about it would be (maybe) heard and then quickly discarded if their fathers and related advisors decided otherwise. Mother was eight years younger than Father. Seven years was still a smaller gap than that.
The Admiral sat very still. He was very fair with light yellow hair, and in his white uniform, he looked like an alabaster statue—an exquisitely sculpted alabaster angel. Amanda was extremely distracted by his pretty face.
“I’m sorry, what did you say your name was again?” she asked, blushing.
“Amos,” he replied with a blush, his white cheeks turning a very pretty pink.
“Where are you from?”
“From another country far from here.”
She thought about that. “Does that mean I have to follow you home if I marry you?”
Amos smiled and shook his head. “No, Your Highness. I am stationed here and will remain here for the rest of my life.” He paused, looking a little sad. “We may visit though, if you would like that?”
“Oh. That… that sounds nice.”
Amanda fidgeted. The Admiral sat statue still. Exactly at five, he drank his last drop of tea and took his leave. She was sure that she’d destroyed any chance she with him. And he was such a handsome young Admiral too!
To her surprise, the Admiral continued to court her. He would turn up at three in the afternoon for tea, and leave at five. They would sit in her drawing room, looking at each other, Amanda fidgeting as usual—she could never sit still—and the Admiral sitting like he’d turned into stone.
The maids soon started calling him the Alabaster Admiral on account of his pale skin and his statue-like qualities, comparing him to the angels and cupids that stood in the garden. He was handsomer than all those statues, of course—Amanda had stared each one in the face and compared them to her suitor. He had an added advantage—he turned the prettiest shade of pink when he smiled.
He was turning a very pretty pink now, as he cleared his throat and rose to his feet. Amanda was startled. It was only four, and not quite time for him to leave yet.
“Dear Princess,” he said with a husky voice, ignoring her oft-repeated request that he call her Amanda, “I have something to ask you.” He got down on one knee, pulling out a small box from his pocket.
Amanda barely suppressed a squeal.
The Admiral opened the box, revealing not a diamond ring, but a small alabaster figurine. “I know it’s traditional here to present a ring during a marriage proposal, but the custom in my country is quite different. This figurine represents my life and my heart. Will you accept it? Will you give me shelter in your house and your heart even as I pledge my life to protect and serve you?” He looked up at her past long lashes, his eyes fixed on hers.
“Oh Amos,” she replied, using his name for the very first time. “I would, but my heart is not mine to give. It is my father who decides who I can or cannot marry.”
Amos smiled. “I have spoken to your father, Amanda. I have his permission. But what I would rather have is your heart.”
“Then yes, my Alabaster Admiral, I will.”
The Admiral kissed her hands and pressed the figurine into them. “Keep it well, my Princess. I break easily.”
Amanda stood by the mantlepiece for a long time, staring at the two little alabaster figurines, recounting the sixty years they’d stood there together. The Alabaster Admiral had broken on the very day Amos took his last breath. Beside its shards, the Alabaster Princess stood alone and forlorn. The princess had wondered before what her life would have looked like if she’d been able to go out into the world and fall hopelessly in love with a random stranger, like they did in all the stories she’d ever known.
But here, at the end of it all, she realised that there was nothing about her life with Amos that she would have changed. Awkward beginnings and all.
Head over to Yuin-Y's for today's illustration.