It was an unusually sunny day, bringing the promise of joy I knew that this day was sorely lacking. I stare out the window, watching the sunrise, wishing it would fall back into the mountains and leave me with a few more minutes of peace and quiet. It was only a few moments before my maidservants would rush in and lace me up to be presented to my husband as if a lamb were being brought to the slaughter.
I never thought that it would turn out this way. Of course, there was an endless line of suitors, being a daughter of nobility, but I figured I could reject them long enough to prevent this whole ordeal entirely. Maybe if I had worked to convince my father a little longer, told him that there was a promise but there was never quite the right fit. Maybe he would have believed me and not taken this into his own hands. If it was good enough for him it was good enough for me, he had remarked. That he was a duke and that a seventeen-year-old girl had no business telling him what to do.
Soon enough my eighteenth birthday passed and my father presented me and my three brothers with the news that he had found me a perfectly suitable husband within Nathaniel Marchford, some sort of nobleman from Denmark. Father had gone into it, but I was too furious to even care.
If I had it my way, I would have escaped to France with some stable boy and lived out my life free of titles and class. We would live in a cottage in the woods, alone with ourselves and no one else around. We would be free of everything, except our three sons of course, and we would live how we wanted. In my head, it all seemed so perfect, but alas, Nathaniel was on his way, taking my fantasies with him.
A soft knocking brought me from my delusions back to reality. “Come in,” I said lazily, not bothering to look up from the sunrise. I heard three sets of footsteps, followed by the voice of some who treated me like a real person: Joan.
“It’s the big day, and here you are sulking by yourself.”
“Poor Margaret, off to marry a nobleman and roam freely out in the lavish world of Denmark.” Agnes Chided.
“Lavish world of Denmark?” I snorted. “You must have it confused with something actually alluring, like Italy, or death.”
“That is no way for a young Lady to be speaking.”
“Oh, Anne, always the realist.” Anne was the most strict of the three women that waited on me. She was at least 20 years Joan’s senior, who was already three years older than me. Agnes was the child of the bunch, being a ripe sixteen. She was relatively new to the profession, which only made her the most fun, being the least familiar with the rules. Anne has been my nurse for as long as I can remember and practically raised me; though she was strict, there will always be a special place in my heart for her.
“Come Margaret, it is time to get you ready, there’s only a matter of time before he arrives.”
“What if we did not Anne, what if we all left and escaped to the countryside. You have to admit, it would be a lot more fun, and then I would not have to leave you.” I was granted two ladies to take with me to Denmark, and my Father assigned Agnes and Joan, seeing as they were much closer in age to myself, and Anne was much too old to be traveling that far away from her family.
“After suggesting it countless times, I am surprised you think I would agree to such an absurd thing. Besides, this way, we can enjoy our last moments together pleasantly.”
“We’re not dying you know, just leaving.” Joan piped in.
“Exactly, which is why we need to get started, we also have some packing to do.”
I climbed down from the windowsill and held my arms up. Layers and layers of fabric were draped over my chemise until we finally arrived and the dark green dress that had been selected for today. The green color complimented my pale skin and red hair quite nicely, though I found the dress to be far too extravagant for the occasion. The gold embellishments and fine detailing were itchy and made me feel as if I were being put on display for all to marvel at. “See the women who can barely breathe on account of her corset and overbearing father be forced into something she has never and will never want!” They would shout at the festivals as people paid top dollar to marvel at my unravelling.
The corset was laced as tight as it could go without causing me to faint. Anne’s eyes softened looking at my discomfort. “It’s only for the meeting Margaret, we’ll get you situated in something much more comfortable for your journey, I promise.”
“I do not want to leave Anne, not you, not Father, not my brothers, it is too much, too much all at once.” My eyes began to water. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving England, though I knew it was always what I had been fated for. “Why did I not just pick one of those greasy English noblemen, sure they were old, but at least I would have been able to stay here with you and my family. I can’t sail to Denmark, I just can’t.” With that I collapsed into Anne’s body and began sobbing. She rubbed my back in an attempt to comfort me.
“It will all be okay, I really think that once you go there you will have plenty of fun. In a month or two, your biggest complaint will be the cold my dear. Now, stop crying or you will ruin all the work we have done today.”
I laughed at this and rubbed my eyes. I will miss Anne, she has been the closest thing I have had to a mother after mine died when I was four. We lost her and almost lost my youngest brother Henry, who had almost died during childbirth like my mother. I smiled softly at Anne, knowing that she was doing her best to calm me down to face the inevitable.
The moment was interrupted by the sound of trumpets. My back immediately straightened. I looked between these three women whom I loved so dearly and sighed, “It’s time.”