The Proposal

“Go on,” I laugh, “I, a milliner’s daughter, marry a Prince?”

“But you are the most desired widow in Britain,” my Prince replies. He is on his knees crawling after me. His fine buttoned waistcoat snags.

“Didn’t you refuse a Duke for me?” he implores.

“You know I did – that stinking old man!” My hand catching the golden thread and with my teeth I cut him free. Winding the silk around my knuckles. “You’re coaxing me,” I say, looking down at him wriggling under my petticoat, “to get a glimpse up my chemmie lying on my parlour floor,” and he gazes up at me abashed with his puerile broad mouth smile and imperial lolling tongue. “Get up,” I tell him, “someone might come in!”

“Who?” declares my Prince, “The King?” His stockinged feet pummel the air and my hands dance to catch his thrashing toes. He asks, “Do you mind my brother must never know?”

I smile sweetly at the thought of King George and his disagreeable countenance. “My chaplain is in my closet can’t you see?” I say and Prince Willy’s eyes pop out all innocent at the door outlined in shadow next to the grate.

“Oh Reverend,” he teases me, “Oh Reverend. Oh Reverend!”

And like a ghost, my chaplain’s fingers wrap around the crack of moving wainscot to slip unhurried into my parlour. Prince William, Duke of Gloucester is on his knees upright in a second and I am stood over him with my head bowed, my hands in his saying, ‘yes, yes I do.’ My chaplain does not know where to put his eyes except on the thread tightening about my palm and says the wedding pledge at full speed until it is over and I say, “Go on, I, a Duchess?”

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