Chapter 4

Written by: Hemali Ajmera

“Michty me! Princess Pheobe!!”

Mary reeled in shock. She had never seen a royal in her life before.  

“My actions may seem beyond the pale, but life in the castle is hellacious. I am at my oppressive parents’ mercy. I would rather die than go back,” the Princess muttered sadly.

Mary stared, open-mouthed, at her guest. She could very well empathise with Pheobe’s tortured and highly restrictive existence. Wasn’t her life in Regent Close miserable too, living with a domineering, hawk-eyed grandmother? 

But a young, unmarried girl, especially a royal, absconding into an untrustworthy world was sacrilegious to Mary. 

“You must help me flee. If they find me, I will be executed,” Pheobe pleaded tearfully.

“Shhhh! It's alright. Lemme think of something,” said Mary comforting her distraught visitor.

Mary knew that by now the Regent’s soldiers must be all over the city searching for the missing princess. Only a swift escape out of the city would ensure her safety.   

Almost immediately Mary thought of Iain - the carriage driver who bought flowers to Lawnmarket every day from Strathallan. Mary knew he had a soft spot for her and wouldn’t refuse her a favour. Besides, his travelling out of the city would not raise suspicion.   

“Quick, change into my clothes. And pull the bonnet over your eyes. I will be right back,” Mary instructed, hastily closing the door behind her.

Iain had just unloaded the flowers at Lawnmarket and was entering into Regent Close with his empty carriage. He jumped down buoyantly upon seeing Mary sprinting towards him. Breathlessly she asked him if he would be kind enough to accompany her friend to Strathallan to visit her ailing suitor. 

“And not a word to anybody, otherwise she will be in trouble,” cautioned Mary. The besotted lad happily agreed. 

Back home, Mary inspected Pheobe’s attire and explained her plan. Tucking something into her soiled apron, Mary gestured Pheobe to follow her. A sudden knock on the door alarmed them both.

“Anyone hame?” called a thundering voice.

Mary hurriedly pushed Pheobe up a rickety flight of stairs towards a dingy attic and opened the creaky door. 

A man in military finery stood menacingly in the doorway. Mary instantly recognised him as the soldier she had encountered earlier in the day at the market.           

“Ah am looking for a bonnie lassie. A wifie I met says she saw her in this alley.”

“No Sir. No ane has come this way.”

“Och, I have instructions to search every hoose in this close.” 

“Ye wasting yer time. I told you I ain’t seen anyone. Good day.”

“No one in Auld Reekie talks to me like this!” bellowed the man, pushing his way into the shabby hovel. His sharp eyes noticed the stairs. 

Mary panicked. She was left with only one choice now.   

“Wait, you big Jessie! Ye must fight me first,” shouted Mary defiantly as she swiftly pulled her dead father’s dagger from her apron and plunged it into the crabbit soldier’s stomach.

Comments

Hi Hemali, as always this is a really good chapter. Now Mary is in real trouble I would think but we'll see what the next writer does. I really like the way you research dialects and capture those in dialogue. Be sparing in your use of adverbs. See how much sharper the writing becomes when you take out defiantly and keep swiftly in the last sentence. Nit a biggie but something to store at the back of your mind. You carry the story forward and do a great job
Thank you Suraya. for your kind words. Will definitely keep the adverb usage in mind the next time I write a chapter. We are all here to get better writing skills and so suggestions such as these are most welcome!
Hemali, I knew you would come up with something really good. What I like, as Suraya points out, the dialect in dialogue which adds to the believability of the story. But most of all I love the conversation although sweet little Mary seems to have turned into a little monster. Sometimes dialogue can slow or even stop the progression of a plot story but your chapter is also full of action and rather than slowing, the plot is now galloping forward. Great chapter. Loved it a lot.
Thank you so much Ray!! I am really enjoying writing and reading fantastic authors like you and others at Story Mint is definitely fine tuning my storytelling abilities.