• Meg Sechrest

The Throne - Preview

Updated: Oct 7

ONE

August 1820

It felt like a dream. Gwendolyn stared at the cream-colored paper marked with death for many minutes, disbelieving that what was written in ebony could possibly be the truth. Her eyes blinked many times, not only trying to erase what was written and wake herself from what had to be the most terrifying nightmare she’d ever experienced but also trying to hide the tears welling up in her eyes. She didn’t succeed; the tears dripped. It was reality.

“We need your signature to proceed, Majesty,” Head Privy Council Advisor, John Croker, said and handed her the quill to sign the document in front of her.

Twenty one-year old Queen Gwendolyn took the quill and dipped it into the inkwell.

However, her unwilling heart stopped her as she neared the feather to the paper, and her mind drifted to her father, trying to decipher his voice…

FOUR YEARS PRIOR

The night of the King’s annual ball—though presented as a happy and festive occasion—Gwendolyn would remember as a night to change everything for her. She prepared herself for the ball in a beautiful emerald gown and her long hair pinned up with beads strategically placed on each proper curl for dramatic effect, and once she was pleased with herself, she dismissed her maid and went to see her mother and sister.

“Am I presentable enough?” she asked, though in spite of appearances, there was only one man she cared to see tonight and that was her own father. Gwendolyn was never the kind of young woman to be taken in by men or to be entranced by romance or anything of the kind. Her motto was, “The heart can play tricks, so we best not listen to it, lest we throw it out of rhythm.”

“Where is Papa?” Gwen asked as she descended the stairs.

“In the drawing room,” her mother said. “You chose the emerald dress?”

“It happens to be one of my favorites.”

“I do not think it favors you as well as some of your others.”

“Well, I think it suits her just beautifully,” Prince Edward said as he stepped out of the drawing room and into the hallway, his arms extended to wrap around his daughter.

“Papa!”

“Hello, my love. You look exquisite this evening.”

Gwendolyn twirled. “Am I worthy of a husband?”

Prince Edward chuckled. “You exceed the worthiness of ten husbands, but I know my daughter well enough to know that’s not your purpose in looking so fashionable. So, tell me, my daughter, what has you looking so well this evening?”

Gwendolyn clasped her father’s hand as they neared the front stairs and she said, “I don’t even know. Just intuition, I suppose.”

“Intuition?”

“Yes, Papa. I just had the feeling like I should look my best.”

“That’s good enough for me. I shall see you in a little while, ” he said and hugged her before he walked to the front entry, waving at her as he walked out.

“Gwendolyn, are you ready?” Duchess Rosalind asked as she escorted Princess Sophia down the long hallway to the front doors.

“This is Sophia’s official coming out. We shan’t be late.”

“Mother, no need to have yourself in a tizzy, now. I’m ready. I was just telling Papa goodbye,” Gwendolyn said.

“Has your father gone?” Duchess Rosalind asked.

Gwen nodded and moved to exit out the door after her mother.

The carriage ride to her uncle’s palace was dull and long, and held no amusement for her other than there were silver birch trees sprinkled along the roadside, and she made a note of counting how many she could find—every time finding a different amount.

48…49…52…

“What is that up ahead?” the coachman yelled.

Gwendolyn, her sister, and the duchess sprang up to pay attention as the carriage rode faster to whatever was ahead.

After only two minutes or so, they came to a sudden halt, and the servants began bustling about, speaking to others on the outside.

“What is it, Mr. Gannick? What is happening?" Duchess Rosalind asked.

The coachman peeked his head inside and said, “There’s been a short delay, Ma’am. No cause for alarm.”

“Oh, well, alright.”

Many minutes went past, and the carriage still hadn’t moved. Duchess Rosalind wanted to know what could be so serious to keep them from continuing and she opened her carriage door and stepped out.

“Mr. Gannick…”

Her eyes were shocked and distressed to see Prince Edward’s carriage rolled into a ditch.

“Might be best to wait in the carriage, Ma’am,” Mr. Garrick said as the Duchess gasped, placing one hand over her mouth and the over her heart, dropping to her knees.

 © Meg Sechrest 2020

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