Posted on 21 September 2004

I have so few mornings left in Castelnau de Montmiral. I have just been doing a slew of dishes from a dinner we had last night with James and Rachel Waugh, Lyn, and Susan. It was a good evening, full of wine and conversation but, as usual, I left the table early and Rob entertained our guests (although Susan, as is her habit too, went home before I lay down.) I am in my organizational, tidy-up mood. On Thursday morning I leave for my beloved Paris.

Here, for the lover of fairytales is Part 11 of mine:

When King Monogamy returned, the queen told him, with real tears, that the child was lost to them at birth (which wasn’t far from the truth) and her husband, not a bad man for all his boringness, wept with her.

Meanwhile her trusted servant carried the babe through the dark night, indeed through many dark nights, hiding when the sun rose, until she came to the sea that Vivacia had described, and paid for her passage and that of the child with jewels, not THE crown jewels but with precious stones nonetheless, on a stately ship.

When the captain of said ship, spied the dark beauty, carrying her precious bundle as if it were crystal, and noted how their passage was paid, he ordered the maiden and child be placed in a cabin next to his where he could watch over them; and before long, because of his kindness, was told of the queen’s servant’s mission – to find a safe home for the child until her mother, under some guise, could have her transported back to the castle.

The Captain, who was young and dashing, fell in love with the gentle servant and thus another fairytale began but the tale that needs to be told at present is that of the child. The story of the Irish Sea captain and the Persian maiden will continue at another time.

When the ship landed, the captain and the maiden (who turned woman during the voyage) found a earnest god-fearing young couple who desired a second child so they could rent a house (this was post-war times) and so were given charge of the queen’s lovely daughter and a handful of precious stones, accepting that her real mother might want her back at any moment.

Unfortunately this never came to pass. Vivacia, hiding again in the garden one night, was stung by a number of bees and died.

The baby, quiet by nature, was so different from the couple’s own daughter who was loud and demanding, that the man and woman favoured the child who had come to them at night. They also expected, it must be said, that they would receive more riches when the child’s presence was requested at the royal palace.

When they heard of the queen’s death, they decided the child who had been called simply princess was theirs, named her Barbara, and used the last of their wealth to cross the ocean to the new world.

The couple never told their fair-haired second daughter of her origins but at night Barbara would dream of castles, brightly coloured silks and satins, and flying carpets and knew in her heart that she did not belong to the people she called mum and dad, and, if she was very good and quiet, her real parents would one day reclaim her and take her to live in a palace.

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