December 1 - Christmas Tree Shock
Excitement filled the air as the royal people arrived to join with the crowd gathered to decorate the one-hundredth Christmas tree on the shore of Swan Lake in the capital of the kingdom of Schwans.
Mist floated around and over the lake with cloud reaching as if to melt into the lake itself.
Eight children from different families hovered close to the tree, waiting to receive decorations to pass to a parent of theirs who stood on sturdy ladders to place the decorations higher up.
An angel created from crystal-like glass, the final ornament of the day, waited on a special stand to be placed on the top by the crown prince.
Children and families traded places with others as the tree began to fill.
Princess Adeline lifted a sparkling green, reflective ball toward her father, the king. She took a step and her boot slipped a little in the dampness. The bauble flew from her hand. “Oh no!” She reached down and retrieved the ball. As quick as a wink, the princess turned, pushing through the crowd…
“No, don’t!” her father, King Ludwik, called from the ladder. Other cries of warning drowned his second words of worry…
Crouching, Adeline rinsed the ornament in the water. Lifting it, she cradled it in her scarf to dry it. Her eyes wandered along the shore... she screamed…
Prince Henri reached her first and had eyes only for his young sister. He asked, “What is it? Are you hurt?”
Trembling, Adeline said as she pointed, “It’s a body... a dead body…”
Princess Mariana hurried to the lake edge. No others moved forward but rather shrank back.
Gasps and cries rang out as the princess’s words were passed on.
Royal guards threaded their way through the crowds who opened up to give them passage.
Crouching, Princess Mariana reached for the girl’s neck, her fingers probing and pressing into the cold flesh as she sought to find a pulse. A light throb pulsed beneath her forefinger. She waited for another. It seemed an age passed but then, another... and another…
Standing, she announced, “I have felt a pulse. She’s alive. It’s, it is a girl or a lady, but she is, she is burned, I think…”
Louder, she called, “We need a doctor here now.”
While the elder royal princesses were herded towards the royal carriages, both Adeline and Sharlene were carried, both resisting, wanting to view the ‘body’ for themselves.
Chaos ensued as the citizens surged forward for a better view.