Free Reign! - Cover

Free Reign!

by GT Dodge

Copyright© 2022 by GT Dodge

Fairytale Story: The King names her Princess for a Day. The day of Apriltide - the Rite of Spring. She reigns freely. "FREE REIGN" is a play on words invented on SOL by an uncelebrated poet alluding to the real idiom, "FREE REIN" which is based on controlling a deer or a horse. See also, Free Rein! on As I said, free reign does not exist... until today, when I found free reign the only apt expression.

Tags: Coming of Age   Romance   Historical  

Queen for a day, today!

Well, Princess for a day!

The King has honoured my father as no other of his warriors had been honoured. He has named my father’s eldest daughter - me! - Princess of the Realm for a day, the day of Apriltide.

As we waited for Father Jamis to open the festivities, the King told me, “Mathilde, you know that Clothilde, my daughter’s, birthday is the first day of spring. This will be my first Apriltide festival without her in sixteen years.”

“Your Majesty!” I touched his lips gently with my forefinger, just as I have shushed my own father. “Clothilde is married and far away in East Anglia. She shall lead their Apriltide as a Princess tomorrow! Trust the Eastern folk to deny the rising of the sun in honour of the Church’s Sunday. You heard Father Jamis read the words in the letter. She is named Princess, even though her husband is not yet named Prince of East Anglia. Mayhap, he will be so honoured tomorrow at their grand festival!”

It would have done me no good to pluck the letter from his girdle and point out the words for I have no letters and the King cannot read either. But that lack fed my sharp memory, from which I pulled the words I’d heard,” ‘Father, at dawn of Apriltide, my Husband, Earl of Ouse and I will wait aboard the barge at Camford. When the bell sounds and the sun rises, we will bow to the gods and I shall sing the Cuckoo song until my –soon-to-be Prince! –raises the Horns of Hearne as the crew hauls them to the top of the mast. Then we stop at Rly and the farmsteads for honey and mead. As the sun marks noon, we step off the barge onto the pier at Lynn and we will open the Apriltide Festival together.’”

“Rejoice, Sire! Your daughter is bringing Apriltide to the East Angles! Just as we will open Apriltide here, in the West.”

Later, he waited in the empty haywain while I climbed, one hand on my gown and the other reaching for the wooden rail atop. Well, the wain was empty save a chair that would serve as my throne.

The King motioned to Yloki, the blacksmith and mayor of the town, who raised his arms and the crowd, chatting and laughing, quieted.

The King turned to face the crowd and began slowly, “Mathilde, I can remember the first time I opened Apriltide. I was freshly crowned and had no wife – nor daughter.

“You, my girl, were a tottering sprite, your mother could not set you down without your legs churning and racing to see something new. Your father, my friend first, my cousin second, urged me to catch you. He said, ‘Nothing better to open Apriltide than the King chasing a child thru the crowd.’

“How the crowd murmured in scandal and the priests scowled but you led me a merry chase and by the time I – crown askew, spattered with mud and holding high a squealing tot – climbed atop this very wain, parked far from the stage and the priests, the crowd was smiling, laughing and I hushed them. ‘Listen to the cuckoo in the tree!’ I told them while I tickled you! And your song opened Apriltide.”

“Ha!” I laughed. “Mama tells that story every year. All I knew of the song was ‘Loud! Sing Cuckoo!’ But I sang it again and again and the people laughed and took the song from me and we sang together.

The crowd, hushed until that moment, cheered. Loud calls, “Honey, here!” and “Mead sweet mead!” circled the town square and Father Jamis, the priest, perforce, marched to the haywain and my throne. He climbed awkwardly until Yloki reached and pulled him up.

Eyes met other eyes in the crowd and whispers started. I knew the tales whispered by farmers and their wives and mothers that Yloki could calm horses as they foaled, cows as they calved, and might scatter charms for a difficult birth ... that he was in sooth a Druid and known to Hearne. Yet here he had lifted the priest and neither his hand nor the priest’s arm was scorched.

The King wrapped his arms around their shoulders so that the three stood united, the King guiding each to a corner of my throne.

I looked up at Father Jamis and he whispered “Look into the crowd. They all know you. Look into their soul and smile back.” I smiled and nodded to him.

Then my head turned -as if it must, not that I willed it - and I glanced at Yloki. He, too, whispered, “Tis Apriltide. Smile on the folk. Smile into their eyes.”

Then Yloki looked Father Jamis in his face and both nodded. Each set his hand upon my shoulders which surprised me.

Both nodded to the King who stepped up balancing on the gate at the end of the wain.

“My people,” he proclaimed loudly, “Today, this Apriltide, my true daughter, my Princess, is far away.

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